Since the PS4’s inception, Sony haven’t shied away from new I.P. Knack, DriveClub and The Order: 1886 were some of the first games to be unveiled back in 2013, well before the PS4 hit shelves. Knack was obviously aimed at kids and with several PS4 bundles that included the game success was pretty much guaranteed for this rather average plat former. DriveClub, despite the tedious delays, still has a broad appeal, especially when you consider that the PS4 is somewhat lacking in driving games.
Exclusive to Ps4, The Order: 1886 could be a huge risk in terms of sales. Gone are the glory days of the PS2 where publishers distributed endless amounts of original titles, many of which found success. The Eastern games that made their way over to Western shores were at the peak of popularity. The amount of original I.P out there was frightening and people would buy it regardless of quality, they just wanted something new to play.
Today is a different story. Whilst the PS3 and Xbox 360 sales were strong, there was certainly an emphasis on quality rather than quantity. The recession kicked in and gamers were almost demanding high production value games before they would part with their money. The risks for a successful game became much higher and failure could even spring studios into turmoil despite any previous success stories.
So that leaves The Order: 1886. Graphically, this game stands above almost any title, as some of the gameplay footage will testify. However, it is the time the game is set that perhaps puts this game in jeopardy. Set in 1886 during the industrial revolution, poverty is rife in London and the peasants are in revolt against the upper classes. Amongst these tensions, are a secret organisation of Knights known as The Order who, for centuries, have been fighting a war against the Half Breeds. The developer Ready at Dawn have effectively admitted that this is the biggest risk the studio has undertaken. In the Official Playstation Magazine Ready at Dawn boss, Ru Weerasuriya, spoke openly about the gaming industries fear of failure;
A lot of developers are sometimes gun-shy about how far they can go with narrative, but you take risks“
Whilst both he and Playstation Magazine acknowledged that this is predominately a third person shooter, which is a genre with plenty of appeal, they do pose the question – “What if people aren’t interested in neo-Victorian London? There’s not much precedent in the gaming industry to make your sales predictions on.”
Having said that, alternative reality historical fiction games haven’t exactly failed in the past, although they’ve had mixed results. Resistance: Fall of Man was set in 1951, where aliens conquer the world in a matter of moments. Humanity fights back with weapons from the second world war as well as acquiring alien weaponry. Resistance was the first PS3 title to sell over a million copies, the sequels sadly proved much tougher to engage audiences and the games online servers were removed in early 2014. Homefront, another FPS with an alternative timeline, also managed to sell particularly well but received mixed reviews from critics. The online element of Homefront however, proved to be it’s defining moment and ensured it’s appeal to the masses.
The Order, whilst set in alternative timeline, is nothing like these two games. For a start the Order isn’t a FPS, which arguably has a larger appeal. Secondly, The Order will not feature multiplayer. This may give the developers more focus on creating a truly unique and amazing single player game. On the other hand, third person shooter fans have come to expect a multiplayer. Even if the campaign is overlooked in favour of multiplayer, that certainly isn’t a bad thing. Gears of War, Uncharted, even Mass Effect 3 cater for the online audiences. The model The Order: 1886 would be wise to follow is the path the Assassin’s Creed franchise carved out last generation.
The template for Assassin’s Creed is undeniable and has seen the series reach over 73 million sales in less than a decade. So what does the Order have in common with Assassin’s Creed? Assassin’s was released within the first year of the PS3 much like the Order will be within the first year of the PS4. This could mean that gamers will be hungry for something new to play as games for next gen, besides the annual titles, are often few and far between. If presented to the public, much the same way as Assassin’s Creed was, The Order could have mass appeal. If it plays on the fact that history is being shaped by a secret society (as both games have this in common) and sets this against real world events, gamers could be eager to see how Ready at Dawn incorporate such story telling into events that have actually happened. I even expect to see DLC for the Order entitled ‘The Order: 1888 – The Jack The Ripper Mystery.’ Should the Order be successful we could see a whole set of timelines throughout the ages were our hero Knights fight off the hordes of Half Breeds. Bathing itself in history and jumping from century to century has proven a winning formula for Assassin’s Creed, so why not The Order?
Tell us your thoughts. Can the Order succeed? Is this a game that appeals to you? Will this become a big budget gem lost amongst the annual franchises?