A year on from its initial reveal at the Sony press conference of the last E3, The Order: 1886 is still a long way from its February 2015 release date.
Most of the details are still shrouded in mystery, too, but we do now know one significant thing: how it plays. The demo in Sony’s booth at E3 2014 is excruciatingly short at around 5 minutes, but it’s just enough of a taster to make me really excited about a game that hadn’t previously grabbed too much of my attention.
The first thing you notice is how downright gorgeous the game is. The colour palette is very muted, with greys and browns dominating, but the detail in the buildings, uniforms and moustachioed faces is staggering.
It had already been surmised that this was predominantly a cover-shooter of a game, and that’s borne out in this playthrough, as we move from cover to cover through the war-ravaged streets of London. We’re waylaid by ‘revolutionaries’ on the way and have to clear areas before progressing – werewolf-like enemies apparently form the core adversaries in the game, but in this demo it’s the disgruntled lower classes that are the more immediate problem.
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Thermite in the streets of London
Combat is an absolute joy, thanks in no small part to the thermite rifle - one of the most awesome weapons in recent video gaming memory (it’s also one letter away from being a ‘termite’ rifle, which would also be awesome).
When carrying this weapon your primary fire shoots out thermite particles, creating localised clouds around your enemy, press the secondary fire button and you launch a flare that ignites the cloud and anyone unfortunate enough to be caught in it. We did mention this was an alternate-history, right?
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Initial verdict: a fantastic first taste
The section we played was extremely linear, and while you don’t want to make too many assumptions based on such a small portion of game the suspicion is that while there may be branching pathways on occasion, this is going to be a fairly rigidly guided experience.
Judged on what we’ve seen so far, the trade-off is going to be spectacular set pieces and a really well written (though clearly bonkers) and well acted story. The five-minutes spent in this grim world has left me eager to learn more about the alternative-history setting and the gruff ‘knights’ of the titular Order.
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