But here’s the thing. Until just recently, no one’s actually seen the game. Sure, I saw a behind-closed-doors tech demo when I was at Gamescom last year, and we have the really pretty reveal trailer, too, but no one outside of Sony and Ready at Dawn has been privy to what The Order: 1886 is all about. Until now.
The brief 10-minute hands-off demo I witnessed confirmed some of my fears. The portion of the adventure I saw ran relatively poorly, with sudden, sharp transitions between scenes, audio issues, and a lagging framerate. Ready at Dawn’s CEO and Founder Ru Weerasuriya was quick to point out that this sliver of the game wasn’t QA tested and optimized at all, and that there might be problems. But I was left wondering how this could be the best 10 minutes of the game the studio had to show, especially when he reiterated that The Order would indeed launch in 2014.
The Order: 1886 absolutely nails its period costumes and its wonderfully realized, believable setting. London looks dark, dreary, and perpetually overcast, exactly as you’d expect from a heavily-industrialised Britain. Ready at Dawn’s brilliance is shown with its understated odes to history and alternate history alike. The blimps flying through the air weren’t actually invented until years after the game takes place, yet you believe they should be there, and so they are. On the other hand, the navy blue outfits worn by The Order look old-school, yet timeless, with the Rebellion wearing similar dusters that pin them firmly to the late 19th century.
The demo focused on two members of The Order in particular – the experienced Galahad and the young Lafayette – as they head into Rebellion-occupied territory in search of something never expanded upon (likely to avoid spoilers). 1886’s graphics are decidedly beautiful – Ready at Dawn’s claim that the trailer shown at E3 last year was all in-game was essentially confirmed – and I was left especially impressed by the faces of the characters. Clearly, a lot of love was put into making The Order: 1886 look gorgeous.
As Galahad and Lafayette run around Whitechapel, dashing in and out of disheveled-looking houses, through doors and out windows, one thing that stuck out to me was the different kinds of weapons available. Even though we’ve seen some unbelievable firearms in the past, I loved that not everyone used them. Members of the Rebellion were equipped with standard (yet still ahead of their time) machineguns, while representatives of the Order were able to use some outrageous gear, including a gun that shoots huge bursts of air. Interestingly, the lack of balance was addressed in-game, as it seems the Rebellion is actively going after the Order’s specially-made gear in an attempt to turn the tid
If anything, my brief time seeing The Order: 1886 left me a bit confused. On a technical level, I’m somewhat concerned about the game, and I’m concerned that it seemed a bit more generic than I was hoping it would be. Then again, I’m also left excited about the prospect of seeing more, of gaining a better understanding of the game’s lore, direction, and purpose. Hopefully, we’ll get a deeper, more in-depth look soon.