The Order 1886: Deconstructing The Graphics Technology, Retail Version Compared To Older Builds

A particular visual masterpiece but a masterpiece all the same.

Posted By | On 20th, Feb. 2015 Under Article, Graphics Analysis


The Order: 1886 is an amazing looking game but you probably already knew that. Think back to E3 2013 and how Ready At Dawn’s action adventure stood out among the crowd. That it could make an even bigger impact over the next few months was to be expected but over time, the game’s cinematic emphasis and its desire to blur lines between film and video games became more apparent. There were very strong reasons to having it run at 30 frames per second and employing a 1920×800 resolution, plopping black bars on the top and bottom of one’s screen.

Those aesthetic reasons are purely a matter of preference. Suffice to say, some of us found them distracting and not necessarily imbuing a greater degree of cinematography or film to the proceedings. The Order: 1886 is still currently one of the best looking games on consoles and makes a strong case for the future potential of the PS4.

What makes it stand out among the crowd? Interestingly, it extensively uses global illumination and physically based rendering to provide more volume to the environments and objects. This means that each object interacts with the lighting in natural ways and thus has its own unique property. You’ll primarily notice this in cut-scenes and it helps flesh out the world and characters of The Order: 1886 to a degree unseen in video games.

Global Illumination is used in abundance in The Order: 1886. The draw distance are detailed as well.

It should be noted that all of these technologies come at a heavy resource price. Combine that with the dynamic lighting, which has been rasterized twice for depth pre-pass, and a custom ambient occlusion solution which rivals HBAO, delivering soft shadows without any dithering, and it’s easy to see why the developer opted for some of the settings that it did. However Galahad does not cast any reflections which is weird since it’s a minor detail that should have been present.

That being said, despite running at 30 FPS, there’s nary a drop in frame rate throughout the game. Whether you’re engaged in intense gun-battles or examining objects, The Order: 1886 stays solid throughout. After many recent titles like Dying Light and Evolve skipped anisotropic filtering on the PS4 compared to the Xbox One, it’s a refreshing change to see The Order: 1886 using it. It’s not the best, which manifests in less detail for some objects throughout the game, but it’s better than nothing. The other noteworthy technology governing the game is multisample anti-aliasing with MSAA 4x.

The Order: 1886 easily boasts one of the best, if not the best, anti-aliasing solution on consoles especially compared to most titles which either utilize FXAA or a custom SMAA solution. Some of those have rather clunky implementations – the SMAA in Dying Light being a good example – but you’ll encounter no such issues with The Order: 1886. There are virtually no jaggies to be seen throughout the game.

A selection of screenshots showcasing dynamic lighting, physical based rendering, screen space reflections, alpha effects, facial capture and more.

After the initial reveal and several months before the game’s release, many were concerned about the overall look of the game. Some believed it had been downgraded, as so often has happened with many big budget games in the past year. This hasn’t really been the case with The Order: 1886 – if you check out the comparison below, which compares the final build to the older builds, it will appear to have slight modifications to the lighting as well as how physically based rendering has been implemented. Again, it’s completely subjective to the viewer but the newest build comes off as cleaner and more refined overall while maintaining a strong visual finesse.

On examining other visual flourishes, we noticed that Ready At Dawn Studios used an ample amount of screen space reflections. It’s amazing in some instances, especially when glass in the distance is capable of reflecting images in the foreground. Then there’s the cloth and material quality, with physically based rendering allowing light to naturally react to objects. Cloth movement is realistic and at times very stylish, especially as characters rush into gun fights, and the composition of cloth with various other objects of differing parameters helps to create a subtly intricate but still fascinating visual experience.

Overview of the graphics technology utilized in The Order: 1886. Please click 1080p for best visual quality.

Of course, The Order: 1886 isn’t perfect. We’ve already talked about the black bars and average AF quality but there’s another area where the game could have improved – hair. If you liked the technology used in Tomb Raider (TressFX, which saw implementation in the Xbox One, PS4 and PC versions of the game) or even Assassin’s Creed: Unity, this will feel like a step-down. Some animations also come across as stiff at times, especially in cut-scenes when characters are reacting or moving about. The animations aren’t inherently bad or clunky but they do take you out of the moment at times.

Other effects in the game like blur, bloom, cinematic depth of field, glare, lens effects and more have been used well. You’ll notice different lens effects based on different curvature and vignetting, adding further to the visual richness of the game. The way light interacts with different objects in the game is a separate study on its own. Sometimes it will bounce off of wallpaper and cast iron stone, among other objects.

Head to head comparison shots from the retail and older builds of the game. A custom AO solution and changes to Physical Based Rendering in the final build has made the game look even better.

the order 1886 ps4

the order 1886 ps4 older build

Old Build.

the order 1886 ps4

the order 1886 ps4 older build

Old Build.

the order 1886 ps4

 

the order 1886 ps4 older build

Old Build.

the order 1886 ps4

the order 1886 ps4 older build

Old Build.

the order 1886 ps4

the order 1886 ps4 older build

Old Build.

the order 1886 ps4

the order 1886 ps4 older build

Old Build.

Final Verdict:

If we’ve said it once, we’ll say it again – Ready At Dawn Studios’ The Order: 1886 is an amazing looking game. It’s perhaps the best looking console game available now and for sure one of the best looking games of all time. The Order: 1886 stands as more than just a technological showcase – it wants to deliver on its aesthetic ideals and employs the technology necessary to achieve this feat. Sure there will be complaints about the game’s basic colour scheme and its presentation, how the depth of field works in certain battle situations and whatnot. The black bars on-screen may not catch the fancy of many players and takes a while to get used to. Additionally, many have complaints as to the overall gameplay, length and mechanics employed in The Order: 1886.

Whether the overt focus on graphics is responsible for other problems or not is another issue entirely. Ready At Dawn Studios crafted a visual experience such as this within 14 months of the PlayStation 4’s launch. The scary part is that the console seems to be capable of even more, a fact corroborated by the development team. What will games look like 5 years down the line on the PS4 if The Order: 1886 looks this good today?

It’s been said that The Order: 1886 is to the PS4 what Ryse: Son of Rome was to the Xbox One. Though this is a mockery in more ways than one, it interestingly applies in terms of the visuals, as Crytek was aiming for a cinematic experience with various custom solutions to deliver a spectacular visual package, despite the restrictions of a 900p resolution at the time. Hopefully, when the dust finally settles, players can also remember The Order: 1886 for what it achieved with its visuals.

GamingBolt’s Bill Smith also contributed to this article.


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  • Toni D

    The old build reminds me of games on the more colorful Xbox One.

    Almost as good as Ryse was as a final 900p product.

    • Blazin_28

      Xbox one does not make the games more colorful the developers do. The “old build” make the characters stand out from the environment. The new build looks allot more realistic.

    • Edonus

      I dont know about that. I had picked up on Xbox One having better colors than Ps4… and i found this has been a trend since Xbox OG and Ps1. My theory is that the MS DX software reproduces color better than the API solutions the Playstation has used. The gaming media is very protective of sony so they wont look in to stuff like this i fact when they had everyone saying the x1 had “crushed blacks” the act is they were just real blacks. The color reproduction is just better and it has been hat way.

    • Blazin_28

      The fact is that the before and after pics of the order were both running in real time on the PS4 so RAD made the decision to change the color to make it look like the final build. Color is the choice of the developer. The multiplatform color differances is just developers with limited time to optimize both versions IMO. Color may be different on one console and framerate may be worse on the other. The case in this game tho is that RAD choose to have the color the way it was. Ryse looked good and had a ton of color but it stood out that it was a game. It was “too” good. RAD made this game with a grittyness to it. More natural. Its kind of like the aurgument on weather an OLED pannel is better than IPS. The IPS has much more natural colors and OLEDs make everything more vibrant. Its really just prefferance.

    • Guest

      There is no such thing as “real black”. Fact! And the XO and 360 both have black crushing problems, fact! So please stop making things up, just to try and defend your beloved piece of plastic. Because its really sad. How old are you man?

    • Edonus

      Real Black
      R:0 G:0 B:0 or
      C:75% M:68% Y:67% K:90%
      Depending on what you are doing. The only person defending plastic is you. I’m discussing technology. So you dont feel so threatened I’ll say the differences are minimal and no cause for alarm. It doesnt make the Ps4 or playstation line up inferior or anything it’s just a thing. Something that is noticeable if you want to notice it. Games and movies are their own world. when you interact with them you adapt to that world.
      Lets just say I am old enough to have a few degrees and certifications and remember a time when a conversation about technology woudnt turn into fanboy wars.

    • Toni D

      I can agree to a point, it’s supposed to play out in London so gray haze is probably very realistic but who says the sun cant shine or lights cant be turned on…
      It also doesnt explain the less detailed and more blurry textures.

    • Blazin_28

      Have you played the game yet? There are scenes like that with better lighting. Also wth are you talking about less detailed and more blurry textures? Play the game and you will see its the sharpest best looking game on a console

    • Guest

      “Less detail and blurry textures”? You do realize that the old build is the PS4 too, right? If you were smarter you’d realize that the new build is going for a better blended look to make everything look the same and not have certain elements stick out more than others like in the older build. They were obviously trying to blend it more to give it that FMV look, so you’d have a harder time telling the difference between the cutscenes and the gameplay. But whats the point of telling you this. You probably wont understand and think im just making things up. When its pretty obvious its what they were going for. Its not like they couldn’t of have just left it the way it was.

    • HisDivineOrder

      Ryse would have been more impressive if it had not clones of only like 5 people as the enemies. I mean, the more detail and realism you add, the more the player is going to notice when you’re just cloning the same guy over and over as your enemy.

      And I don’t mean it was sorta the same guy. I mean, it was an identical version of the same guy over and over. That destroyed anything I might have said about the game’s presentation being good.

      I just don’t know why they couldn’t throw in a few different details to keep that from being so obvious.

  • Psionicinversion

    Ready At Dawn Studios crafted a visual experience such as this within 14 months of the PlayStation 4’s launch???

    what? its been in development for 5 years its not like they slapped it together in over a year

    • Guest

      Yep, downgrades galore even after all that time.
      Sony = lies and overhype that underdelivers.

    • robadi cacca

      Coglione ignorante hahahahahah…. you don’t know what you’re talking about hahahahahaha….

    • andy

      Yep downgrades galore even when there aren’t any. What a moron. It not like an Xbone game that takes a lower resolution hit or reveal the closer it gets to launch. This game (like pretty much every PS4 exclusive to date) is the same resolution and BETTER frame rate since its reveal. But nice try.

    • Guest

      Yup, complete and utter moron alert. Your stupidity knows no bounds.

    • Guest

      You mean, like how Ryse, DR3, KI, TF and Forza 5 were all downgraded? Are how MS lied about the X1’s capabilities, which are a lot weaker than they lead you to believe. Or how they are lying to you about DX12 and the cloud?
      MS = Yup! lies and overhype and underdelivers.

    • Guest

      Why are you so offended by that? Why do you care? And 5 yrs? Really? Sony didn’t even know the specs the PS4 was going to have then. So most of the real work started as Sony was finalizing the specs. So smarten up kid.

    • Psionicinversion

      Yeah but you can still target a spec via finding out the tech that’s available around then. Do you think a game that’s 5 years out just uses the force to guide them?? No they find out what’s on the road maps and aim for something around that then as you get closer you can cater it better then. But of course that’s to intellectually challenging for you console idiots to comprehend

  • robadi cacca

    I played this game.. and the length “for me ” is 11 hours.. from 10am to 22:27pm “non stop”.. see what happens at the end of the titles :D… spectacular annunce…

    “the order 2 Coming”


 

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