Hands-On: The Order: 1886

Historical settings aren’t really our thing. Sure, we love Assassin’s Creed and Call of Duty: World at War, but really, history never jived with us.

Luckily, Ready At Dawn’s tale of the late 19th century includes machine guns, thermal sensors, and wireless tech. Welcome to The Order: 1886.

It’s not often that history is rewritten in a way that makes it believable to have newer technology rolled into an older package. With The Order, Ready At Dawn has made it not only believable, but they’ve made us want to believe that’s the only way it could have been.

The game begins with a dark, gritty, extremely well-produced cutscene, just as we’ve seen in the couple of press conferences where the game has been shown. Then, remarkably, the game becomes playable, almost from right within the cutscenes. There’s the slightest reduction in visual fidelity at that point, but The Order pretty much convinces you that the graphics you just watched are what you’re playing. In short: it looks damn good.


We’re thrown into the middle of a conflict and have to use our thermite weapons to take out some baddies. There’s something remarkably satisfying about spraying thermite into the air, throwing a flare in after it, and watching it–and your enemies–explode into a beautiful ball of flames.

In fact, the thermite weapon is one of the most imaginative weapons we’ve seen in a shooter, made especially more damaging by the way that nearly everything is destructible in the environment. Balconies and ledges will crumble under the pressure of a thermite-induced blast, sending anyone perched on them to their grave.

Controlling characters in The Order is a bit cumbersome, with a separate button for each entering and exiting cover, though the rest of the controls are fairly standard shooter fare.

We didn’t get the chance to experience any werewolves in the short demo we saw, and the demo ended on a great cliffhanger where we’re about to blow up the lower structure of an elevated train. As one of Ready At Dawn’s developers put it, they purposely left us with a case of E3 blue balls. They certainly did.

The Order: 1886 is a beautiful game, with remarkable audio (use surround-capable headphones for this one), and what appears to be a thrilling storyline.

We’ll bring you more on The Order as we get it. The game is set to launch exclusively on PlayStation 4 on February 20, 2015.