Do the Knights of The Order deserve to come out of retirement and resume their fight for London?
Time sure does fly. It’s hard to believe that just a few short weeks from now will mark a year since The Order: 1886 made its debut on the PlayStation 4, bringing Ready At Dawn and SCE Santa Monica Studio’s dark vision of a werewolf-ravaged alternate history London to life. While early impressions of the game seemed to demonstrate a high-caliber epic poised to become the PlayStation 4’s first real killer app, the game ultimately received a very mixed reception from fans and critics alike (ourselves included). The issues that seemed to set the gritty third-person shooter back were plentiful, but beneath the game’s scuffed Victorian veneer was a whole lot of heart and the foundation for something that ultimately should have been much more than when fans received when the game released on February 20, 2015. That said, we can’t help but ponder if Ready At Dawn should redouble their efforts at reviving the beleaguered IP with a fresh attempt at a supernaturally-charged shooter sequel, or leave the stoic Knights of The Order in the annals of gaming history.
Of course, the elephant in the room that proved to be one of The Order: 1886’s biggest sticking points was the game’s paltry 5-hour campaign. A game can have all of the big budget ambition in the world, but when priced at $60, there are few ways to run afoul of your consumers more than delivering a game you can finish in one sitting, with no reason to fire it up again. If Ready At Dawn has aspirations to restore The Order’s name, they damn well better bring a bit more meat to the table to sate shooter fans wanting more than a mere afternoon tryst. We can only imagine the developer learned their lesson after the very vocal outcry of fans flooded the internet after the game’s release. Simply put, if Ready At Dawn were to release another game in the series comprised of such little content, they may as well close up shop, as the good will of consumers only runs so deep.
Another issue RAD would do well to address is the relative lack of imagination when crafting the armaments that the Knights of the game’s titular Order bring to the fight. With the renowned Tesla as the groups “Q”, you’d think the developer would have worked to capitalize on the Steampunk trappings the series touched upon, creating some much more interesting weaponry for players to blast their way through the hordes of bowler hat-clad baddies and hulking werewolves. Unfortunately, with the exception of a pair of guns including a high-voltage rifle and a handy Thermite gun, Ready At Dawn largely left players to fend for themselves with an array of underwhelming conventional weapons, squandering the potential for fun. The team would do well to take notes from the destructive geniuses at Insomniac for the next go round when designing The Order 2′s tools of the trade.
Lastly, if Ready At Dawn chooses to return to the series, they would be wise to dial back the number of Quick Time Events tucked into the package. While I don’t think they were quite as bad as other critics have said, they did feel shoehorned into too many situations. Worse still, relegating the most major conflicts in the game to little more than cinematic sequences with prompts made these encounters feel incredibly unsatisfying. During our time with the game we wished to go toe-to-toe with the big baddies, rather than merely watch the game play itself, and that’s a damn shame.
While these issues are very real, and greatly impacted our enjoyment of the original game, we can’t help but hope Ready At Dawn learns from their mistakes and takes another stab at the series in the not-too-distant future. Despite its mechanical imperfections, The Order: 1886 is set against a brilliantly defined world that has tons of potential to pull players in, so long as they’re given enough content worth exploring. The game’s cinematic presentation was lush and engaging, and the alternate history setting that’s merely touched upon in the game’s brief campaign is just begging to be fleshed out with more rich locales, a cast of more interesting characters and more. The fusion of Steampunk tech and supernatural mythology on display could be a recipe for a really potent package if given the time and care a potential sequel deserves. Here’s hoping we see the series make return for a more polished encore performance one of these days.
So, our dear readers, do you want Ready At Dawn to develop a sequel to The Order: 1886? If so, what changes would you like to see implemented to make the game reach its full potential? Be sure to sound off in the comments section below and let us know what you think.