When Bethesda began teasing a new project earlier this month, few could have guessed it would be a new Wolfenstein game. Now, in addition to ZeniMax's upcoming The Elder Scrolls Online and Shinji Mikami's The Evil Within, Bethesda is helping MachineGames with their reimagining of a classic FPS, Wolfensten: The New Order.
Don't let a rocky history of remakes and spin-offs make you uncomfortable. Swedish studio MachineGames isn't lacking in talent, having been founded by and being comprised heavily of former Starbreeze developers. You know, the folks behind The Chronicles of Riddick and The Darkness.
In the year 1960, Blazkowicz has woken up from a 15-year coma to find that Germany won the war. Fortunately for BJ, he blends in well enough with the dominant Aryan regime, but he's still forced to do a whole lot of sneaking around, being someone who's against the Nazis and all.
Yes, The New Order is still a shooter, but it's also evolved beyond what we imagine Wolfenstein to be. MachineGames now works to expand the existing Wolfenstein universe by continuing the story, which probably requires quite a bit of work when you consider how little source material is available. Believe it or not, BJ Blazkowicz now has more personality. Feelings, even. And the shooter itself aspires to be far more than just that.
One segment shown to us during a developer demo manned by creative director Jens Matthies and Senior gameplay designer Andreas Ojefors, we're treated to a rather unique sequence aboard a train. BJ is stopped by Frau Engel, an officer within the Reich, accompanied by her boy toy Bubi (pronounced "Boobee"). Yeah, laugh it up. Right before she sits BJ down and has him play a card game to determine whether or not he's a "true Aryan." At this point, the player takes control to choose the cards during the Aryan psych test, while believing that Frau Engel will shoot you for failing to pass.
I won't give away the outcome of the situation, but the tension here is pretty damn great, along with a poetic complexity that no firefight could possibly capture. That might sound a little cheesy, but I can't think of a better way to describe it. Although in the back of your mind, you know BJ probably won't perma-die here, the uncertainty remains, and there is a very real fear that you might just pick the wrong card at any time, leading to a bullet in your brain.
The Nazis Have Robots
If action is more your bag, rest assured you'll still get plenty of that in The New Order. During the hands-on demo, we join BJ during a mission to infiltrate the London Nautica and steal some advanced choppers for the resistance. And by "infiltrate," I mean storm a military research facility as a one-man army, after an ally bombs the gates open for you.
The game we experienced was unforgiving, where lingering in someone's line of sight for a second too long can get you killed. The developers did mention that the difficulty level was much higher than they originally intended, but it's still a reflection of the frantic, take-no-prisoner style they're going for in The New Order. No such thing as hiding behind a wall and waiting for your armor and health to regenerate to full. Nazis with big guns, Nazis with turrets, and Nazi-made robots are all bent on killing BJ, and you're not exactly swimming in ammo or health. The dual-wield option is pretty great for these spray-and-pray moments, but getting too caught up in the action may leave you completely dry at the wrong time.
Despite all this emphasis on creating a deeper experience, MachineGames remains dedicated to keeping Wolfenstein. Combat aside, BJ is still BJ. He'll fit in as much snark as he can, like this little gem: "F*ck you, moon." Because, you know, the Nazis put a man on the moon, and... Yeah, something like that.
MachineGames also pointed out that The New Order will be completely forgoing multiplayer, simply because there's no real need for one. Better instead to focus efforts on making the single-player campaign as robust and enjoyable as possible.
In the span of however-many minutes, I laughed, cursed the game, and felt that undeniable excitement that only a super laser weapon could possibly bring.
Wolfenstein: The New Order is expected to arrive later this year, for current and next-gen consoles, as well as PC.
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