The Order: 1886 is coming. On February 20th, to be exact. Do you have your PS4? What about your Internet connection for multipl- what? This game doesn’t have any multiplayer? Huh?!
Truly, a game (and AAA no less) released in the modern day that is a completely single-player experience is a rarity. The craze of Borderlands, Assassin’s Creed, and even always-on games (we’re looking at you, Destiny, Elite Dangerous, and Sim City for some reason) is paramount. But the validity and success of the single-player experience can’t be ignored. A single-player-only game isn’t a bad thing. Far from it.
There are fantastic games with multiplayer experiences, to be fair. Hell, even the iconic and classic Super Mario Bros was a single-player game with a multiplayer option. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with a multiplayer option, or games that are multiplayer-only.
But, sometimes, a gamer needs some time alone. Sometimes a gamer needs to kick back, grab a drink of their choice and maybe some snacks, and play hours of a game that’s just for them. A game that does nothing more than present to them a story and characters and a world for them to interact with and experience.
For many gamers, an open world suffices. They turn to Skyrim, Dragon Age Inquisition, or maybe Fallout 3. Some gamers demand a stronger narrative, sacrificing some freedom for strength of characterization. They boot up Bioshock titles, Mass Effect, Dishonored, or Spec Ops: The Line. Shooters, RPGs, and hybrids alike present single-player titles for everyone.
The Order: 1886 promises to be no different. At least, in its promise of single-player goodness. There hasn’t even been a whisper of a multiplayer option even in the pseudo fashion that Dark Souls games offer. What Ready at Dawn is presenting is an experience best enjoyed alone.
When a title garners this much attention, the outcome isn’t always good. Destiny built up a massive pile of hype leading up to its release, and the result wasn’t exactly overwhelmingly positive. Thief as released in 2014 had a fairly expectant release, and ultimately proved to be monumentally disappointing (according to many).
Fortunately, based on the videos and stills released of the game so far, The Order: 1886 looks to be quite the title. And the market for a dedicated single-player game hasn’t vanished. Not by a long shot.
Games like Life Is Strange are still performing wonderfully. Every single series released by the narrative wizards over at Tellale Games seems to do beautifully. And there are others besides adventure games; Bioshock Infinite was almost universally praised for its incredible storyline and gameplay. And Dishonored‘s success doesn’t leave anything to be desired. Both adventure games and shooters alike have enjoyed success in this arena.
The Order: 1886 is a single-player game. And unlike the Call of Duty franchise, the Halo franchise, or Borderlands it must survive on its single-player experience alone.
This is a very good thing, but also a very dangerous thing.
The entire gaming community is watching The Order: 1886. They’re watching this massive PS4 exclusive, wondering whether it will succeed, fail, or fall somewhere in the sea of mediocrity. (This was originally typo’d as “fail” in the sea of mediocrity….) If a single aspect of the game is out of place, it will catch a lot of flak for it, be it because of gameplay, narrative, characters, or anything in between.
Succeeding won’t determine the entire fate of single-player games as a medium, obviously. But if – if – The Order: 1886 was a ridiculous success, the merits would be incredible. And odds are it will be. Such a high profile game from a company that’s had its hands in numerous successful titles (Okami ring a bell for anyone?) stands to do well on pedigree alone.
The Order: 1886 looks like a great game. Whether it actually plays like one is still unknown to most. But hopefully, as was the case with Bravely Default, publishers will take note. Hopefully, they will notice its success more than anything else. The single-player game isn’t dead yet. It won’t ever die, with any luck. And The Order: 1886 is in a wonderful position to prove to the world that single-player-only games still have a commercial, marketable, successful place in the gaming world.