The Order: 1886, the first PlayStation 4 game to come from developer Ready at Dawn, made its public debut at last year’s E3. A year later, we were able to try out a brief but intriguing demo of the game at 2014’s expo. Unlike most other demo kiosks, The Order was contained within a walled area, decked out with recreations of some of the in-game weaponry and characters. Sony seems to have high hopes for the title, and though the portion I played was too short to give any definitive proof that those hopes will pay off, it did contain some interesting mechanics and presentation aspects that left me intrigued.
While much of the promotional media for the game has focused on its supernatural and exploration aspects, the section I got to play was definitely more in the vein of a traditional cover-based third-person shooter. I assumed control of the lead, Sir Galahad, and helped fellow members of his order deal with a rebel uprising.
An interesting central mechanic, at least in this portion of the game, is how I would go about attacking enemies. While movement and cover handle like many other shooters, my default weapons, mapped to both the R1 and R2 buttons on the DualShock 4, are meant to be used in tandem instead of only relying on one. Tapping one trigger will cause Galahad to shoot a wide, imprecise cloud of grit. When I asked the member of Ready at Dawn standing nearby who was helping players with the demo about the grit’s effectiveness, he pointed out that it won’t do immense damage on its own. What you’re meant to do after firing that is tap the other R button to shoot a flare into the same spot. Aim well enough, and the spread grit will ignite into flames, wreaking havoc on any enemies unfortunate enough to be in its path.
One thing that I can say for sure about The Order after trying it out is that, despite its dark and dreary atmosphere and color scheme, it is still an incredible-looking game graphically. When a cutscene started in the middle of the level, I couldn’t resist asking if I was still watching real-time footage on the game’s engine. The developer confirmed that it was. Other than certain parts of Infamous: Second Son, this feels like the first game I’ve seen that seems to be taking full advantage of the PS4’s increased power and looks truly next-gen. The detail and smoothness in the character models and environments are very impressive and will definitely blow people away.
After the first shootout, Galahad and the other members of the order took a brief rest in a shack, where one of them succumbed to wounds suffered in the previous battle. I took place in a context-sensitive action where I used one of Galahad’s weapons to dispose of a boiler blocking my pat,h and then fought another battle before the demo cut off.
Though my time with the game was brief, The Order: 1886 controlled well from what I played, and as mentioned, it is visually stunning. Shooter fans with a PS4 may want to keep their eyes on this one when it launches on February 20, 2015, because it’s definitely going to be something special.