Unlike a lot of other games, the delay of Wolfenstein: The New Order was very disappointing for me. After getting a chance to play the first-person shooter at E3 earlier this year, I heaped praise on the game in my hands-on preview thus:
“With highly impressive visuals, an exceedingly detailed world and thoughtfully iconic designs, combined with punchy, explosive, challenging and satisfying set-piece gameplay to match lightly brain-teasing environmental progression puzzles, Wolfenstein: The New Order may just end up being the most well-rounded first-person shooters of modern times, and one of the best action games of 2013.”
After news that The New Order would only be out in 2014, can the same potential for the game exist next year with next-gen consoles out in the wild? After playing through new scenarios at gamescom 2013, I believe developer Machine Games is still on track to deliver an extraordinary experience.
Note: I focussed quite a bit on the gameplay of Wolfenstein: The New Order in my previous preview, so if you’re interested in how the game allows you to dynamically lean around and over cover to fire your weapons, dual wield machine guns, and cut through surfaces to peek through holes, all while tasking you with solving interesting environmental puzzles and gunning down Nazi soldiers (and mechanical monstrosities)… then I encourage you to read through that write-up over here.
The Wolfenstein demo I played at gamescom was a lot more story focussed, taking place near the beginning of the game while setting up the time period and narrative. The action kicked off with an assault on a Nazi stronghold – a towering castle built on the coast – during World War II, which saw protagonist B.J. Blazkowicz and a crew of soldiers scale the wall of the structure while shooting down enemies daring enough to poke their heads out of the windows.
In this sequence, I was essentially walking up the wall of the castle while clinging to a rope and pulley attached high above. Before long, a plane managed to dash itself against the fortress sending debris and chunks of stone down at me, some of which needed to be dodged making for a challenging, but pretty exhilarating, opener.
Climbing through a window sent me flying into a few close quarters firefights (with some stealthy and silent takedowns, too), which instantly transported me back to the days of Return to Castle Wolfenstein as I blazed through rooms made of slabs of stone in a suitably castle-like environment using classic World War II weapons to protect myself and my squad.
A turret sequence and brief platforming segment later, and we found ourselves in the clutches of the horrific General Deathshead, a key antagonist in Wolfenstein lore and a maniacal ‘scientist’ who performs ghastly experiments on human captives to create just as appalling creatures encased in layers of metal plating and armour, all in search of the formula for the ‘perfect’ super soldier.
Even after a relatively short encounter with Deathshead (and one very tough decision), Wolfenstein very effectively sets up the general as someone players will continue to loathe until the very end of the game – the character’s voice acting enhances what is already a frightening monstrosity of a human and if we get to settle the score at the end of the game, that will be very satisfying vengeance indeed.
After escaping the clutches of Deathshead and his immense mechanical soldiers, and a nasty knock to the head while tumbling to the sea below, Wolfenstein switched gears and Blazkowicz found himself in a psychiatric hospital in Poland under the loving care of a family of doctors and nurses. Problem is, Blazkowicz has been rendered paralysed and all he can do is watch the world go by, shown in a fantastic time lapse sequence that sees days turn to night, seasons changing, celebrations taking place, and the constant care of Anya, a key character in Wolfenstein.
Years pass and Blazkowicz is still unable to move, stuck in his wheelchair as the family looks after him, but Deathshead’s grip extends to the hospital as patients are slowly removed, most probably for more experiments. Eventually the hospital is shut down and occupied by Nazi soldiers, and after a shocking and tragic event Blazkowicz finally finds the strength to rise from his chair and continue the fight against the Nazis who have somehow managed to win World War II and take control of the world.
A few intense firefights later (again, read my previous write-up to see how these play out – they’re extraordinarily fun, with punchy weapons, destructible cover and great manoeuvrability to take advantage of) and I finished the demo with many more questions in my head and more intrigue buzzing in my brain.
Wolfenstein: The New Order – gamescom 2013 Screenshots
The combat heavy Wolfenstein demo of E3 was very well complemented by the more story-focussed sequences at gamescom, and I’m hoping developer Machine Games is able to balance the two sides of the experience to tell a solid narrative that carries itself strongly throughout the game. Combined with the puzzle and exploration parts of the game and the incrediblly intense action I saw earlier this year, I’m still convinced Wolfenstein: The New Order will be something extremely special when it’s out next year.
If you’re curious to know how the game is shaping up, be sure to follow El33tonline’s current and continued coverage of Wolfenstein: The New Order as we count down to its release in 2014.