The Order: 1886 is the next big video game release, though it has hit a rather considerable road bump prior to its launch. A full playthrough of the game has been uploaded to YouTube, highlighting a short runtime of just five hours, punctuated by frequent, elongated cutscenes and quick-time events, along with gameplay that many are deriding for being derivative and, to put it bluntly, bland.
With it being the first major exclusive of the year for the PS4, and a game which Sony has placed its full support behind as one of its biggest current-gen games thus far, they would have had a lot riding on this being a success. As it stands, though, many signs point to it being the PS4 equivalent of Xbox One launch title Ryse: Son of Rome, a game which was as pretty as it was pretty boring.
It needn’t be said that the PS4 has achieved mammoth sales, though it’s a testament to Microsoft that the company has managed to reverse the fortunes of the Xbox One in such a short period of time, so much so that the console actually managed to best the PS4 in terms of numbers in the latter months of 2014, a crucial period of time for both hardware and software developers. Sony has lacked a truly great exclusive title since the PS4’s launch, and though owners of the console have enjoyed the likes of DriveClub (following its disastrous launch, at least) and InFamous: Second Son, Sony has thus far only really managed to best the Xbox One in terms of it being home to the best-looking versions of multi-platform titles.
That makes The Order: 1886 a big game for Sony in 2015, and it’s looking more and more likely that it will stand to disappoint owners of the console who have been awaiting its release since its stunning E3 2013 debut. If that’s the case, then what kind of impact will that have on the PS4 as it tries to hold onto its steadily decreasing lead over the Xbox One?
The PS4 will still have yet to introduce a killer exclusive IP
The Order: 1886 has been marketed as being the best-looking console game in history, and this alone will likely be enough to ensure that it will achieve a decent amount of sales. However, if the pre-release criticisms of the game ring true when it finally launches, the belief that this could be a defining new IP for Sony will be thrown into question, and with Sony desperately looking for new intellectual properties to sit alongside the likes of the Uncharted series, this won’t likely rest well with them.
Titanfall was a big boon for the Xbox One in 2014, a year in which Sony had few exclusives in order to lure gamers to the PS4.
While the Xbox One hasn’t exactly hit it out of the park in terms of exclusives, it has delivered on the likes of Dead Rising 3, Titanfall and Forza Horizon 2. It’s a console that is finally coming into its own despite all of the (deserved) pre-release negativity, with Halo 5: Guardians also just around the corner and the likes of Quantum Break, Phantom Dust, Scalebound, Fable: Legends and Crackdown all looking to offer a diverse range of games for an expanded audience. Meanwhile the PS4 has Uncharted 4 and Bloodborne on the horizon in terms of big-name exclusives for the first half of the year, along with the ambitious No Man’s Sky in 2015’s final months, if it will stick to its tentative release window.
With news that Evolve‘s Xbox One version bested its PS4 version in terms of sales in the UK, it seems that the gap between the consoles’ multi-platform sales is decreasing with each new big release, a trend that will damage the PS4’s biggest advantage over its closest competitor. If The Order: 1886 doesn’t live up to the considerable amount of pre-release hype placed behind it, it will likely prove to be a big disappointment for Sony and their hopes of nailing down an exclusive franchise for the current console generation.
It’s not all about visuals
The debates encircling the Xbox One and PS4 in 2014 were remarkably juvenile, largely amounting to the regurgitation of resolution and frame rates of each system’s respective games library. Sony were keen to promote certain multi-platform titles boasting 1080p, 60fps on the PS4 while Microsoft’s console could only manage 900p and 30fps in some instances, leading to software on the PS4 tending to perform better in terms of sales in the majority of cases. Fortunately, that debate is now simmering down, and though Microsoft is still looking to achieve consistent parity between the performance of both consoles, it’s not the burning issue that it once was.
In many ways, it looks as though The Order: 1886 will stand to be the poster boy for Sony’s approach to the current console generation. Thus far the company has laid it on thick with its talk of visuals and specs, though in terms of video games it hasn’t produced anything that would make those sitting on the fence about buying a PS4 want to run out and purchase one. At the moment Microsoft has the better library of games, but the PS4 is able to keep itself ahead of the competition by virtue of it being the default console for consumers thanks to its supreme power.
The Order: 1886 looks phenomenal, but the leaked playthrough suggests that its gameplay doesn’t match up.
If the negativity swirling around The Order is to be believed, then it will be an unfortunate representation of how Sony has been so keen to showcase the superiority of its console in terms of performance, without having the great exclusive software to make it a worthier purchase than the Xbox One for those who simply want to play good games, and are ambivalent towards the differences between 1080p and 900p. If The Order is a flop, then surely that will lead to some introspective thought from Sony, and lead them to consider that, yes, we can all appreciate that multi-platform games look better on the PS4, but what we really want is a good few games, too.
No one wants a video game to be a disappointment. The Order: 1886 was one of the most intriguing big-budget releases in the PS4’s future and a lot of people were, and still are, excited for its release. But at this juncture it seems that those who have viewed at least portions of that leaked playthrough, myself included, have come away feeling underwhelmed and now hold the opinion that this won’t be the blockbuster release that we were hoping for. If that is to be the case, then Sony should be in hot pursuit of other exclusives to snap up.