Developers seem to be looking for ways to reingovorate the first person shooter genre this generation right off the bat. We’ve got games like Destiny and Titanfall looking to add a new dimension to FPS games, but then again, those are multiplayer focused games. Gamers on the single player side of the spectrum are mostly used to getting the short end of the stick when it comes to FPS games that promote a compelling storyline to compliment the game’s multplayer focus. Wolfenstein: The New Order pretty much says to hell with that.
Wolfenstein: The New Order puts you in the boots of Captain B. J. Blazkowicz as he and his team fight their way up to the nefarious General Deathshead’s compound to end World War II. The game’s first opening moments are explosive and exciting and it continues to be that way throughout the game. The game quickly introduces you to the advanced technology that the Nazis have gotten a hold of and it’s immediately apparent that you’re fighting a losing war from the game’s opening moments.
Upon entering Deathshead’s compound, things as you’d expect don’t go to plan and to save for story spoilers, Blazkowicz later finds himself in a mental hospital where he remains for the next 14 years of his life as the Nazi war machine continues to stride forward and take over the entire world. Somehow, Blazkowicz comes to his senses and from there on out the game is a gory, action packed ride till the very end.
The game’s story isn’t really the main focus as your main goal is to just defeat General Deathshead and the Nazis. If you take the time to explore the game world, however, there are a ton of pieces of information that you can find which provide the backstory to the events that occurred over the past 14 years while Blazkowicz was incapacitated. You’ll meet plenty of characters throughout your adventure in Wolfenstein: The New Order, but sadly the developers didn’t exactly go into enough detail for me to really care about the other characters.
Early on in the game you’ll meet Blazkowicz’s love interest who adds a bit more dimension to Blazkowicz’s character, but she isn’t involved enough throughout the game to worry about what happens to her. As a character, Blazkowicz is what you’d expect from a Wolfenstein game, so I can’t really mark the game down for how boring of a character he was aside from a few moments like the chainsaw interrogation scene from the trailers, but aside from that he’s a rather boring character who could have certainly been developed a bit more.
Blazkowicz does provide many of his own thoughts while playing the game, a lot of which are story material and adds to his character’s dimension, but it just seemed like MachineGames could not decide what kind of character they wanted Blazkowicz to be. Thankfully, even as stagnant as Blazkowicz was, it didn’t detract a whole lot from the game itself.
Gameplay-wise MachineGames did a fantastic job with the combat and making sure they kept the QTE sequences at bay. The guns in the game control very well and running at a fluid 60 fps and 1080p on the PS4 only enhanced the experience further. Weapons control and sound as they should, and you can even dual wield most weapons aside from sniper rifles. The combat is quite gruesome I might add, with gore being heavily detailed which just makes the game’s combat all the more enjoyable, as bad as that sounds. Heavy elements of gore is certainly something we’ve come to expect from the Wolfenstein games, however, and The New Order certainly delivers.
As I mentioned before, there’s a very small number of QTE’s in the game which should make many of you giddy with joy. The melee combat is all based on timing your opponent’s attacks as you can counter-attack them if you time it just right, for which there are no button prompts. The New Order is all about gameplay and keeping control in the hands of the player. It’s a linear adventure, but it’s certainly no Call of Duty.
The game also provides certain sections where you can change up your tactics a bit, letting you take a more stealthy approach which helps vary up the gameplay. The stealth segments aren’t that special in terms of mechanics, but get the job done. There is a cover system in the game similar to what you’d find in Battlefield 4 as well.
However, my main gripes with the game also come from the combat, especially boss fights. The New Order doesn’t hold your hand at all, which is totally fine by me, but sometimes directions are certainly needed to figure out what needs to be done. A boss later in the game has certain parts that can be destroyed, and once you figure out the patterns it becomes a pretty straight forward boss fight. However, figuring out what needed to be done was what left me running around in circles for a good 5 or so minutes like a chicken with its head cut off. For a seasoned FPS player like me, it wasn’t a huge deal, but for someone who doesn’t play games all that often, it can be a very frustrating experience if you’re not even given the slightest hint of what to do.
The directionless boss fights, mixed with some very high difficulty spikes even on normal lead to some pretty frustrating moments in the game, but, all in all worth the challenge. I’m an avid FPS player, so it’s not often where difficulty spikes really bother me, but one part in particular in the latter portion of the game, you are literally forced to have to keep moving back to keep moving forward to put it simply. The AI in the game can be spotty at times, hitting you with every shot fired at some points and being utterly brain-dead during other moments. Even with some of the more difficult combat sections, the game still last about 12-15 hours on Normal which is spot on with the estimation that MachineGames gave for the game. As a single player only fps title, it’s got a good length for the money put in.
Graphically, The New Order looks pretty good throughout the entirety of the game. There are a few too many indoors sections that take place in boring factory settings and I would have liked to have seen some more open environments taking advantage of the ID Tech 5 engine’s power. Throughout my playthrough on the PS4 version of the game I can’t recall one dip in framerate or many other graphical glitches. As I’m sure, you’ve probably already seen a number of graphical comparison articles for the game comparing to the previous generation consoles and the current-generation, so you probably already know which version looks better. It is important to note that the game runs at 1080p on both the Xbox One and PS4.
The environments of the game are well realized and provide some really pretty backdrops to the alternate reality that follows from a Nazi takeover. In my personal opinion, it would have been great for Wolfenstein: The New Order to allow you to do a bit more exploring in these areas to learn more about the backstory of the game and see what people’s lives were like during this alternate reality. It’s something that I think would have really added to the game’s experience, making it more immersive rather than just action, action and more action.
The soundtrack for The New Order is one of the high points of the game. Mick Gordon provides a strong set of music for the game that does a great job of accompanying the action that The New Order provides. If you’ve played Killer Instinct on Xbox One, or Need for Speed: The Run, you’ve heard his music.
For MachineGame’s debut title, Wolfenstein: The New Order is a sold first person shooter. The game’s story is average, but gets the job done. Gameplay is key in The New Order and MachineGame’s did an exceptional job with the combat in the game, creating a good number of unique and challenging enemies to fight along with some great combat mechanics. Even on a normal playthrough of The New Order, you won’t be able to just walk right through the game. For a 12-15 hour single player campaign experience with no multiplayer to be found, The New Order is certainly an FPS worthy of your time if you’re looking to sit back, relax and enjoy some gory futuristic Nazi killing action.
A PS4 copy of Wolfenstein: The New Order was provided by Bethesda for this review