Digimon World: Next Order could be a great game with just a few changes.
Digimon World: Next Order came out in 2015 for the PS Vita, but ports to the PC, PS4, and Switch have made it easier for everyone to play. With this and Digimon Survive, there has never been a better time to join the Digimon world.
But this spiritual sequel to the first Digimon World isn’t all sunshine and flowers. The gameplay has a lot to offer, but some design choices keep it from being as good as it could be. Digimon World: Next Order could be one of the most memorable monster-raising games if only a few important things were changed.
Make The Soundtrack More Varied
Digimon World: Next Order has some of the best music in the series. The songs always fit the places and situations they were written for. And the quality is high enough that they aren’t just generic.
Even the best soundtracks can get old if they are played too much. As you discover the digital world, many of Next Order’s songs will play over and over again without stopping. Shorter games can get away with smaller tunes, but a game where you keep going back to the same places should have more themes to match your progress.
Give A Stronger Narrative Experience
During the gameplay of Next Order, there is a story to follow. But it is so full of plot holes and coincidences that it rarely gets better than average. Not every game needs a story, especially since too much story can ruin games. That would be better off with less player involvement. Next Order is not one of these games, though.
The process of raising Digimon over the course of the campaign would have felt more personal if there had been a strong plotline. You would have felt like the bonds you built with your monsters had an effect on the main plot. As it is now, adding a story doesn’t do anything other than add a linear development to a gameplay loop that is mostly about repeating the same steps.
Provide More Structure
Digimon World: Next Order’s biggest flaw is that it doesn’t do a good job of explaining how its many gameplay features work. Unless it’s your second time through the 40-hour game. You’ll probably be confused as you try to figure out what you need to do to move forward. Not understanding, for example, that the gym is a worse way to level up stats than combat is not a challenge. But a flaw in the game’s design that makes it last longer than it should.
The makers of Next Order should build instructions into the UI and world to help you get used to how the game works. This doesn’t have to come in the form of direct game limits, though. Simple signs like level suggestions for areas and Digimon requests for activities can also point you in the right direction.
Make The Camera Easier To Control
The controls are the most important part of a game, which is why it’s disappointing that Next Order’s camera controls aren’t as helpful as they should be. As you get bigger Digimon, they start to block more of the screen when you’re exploring. And there’s not much you can do about it.
You can zoom in and out with the controls as they are now, but even when your character is as far away as possible, the huge monsters still take up a lot of screen space and draw attention away from important parts of the world. Some modders have even started to unlock the zoom distance setting on the PC version of the game because it’s so bad.
Improve The Pacing Of The Introduction
Digimon World: Next Order is hard to get through for the first few hours as it is. At this point, enemies are hard. And the first boss can kill you quickly even after you’ve done a lot of fighting.
The beginning of a game is the most important part for setting the tone for the rest of the experience. So limiting gameplay to this extent is a bad way to start. This should be the time when you’re least worried about mechanics and spending time learning the basics. Hard encounters should be saved for the end of the game as a test of skill. Not in the middle where they slow down progress.
Make The Calendar System More Robust
The different weeks and seasons in Next Order are just for show and don’t change the game much. But they are still part of the user interface (UI) along with important things like how much time is left in the day. It would have been easier to give Digimon easy-to-track lifespans that are mentioned throughout Penalty Kick Online game, but for Next Order to be truly great, it needs to focus on the ideas that its calendar brings up.
More weekly and seasonal events would make exploring the digital world feel fresh every day and give you things and stat boosts to help you train Digimon faster if you paid close attention to the calendar. Every new egg would now come with a different way to train. Which would make it easier to evolve your Digimon.
Give Locations More Interesting Designs
Digimon World: Next Order was originally made for the PS Vita. So it makes sense that the world design is simple to work with the hardware. However, even with this explanation, the places don’t feel like they belong to the Digimon world and aren’t fun to explore.
Except for Bony Resort, most of the game’s areas have simple, flat layouts that stick to their theme. To make a game like this stand out. You need to take chances and add levels where each room tries to do something different. If every place learned from Bony Resort, travel would be more fun all around.
Reduce The Grind
Grinding is the only way to play Next Order, and you have to gain as much power as possible before taking on each boss. The problem is that if you aren’t fast enough at grinding, your work will be thrown away. Since it already takes a while to figure out the best ways to grind. You’ll be spending multiple real-world days on goals that should only take a few hours.
Changes to the way life and death work would fix this problem. Digimon often get stat boosts from their predecessors. But what they really need is a faster rate at which they level up. You would feel like you were getting better as a teacher. And you wouldn’t have to wait as long to face bosses.