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The Order: 1886 will finally be launching on PS4 worldwide tomorrow. Today the first reviews arrived and they're not very enthusiastic.
The third-person shooter is set in a steampunk version of Victorian era London. Knights armed with advanced technology like grenades and machineguns protect the city from rebels, 'half-breed' humans with animal traits, and other threats.
Developers Ready at Dawn were going for a linear, "cinematic" experience. However, it seems many reviewers didn't enjoy the story that was told. The consensus seems to be that the general premise of the game was interesting but that the actual plot and characters of the campaign weren't all that exciting.
Critics also complained about the constant quick-time events during cutscenes. The final boss fight is apparently just a sequence of QTEs.
The technical aspects of The Order: 1886 were praised by most. Each compliment seems to have a catch, though. The environments are gorgeous but handicapped by the excessive use of cinematic effects like motion blur and film-grain. The weapons sound fantastic but players' arsenal is mainly composed of guns like shotguns and sniper rifles that we've seen in so many other shooters.
From the sound of things, the unique aspects of The Order aren't used enough. While you may have thought that you'd be fighting monsters left and right in this game, you actually only encounter them a couple times. There are some interesting weapons, like a lightning gun and napalm launcher, but they're seldom found throughout the campaign. Nonetheless, a lot of critics seemed to enjoy the action even if the game didn't necessarily set itself apart from other third-person shooters very well.
The length of the game was the source of much drama this week. I didn't see much discussion in reviews about whether it's "long enough," though. The length of The Order: 1886 apparently didn't annoy reviewers so much as other aspects of the game.
As a result of all these shortcomings, The Order: 1886 is currently sitting at a Metacritic average of 65. Here are a few excerpts from reviews throughout the web:
"I should make it very clear that I did enjoy my time with it. I didn’t want to put the controller down because Ready at Dawn did such an exquisite job of doling out the action. And that, combined with its decent concept, story, and gameplay, would’ve been enough a long time ago. But in 2015 it left me feeling discontent. Is this what I bought a PlayStation 4 to play? Is this what Sony is passing off as a bold new experience? A different shade of Resident Evil 4?" - GamesBeat
"What's frustrating are the glimpses of something more fulfilling that never go anywhere. The United India Company that you work against, a transparent spin on the East India Company, suggests a post-colonial narrative that's never fully explored, with every interesting thread abandoned, dangling, long before the climax. In the dim afterglow of the post-credits sequence, it's apparent that Ready at Dawn has wasted its wonderful premise on a sub-Nolan origins story, one in which po-faced minimalism is mistaken for something more profound, and where a franchise is half-heartedly set up with world-building that's hollow and bland." - Eurogamer
"Even if the fighting is a little derivative, the hightly scripted action scenes remain tense and rewarding. Enemies are aggressive, flanking or pinning you behind a crate as it is steadily degraded by bullets. Moving between hiding places is smooth, and the occasional melee feels brutal and satisfying. Even a brief stealth sequence holds up well, though having failures send you back to a checkpoint is jarring. Needing to equip grenades rather than having a dedicated throw button gives them less utility, so it’s easy to forget about them." - Game Informer
"The Order is a beautiful dud. Instead of building the core mechanics and then wrapping everything else around it, it appears Ready at Dawn made a movie and wondered how to put a game into it. By all accounts it still hasn't worked it out." - Videogamer
"1886 does have a good amount of extra paths and collectibles to explore, but man is it linear. There's tons of unskippable cutscenes, and even when you're playing, it can still technically be considered a living cutscene at times -- you just have the ability to walk slightly forward without taking any other action. Maybe the developers at Ready at Dawn felt this was atmospheric, maybe they didn't have enough development time, but either way it feels like padding. So do the standard videogame lockpick and stealth sequences." - Destructoid
"As The Order: 1886 takes its place next to The Last of Us and Uncharted, it would appear Sony has cornered the market on highly cinematic, narrative-driven experiences that blend third-person shooting, exploration and puzzle-solving. The game is not without faults – it’s very linear, leans a little too much on quick-time events, and gameplay is merely average – but the experience is elevated by excellent storytelling, compelling characters, stunning graphics and art design, and sublime sound design. In the end, The Order: 1886 is a very good game that sets the stage for a potential blockbuster franchise. Now it’s up to Ready at Dawn to follow through." - Game Over Online
"All of this makes The Order: 1886 feel like PS4’s Resistance: Fall of Man moment. Like Insomniac’s PS3 launch title, Ready at Dawn’s blockbuster adventure treats us to a compelling alternate history, here blending time periods and their aesthetics for a visually interesting story with creative lore. The Order is also a visual showcase, setting a new benchmark for current-gen games and the industry as a whole. But its polished gameplay is safe and familiar to the point of non-descript. For some, these will be killer-app qualities. It’s more accurate to say The Order: 1886 is excellent original fiction atop a competent video game." - PSU