The early days of PS4 exclusives were hit-and-miss, which may be putting it lightly. Knack is probably the most infamous and only good for solid meme material in the eyes of many. Killzone Shadow Fall was technically good but otherwise no competition for its predecessors. inFamous: Second Son was cursed with a terrible protagonist and too many gimmicks.
There was also The Order: 1886, which promised plenty before delivering next to nothing apart from showing off the visual power of the PlayStation 4. I remember being so unmoved by it that I couldn’t even muster the energy to give it a proper review. With only Drawn To Death and Knack faring worse in terms of PlayStation properties on Metacritic since the site began, it’s fair to say that it was something of a failure.
With its short story and nothing else to do outside of collectibles, The Order: 1886 was the very definition of a rental game. A shorter experience is fine if the gameplay itself is fantastic (see: Titanfall 2’s campaign) to compensate, but The Order’s was derivative and unspectacular, as if someone had been playing too much Gears of War and looking up steampunk on DeviantArt.
However, it wasn’t a total sales failure, even if many did end up trading it in soon after they bought it. Estimates place it at having sold around 1.62m copies, which is more than most games could dream of. The game sets things up for a sequel which could still arrive, though the poor critical reception may have killed off any hopes of that. As the developers themselves put it, it’s entirely in the hands of Sony.
As someone who hates seeing things go to waste, it’s a shame that The Order: 1886’s meek reception has put Sony off from allowing Ready At Dawn to take another stab at it, to build on their ideas and make use of the stunning and interesting world they created. In the unlikely event that The Order: 1886 ever gets a sequel, here’s how they could turn things around.
Make It Open World
Yes, there are arguably too many franchises going down the open world route, but with The Order, it makes total sense. It was always baffling that Ready At Dawn had spent so much time establishing the game’s world and lore, yet seemed hesitant to do anything apart from nudging you from one corridor to the next. It’s like opening a book and only reading the first paragraph of each chapter.
It doesn’t need to be a sprawling city or anything too grandiose, perhaps just a small town or hub area to return to in between missions. Your character could have to hunt down lycans and investigate by questioning civilians, or by searching for clues — it just has to be far less linear and scripted. A sequel to The Order doesn’t have to become an RPG, either, but it just has to do more with its intriguing world than 1886.
Start Afresh With A New Cast
Apart from the moustache of Galahad (and a superb moustache it is), I would struggle to name any of The Order: 1886’s supporting characters, their motivations or personalities. They were fine, though none of the game’s emotional beats landed as they should as the characterisation just wasn’t present to make you care.
That’s why they should just start anew, even if the ending of the first game suggests that we could potentially be in this for the long haul. Galahad could potentially be kept around as a legacy character (a la Cole in inFamous: Second Son), someone who is mentioned as a person of legend, just like King Arthur himself. Maybe he turns up as a lycan himse–someone jot this down, this is good stuff.
Change the time period
The steampunk aesthetic was one of the reasons why so many were drawn to The Order to begin with, but now it’s a little (not much) out of vogue. The year in its name suggests that it’s a series that is intended to take part over different periods of time, so why not switch things up dramatically and go all the way forward or back.
A prequel that shows the formation of The Order could work to further flesh out the game’s world, though it may be a risky play without the technology of 1886 to mess around with. How about we fling things far forward instead? It could be contemporary, or it could jump on the last bandwagon and adopt the cyberpunk aesthetic and really bring out the weird and wonderful weaponry.
The Order: 1886 may have been many things, but a game promoting almost any kind of freedom in movement and player choice it was not. Everything, from the combat to the cursed QTEs, felt scripted and restrictive, like you were playing out a very stylish movie and little else.
To tie in with basically every other point, the sequel for The Order: 1886 should adopt the mantra of other PlayStation 4 properties like God of War, Marvel’s Spider-Man, and Horizon: Zero Dawn, allowing players to really breathe in its world and discover what they want at their own pace, different ways to approach combat rather than just moving from cover to cover. It just has to be more adventurous.
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