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    The Order: 1886, The Ages Old War

    Cover-based shooters are the kind of game that can either work exceptionally well (like the last two Mass Effect games) or can go all kinds of wrong (Alpha Protocol springs to mind). With dynamics that are inevitably similar to games that have come before, they have a serious reliance on compelling narratives and interesting settings not to mention characters and equipment to bring freshness to the table. That could, of course, be said about numerous game genres, but it seems that people ignore things like first-person shooters and tend to direct their attention towards cover-based games.

    It seems like The Order: 1886 will have the ideas of narrative and setting well taken care of. While information about the game has been sparse (in fact, for a major release, The Order: 1886 has seen comparatively little hype) there are certain things that we do know… and they look pretty exciting.

    First off, there’s the setting, which lends itself to the nature of the game rather nicely. The Order: 1886 will take place in Victorian London, but with a twist. The game follows an alternate history, and at the height of its take on the Industrial Revolution, things look quite different. Technology within the game will be more advanced than it should be, with a strong steam punk feel applied to the gadgets that the player will employ, as well as to the overall setting. Airships and elevated trains will be seen in areas that are otherwise familiar, and the player will be able to see landmarks like the Palace of Westminster, Mayfair, Whitechapel, Crystal Palace Big Ben and the London Underground shrouded in the mist, steam and smoke of this alternate age.

    In this setting, three groups will play a major role. The first is the titular Order, a small group of knights who fight against unearthly threats from the shadows, keeping humanity safe. The second are the half-breeds, nightmarish creatures who prey on humanity it was their very existence that necessitated the founding of the Order. The third are the rebels, a group formed by the people of London as a reaction to draconian laws and increasing poverty. These human warriors have declared war on the very organisation that keeps them safe, seeing the Order as the source of their woes, rather than their protectors.

    The combination of these three groups, along with the unique and potentially rich setting, sets the tone for what may just work out to be a very interesting tale. Thanks to the power of the PS4, which will be the exclusive release platform for The Order: 1886, players will be able to enjoy this tale in extreme detail, with seamless transitions between game play and cut scenes, as well as highly detailed, motion captured characters.

    The characters that the player will deal with the most will be four member of the Order. This organisation was founded centuries before the game, as a reaction to the threat posed by the half-breeds. Using a mysterious substance named blackwater, the Order have managed to lengthen the lives and improve the abilities of their members, all to better combat the inhuman menace. The principle characters within the game are Sir Galahad, a jaded veteran of the Order, Sir Percival (aka Sebastian Mallory), another veteran who will bend the law as needs require, Lady Igraine (aka Isabeau D’Argyll), the youngest member of the Order, and Marquis de Lafayette, a tactical genius tempered by the French Revolution and American War of Independence.

    In addition to these characters, the player can expect, during the course of the narrative, to meet several other unique and interesting NPCs, many of which are based on actual historical characters (perhaps taking a page out of the Assassin’s Creed book).

    Tying the characters to the environment will be their arsenal of weapons and equipment. Only a few things have been revealed, but they already look pretty exciting. And there are sure to be more items available, including a few surprises. Thus far, things like the Arc gun (firing electricity, no doubt), the Thermite gun (for explosive, fiery carnage) and fragmentation grenades have been revealed, to name but a few.

    There are a number of things that we don’t know about yet, but from videos that are floating around the internet, we can see that The Order: 1886 will combine several dynamics into a seamless, cinematic experience. The player will experience both stealth and all-out action sections, and will have to solve mini-game puzzles and react to quick-time events during some of the more scripted sequences. We also know that the game will be a third-person perspective, and that there may be a degree of squad-based play. As to character progression, things are a little unclear, but it may be safe to assume that some kind of skill upgrading and equipment acquisition will take place. One thing that we do know is that The Order: 1886 will not feature a multiplayer component, which is a rather unusual move these days. Hopefully the game will be long, and there will be elements to warrant multiple play-throughs.

    The biggest mystery surrounding The Order: 1886, though, doesn’t form part of game dynamics or character progression it stems from the development team. Ready at Dawn are not a new studio; rather, they cut their teeth on games like Daxter, God of War: Chains of Olympus and GoW: Ghost of Sparta. All of these games were developed for the PlayStation Vita. In fact, only two games developed by this team were not for the Sony hand-held: Okami (Wii) and GoW: Origins Collection (PS3). The Order: 1886 will be their first foray into PlayStation 4 territory, which may raise an eyebrow or two. In addition, with the exception of Okami, it is also the first time they are relying on their own IP, which may raise eyebrows even further. However, the consistently good ratings that their projects have received, combined with the videos showing game play and graphics, give a strong sense that The Order: 1886 will have a lot going for it.

    The Order: 1886 has been in development since 2010, and went gold on the 19th of January. ON the 20th of February we will finally be able to see how Ready at Dawn’s new vision translates as we take on the alternate world that it will present to us.

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