The Order: 1886… Pretty, But Boring

A 15 minute B-roll of gameplay footage from The Order: 1886 has been released online, and the game looks pretty boring. Let me clarify, the game looks fabulous. The visuals are on point, and we’re finally getting a game that doesn’t look like a cross-gen or port. Character models move with weight and purpose, the faces and mouths move naturally and the lip syncing is flawless. Shots move seamlessly from cutscene to in-game without any noticeable changes or drop in quality.

It looks pretty, but man does it ever look boring. Slap a brand new frame and coat of paint on an old car and at first glance you’d be impressed. But when you hop in the driver’s seat and take it for a spin you realize that even though it looks slick, and has that new car smell, you’ve done this before.

The same stealth elements, the same third person shooting, the same weapon selection menu, and the same quick time events a hundred games have done before. I’m seeing a lot of comparisons being made to Ryse and they’re not far off. What we have seen is an atmospheric, stylish, visually stunning game built on (apparent) boring gameplay elements. Go speak to this person, find the fuse box and use your special tool to turn the power off. How do I use this special tool? Hit the shoulder buttons at the right time. Now that the power is off, use your stealth skills to creep around and silently kill the enemies…by pressing triangle at the right time. Once you’ve done that, it’s time to storm the cockpit! Sound exciting? It’s not. Enter the room, watch a nifty pre-rendered fight scene then make sure to hit triangle at the appropriate time.

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Perhaps the 16-year-old me would be gushing over the stunning “next-gen” graphics and reveling in the fact that this is probably the best looking game so far in this cycle AND it’s on the PlayStation. However, my older, more cynical self sees past the pretty pictures to the tired and been-there-done-that core of the game. I don’t play games to spend half my time watching cutscenes or blasting through quicktime events. I want to tinker, I want to experiment and I want to be challenged to play tactically. From what I’ve seen so far, The Order: 1886 offers none of this. It’s essentially an interactive movie, and while I fully support games telling stories with depth and structure, they should still be fun to play.

The game won’t be out for another few months, but this is a close to the final product as we’re going to get, and I am not impressed. Check out the footage and judge for yourself.