By now, you've all seen the reviews and personal accounts of experiences with The Order: 1886. Very mixed, depending on who you are which isn't a bad thing. Variety is good and opens the doors for more varied games in the future. At the time of me writing this, the game has a 65 average on Metacritic based on 56 documented reviews. Normally, I'm not an advocate of Metacritic, but it serves a purpose that I'll get into later. Though some reviews were very condemning (such as a 1/5 review), it wasn't without some useful information. That is, following The Order's life cycle from introduction at E3 to the release, there are interesting conclusions one can extrapolate from the game's journey into our homes. Here, I want to list some things I've learned from watching this as an outsider looking in, some of which are very obvious but should be reiterated anyway. Hopefully, many of you can identify and generate some interesting discourse on the topic.
1. Hype is a cruel mistress
This is an obvious one. Since the beginning, the game was shown to have incredible visual fidelity and a very interesting universe with great physics on the cloth simulation, gunplay, and more. Everything from the start looked incredibly incredible. Based on the looks and the fact that the game was always demonstrated in the same areas, enthusiastic gamers believed the demo was based on an early build and the game has evolved since. Unamused gamers suggested that if Ready at Dawn had anything different to share with us to dispel the bad vibes, they would have. The game more or less played out as the unamused gamers expected and the game ended up doing worse with review outlets than expected. Conversation about a game in a large enough community can justifiably be treated as press; it's when it is overwhelmingly positive among gamers that hype is created. Hype creates an enormous expectation, often more seriously when a game is exclusive. When I see games like No Man's Sky, I wonder if we care about it so much because the concept is very interesting, Hello Games' involvement, or because it's a PlayStation 4 exclusive.
2. Bad Press Can Be a Primer
Serving as the antithetical of hype, bad press came flurrying in since a month ago. All of the problems and concerns voiced then are review criticisms now. You have to wonder...would these issues be as prominent now if all we heard or saw from the game from about a month ago were screenshots and trailers? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe the problems were really that pronounced and very many reviewers felt the same about it...or maybe all of the bad press had a sort of MC Escher effect where once you're shown how to look at something, you struggle to un-see it. We won't really know, but it would be interesting to see how gamer opinions differ following a media blackout period.
3. No studio is infallible
This is a scary lesson to consider. The Order: 1886 was made by studios that one would have intense faith in. Ready at Dawn of PSP fame and Sony's own Santa Monica Studio. Now, I hope you all understand I'm not saying that The Order is a bad game, but it seems almost unanimous that it could certainly be a better game. That said, the time and talent that went into this game is hard to ignore. This is an important lesson to remember. After all, Destiny which many people seem to be iffy about came from Bungie and Capcom who made Resident Evil 2...also made Resident Evil 6. I like to stay optimistic, so let's not talk about dangers looming over Quantum Break or The Phantom Pain. Yeah, who am I kidding, those games have a high chance of being great. The early impressions are promising which they never really were for The Order sadly.
4. Exclusives are still the fun thing to hate
Anytime we have press conferences with the console makers involved, forums, message boards, and gaming sites turn into a Bostonian pub on Superbowl Sunday with strangers calling your favorite team bums, cheaters, crooks, etc. My point is, it gets messy and defensive for one big reason: who will have the big exclusives? If you subscribe to notion that you only need/want one of the consoles, you're probably still hawking the competition to see what they're snatching up. Heck, the world was furious with the initial announcement of Rise of a Tomb Raider...then it was revealed that the deal has a duration. Either way, PS4 only gamers will not be playing Rise of a Tomb Raider this year. The defense? "We have Uncharted, our LIFETIME exclusive, that will be releasing this year. Good luck, Crystal Dynamics". In the case of The Order:1886, a lot of the people without PS4s or any interest in the PS4 or this game consistently had negative opinions of a product they were surely not going to be buying. Watching a game is fine if you're on the fence and commenting accordingly, but then you have the kids who most certainly will not buy it and found some kind of intimidation factor in the product. To be fair, I see a lot of this being treated as "payback" for a previous game on a rival platform that was chastised, which, by the way, is incredibly petty and immature. There were people gathering around the Forza Horizon 2 topics to berate a game they surely were not going to play either and talked up Drive Club. Drive Club ended up having severe online impairments which was a big part of the game where the Forza Horizon 2 fans were surely not going to let that blunder go unnoticed which was then followed by the Drive Club players having a great laugh at the Master Chief Collection fans' frustration with the broken online. At the end of the day, we're just out to deter sales and interest in the rival platform's exclusives. I'm sure in a couple of days or a week, we'll find out all about why Bloodborne will disappoint...then the Bloodborne fans will find some criticism for some game on XBOX One. Rinse, repeat.
5. Believe it or not, the gaming media still has power
Be honest with yourselves for a moment: when you saw a bad review, did you agree with it and say it was well written or did you treat it as biased and lacking credibility? When you saw a good review, did you agree with it and say it was well written or did you treat it as biased and lacking credibility? The very thought that these review outlets can evoke such strong emotions, positive or negative, suggests we do care what the gaming media has to say. Not in its entirety, of course, but we do love to pick and choose when to listen to the media. The media cares not for your agrees or disagrees. Only that you have an opinion about something they wrote because obviously, if you do, you've contributed to their daily traffic.
6. Sequels and Second Chances for Studios are a Must
Yes, production costs are skyrocketing. No, The Order:1886 wasn't a cheap venture. No, the game isn't likely to break even in light of all the criticism. Do I believe Ready at Dawn should be written off in any capacity? No, and I don't even think we should bar The Order from sequels. Sony as a company are often committed to games, even if they don't cash in; Mr. Spencer even had kind words about that. When a game is poorly received, the entire product should be reevaluated. In the case of The Order, the reception is very mixed, but at the higher end of the mixed reception tier. In my eyes, this means that Ready at Dawn was on to something, but to make it a huge success, there are some constructive changes that can be made to appeal to more people.
7. The Industry Can Learn from Ready At Dawn
Just to counterbalance the last lesson, what do P.t., Metal Gear Solid V, The Order: 1886, and Drive Club have in common? They're ambitious projects with high production values that aren't afraid to be themselves. P.t. takes a well-known franchise and completely reworks everything we know about it and makes it into an apparition-based experience. Metal Gear Solid V boldly removes a beloved franchise from its comfort zone and goes open world with very different mechanics. The Order takes a familiar cover system with a new spin on history and focuses on a cinematic experience more than just about any other game that I can think of. Drive Club to my knowledge was the first game that was created with the intention of a true asynchronous, online-intensive arcade racer. Were all of these games well received? The Order and Drive Club had issues, but MGSV is heavily anticipated (seriously, I've blacked out all media since the E3 trailer because the anticipation is getting unbearable) and P.t., a DEMO, was treated as perhaps the most terrifying experience in a long time. These games all set out to define themselves. Drive Club underdelivered at launch but has since made strides to show gamers a great time. As for The Order (which is what this is all about) despite the concerns, criticisms, and uproar following the QTE and black bar emphasis, Ready at Dawn stuck with their original vision of the game, which might I add is RARE in high quality titles. There's generally a tried and true formula for high production games to maximize consumer interest, but some games take serious risks. In the case of P.t. and MGSV, those could have potentially alienated their entire fanbases. No, we the consumers appear to be very impressed and want to see much more and that's the attitude that can push the industry forward. The Order and Drive Club who had no fans of the games (only the developers) did something very different. It remains to be seen how it pays off, but some of us are often quick to write off indies. Some of them are pretty awful, but then you have the Velocity 2Xes, Hotline Miamis, and Shovel Knights of the world which take pieces of our favorite games and create some unique elements to make them stand out. To me, The Order may not be an amazing game, but Ready at Dawn stuck to their steampunk guns and wanted to see how consumers felt about their vision and I can't say how much respect that deserves, especially with a game like that which no doubt has a massive budget.
I feel like saying this all the time is incredibly redundant, but I want you to know there's only sincerity when I say thank you for reading and feel free to agree or disagree in the comments below. Hopefully, if you bought The Order: 1886, you love this game and found your investment worthwhile. Happy gaming, mates. :0)
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CG writes: With the arrival of Cyberpunk 2077 2.0 update, we created yet another female V character for the next playthrough, ahead of next week’s Phantom Liberty expansion. CDPR suggest starting the game again now, as the systems are different and there will be new references to the missions prior to the Phantom Liberty storyline. Take a look at our video to give you some pointers, or you can just copy our rather sexy looking female V. We have also listed some of our older character creation videos in case you prefer those versions of V.
Twinfinite: "With the colossal size and scope of Starfield, players will likely be discovering unique points of interest for many months to come. The latest discovery we’ve found? An outpost structure overflowing with loot, mercenaries, and even a spaceship for you to make your own. Thing is, you won’t come across this location if you’re simply following the questlines as it’s off the beaten path."