The Order: 1886
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While Killzone: Shadow Fall and inFAMOUS: Second Son have given us a glimpse of how Sony's popular franchises can be enhanced and expanded on the PlayStation 4, The Order: 1886 is exciting for a completely different reason.
This isn't something familiar given a facelift-- this is a totally new project, one whose core ideas and gameplay were born on next-generation hardware.
It's interesting, then, that this also serves as the first original game for developer Ready at Dawn. Ideas for The Order originally began forming in 2006 as a project that crafted fiction from real-life history and legends. Indeed, one of the game's more intriguing elements is that mix of fantasy and reality. This alternate-timeline Victorian London is covered in a layer of grit and grime true to that era, contrasted by dirigibles flying through the sky and fantastical weapons used by the game's protagonists, four members of a high-tech (for the times) incarnation of the Knights of the Round Table.
That idea of blending different aspects together may be what's most compelling about The Order: 1886 beyond just its premise. The first thing you notice is the game's visual style. There's a cinematic, film-like look to everything, and not only are the overall graphical qualities and camera angles tweaked to reflect that, but The Order also runs in widescreen the entire time--not just during cutscenes like in other games. It's a decision that some have bemoaned, since those top and bottom areas of the screen are now "missing" during game-play.
However, it's gameplay where that intertwining of different elements will make the biggest impact in The Order. Ready at Dawn wants players to have an experience that constantly switches back and forth between action and exposition, done in a way that won't break the flow of the game. Brief cinematic bits are constantly used to bridge player-controlled action scenes, and even in the more story-driven moments where control would typically be taken away, the team is looking for ways to have the player involved to some degree--such as being able to manipulate the new weapon your character's been given as he holds it during a cutscene, or using a monocular to survey the city while a conversation takes place.
In a world where finding that proper balance between integrating rich, riveting narrative into a game and keeping the interactivity satisfying can still be a difficult task, The Order: 1886 is poised to help redefine and refine what a "cinematic experience" should be. And in doing so, this adventure set so many years in the past could also be one of the biggest upcoming influences in the future of its genre.