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E3 – The Order: 1886 Hands-On Preview

Since picking up a PS4 on launch day, I’ve been constantly thirsting for that fabled ‘next-gen experience’ everyone was talking about. After a myriad of delays and disappointments, I was still searching for a game to justify my purchase. After spending some hands-on time with The Order: 1886 on the E3 showfloor, my search is finally over. The Order: 1886 is the reason you should have a PS4.

First thing’s first: the game is absolutely beautiful. The gritty world of The Order‘s alternate timeline London is good-looking on its own, but the way The Order pays special attention to the tiniest details brought the experience all together. Seeing a glassy reflection in a bottle or watching wood splinter into the air after a bullet missed its target and instead hit a wall just adds a level of atmosphere that contributes to the overall beauty of the game.


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I expected the cutscenes to be gorgeous, but I never imagined that the gameplay would be right on par with the CGI scenes. Often times, a cutscene would transition right into the action of gameplay, without so much as a graphical hiccup. Coming out of a cutscene, I’d often linger a moment because I hadn’t realized I was out of a CGI sequence yet. The graphics are that good.

The actual gameplay is right on par with the look of the game. Characters move fluidly around the environment, hopping in and out of cover as need be. The E3 demo I was given access to ran me through the mission featured in the first half of the E3 trailer, which focused mainly on cover and the weaponry you’ll carry in the game. Right away, my adventure seamlessly slipped out of a cutscene and into the action. The protagonist and the other members of The Order were in a shootout against some human-looking enemies on a rooftop.

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This fight was specifically formatted to show off one of the all-new weapons introduced to The Order: 1886: the Thermite Rifle. This weapon has two fire modes: primary fire launches misty pellets of thermite into the air around enemies while secondary fire shoots a flare. Thermite plus fire? You’ve got a gun that shoots metal-melting explosions on your hands. The gun proved useful for handling clustered groups of enemies and persuading them to come out from behind cover.

After a brief break in the action, I was once again in the middle of a firefight between my team and the opposition. This time around however, the level was set up to introduce another of The Order: 1886‘s combat features: Blackwater mode. Named for the liquid that gives The Order members their superhuman health and abilities, Blackwater mode is a bullet time mode at best. Once the Blackwater meter fills, players can initiate the mode. At that point, time is slow and your aim is snapped to an enemy. You can either quick fire and gun him down or flick the left stick to move your aim to the next enemy in line.

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Blackwater mode is incredibly useful for taking down large hordes of enemies, but I did have issues with the camera at times. Initiating the mode causes the camera to zoom in ever so slightly, which at times can lead to the camera being obscured by scenery. Despite the occasional hiccup, the mode was a welcome addition to the gameplay demo.

The Order: 1886 has me excited. I’ve been known to enjoy a cover-based shooter from time to time, but none of them had the visual appeal that The Order: 1886 is bringing to the table. Here’s hoping that the graphics don’t get muddled some time between now and the game’s February 20th, 2015 release date.

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