And with two God Of War teams collaborating on one new IP, The Order: 1886 is perhaps the closest thing we’ve seen to a proper PS4 must-have exclusive, but can a 19th Century cover shooter really work? Ready At Dawn creative director Ru Weerasuriya seems to think so…
“The Order is an ancient order of knights, basically. They were first setup to protect humanity,” explains Ready At Dawn’s creative director. “More than a millennia ago, there was a split in humanity that causes one side to go on as humans and the other side to eventually become half-breeds. The half-breeds start to wage war with the humans for the usual ideas of control, dominion, supremacy and survival. Neither side backs down and an all-out war breaks out between humans and half-breeds. It’s not until the industrial revolution that humans build the weapons capable of taking the war to the half-breeds.”
It’s here that the history branches off from the one you might read in textbooks or on a wiki, with hundreds of years of war meaning that the industrial revolution proves that much more productive. It’s no great secret that technology advances far quicker in times of war but here, ongoing conflict leads to tech at the turn of the 20th Century which actually surpasses much of what we have today. It’s closer to Quake III than it is to The History Channel – and that’s fine, because The History Channel doesn’t have railguns – but either way, that’s the alternate history timeline the team has laid out. With the humans having discovered a way to extend their lifespans through Black Water (which sounds about as scientific as Wobbly Matter), the ideals and heroes of King Arthur’s Round Table are able to last far longer, with each of The Order’s primary characters stepping into the role of one of those legendary knights, if one or two elongated generations later.
“The game is certainly Galahad’s story,” nods Weerasuriya. “It’s viewed from his point of view. There are lots of things happening around him, and one of his roles for us is as a vessel for the player to really understand the story and the world. But you do see the evolution of his character throughout the game and throughout the plot.” You’d hope for as much, really, as you would with any work of fiction, although few games go to this kind of length to mesh folklore, history, technology and narrative into one coherent whole. The Order’s intro is going to need to be something really quite special in order to convey all these different factors – not to mention the insane timeframe of its backstory – especially since Ready At Dawn seems keen for this to be the start of something big rather than just a one-off.
“We’ve built this IP to be much bigger than just one game,” Weerasuriya explains. “There are stories that have been told in the game but there are stories that haven’t and stories about what happens after the events of this game. Absolutely, though, I would love to get the chance to tell more stories with sequels and other things we can do with the IP.” A little presumptuous perhaps, but you can’t fault his enthusiasm, not to mention the fact that this kind of history-bending tomfoolery will most likely take more explanation than a single game can realistically offer without pulling a Metal Gear and shouting for hours on end while you sit patiently with your coffee and wait for your Trophy to pop up.
The full interview with Ru Weerasuriya is available in games™ issue 146