Pressed For Time

The Order 1886's estimated length is creating an uproar in the gaming community. Which begs the question, does a video games length matter?

By Devon McCann

I am, unabashedly, a Playstation fanboy. I revel in the new game reveals and exclusive properties. That being said, it should come as no surprise that I was excited about the reveal of PS4 exclusive The Order: 1886. I’m a sucker for alternate history, and the game’s premise intrigued me. The Order engenders a steampunk knights of the roundtable vibe. It is aesthetically gorgeous. It’s also seems to employ a certain gothic style as well, with the werewolf enemys that was shown during the E3 trailer. Gameplay­ wise, it reminds me of Gears of War, and this may be Sony’s way of entering the fray of cover­based third person shooters, at least outside of Uncharted.As we all know, Gears of War has been in remission since the sub­par Judgment was released in 2013 (though an Xbox One game has been teased).

Sony is primed to release The Order at the best possible time, during a several month long drought of exclusive titles. At the time of this writing, there are no big exclusive releases slated on our games calendars outside of Bloodborne. When you consider that the last big ­budget release was Driveclub back in October, well…need I say more? We all know what happened to that train wreck of a game. This is Sony’s chance at redemption — an opportunity they need to capitalize on in order to regain the trust of the fans. But I digress.

Previews were not kind to The Order. I distinctly remember games journalists panning the game, especially Colin Moriarty, who said that the game “was in bad shape.” The game, of course, was incomplete at that time, and in later preview events, journalists gave us all a glimmer of hope that said the state of the game was improving. Then the game was delayed by several months, presumably for polish. That certainly does not quell anyone’s fears over the state of the game. Here we are now, only three days away from release, and Youtubers are uploading gameplay videos of the game. Many people are reporting a final run time of less than six hours. These may be speed runs, but it begs the question: what was Ready At Dawn doing for the last two to three years?

Ready At Dawn, when pressed for a response concerning the game’s length, said that they would not respond to such claims. Only a single day later, Ready at Dawn chief technical officer Andrea Pessino stated that “at a normal pace and difficulty level, you can finish the game in a window between eight and ten hours.” So, it seems that the Youtube video was indeed a speed run, and should not be viewed as an indictment on the game’s campaign’s overall length. All of this leads us to the debate at hand: does a game’s length matter?

I am not, by any means, a multiplayer kind of guy. I prefer to get lost in the world and characters of a game. It’s the story­driven cinematic experience that intrigues me the most. If it takes 10 hours for a team of developers to tell the story they want to tell, then so be it. I’m along for the ride. If that ride is 5 hours, 8 hours, or even 40 hours, I’m still on board.

But I also understand the flip side of the coin. Consumers feel that they have been duped if they spend $60 on a game that is only going to last 5 hours. “That’s $12 an hour!” they say. It’s an interesting way to look at value. But, this is why there are preview events, hands ­on time, demos, reviews, and gameplay videos. An informed consumer can make no excuse these days because a little research can go a long way.

If The Order does indeed only last 5 or 6 hours, then the consumer has the option to vote with their wallet. If you buy the game on launch day, chances are you have done your homework. The onus of responsibility falls on the consumer to have some sort of informed idea of what to expect or else you’d be walking in to your friendly neighborhood games store completely blind. You wouldn’t buy a car without test­driving it, or at the very least, getting a valid recommendation from a trusted source. If you want a game to enterain you for 100 hours, you can go out and buy Fallout, Elder Scrolls, or Final Fantasy.

Skyrim is a 100+ hours. Unfortunately most of that time contains mindless fetch quests.

Let’s consider those franchises for a moment. Those are open world RPGs that specialize in side quests and/or collectibles. The Order is neither of those things. The game is single­ player only and linear. There is no competitive multiplayer or co op to try out after the campaign’s credits roll. Some may say there’s no replay ability, but it all boils down to what you want out of the game you just spent your hard ­earned cash on. Games that focus only on single player often use little tricks to keep you invested. There are collectibles, weapons to upgrade, higher difficulties, high scores, level ­specific challenges, multiple endings based on in ­game decisions or conversations, and trophies/achievements to chase. I am uncertain as to which of the preceding are in The Order: 1886, but it shouldn’t necessarily diminish the quality of the game if the game utilizes none of those tropes.

If you are truly bothered by the shorter ­than ­your ­average ­game length, you can just not buy it or wait for a permanent price drop so that when you do purchase the game, the price you paid for it reflects what you wanted to pay for that experience. People should appreciate the game for what it is, and not what it isn’t. Have you ever heard the saying “you get out what you put in?” I think that applies here.

Breezing through a campaign can hamper the experience if you want the game to last longer. You can beat Dead Island in probably 15-­20 hours. My playthrough took about 30. The extra hours I spent in the game don’t make it a better game — I chose to put the time in. You can play Skyrim for 100 hours and not do everything, or you can complete the campaign in one ­third of the time. If I beat The Order in 5 hours, I’ll enjoy those five hours. If it takes ten, then it takes ten — I’ll enjoy the extra hours the same as the first five because I chose to use my precious time on the game.

Personal time is an important factor here. Adult gamers have lives to tend to. They have wives, children, full ­time jobs, social lives, and other responsibilities to take care of. Many of us only have a limited amount of time to spend on recreational activities, and there are an infinite amount of ways to spend that limited time. Different forms of entertainment are vying for our time like movies, music, books, etc. I speak for myself here, but I can only play 2­3 hours of any game at any given time unless it really sucks me in (i.e. The Last of Us, which I beat in one 15 hour sitting…seriously). The Order’s campaign’s length may be a blessing in disguise. For once, I may actually finish a game I start. It can be a challenging endeavor to finish any game when you have a bookshelf stuffed with oodles of classic games, many of which I never completed. The Order could be one less game that doesn’t enter my inordinately large backlog.

What do you think of this? Does a game’s length matter? Are you going to pick up a copy of The Order: 1886 when it launches on Friday, February 20th? Let us know in the comments below, and be sure to stay tuned to REBEL Games for Brian Koenig’s review of The Order: 1886 in the very near future.

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