Imagine going into a store one day wanting to buy just one game. What do you base your purchase on, and what do you value most in a game? I might value a game for its narrative, while someone else might value a game based on its gameplay elements. The answer would vary from person to person, but ultimately we all want one thing: to have fun and to be entertained.
Another important factor that consumers care about and value, is game length. The Order 1886 was recently released on the Playstation 4 and it was hyped to be the next big thing, but failed to impress in the end, largely due to its short length and lack of content. However, is a game that lasts 20 hours more valuable than a game that lasts six? This is something we can’t determine unless we look at the rest of the game. A game can last only six hours but offer more than a 20-hour game, with a lot of mediocre content. If a game offers great gameplay and replay value, then length shouldn’t matter. So what happened with The Order 1886?
The Order 1886 is a third-person shooter action game developed by Ready at Dawn and released earlier this year. The Order 1886 was plagued with various issues – length being just one of its major ones. In the six hours you spend with The Order 1886, half of the time is spent watching cut-scenes. Of the 18 chapters in the game, some are entirely made up of cut-scenes and no gameplay whatsoever. Length aside, the gameplay elements found in The Order 1886 are outdated and poorly implemented. The game is partly inspired by the Xbox exclusive Gears of War, where one of the major gameplay elements was the ability to shoot from behind cover. The difference is: Gears of War, a game that’s nine years old, did it much better. The environments in Gears of War were designed in a way that let you attack enemies using various tactics like flanking, whereas in The Order 1886, the environments are very one-dimensional and linear, leaving you to deal with enemies in one way. Other issues also include poorly implemented friendly A.I. that do not help and when they do fire their weapons, they miss, even if the enemy is standing right in front of them. Another negative aspect of The Order 1886 are the two boss fights which are identical, don’t require any skill, and entirely made up of quick-time events. Finally, the game has no real replay value, no secrets, and if you decide to play the game again you can’t skip the cut-scenes and are forced to watch them over again.
So how would they have remedied this? Vanquish is a game that was released in 2010 by Platinum Games directed by legendary game director of Resident Evil fame, Shinji Mikami. Vanquish is a fast-paced third-person shooter action game that mashes together beat-em-up elements with shmups (shoot ’em ups) style gameplay with an innovation sliding mechanic and cover system. One of its flaws was that some critics believed the game felt too short. But it wasn’t a major issue like it is with The Order 1886 because the developers took multiple steps to ensure that the game had lasting appeal. It is easy to feel ripped off if you pay USD 60 for a game if the content is lacking. So there were various aspects of Vanquish that increased its replay value even though it was a six hour game. For instance, the game kept score and would give you a ranking after each mission, after each chapter you beat you would unlock a new challenge mode and once you beat the game you unlocked a harder difficulty setting. Simply put, the developers created a game that was incredibly fun to play over and over again, which made it so length just wasn’t a factor like it is with The Order 1886.
Hopefully developers have paid attention to the controversy that followed The Order 1886 regarding the lack of content and length of the game and won’t repeat the same mistakes. Paying USD 60 for that much content is unacceptable. The industry needs to evolve and adapt and become more similar to the PC market where games are rarely ever sold at USD 60. Now that more and more games are sold digitally through the Playstation Network and the Xbox Marketplace there’s no reason why games can’t be sold at a more reasonable price. Lowering the price of games isn’t unheard of, Nintendo priced two of their games at USD 40 because they were light on content and chances are more people would have given The Order 1886 a chance if it was a USD 40 game.