You will cry blood: that’s what Machine Games’ senior gameplay designer Andreas Ojerfors had to say about the game’s punishing and cruel difficulty. With Wolfenstein: The New Order, Bethesda and Machine Games hearken back to the old-school days of FPS gaming and are resurrecting those impossible-to-beat scenarios that plagued gamers for decades.
Despite it’s grueling nature, the new Wolfenstein had its own visceral charm that enamored me from the start: whether it was the intensely frenetic FPS action or the ability to dual-wield machine guns and tear enemies to literal shreds, Machine Games’ newest creation pulled me in and serenaded me with its grisly and wicked siren’s song.
During my time at this year’s E3 expo, I had the opportunity to go hands-on with multiple titles across various platforms, however no other game compared to the gritty and wholly sinister feel that Wolfenstein: The New Order offered–it was like stepping into another world, a world where the Nazis won the war and forever changed history.
The dystopic setting only goes to reinforce the overall wicked feel of the game, and the developers at Machine Games have launched a quite prestigious undertaking with this alternate reality–a skewed timeline that is intriguing in itself and brings to mind plenty of possibilities.
Meet BJ Blazkowicz, Nazi-Killing Hero
One of the main alluring themes to the game–besides its surprisingly original story arc and unique macabre style–is the hero’s rise to power that’s personified by the game’s main protagonist, BJ Blazkowicz. As a legendary United States war hero, Blazkowicz was personally involved in the Allied force’s last-ditch effort to stop the Nazi war machine with an assault of the Deathshead compound. The attempt failed, and Blazkowicz was terribly traumatized and ended up admitted to a mental institution.
The game’s main story chronicles Blazkowicz’s strife and plight as he struggles to break free of the mental bonds that have held him for more than a decade, and to reprise his role as the deadly one-man squadron to take down the Nazis–or die trying.
This element of unique storytelling is quite surprising to see in a Wolfenstein game, and adds a deeper connection to the game’s protagonist: he’s not just a silent killing machine badass, but a human being who must go through a metamorphosis in order to save the world as we know it.
Now let’s move onto the explosive havoc that ensues when Blazkowicz is given a gun–and in The New Order, he’s given a lot of guns.
You Will Cry Blood: Combat, Weapons & Enemy AI
“You will cry blood,” Machine Games’ Andreas Ojerfors confided when prompted about the game’s difficulty. “We want it to be a real, real challenge for people. This is not an easy game.”
Machine Games has achieved something special with Wolfenstein: The New Order, and it’s a shooter that doesn’t have those frills and helpful HUD interfaces to aid you in battle. Oh no. In The New Order, you’re all alone: it’s just you, your gun(s), and your wits. The way it should be.
Admittedly, going from a game like Halo 4 that has an interactive radar and shield bar to Wolfenstein’s stark and plain crosshair-and-ammo-count interface was a bit of a shock. It took some time to get used to not being spoon fed the enemies locations and having to do things the old-fashioned way–by trial and error.
The game has its fair share of old-school, classic elements that add that distinct flair of nostalgia to the mix, kindling that feeling of familiarity that hearkens back to the definitive PC release. We’ve been here before…only this time around things are much more chaotic, and much more interesting.
One of the most obvious additions is the ability to dual-wield certain weapons. This in itself is extremely enjoyable, but it’s not like Serious Sam where things quickly get out of whack: dual-wielding has its advantages and disadvantages, and things are quite balanced despite how skewed the difficulty can sometimes seem.
For instance, you can’t aim down iron sights when dual-wielding, taking away accuracy. Dual-wielding is a prime way to massacre enemies at close-range, but sometimes you have to pull some spray-and-pray action while shooting at the hip.
Dual-wielding is extremely fun, however, and is a great way to take down multiple enemies who are intent on chasing you down.
During the hands-on demo, Blazkowicz had an impressive arsenal of weaponry that gets bigger and bigger as you find new weapons. The New Order doesn’t make you swap weapons like other shooters do; when you find a new gun, you simply add it to your inventory, and you can switch to any gun at any time during the game.