Shooters are a dime a dozen on modern consoles. With the success of Call of Duty and Battlefield, it’s hard to understand why anyone would want to build a game in this genre. MachineGames decided to step into the shooter arena with Wolfenstein The New Order. Can Wolfenstein stand out where other shooters have failed? Does it have what it takes to shine on the Xbox One? Let’s find out.
Yes, you should buy this game.
Story and Environment
When it comes to detailed game environments I consider the Fallout series as the gold standard. The Fallout series made you believe you were in the capital wastes or the deserts of New Vegas. New Order follows in the footsteps of Fallout with a rich environment that pulls you into the story. Walking through London isn’t a trip down a familiar virtual landscape. Instead it is trip down a parallel universe where Nazi architecture and technology have built cities of cold steel and cement. It is a world that never left the industrial age.
When Bethesda released the launch trailer for New Order, I worried that the game’s mature storytelling would fall into the same trap of most ‘mature’ games — gratuitous violence and curse words. And while there are scenes that would fit into the next installment of the Saw series, Wolfenstein treats players like adults. When Blazkoticz has sex, it happens like it would in any action film. The game doesn’t stop to focus specifically on the act, but places the scene within the realm of a believable story. Even scenes of intense violence happen with the intent to move the player deeper into the story.
Level Design & Difficulty
Level design is a crucial element of any shooter. Levels must find a balance between open space and cover areas. If either of these elements are not properly balanced the game feels unfair. With Wolfenstein The New Order, MachineGames created the optimal balance of cover spots and open space. From the tight corridors of a submarine to a large helipad, you never feel like there isn’t enough cover spots to get the job done. Hidden paths add variety to the levels, giving you a third option to complete objectives. For example, if you didn’t attack an objective head first, you could always find an opening in a side vent and flank your enemy.
One of the game’s highlights is its difficulty. I played on the “I Am Death Incarnate” setting and I thought the game was tough but fair. Enemies are tough but not unstoppable, and death is normally brought on from improper planning. You have to use the environment to your advantage as you progress through the game, otherwise armored enemies will mow you down will a few well placed shotgun rounds.
Wolfenstein The New Order is probably the closest thing this generation will get to playing Goldeneye 64. Unlike today’s modern shooter where cover is key and quick shots are the law of the land, New Order plays like Rambo.
Designed around three types of gameplay – Stealth, Demoltion, or Assualt, each style has a skill tree that will give you bonuses for completing different tasks. For example, I could carry more throwing knives after killing five enemies with a knife while sneaking. You can focus on one particular skill tree, however I found that perk activation happens naturally. This might not work for those who want to min/max their character, but the natural progression of skills usually fits your overall style, giving you benefits in the areas of combat that best work for you.
The game does a good job of mixing up the variety of enemies that you will encounter in a combat zone. Some areas might have two heavily armored guards with a group of standard soldiers. Another area could have two mecha soldiers, an armored solider, and a group of grunts.
There are also enemy commanders that will sound an alarm through a headset if spotted. Once the alarm is raised you have to kill the commander to stop the waves of reinforcements. No encounter is ever the same, which keeps you from reusing the same strategy throughout the game.
You would think that a game designed to play like a modern-day Rambo would have some pretty lackluster controls. Fortunately, controls are tight and aiming is precise. I felt just as comfortable aiming down the barrel of a gun as I did shooting with the reticle. Even during the most intense fire fights I always felt like I was in control and not at the mercy of the aiming mechanics.
There’s not much to say negatively about the game as a whole. However, there are some small issues with the game if we are nitpicking. There were moments when I would die and had to restart the level and the ammo drops did not respawn, causing me to reload the entire level. And while I like the skill tree, I wish there was more emphasis on the perks and how they affect gameplay. In the beginning I actually stumbled across the tree while in the pause menu, there was no explanation in-game about perks and play style.
In a world of ‘retro’ products, Wolfenstein has set the standard for retro shooters. It blends old-school game mechanics with tight level design and controls. It’s a game designed for those who loved games like Goldeneye 64. If you’re need for something fun I would recommend you pick this game up.