The Order: 1866 was originally announced for a 2014 launch on PlayStation 4, but we can now confirm that Ready At Dawn’s action game won’t be out until early 2015. Sony revealed the news at a recent pre-E3 event that offered a short hands-on look at the game’s newly revealed Thermite Rifle. It wasn’t enough content for a traditional preview, so we’ll just take a brief look here at what we saw.
For anyone who’s unfamiliar: The Order is a cover-based shooter played from a third-person perspective. The story follows King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table, kept alive for centuries by a mysterious healing elixir known as Black Water, as they wage an ongoing war against half breeds, monstrous hybrids of human and animal. Their struggle unfolds in an alternate history take on London with a hefty steampunk vibe. Learn more in our first look preview.
Sony’s recent look — the first proper hands-on — gave the sense of a familiar game with some fresh ideas and stunning technical execution. The play immediately feels like other cover-based shooters, which is a good thing. You pick up the controller for the first time and know right away how to move and interact with the world around you. There are dudes to be shot, and you do just that while crouched behind a concrete column or some other physical obstruction. We’ve been here before.
Our demo was all about showcasing the Thermite Rifle, one of the game’s more unusual firearms. The weapon’s primary attack is a burst-fire hail of pellets loaded with thermite dust. They’re not particularly damaging on their own, but they release a small cloud of dust on contact that is meant to pair with the rifle’s secondary attack — which fires a lit flare in a graceful arc — for explosive results.
It’s extremely satisfying to paint a small group of targets with a few bursts of thermite pellets, then watch the flames kick up as your flare ignites the cloud. You can even boost your damage dealt by firing more pellets into the ignited dust cloud before it completely dissipates, essentially “painting” a trail of fire with your weapon. As much as The Order‘s play feels familiar, this Thermite Rifle helps it stand out.
The visuals also have a lot to do with separating Ready At Dawn’s effort from the pack. Many point to Infamous: Second Son as the best-looking of the first crop of titles released exclusively for new console hardware, but The Order: 1866 is poised to steal that title away. The game is gorgeous, from the level of detail and emotional nuance in character faces to the lighting and particle effects that dominate the screen during intense action.
There’s not much more to share from the demo, which lasted all of 10 minutes. But if the extra months give Ready At Dawn the ability to ensure that the rest of The Order: 1866 looks as good as what we saw, then the delay will be well worth it.