‘Wolfenstein: The New Order,’ is one of those rare things that developers strive toward but few can actually roll out; a first person shooter where the player can look past the gore and the slaughter and immerse themselves in an emotional, thought out story. This is no mindless Call of Duty, this is a cover-based shooter where the player can see Bethesda producers hiding in the vents whispering ‘once more, with feeling’.
In The New Order (TNO) you play as William ‘B.J.’ Blaskowicz, a veteran from the second world war that the Nazi’s won. B.J. is being treated at a mental hospital, trapped in his own body due to the copious amounts of shrapnel lodged in his brain. His quest, topple the twisted empire that conquered the globe using futuristic technology. And B.J. does just that, breaking out of his vegetative state and the mental hospital and turning the enhanced Nazi weapons on their masters in an excellently constructed underdog story. The story features two timelines which are identical with the exception of armour and health upgrades and a few choice characters, a nice inclusion.
Easily the best thing about TNO is its core gameplay; it meshes cover-based shooting with all out shoot-‘em-up action that just keeps on giving. I struggle to remember a point in the campaign where this became boring, primarily due to the many different ways you can approach any scenario; you can choose to make the stealth manoeuvre and take out all the opposition with only a silenced pistol and knives, alternatively you can dual-wield automatic shotguns or assault rifles until every Nazi trooper looks like Leerdammer cheese. Your skill tree grows and expands according to how you play with a wide variety of stealth, explosives, and dual-wield unlocks gained by accomplishing certain feats in-game.
The graphical style of The New Order is realistic but not so detailed as to reduce the frames-per-second, the game always runs smoothly. Enemies range from scientists with pistols to armoured troopers to the hulking oversized Supersoldaten; genetically engineered 8ft tall super soldiers. Not to worry, B.J.’s arsenal includes assault rifles, shotguns, sniper rifles and futuristic laser weapons to deal with any threat thrown his way.
Though mostly good, there are some areas though where TNO slips up. Water interaction is not bad but could be improved, especially from transit into and out of the water, with Blaskowicz’s emergence from water being a hit-and-miss affair; sometimes he comes out, sometimes he slips straight back in. The game’s antagonist General Deathshead only appears properly in a couple of missions, and though this was likely meant to give the impression of B.J. fighting a regime rather than a single jumped up mad scientist, for me it left the final few encounters feeling a little detached.
The main qualm for me though was the use of a single button for multiple tasks. The same button is used for reload, ammo pickup and heavy weapon pickup, I often found myself lifting and dropping the same weapon many times whilst only trying to pick up ammo. It’s a shame because there is never any reason not to pick up ammo, so this could easily have been avoided by automatic pickup whenever B.J. walks over ammo.
In short, Wolfenstein The New Order is a good example of how modern shooters don’t have to be mindless or bland but instead can feature a well-rounded story and solid core gameplay that makes this game a hard act to follow for any FPS.
Polished, cover-based shooter gameplay
Involved, moving story
Varied weapons, enemies and upgrades
Loot collection tiresome
Antagonist barely features
Occasional control issues