Order me Something Else: The Order: 1886 Hands-on Impressions

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Developer: Ready at Dawn, SCE Santana Monica Studio
Publisher: Sony
Date Played: June 12, 2014
Time Played: 12-15 minutes

At E3, the line for the PlayStation exclusive, The Order 1886, stretched around the games’ booth — and then some. The elusive trailer showed off what looked to be werewolves, zombies, undead beings, or something. Regardless of what these entities were, the trailer did its part by drumming up hype for the game. This is what enticed me most to stand in line for some hands-on time. After noticing a small kiosk at the upper portion of the PlayStation booth, I decided to take on a more intimate approach.

In its most core elements, The Order is a third-person cover shooter. The majority of where it draws interest is in the fact that it takes place in an alternate timeline during the 19th century. Guns and other tech play a prominent role as more is learned about our agent job duties. The cover mechanics were pretty simple. The (O) button moves in to cover while the (X) can cancel and move players out or allow them to leap over low walls. Environments are destructible and, given the woodwork of the time period, it would be wise not to hang around in one spot for too long.

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Enemies can be taken down with a few methods. There is melee for close quarters (Triangle) and a traditional (L2) aim and (R2) fire is in full effect. The (R1) button housed an alternate fire, which coincided with the thermite explosion scene in the last trailer. The (L3) is sprint, which was only useful in the demo to traverse the open village quadrant with mild haste. The thermite flare can be fired into the gunsmoke. This can lead to environmental explosions, thus obliterating more enemies than your inconsistent mini-gun sidearm. The smoke can be continuously shot with flares, continuing to add fuel to the fire. The ability to add more smoke and fire can become tactical and was actually a cool feature.

While these elements and the gameplay played well, there wasn’t much else to grab my attention. Sure, it was mildly interesting when a fellow officer caught a bullet that grazed his neck and drank a mysterious vial to have the wound was magically healed. However, in the bland, unpainted world of The Order, there wasn’t much else that was eye-catching. The grey scale and dull palette left me comparing the hype from the trailer to actual gameplay. The latter was far less enthralling.

The game functioned like any other cover-based shooter, was dull in color, and didn’t spark much else in the 12-15 minute demo. The Blacksight feature can be enacted, providing for a slow-down in time. However, something like bullet time being a main feature in a game is already a mechanic more than a decade old. If there is something completely story-altering and in high contrast to the sulky grey textures, my opinion might change in the future.

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