Let’s face it, the last Wolfenstein game wasn’t great to say the least. Compared to the older Wolfenstein games like Return to Castle Wolfenstein it was a bit of a flop. Luckily, the brand has been taken off of Activision Blizzard’s hands and instead put in the ever so capable hands of Bethesda studios and Machine Games. And going by our preview time with Wolfenstein: The New Order things are looking hopeful.
Starting off outside the castle of the ever-evil Willelm “Deathshead” Strasse, who’ll be familiar to those who’ve played Return to Castle Wolfenstein and 2009’s Wolfenstein, it was our task in this preview build to break into his castle and take him down. You’ll also be pleased to know that he’s looking impressively terrifying in this iteration. In fact, it was all looking very impressive on the visuals front.
Luckily, all those spangly visuals don’t mean that it takes itself as a serious shooter, it’s not and really never can be. It’s silly, it always has and always will be, and the opening moments of scaling a wall via grappling hook – all while shooting Nazi who pop out of windows above you with a heavy machine gun wielded in one hand. Yeah, it’s as amazing as it sounds. But it doesn’t end there as once you’ve scaled the wall and dodged a bomber plane and some falling debris, you make it successfully into the castle.
Here you then have the choice to take down guards in the room via stealth or by going in all-guns-blazing. Both ways certainly have their pros and cons, but combining them to get the best variety of combat feels seamless. Naturally, shooting your way through the levels attracts the attention of more guards who can sound alarms to call in reinforcements that will keep on swarming on your location. However, you’ve got the deliciously satisfying ability to dual wield guns to mow down all before you.
Remember that heavy machine gun you were casually using while scaling the wall of the castle as if it was a handgun? You can use two of them at the same time. This makes you an unstoppable Nazi-killing machine. It’s a brilliant feeling to experience in a FPS, especially one that’s so wonderfully self-aware, as it means you can have a lot of fun while playing. Playing stealthily means you’ll have to walk around crouching to muffle your movement and quietly unsheathing your knife. Once you get close enough to a soldier, you can perform a killing move by thrusting your knife into the fleshy parts of the guards upper body. This is a bit slower than run and gun, but it means you won’t have to worry about a constant stream of enemies to waste time on.
It sounds brilliant too as it felt worryingly satisfying to creep up behind a guard and shove a knife through his neck. The squelching noises and the sound of neck breaking, are all excellent. The guns and the shooting did made me feel a bit maniacal running through a room with two heavy machine guns planted firmly in my grubby blood-soaked hands mowing down Nazis. It was akin to that scene in Inglorious Basterds where Hugo Stiglitz was broken out from jail.
One thing that was rather quickly noticeable was how dark and sinister Bethesda and MachineGames have made the story. There are some rather disturbing moments and times when I didn’t feel uncomfortable-per se, but it was certainly surprising to see some of the things shown in the game. However, none of it feels at all out of place. Fitting together to create an absolutely brilliant and engaging story. In fact, it got to the point where I was so engrossed in the story and what was happening that I didn’t want to put it down, and there was a genuine feeling of sadness once I’d completed the preview build.
Wolfenstein: The New Order is a really surprising entry into what could have been a rather dead series. I went into it feeling rather sceptical after the flop that was 2009’s Wolfenstein, but I was pleasantly surprised when I was roped into the brilliantly satisfying combat and the intriguingly deep story. As it’s been delayed until early 2014 for further polishing, it’s certainly got a lot going for it especially as the level of detail seen on Deathshead is absolutely incredible and they’ve done well to make him look as sinister as humanly possible. Not only was this my game of Gamescom 2013, I honestly cannot wait to hear, see and play more of this promising title.