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The real issue is not The Order: 1886's short playtime, but the value for money balance


It seems The Order: 1886 cannot shake controversy. Since we first saw the game at E3 2013, there has been numerous complaints from critics and gamers. You can read about the gameplay trailer that caused an uproar here, and about the concern over the game's generic feel here. The latest issue involves the playtime, with fans so upset that they've threatened to cancel their pre-orders. A YouTuber by the name of PlayMeThrough uploaded the entire game to YouTube, and according to his playthroughs the game is a mere 5 hours and 30 minutes.

Deep breaths people. It's 5h30 if you skip a lot of content and play on easy. To speedrun a game like The Order:1886, and use that as a baseline is short-sighted. According to various other sources, the actual average playtime is just under 10 hours. Some people report that they've played more than 10 hours. I say again, why would you speedrun a game like The Order:1886?

That having been said, are the concerns completely unfounded?

It would be unfair to compare The Order: 1886 to games like Dragon Age: Inquisition; with its over 40 hours of game time and then some. Role-playing games should be longer than action-adventure/shooter games. The official genre description for The Order: 1886 includes the words "interactive drama," which is an indication that there would be lots of cut-scenes and different mechanics of interaction. So was Dear Esther and To the Moon, interactive stories with a price tag that reflected its worth. The Order: 1886, is, however, not just an interactive story, it's a combination of different genres. But does that justify its $60/R700 price tag?

I am not saying that the price of a game should be 100% equal to its playtime. A game can be long and terrible, or short and excellent. It's a balancing act with the result of giving the customer value for money. And that is the heart of the problem.

So far, the message we're getting is that The Order:1886 does not give the player value for money. The gameplay, the length, the cut-scenes, the story, all add up to the negativity people are expressing over the game. I also don't see a lot of replayability potential. So far, Ready at Dawn revealed nothing significant about multiple endings or the effect of player choice. So why would you replay the game? It also seems that the difficulty level is not drastically different from easy to hard. I am also not saying don't buy the game because we know without a doubt that it will be a flop. I am cautioning you to wait before you buy it, at least until proper reviews are out.

Ru Weerasuriya, founder, CEO and creative director of Ready at Dawn talked to Eurogamer about the campaign length. I have mixed feelings about his defense of the playtime.

"Game length is important. Every game has to take its own time to tell its story. Some games can be short. Some games can be long. I still remember the first time I picked up Modern Warfare, I finished the campaign in about three-and-a-half or four hours.

The problem with his statement is that all Call of Duty games come with multiplayer, and most people buy it for that reason. The three to four hours of single-player is not the core of CoD, multiplayer adds hours of game time. I am also not saying that developers should add more playtime for the sake of stretching a game. It all again comes down to overall game quality, and I fear so far The Order: 1886 has failed to impress.

Any of these games need to pack in what it needs to to deliver the experience you were hoping to deliver when you first tackled it. For us that meant, it's not going to be a short game, it's going to be something that rewards you as you play through, that there is a storyline, that you have information there, and then also it opens the door to a lot of questions you might be able to answer either by what you find in the game, or hopefully by what you will find out in the future. Gameplay length for me is so relative to quality. It's just like a movie. Just because a movie is three hours long, it doesn't make it better."

"If you want to talk about the number of gameplay mechanics, we probably have a lot more than normally any single game would have."

Gameplay is certainly one of the most important mechanics in any game, any genre. Again, feedback from people that played the game confirm that the mechanics are not impressive at all.

How do you feel about The Order: 1886's playtime? Too short, long enough, or don't care? Remember, it will cost you about R699 to play. The game releases this coming Friday; I advise you to at least wait for the reviews before you purchase it. If you've made up your mind, then you can pre-order it from here.

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