I still remember watching The Order: 1886’s announcement trailer during E3 2013 – I was hooked instantly, engrossed by the Victorian era and Arthurian lore combination (two of my loves). I knew at that moment that this IP could be something special, after all, Sony had earned itself a reputation for developing high-quality story-driven single-player games with the then recently released The Last of Us. Adding to the weight of expectations was that Sony had chosen The Order to show off the power under the impending PS4’s hood – building it up as a system seller. The hype was almost unprecedented for a new IP, with PlayStation owners chomping at the bit to get their hands on Ready at Dawn’s debut PS4 title.
Then the reviews dropped.
It wasn’t that The Order: 1886 was a bad game – it was that after all this time, all of the hype, all players got was a five-hour cinematic jaunt through a visually stunning Victorian London. To put a new spin on a ubiquitous idiom the general consensus was: it’s not bad, we’re just disappointed.
Not me though. No, I loved my time playing The Order, everything about the game’s premise and lore pulled me in – seriously all it needed was some Lovecraftian vibes and it would’ve been my GOAT.
Today marks four years since we donned the lush moustache of Grayson Galahad. Recently I decided to jump back into Ready at Dawn’s adventure to see how it held up after playing some of this generation’s best over the past year, and surprisingly I still found myself enjoying the game as much as I did back in 2015.
The first thing that’s noticeable is just how impressive the visuals still are. The amount of detail in everything is simply incredible from Galahad’s worn face to the cobbled streets of Victorian London, it easily still stands up as one of the best looking games this generation.
The lushest moustache this generation
In fact, I’d go as far as saying that the production in general is up there as one of the best of the generation. The lip-syncing, animations, soundtrack and voice acting are all some of the best we’ve seen – from a technical standpoint there are very few games that have done all of the above better than Ready at Dawn and The Order: 1886.
Sure the game had its flaws, the length being an obvious one; you cannot charge full RRP for a five-hour experience anymore, those days are gone. People want value, whether through replayability or length, and if it’s not going to offer that then publishers need to price it accordingly.
The Lycans were another disappointment (I found this more disappointing than the game’s length), built up as a savage and terrifying predator, the Lycan sequences were tame and ruined by QTEs (possibly one of the worst boss fights ever). But I think what disappointed me the most was how they weren’t the primary enemy in the game. Instead they were thrown in-between shootouts with Rebellion forces, who were not as intriguing as an enemy.
The shooting was another common complaint, with many labelling it as generic. While I agree the shooting mechanics were nothing to write home about, they weren’t bad in any way. They served their purpose and in a few instances I found them quite satisfying. The gripe I do have with this aspect is how the game continually takes unique guns away from you (such as the Arc gun) and drip-feeding their use throughout the game.
The Lycans had more bark than bite
After playing it for a couple hours I started to wonder what the future held for The Order IP – or if it had one at all. Early doors I assumed we’d see a sequel, after all Ready at Dawn stated from day one that this world was built for more than one game. But after four years, much to my chagrin, there’s been no word from Sony about its future, leaving it more wishful thinking than anything else. This is despite Ready at Dawn stating that it was ‘satisfied’ with The Order’s sales. You would think that if there was an Order sequel in the works we would’ve heard something about it by now. Alas, radio silence.
Perhaps for The Order to be revived it needs to consider adding co-op (a much-requested feature), or some form of Battle Royale where players duke it out for the Holy Grail.
I personally believe the series has a future. It would be such a shame to see all that lore and potential go to waste after one disappointing release. I’m not the only one either. Whenever Ready at Dawn post or the game is discussed on social media or the game is discussed the majority of the comments are asking for a sequel. Same goes for Reddit.
I think conceptually there’s no better game this generation than The Order: 1886. Sure, that’s because it ticks all my boxes, but in a generation where sequels and remasters have been the order of the day (couldn’t resist), it was exciting to see such a unique spin on Arthurian lore.
In hindsight it’s easy to see why The Order crumbled under the weight of expectation. Its short length and high price point were icebergs that Ready at Dawn was bound to hit on its maiden PS4 voyage. But perhaps as consumers we placed too much expectation on a developer who had never developed a game of this magnitude before? Or maybe it’s simply that Ready at Dawn didn’t have the chops to pull off something this ambitious on their first attempt? Either way, The Order: 1886 will go down as one of the most polarising games of the generation.