Video Games
5 Ways to Fix The Order: 1886

Justin Clouse | 19 Feb 2015 08:00
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Proper Ending

While there has been a lot of talk about the game's length, I think The Order: 1886 basically gave up any right to making the quality vs quantity argument once I got to the ending. For starters, the final boss fight is straight copied from earlier in the game. This is just simply unacceptable in this day and age of game making. Hell, the model doesn't even look all that different. It's the same QTE melee sequence from earlier, and the big bad vampire, looks pretty much exactly the same as that werewolf I fought a few hours ago.

What's perhaps more damning in some ways is all of the unresolved plot arcs the game casually leaves unanswered when it dramatically fades to black after you're forced to QTE execute the vampire, who surprise was someone you knew and trusted. Throughout the game you're uncovering this upheaval of what the situation is concerning the rebels, the half breeds, the United India Company, and the Knights of The Order. This all sort of comes to light through the course of the game and Grayson is framed and disavowed from The Order to cover it up. He ends up going back in order to save Nicola, who helped him out and has been helping the rebels this whole time as well - which doesn't get fully explained either. Grayson ends up fighting the vampire, the head of The Order shows up, blah blah no one can know about this. Struggle with shooting vampire. Blam, hard cut to black.

Basically nothing has been wrapped up at all! Everyone in The Order still thinks you're a traitor, the United India Company is still presumably doing shady shit, the other head vampire - who is Jack the Ripper in his spare time - is still out there, the rebels are doing something... There's even this mid credits cutscene where Grayson tells Nicola that he can't leave London yet because there's some things he needs to do. Well no freaking duh.

This would be acceptable for an episodic game series, but this is a major AAA release. What did we just play? A six hour prologue for The Order: 1887?

Developed by Ready at Dawn, SCE Santa Monica Studio. Published by Sony Computer Entertainment. Released February 20, 2015. Available on PS4.

Alternative Pricing

During the past few days, Ready At Dawn has made a lot of comments about game length and the quality of the play experience being weighted against quantity. Is a ten hour game ten times better than a one hour game? Is a better six hour game more enjoyable than a worse 12 hour one? There's this elusive quality to value that been plaguing this discussion from days when video games first started moving away from mechanics designed to eat up all your quarters. And the frank response is there's no easy answer for it. Value is subjective. I'm sure we've all heard the "one mans trash is another man's treasure" adage.

Putting aside that I think there's almost no base for their arguments given the game's ending. I do think they are correct that not every experience should be a hundred hours long. If every game was Skyrim or GTA then those cease to be special and there's a lot of room for exploring other types of interactive narrative. I don't think there's really any magic number, though its arguable that there are bounding boxes on the extremes. Even a really great game can stretch itself too thin after a thousand hours, and it's an interesting though experiment to ponder how amazing a fifteen minute game would need to be in order to feel $60 was well spent.

We saw a bit of this last generation, but it's starting to become more pronounced lately. I think what we are finding however is that the AAA big budget experience just isn't sustainable for certain genres, subjects, and narrative styles. There's just too much competition for everyone's time, not only just from other video games. Something needs to give, and not every game can have it all. A lot of this continues to be wrapped up in the fact that video games are still sold primarily as visual media. Graphics are your first point of contact 99.99% of the time, and there's more pressure to say make sure your game looks good in a screenshot than to make sure it runs equally well.

As a closing thought, at what price point would The Order: 1886 have been a reasonable purchase for you?

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