The Order: 1886 had a rough ride before, during and after its release. It was knocked back by some lower-than-anticipated review scores as well as scathing criticism concerning its short run time and limited gameplay. Now that the fuss has died down, there’s a chance to reflect on those criticisms and delve into the more positive aspects of the game, because despite the flood of jokes and withering put-downs, many will agree that some solid foundations were laid down in The Order: 1886, a base that – if tuned, tweaked and built upon in just the right way – could bring about a far superior sequel. Starting with…
Give the player more responsibility.
Barely an hour into playing The Order:1886 it was apparent how much Ready At Dawn want you to be looking at its beautiful game. Too often there would be an impressive build up that gave you a meagre payoff, such as a brief firefight with a nifty weapon before control is either reduced or taken away completely to walk you towards the next pretty cutscene. A lot of potential tension in the game dies when a section forces your weapon to be holstered for the sake of ‘atmosphere’ and eventually results in a complete lack of it. Worse still, these issues make the experience a stop/start affair when Ready At Dawn clearly wanted everything to flow continuously. Giving players a consistent level of control, even when a set piece or cutscene is imminent, would be a huge step towards balancing the gameplay versus cinematics, but better still would be if there were some subtle contextual movements to make the narrative-driven moments more involving. Beyond: Two Souls, Heavy Rain and even Telltale’s games manage to tell a story and keep you involved physically as well as mentally; that is roughly the formula any sequel to The Order should be aiming for.
Put players in control of the action
Don’t go open world. Go deeper world.
While giving the player more control and therefore more to do shouldn’t mean The Order: 1886 has to expand beyond its simplified level structure. After all, you can make a game feel bigger without making more open empty space to do it. For what Ready At Dawn is going for, the current structure is a fine template to build upon, just that next time there should be more in the way of branching paths to explore and they should have more to interact with as well. The world that’s been created is already a fascinating one yet there are times that it feels like a movie set rather than a living, breathing vision of London; and that usually comes down to a lack of interactivity and NPCs doing little but standing where the director tells them to. A little variety will go a long way here.
London looks so inviting, but didn’t get to explore it
Expand the Mythology, but don’t bloat It.
Frustratingly, The Order: 1886 only dips its toes into the mythology it has set up before the game is over and the most prominent part on show – the Lycan’s – are underutilized when they do appear. There is huge potential to expand upon this mythology in a sequel, but there’s no need to go crazy trying to compensate for the limited use of it in 1886. Perhaps make the half-breeds as standard enemy types whilst introducing the newer threats in more impactful ways. Making sure each encounter with a vampire is memorable and involving throughout is a far better move than littering the game with limp battles against fodder versions of them that are over before you get going. Keep the menace for the cutscenes.
More Lycans please!
Pace the story better.
As touched upon earlier, The Order:1886 ends rather abruptly, but there are problems with the entire storyline pacing too. It plods along at a glacial pace for a good chunk of the playtime and has several false starts where there should be a steady escalation of conflict. A sequel doesn’t need to bomb about at full speed like something from Platinum Games, just have the right mix of peaks and troughs to keep it interesting. This pacing problem is something that would likely be remedied by following the previous steps anyway, but it’s worth keeping this point in mind all the same.
TS-27 Inverter/Rectifier – Silly name for a pointless gadget
No padding just to extend the runtime.
Much of the clucking about The Order:1886 was of course down to the alleged runtime (I finished it in six hours for the record). It really shouldn’t be an issue if there is enough of an enjoyable game being packed into that time, but the game simply didn’t have enough going on. Many may clamor for a longer running time in any sequel, but if the gameplay issues aren’t addressed then all you’ll end up with is a ten hour plus game with seven hours of cutscenes and walking to objectives. So the simple solution is more interactivity in the same amount of playtime. It will at least have a higher likelihood of replayability this time if so.
"What’s that over there? The ending. you say? But I’ve only just started."
Do you agree, disagree? What would you like to see from The Order: 1886 sequel?