The Order: 1886 is a third-person action-adventure shooter, developed exclusively for PlayStation 4 by Ready at Dawn, in collaboration with SCE Santa Monica Studio. The story centers around a fictional Order of Knights who protect mankind from supernatural threats in an alternate universe Neo-Victorian London.
It has been stated by Ready at Dawn CEO Ru Weerasuriya that The Order: 1886 has been in active development since 2010, from concepts and story ideas conceived in 2005. In 2013 a full-coverage series of articles appeared in both digital and magazine formats from Game Informer that included interviews, documentaries, concept art and in-depth articles on the title's creation.
Shortly after their development of Chains of Olympus on PSP, Ru Weerasuriya began expanding on writings he had developed himself since 2005 of an alternate history timeline which presented a scenario that would 'change the way we arrived to today, not everything entirely'. Upon the release of Assassin's Creed in 2007, Ru noticed there were similarities between his storyline's setting, namely the ancient city of Jerusalem, and opted to write his mythos into a different direction. By 2010, after having produced some of the most highly rated PSP games on the platform (God of War, Daxter), the advent of the development of the PS4 saw Ready At Dawn studios approached by Sony with the opportunity to develop a new game for the yet-to-be-revealed platform. Seizing the opportunity not only to develop his own thoroughly researched, intricate and well laid out IP into an interactively told story, but also to showcase what a new platform is capable of, Ru pitched the story of what would eventually be called The Order: 1886 - then still known by it's working title, Requiem, and the response from the RAD team secured the project from the creative and technological standpoint.
For financial backing, RAD accepted the offer from Sony and in turn pitched Requiem to Shuhei Yoshida, president of PlayStation, to gauge their interest. All that was needed were a few concept paintings of Ru's moody, alternate-history 'Neo-Victorian' London, as well as laying out the narrative, dramatic and creative potential of an IP he had been privately developing for over 5 years, and Sony approved the project. What followed was a process that including building The Order's engine from scratch, using the PS4's versatile programming architecture to 'essentially build whatever we wanted'.
Before production had even begun, Ru laid out to his team his objectives for the IP, citing the jump into next-gen technology as their starting point for exploring possibilities in a game that previous generation's simply could not consider doing. Among the first of these pillars was to use the grounded, period setting and style of the story and approach the design of The Order in all senses 'filmic' - from the level of detail and authenticity of the costumes and props, to professionally performance-captured animations and voice work, to perhaps the most defining feature of the project - the idea of building in physical lenses to lay in front of the in-game camera to produce a familiar texture and grain to the image which, as Ru explained in the Game Informer interviews, 'is something that we don't question when we are watching movies, and which we take for granted when following the story of a film.'
Natural light diffusion, chromatic aberration and lens curvature and dirt were all digitally implemented to create a sense of filmic legitimacy to the moving images of the game. Rather than attempt to emulate Hollywood, Ready At Dawn determined that regardless of what the general public has been used to watching either on film or television for the past 30 years, since before video-games left the 2D plane, one of the constant elements have been the associated visual effects of the use of a camera to capture those images. Weerasuriya has stated that with The Order, Ready At Dawn are simply extending that treatment of visual images as we've experienced and have become familiar with across 3 decades to video games, to a level of authenticity that was simply not achievable before next-generation console technology became available.
Other aspects include reproducing everything down to a simulated 'steadicam' effect where if a character moves too quickly, the camera will lag behind as would happen when filming in real life, realistic lighting and physics were realized again from the ground up within RAD's own proprietary engine (RAD 0.1). Taking cues from several successfully cinematic and filmically realized games such as Naughty Dog's The Last Of Us and the Uncharted series, visual fidelity to even the most minute of set dressing details was created, all in aid of immersing the player into a legitimately accurate 19th century London. A field trip of the game designers and producers to London in 2011 led to thousands of photographs being taken for reference, and as Art Director Nathan Phail-Liff explains in Game Informer, even a museum collection of period garments and objects was borrowed and scanned in to be customized and used in the game.
As stated by Chief of Technology Andrea Pessino, in building the world of The Order: 1886, RAD was able to increase the number of polygons and facial structure animations to undiscovered territory for the industry. Within the face of a single Knight in the Order are the same amount of joints and folds as were present in the entirety of the Nathan Drake model used in Uncharted 2: Among Thieves.
RAD Employees were made up to resemble the hair and facial hair styles of the four lead characters - Grayson, Isabeau D'Argyll, Sebastian Malory and Marquis de Lafayette - and both scanned and photographed for lighting and modelling reference. Real-world textures and dynamics were studied and recreated, including the correct reaction to the cornea of the eye to the movement of the skull and light hitting from various angles, all to ensure anatomical accuracy and to achieve a seamless photo-real effect throughout the narrative, in service to the second major distinguishing pillar for the project - a story that would be told without any pre-rendered cinematics, and instead incorporate cinematic sequences seamlessly in the form of multi-branching QTE's, without any pause in gameplay. Speaking with TIME Magazine, Weerasuriya explains this approach as 'extending the treatment of filmic editing and pacing to gaming, and instilling the narrative with highly polished and enjoyable gameplay, without compromising the story-driven nature of The Order.
By 2012, rumors of the game's development began to spread on the popular NeoSeeker and Gamespot forums. The team began working on what would eventually become The Order: 1886's debut trailer - 8 years after the initial story was conceived, and 3 and a half years since the game had entered development. At E3 2013, a trailer depicting the game's four main characters getting attacked in the Whitechapel district was revealed, heralded by a message declaring all content of the trailer was being generated in-engine.
As E3 2014 neared, Ready At Dawn released another firefight gameplay video, emphasizing updated character models and improved facial animations, set in a high tension Rebel altercation where Galahad and LaFayette attempt to rescue a Constable from death, to no avail. Andrea Pessino took to Italian forums in the hopes of quelling some of the concerns surrounding the seemingly 'generic' gameplay, by insisting that the demos revealed so far only reveal a small portion of the game, centered around the game's third chapter, 'Inequalities', revolving around the four-member team needing to make it's way to London Hospital for some unknown purpose.
At the E3 2014 Sony Press Conference. The Order: 1886 opened the conference with a 4-minute sequence with elements of survival horror/thriller following Galahad in the dank, gloomy confines of the London Hospital, the general public got their first peek at the Lycans in this demonstration.
As of yet, according to E3 coverage with Gamespot, Pessino has stated that the upcoming months will be dedicated to new gameplay reveals. Weerasuriya has alluded to the reveal of another character, though whether or not this is one of the previously alluded actual historical characters set to appear during the course of The Order's story remains to be seen.
The game was announced to be released on the 20th of February, 2015, during the re-cut E3 2014 official trailer.
Set in an alternate 19th century timeline where, thousands of years ago, a genetically distinct strain of humanity evolved from the rest of mankind to become 'Half-Breeds' - humans with bestial traits - the emergence of which swiftly led to an inter-species conflict which has been waged for centuries.
As the first and most pressing priority across the globe, the constant war for humanity's very existence against the Half-Breeds thus brought about advances in culture, technology, and weaponry far quicker than in our own timeline, in which no such singular purpose would have led to such progress in those fields.
In the 6th century, this twist in our world's history would eventually lead one Arthur Pendragon, King of the British Isles, to create The Knights of the Round Table - a secret society of the world's best warriors, tacticians and scientists who swore themselves to the protection and preservation of humanity from the constant menace of the Half-Breeds.
Calling themselves The Order, Arthur and his companions concerted mankind's efforts to push back and defeat the Half-Breeds once and for all. Eventually, however, their ranks began to thin, and a losing battle began against foes simply too strong and numerous to even hope to eradicate.
The tides of fortune were soon to change though, as by some mysterious series of events, The Order came into possession of a substance known as the Blackwater - an eldritch elixir with properties of healing, increased strength, and perhaps most polarizing of all - unnatural long life. The first Knights soon realized that even with the Blackwater, each would eventually pass from this world into the next. A system of succession was thus implemented, whereby a Knight either slain in battle or claimed by the passing of time would pass their name on to a successor, to carry on the sworn duty of the former into a new age, and a new generation.
By the 19th century, in the aftermath of the Industrial Revolution, mankind has finally begun to gain the upper hand in the endless war with the Half-Breeds. With large, bustling cities such as London powered by electricity and networked by railways and airship mooring towers, bolstered by wireless communication and the most extravagantly lethal weaponry, at last it would be possible to walk the streets at night without fear.
Alas, such is the nature of man that even after years of struggle and loss to fight for their freedom from the dominance of the Half-Breeds, new problems and disputes were quick to take their place - this, some worry, to our doom.
As the population of London has grown, as fewer people are able to shelter under the protection of the limited resources of The Order, the more people have become vulnerable to being preyed upon by whatever remains of the Half-Breed presence in the City. Frustration among the populace has begun to mount in the face of constantly being told that all that can be done is being done for the downtrodden and poor, while the rich and privileged benefit from The Order's protection, the masses have begun to rise up in Rebellion.
Some among the members of the Order - one Sir Galahad among them - who once bled to protect the very souls who now condemn and assail them in the streets of London, have begun to silently question their aristocratic benefactors who have ordered them to do so.
Concern grows even more as rumors abound of the Rebels, in their desperation for justice, allying themselves with the Half-Breeds - madly driven to wrest victory from those they are helplessly outgunned, oppressed and overpowered by. Crates of weapons meant for use by The Order are finding themselves in Rebel stockades, to the growing alarm of Sir Galahad, his mentor Sir Percival, and the younger knights lady Igraine and Marquis de Lafayette as well.
Though The Order's vigil has never waned across the centuries of their long and venerable history, by the time they've come to realize what turning away from their millennia-old foes for but an instant could cost them and mankind, it may be too late.
During the autumn of 1886 London is plagued by both half-breed attacks and an anti-government insurgency. After fighting off rebels in Mayfair, Sir Galahad pursues the survivors into the Underground where he encounters a number of werewolf-like half-breeds known as Lycans. Galahad's mentor Sir Percival, one of the Order's most veteran knights, suspects that there is a correlation between the two and requests permission to investigate the rebel stronghold of Whitechapel. His concerns are dismissed by the Lord Chancellor, who believes that the Order should remain dedicated to fighting half-breeds.
With tacit approval from Sir Lucan, the Order's Knight Commander and adopted son of the Lord Chancellor, Percival and Galahad undertake a mission into Whitechapel accompanied by the other two members of their team, Lady Igrane and the Marquis de Lafayette. After encountering fierce resistance they reach the rebel headquarters in the abandoned Royal London Hospital, only to find it occupied by Lycans. Galahad and Igrane discover evidence of a rebel plot to infiltrate the Agamemnon, flagship of the United India Company's airship fleet, and assassinate the company chairman Lord Hastings. The team boards the airship and foils the assassination attempt before a bomb detonates on board. Hastings and most of the passengers are evacuated, but Galahad and Percival remain on board to search for the rebel leader. A second explosion sends the Agamemnon crashing into Hyde Park, destroying the Crystal Palace in the process. Galahad survives but discovers that Percival has been killed.
In council at the Palace of Westminster, Lafayette is knighted and assumes Percival's seat at the Round Table. The Lord Chancellor is highly critical of the mission, asserting that Percival's death and the extensive collateral damage were in vain. The council is interrupted when rebels stage a major attack on Westminster Bridge aimed at killing Hastings, who is once again saved by the knights.
Still enraged by Percival's death, Galahad returns to Whitechapel seeking a confrontation with the rebel leader, who is revealed to be an Indian woman named Lakshmibai. Pleading with Galahad that the United India Company is the true enemy, she leads him to the company's warehouses in Blackwall where they discover a large number of hibernating half-breeds packed in crates bound for the Northeastern United States. According to Lakshmibai, Lord Hastings himself is a half-breed and is acting in response to the Order's recent success.
At Westminster, Galahad's concerns fall of deaf ears. Lucan sympathizes with him however, and joins Galahad and Lakshmibai in infiltrating the United India Company headquarters in Mayfair. They find evidence of a conspiracy to traffic half-breeds overseas and encounter Hastings in his vampire form. Before Galahad can act against Hastings, Lucan reveals himself to be a lycan and attacks Galahad. The two fight, but Lucan flees as the authorities arrive. Galahad is taken into custody by Lafayette and Igrane, charged with treason, and sentenced to death.
After several weeks, Galahad escapes captivity in the Westminster Catacombs and attempts to flee only to be cornered. Facing re-imprisonment, Galahad throws himself off a ledge into the Thames and is recovered by Nikola Tesla, the Order's armorer. Fearing that Tesla has come under suspicion, Galahad returns to Westminster in an attempt to extract him. He finds Tesla alive but also encounters Lucan in the laboratory. The two fight a second time with Galahad emerging the victor. The mortally wounded Lucan expresses regret for having betrayed the Order, claiming that he only did so in order to save his race from extinction.
The two are discovered by the Lord Chancellor, who confesses his knowledge of Lucan's true nature. He reveals to Galahad that centuries before he had fought and destroyed an entire tribe of Lycans, but couldn't bring himself to kill the infant Lucan, who he adopted as a son instead. The Lord Chancellor orders that evidence of Lucan's betrayal may not be used to exonerate Galahad and must be kept a secret for the sake of the Order. Still unwilling to kill his son, he leaves Galahad to administer the coup de grace. The two former comrades reconcile, and a remorseful Galahad raises his weapon and fires as the game cuts to black.
In a post-credits scene, Galahad is seen on the roof of a building overlooking London, which has been put under martial law. He is warned by Tesla over the radio that the police could strike anytime and that they should leave the city immediately. Galahad tells him he will be with him shortly and reminds Tesla that he is "Galahad no more".
The Order: 1886 is single player, story-driven, third-person shooter that uses cover-based over the shoulder mechanics similar to Uncharted and Gears of War. The player controls Grayson, a Knight of The Order, through a linear campaign split between 16 Chapters, some of which consist only of in-game cutscenes.
The player is frequently joined by one or more NPCs. Grayson and his team are equipped with various firearms provided by Nikola Tesla produced for The Order. These include rifles, pistols and advanced weaponry such as the Arc Gun and Thermite Rifle. Grayson can execute melee take-downs when near an enemy or from behind cover. There is also a special gauge that activates 'Blacksight'; a power that slows down time and reveals enemy weak-spots, similar to 'Bullet Time' from Max Payne. When filled, this gauge can also be used to bring Grayson back to life when near-death.Some parts of the game require perfect stealth where being spotted will result in an automatic game over. In these segments, the player can use a knife to eliminate unsuspecting enemies from behind or while in cover. They may be provided a silent firearm to shoot enemies from afar.A major aspect of the game is the constant use of quick-time events. These include in-game cutscenes and boss battles revolved entirely around executing button prompts.
Throughout the campaign, the player can collect phonographs and inspect articles and objects.
There is minimal and simplistic puzzle solving and platforming.
The Order: 1886 received mixed reviews - review aggregator Metacritic scored the game at 63/100. Most of the critics praised the game's production value and technical achievements but were disappointed by the game's story, and the player's involvement in the game. Slant's community agreed that the game offers a fast, varied and fun combat, but is too short even counting the unskippable cutscenes,, while GamesRadar summarized the game by saying that "The Order’s archaic, player-detached approaches to interaction and narrative nonetheless make it a dated and instantly forgettable experience.