The Order: 1886 preview: A PS4 gameplay journey through an alternative Victorian Britain

It came as quite a shock to find out that a playable level of The Order: 1886 was available to us at E3 2014. Having been delayed, it looked like the game might not make it to the show. Or, at least, we'd only see a rolling demo.

However, a whole level was playable and, strangely enough, it wasn't the one shown during Sony's press conference.

The game shows much promise. It looks visually stunning, even though it will run at 1080p in 30 frames per second rather than the 60 attained by many stablemates. This, Pocket-lint was told, was a decision made by the in-house development team for stylistic reasons. They wanted it to look more cinematic and movie-like. After all, films, by and large, are shot and presented in 24 frames per second.

You certainly don't notice any lack of smooth action because of it and we have to say that it does indeed capture the more visceral motion of a movie rather than a next-generation game.

And it does it with truly awesome graphical flair. The character models are simple breathtaking. Galahad, the main hero of the game and our hands-on preview session, is fully-featured and detailed in a way that makes you finally believe that the next generation of gaming is special indeed. And the surroundings, set in a fictionalised Victorian London, are absolutely incredible looking. Dingy, detailed and stretch far as the eye can see when vistas are required.

In gameplay terms, The Order: 1886 owes some similarity to the Gears of War franchise. It is a third-person action game with duck and cover mechanics and there is even a moment where the main character, after taking too many hits, crouched on his hands and knees ready to be revived. However, the premise makes for a very different experience and some truly astounding "wow" moments.

The Order are an elite collection of knights that have to deal with criminal and supernatural threats and, in a nod to some of the greatest steampunk novels, they have advanced weaponry.

Our Galahad was equipped with a thermite chaingun, for want of a better name. It is capable of shooting gaseous thermite bullets that don't necessarily kill foes but surround them in a flammable fug. Use the top right button to shoot off a flaming ball towards the gas and whoomph, spectacular effects and singed criminals a-go-go. We cannot even begin to describe how satisfying this is, each and every time.

The demo was bit too short to get a real feel of the storyline - on average, it took eight minutes to get through, three if you really know what you're doing - but it was enough to know that Sony has a PS4 exclusive that could become an important new IP.

On this evidence, it is sensible to have delayed the game for that extra polish.

The Order: 1886 will be out for PS4 on 20 February 2015.



>