Heavy on the story
I was surprised by the amount of effort MachineGames had put into narrative and character building. There was more story than I expected a shooter to typically have. At the same time it was weird how many of the introduced characters did not actually get any depth and were there just to die later on even though they had first seemed more important. I also felt some of the cast were old acquaintances for anyone who had played the previous titles in the series.
The somewhat sad ending and generally pretty depressive atmosphere of the game made me feel like I had made a wrong decision somewhere. But no, there is only one way The New Order can finish. There is a choice in the first chapter to make, however. You have to pick which one of two fellow soldiers gets to live. The decision apparently has a small effect in terms of cutscenes and characters who appear later.
It also affects gameplay. Depending on your choice, you will either get base max health upgrades and hotwiring or armor upgrades and lockpicking. I chose Fergus to live and thus got the former selection. The differences are not huge but people seem to think the health upgrades make the game slightly easier. They evidently stack too if you replay chapters of the two 'timelines', as the game calls them.
I reckoned the default difficulty might be too easy and decided to play on the second highest instead. I think I chose wisely as there was just the right amount of challenge. I did die quite a few times throughout the game but that was largely because I was trying to get perks upgraded, which led me to play unoptimally for given situations. Your progress towards the perks persists through death so I did not really mind replaying parts and the checkpoint-based save system.
The perk system works much like how the nanosuit upgrades improve in Crysis 3 -- you become stronger in the playstyle you prefer. I did not quite manage to get every perk. I probably should have grinded for them more earlier. Each of the stealth ones I did get, though. Staying undetected makes things a bit easier, at least until you have eliminated all officers who are able to call for reinforcements once hostile.
From time to time you are also forced into stealth sections. I have seen people mention their dislike for that but I found stealth to be fairly lenient in the game. Staying undetected is pretty effortless as it takes awhile for an enemy to go hostile after you appear in their vision. Once you get detected, though, things can get quite hairy if you are only equipped with a knife. Many FPS games utilize the trope of removing your equipment but TNO does it in almost every mission. I think I would prefer to keep my stuff, although for narrative reasons it is obviously not always possible, like when infiltrating into a prison as a prisoner.
id Tech 5
The New Order runs on the id Tech 5 engine like RAGE does. Their performance and graphics are pretty similar, though I believe TNO is grainier. I think that may be due to the very aggressive depth of field effect that I did not manage to turn off with a console command. Or maybe it is some level of detail thing. It is very noticeable in the hideout with its small spaces -- a room viewed from the other side of a doorway appears very blurry even though you are almost in there.