Ready at Dawn's upcoming PS4 exclusive, The Order: 1886, looks to be an interesting new take on Arthurian legend, essentially telling a new tale of the Knights of the Round Table's descendants. Aside from the game being a third-person shooter, details on gameplay have been a bit scant, but Ready at Dawn is now ready to share a little of what the studio's unique take on Victorian London will bring to Sony's new console.
One of The Order's most distinctive features is the ambitious blend between cutscenes and gameplay. In a brief closed demo, studio co-founder Ru Weerasuriya emphasized that Ready at Dawn doesn't want to include long moments that don't engage the player. To this end, many of The Order's exposition-based cutscenes feature interactive elements. For example, main protagonist Sir Gallahad is in the midst of a recon mission in the Whitechapel area of London. As his dialogue with unseasoned rookie Lafayette unfolds, the player is instructed to look through a monocular to find their target. As the cutscene continues to unfold, Gallahad would send out a message with the player punching it in through the DualShock 4's touch pad. This whole sequence, along with the rest of the demo, all unfolded through the game's engine, further indicating a seamless blend between cinematics and real-time gameplay.
The Order looks to take melee combat in a bit of a different direction by implementing elements of quick-time events. Later in the closed demo, Gallahad got in a scuffle and was prompted to grab a nearby object. However, the player was in full control of the camera and if the opportunity to grab an object was missed, the scene would continue with Gallahad getting an opportunity to grab something different to fend off his attacker through the use of the free-roaming camera. Weerasuriya teased that this idea could be used to potentially find a different path.
"That melee system is what's reminiscent to you guys of QTEs, but the difference here is that on that QTE, depending on [which character] plays here, you'll play it differently," Weerasuriya explains. "You don't necessarily have to win the first button prompt. You can basically fail it. It can take you somewhere else. And depending on where you go in that branch in that tree, it takes you to an actual fail in the game or it might take you to a different success."
Ready at Dawn is also taking some liberties with The Order's setting, beyond its steampunk aesthetic. Weerasuriya went into more detail about why the studio resorted to such anachronisms.
"The interesting thing about history is that [given] 50 years, you can re-write history," Weerasuriya added. "It's amazing how even historians can re-write the second World War or human events even earlier than that. And you can give a different twist that is almost believable to people and you don't question it. And that's kind of why we took some of the close history of London, history that was just a few decades away, and brought it back. Of course, we wouldn't bring back modern automobiles or anything like that, but we definitely did draw from the decades that followed the 1880s."
While The Order: 1886 continues to impress with its ambitious visuals and its novel take on Victorian London, it's hard to shake the sense that the game is very early in development, judging by the limited footage shown. Sony Santa Monica and Ready at Dawn do hope to have The Order ready to release before the end of 2014 and if it continues on this path, it could be a potential showcase for what the PlayStation 4 can really do.