In defense of the The Order: 1886
If you’re one of the uninitiated, The Order: 1886 is a PlayStation 4 exclusive, developed by Ready at Dawn, and released earlier this year. Upon its release, the game was almost universally panned by critics and gamers. It currently sits at a 63 on Metacritic. This may not seem like the worst score in the world, but with the current state of video game review scores, anything less than a 7 is often (and unfairly) viewed as trash. I feel like The Order: 1886 has gotten a bad rap, and I thought I’d take this opportunity to talk about why I feel it’s not as bad as people claim.
Now, I think most people will agree that the gameplay itself is generally solid. It plays like most other cover-based third-person shooters, so if you’ve played one before then you know what to expect. What makes the encounters different in The Order: 1886, are the variety of fun weapons you have at your disposal. For example: one gun allows you to basically shoot lightning bolts at enemies, and another lets you shoot out a cloud of gas which you can then ignite, burning your enemies to death. These weapons are unique, and I enjoyed using them. I guess if I were to put it simply: if you like third-person shooters, you will probably enjoy a majority of the game.
One of the biggest criticisms of the game is its length. Is it a short game? Yes, it is, and I feel like this is the single biggest knock against it. However, it is not as short as you have likely been led to believe. I didn’t time my playthrough, but I played for a couple of hours every day for around four days straight. This means I spent roughly eight hours with the game. With an initial price tag of $60 USD, I could see why this would upset a lot of people. I would agree that $60 is a little much for so short a game, but now the game is selling for $40, and you could probably score a used copy for around $30, like I did. This is a much more reasonable price to pay. I didn’t feel cheated out of my money at all. When you consider that most Blu-Rays will run $20-30 for about two hours of entertainment (excluding repeat viewings), I’d say around $40 for The Order: 1886 is good value.
Another knock against the game is that it’s overly linear. I like open-world, play-the-way-you-want types of games as much as the next gamer, but sometimes a little linearity is a good thing. It allows for a more streamlined experience, and with a game as cinematic as The Order: 1886, it keeps the story on track by constantly moving the game forward. It’s obvious the game was intended to be as much a cinematic experience as it is a gaming one, so making the game linear was a smart design choice. I am aware that games can be cinematic without being linear, but it just feels like this was the right choice for The Order: 1886.
Now, the linearity and cinematic aspects of the game would be a huge problem if the story wasn’t any good. Thankfully, the story hooked me right away, and it didn’t let me go until the end credits. Many people claimed the story wasn’t interesting, but I respectfully disagree. It’s not the deepest story, and it’s not the most original, but I couldn’t help but feel immersed in the world and plot. Part of this was definitely due to the stellar voice acting and incredible graphics. Each voice actor did a fantastic job bringing their characters to life. This made me care about the characters, even if they weren’t very well developed. Honestly, just experiencing the story was a huge factor in my overall enjoyment of the game. Unfortunately, I’ve seen some people claim the game is nothing more than a visual novel, or that it’s a movie with some gameplay here and there. These people are largely exaggerating, and it’s not an accurate description of the game. I personally loved how the game seamlessly moved from cut-scene to gameplay, and wouldn’t mind seeing it in more games.
In the end, your enjoyment, or lack of enjoyment of The Order: 1886, will probably come down to a few things. Do you mind paying around $40 for approximately eight hours of entertainment? Do you like third-person shooters, and games that are story driven? Do you like steam-punk settings and stories about werewolves and vampires? If you said yes to these questions, then you will probably find something worth your time in The Order: 1886. I know the game has its issues, and I didn’t necessarily touch upon all of them in this article, but I implore you to look at the big picture. Gamers have a penchant for being pedantic, but sometimes I think we need to look at the overall experience a game provides. For me, The Order: 1886 was engaging, immersive, and interesting; and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with it.