Digimon World: Next Order Review – Unlimited Fun
While Digimon World: Next Order originally launched last year in March, it only saw a retail outing in Japan for the PlayStation Vita, which left the rest of the world unable to play the latest game in the classic franchise. Less than a year later, the International Edition of the game is now out for the PlayStation 4, with the added bonus of significantly better visuals that utilize the graphical capabilities of the home console. Some of the improvements include visually revamped game areas, additional environmental models, improved textures, farther draw distance, and better lighting and shadow effects.
Next Order lets players choose between either a male or female character named Takuto and Shiki, respectively, who are suddenly transported back into the Digital World where they meet their old Digimon partners as they’re battling a Machinedramon. In the process of battling and defeating the Machinedramon, which also acts as the game’s combat tutorial, both partners fall but are regenerated as DigiEggs of the player’s choosing. The player then meets Jijimon who tells the player that Machinedramon have begun appearing and rampaging around the Digital World and asks for the player’s help in dealing with the new threat in exchange for helping them return to their world.
Unlike previous Digimon World games where you feed, train, and fight with a single Digimon Partner, in Next Order you’re put in charge of two Digimons at the same time. Your two partners will both need care and will go into combat at the same time. With your new partners in tow, you are tasked to explore the Digital World to uncover and solve the mystery behind the appearances of the Machinedramon. You’re also tasked to look for friendly Digimon that have scattered since the Machinedramon started to attack and convince them to go back to the city to help rebuild it. All the while fighting the rogue Digimon that roam the Digital World.
A Digimon’s Gotta Do What a Digimon’s Gotta Do
If you haven’t played a Digimon World title before, some of the game’s mechanics might come off as a surprise to you. One of these, and probably the most noticeable, include a pooping mechanic that requires you to bring your partners to the bathroom or hand them portable toilets from time to time so they can do their business. Undoubtedly, this is a mechanic that is almost unique to the Digimon franchise and a mechanic that is ostensibly crucial to the health of your partners. Neglecting to attend to your Digimon’s bowel movement will slowly lead to your partners getting ill, which will ultimately affect their life span – another one of the game’s important mechanics.
The game’s Life mechanic, which basically gives your partners a limited and relatively brief life span, means your partners will only be around for a certain number of in-game days until they die and regenerate and start over as a brand new Digimon. So getting too attached to that super strong WarGreymon you’ve been training for hours might not be a good idea because it will eventually and inevitably kick the bucket. While your Digimon’s Life, which isn’t visible, can increase through learning Tamer skills, it can also decrease from sickness or injury, making the health of your partner quite the priority if you want to keep them for a relatively longer period of time.
Once your Digimon’s Life does run out, and they kick the bucket then regenerate, you’ll have to pick a new DigiEgg to start from, then re-train and digivolve your new partner. You can either pick the same egg as you did previously or pick a different one to try a new Digimon. While you’re pretty much starting from scratch, some of the attributes (the amount of which can increase through skills) of your previous Digimon will carry over to your new partner to make the process a bit easier each time your partner regenerates. It also eventually allows you to access higher rated Digivolutions which have a higher set of requirements to unlock.
Apart from those two mechanics, you’ll also have to feed your pet when they get hungry and let them sleep when they’re sleepy or fatigued. Digimon usually get hungry when they wake up and then once or twice throughout the day while they usually get sleepy near midnight and will also need rest when they’re fatigue gets too high from either training or combat. Training can be done at the Training Center where each of the six major attributes of your partners can be raised. Training works by assigning one or both of your partners to the training of the corresponding attribute they wish to raise and then you’ll have a chance to boost the results in a roulette-style mini-game.
Training your Digimon partners will not only determine their performance in combat but will also affect how they digivolve as each digivolution requires a minimum number of attributes to be at certain points. Aside from the six major attributes (Strength, Wisdom, Stamina, Speed, HP, and MP), your Bond with your Digimon as well as their Discipline, among others, also affect which Digimon they will digivolve into. Digimon can usually digivolve into one of four digivolutions but, as previously mentioned in this review, some digivolutions require pretty high attributes before they’re unlocked so will require your partner to be regenerated multiple times to reach.
Ready, Set, Fight!
As expected, the combat system found in previous Digimon World games makes a return in Next Order. Unlike other Digimon games or a lot of RPGs in general, you don’t have complete control over the actions of your Digimon partners in combat. Your partners will automatically move around the battlefield and use their abilities as long as they have MP. It’s not all automatic though as you can use items to support your partners as well as use Order Power to command them to use specific abilities. Order Power can be accumulated by using your Support ability when it’s available but using it right after your Digimon uses an ability or takes damage will boost the amount of Order Power you gain.
Next Order also introduces a new Extra Cross Evolution (or EXE) ability which you’ll unlock later on in the game and can be activated in combat using both of your partners’ Order Power. The ability allows your two Digimon partners, if they’re compatible, to combine and digivolve into a single super-powerful Digimon which you can use for the duration of the fight. The EXE ability makes difficult fights a lot easier and is something you’ll definitely want to have access to. While combat in Next Order may seem a lot simpler, it is in actuality more complicated as not having control over your Digimon’s position in the battlefield makes activating abilities through Order Power trickier.
We Built This City on Digimon
When you’re not exploring the Digital World or fighting rogue Digimon, you’ll be helping the Jijimon and the other survivors of the Machinedramon attacks rebuild Floatia, the game’s main city hub. As you find and help more Digimon out in the wild and convince them to return to Floatia, the city will gradually grow bigger and more of its locations will be unlocked. Eventually, you’ll gain access to city upgrades which you can purchase by using materials you find during your exploration of the Digital World. City upgrades improve many the city’s locations such as the Training Center, Field, Item Shop, and even Jijimon’s house, all of which may help you on your adventure.
Next Order, much like other games in the Digimon World series, is unabashedly complex. In spite its dated looks and seemingly un-involved combat system, the game’s multitude of mechanics and systems definitely give the game a depth that isn’t instantly obvious on the surface. Apart from the game’s main story, there isn’t a shortage of things to do in the game. On the contrary, you’ll actually discover that finding time to do everything in the game becomes quite a challenge as you attempt to juggle the game’s many activities and taking care of your Digimon. Both newcomers and long-time fans of the franchise as well as the series will undoubtedly enjoy Next Order for the massive amount of content it has to offer.
Review code for Digimon World: Next Order provided by publisher. Reviewed on PS4. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy here.