With developers understandably eager to grab as large a piece of the financial pie as possible, console exclusives are becoming increasingly rare these days. So when Microsoft or Sony does manage to land an exclusive feather in their cap, it’s a big deal. The Order: 1886 was one such feather for Sony, introduced with much fanfare at E3 2013 as a PlayStation 4 exclusive. The game itself finally arrived this past February, but found itself facing a truly ferocious threat: lukewarm reviews. It currently rates a 63/100 on Metacritic.
Still, there was a lot to like about The Order: 1886, which pit the near-immortal Knights of the Round Table against half-breed monsters in an alternate, steampunk version of Victorian London. It’s a setting and concept perfectly suited for a game, but the actual execution — and surprisingly brief playtime — left many reviewers and gamers cold. Still, a potential sequel could be a perfect chance for developer Ready at Dawn to learn from the mistakes of the first game and improve across the board. But is a sequel to The Order even on the (round) table?
The developer, at least, is enthusiastic about the possibility. Speaking to GamesIndustry.biz, Ready at Dawn founder Ru Weerasuriya emphasized that there’s a lot more story to tell when it comes to The Order. Describing the first game as “more than anything a launch platform to build upon,” Weerasuriya said, “The Order was never written as a one-off story. There is a lot more to tell, as you can see from the way the game ends.”
Ready at Dawn chief executive Paul Sams added, “We would love to be part of building The Order as a franchise. It is an IP that we created, that we deeply love and that we believe in.”
If that sounds suspiciously like there’s a “but” attached, that would be correct. Since Ready at Dawn doesn’t actually hold the IP rights to The Order, the yay or nay when it comes to a sequel rests squarely on the shoulders of Sony. In a perfect world, Ready at Dawn would undoubtedly have loved to get The Order made and still retain ownership of the franchise, but launching an original IP is difficult even in the best of situations, so taking all the risks alone isn’t always possible.
“It was absolutely the company’s desire to own [The Order: 1886]. We love that game and we are proud of it. Unfortunately, we were at a point in the company’s evolution where owning that IP was not possible. We hope to not find ourselves in that position again.”
With the fate of The Order in the hands of Sony, the bottom line for the franchise’s future will likely rest with…well, Sony’s bottom line. The game debuted at number one in the UK and Ireland the first week of its release, that in spite of middling reviews. Sams also told Game Informer recently that The Order: 1886 is “well on [its] way to achieving the sales performance that we sought.” That’s obviously not the same as hard numbers, so it remains to be seen if Sony thinks The Order is “well on its way” to the success they expected from the game.
Above all, The Order: 1886 seems like a missed opportunity. There’s a lot of potential that the first game just didn’t seem to achieve, so the prospect of a sequel should excite gamers who didn’t feel seriously burned by the first installment. Assuming Sony is interested — and Ready at Dawn listens to all the constructive criticism — The Order 2 could improve on its predecessor in all the right ways.
The Order: 1886 is available exclusively on PS4.