The recent PlayStation Experience event was an opportunity for Sony to show off its 2015 lineup with no real competition for attention. The Order: 1886, a rather big yet mysterious new property for Sony was shown off on stage in a very limited sense, despite the game’s February 2015 release being right around the corner.
However, the footage shown was part of longer demo, lasting about 35 minutes in total. Some creative and stealthy individuals were able to leak that footage in its entirety. Truth be told, what Sony showed on stage had me worried. That particular trailer and game play showed off a rather simple third person shooter too close to Gears of War for me. However, that footage was incredibly limited and heavily cut. The leaked footage, while containing the action sequence officially shown, also contains more depth and does a better job of showing off the combat. The leaked footage will be shown after the article, but hurry up and view it as it may be taken down. (UPDATE: It’s been taken down.)
The demo starts with the main characters sneaking on to a Victorian airship which rebels have taken control of while disguised as regular soldiers. Your group contains four knights, members of the Order, with you playing as Galahad. They split up, and you with another knight must sneak through the ship, taking control of the cockpit without getting discovered or, of course, killed.
Along the way you find several obstacles, mainly locked doors and passages. Two non-combat gadgets are shown off here. You have an electric device that can be connected to circuit boxes controlling the ship’s power. Using the thumb-sticks, you must position and hold magnets in the box in the right place at the right time, shorting the circuit. This disables electric locks, as well as knocking out some nearby lights. Another tool shown was a sort of automatic lock-pick. You have to spin up the device, feel for changes in pressure, and hit the pins to open mechanical locks. These tools are very reminiscent of Batman’s gadgets in the Arkham franchise.
As you reach the cockpit, the other knight and you must surprise the pilots in a quicktime event. You prepare a smoke grenade and countdown using the triangle button, and the other knight throws open the door at the right time. As you go into the room, you have complete a quicktime interaction to disarm the enemies without being shot. One interesting twist to the sequence was that time would slow down allowing you to look around the environment for contextual interactions. In this instance, as you dodged an enemy’s gun shot and grabbed them, time slowed down for you to look around, allowing you to see a nearby wall corner. You are then prompted to hit the enemy’s head into it, before they get free from your grip. Outside of this particular sequence, stealth combat relied on getting close to enemies and timing the strike of your short-sword via contextual interactions.
You eventually reach a large room where two friendly characters are meeting. They are unaware that some of the soldiers guarding them are rebels in disguise, planning to assassinate them. You sneak onto a balcony overlooking the room and prepare your sniper rifle. You must identify which of the soldiers are rebels in disguise, and kill them before they assassinate the characters.
This leads the level away from stealth and into full combat as rebel soldiers realize they have been discovered and try to eliminate you and your allies. As I stated earlier, the combat initially looks similar to Gears of War due to the use of cover and over-the-shoulder shooting mechanics. However, this demo shows that beyond those controls, the actual combat is more similar to the Last of Us. This means that cover is rarely safe for long, and the game forces you to move around quite a bit. Enemies will try to flank you, or will use smoke grenades, to force you out of safe areas. The objects that provide cover are themselves small and spread out, meaning you will be moving around as much as you will be taking shots from behind a box or wall.
Getting too close to enemies allows you to enter a melee combat sequence. The controls of this were not made clear, but visually it seemed closer to Uncharted in that it was a short fight, rather than simply hitting an enemy once, as in most shooters.
At certain points, you are able to slow down time, using your gun to rapidly target and shoot enemies, similar to Dead Eye Targeting in Red Dead Redemption.
If you lose too much health, but have medicine with you, you will be able to try to revive yourself with it before enemies finish you off.
The weapons seen in the demo, in terms of variety, were the basic combo of handguns, automatic rifles, shotguns, and the mentioned sniper rifle. However, each weapon did perform very nicely with unique effects and mechanics. The basic pistol is sharp and accurate, powerful enough to be used regularly despite other weapon options. The machine pistol has the same utility, but sacrifices accuracy for automatic fire. The automatic rifle provided a nice, heavy burst of fire that displayed a lot of stopping power, slowing down enemies before killing them. The shotgun was what you would expect it to be, in the best sense, but stood out due to the wonderful effects it produced. At one point an enemy shot the main character with it, and it covered the screen in smoke and burning pellets. It was disappointing to not see some of the alternative fire modes or more specialized weapons. The controls do mention that these exist, and Ready at Dawn has discussed them before in other demos.
Throughout the demo, cinematic sequences progressed the story or showed off more stylized action sequences, some with quick time interactions.
Of particular note are the visuals. Physics on clothing and hair, lighting, and textures all seem to be masterfully done. By this I mean that the in-game technical visuals have reached cinematic levels, outclassing the graphics of games released in 2014. It seems, however, that the game has a permanent, wide screen black bar effect, similar to movies. This may be a stylistic choice, or it may be to allow the game to be rendered at 1080p, while not covering all 1080 lines of vertical resolution, so as to maintain a steady frame rate with a higher level of detail.
Overall, the full demo shows off a much better game than what was shown by Sony on stage. While the core mechanics may not be anything new so far, they still seem to be the inspired and polished aspects of some of the best action games in recent history. That, and the beautiful visuals and very unique setting make for an interesting game. Hopefully, this is enough to deliver not only a fun new game, but a new franchise to the industry.