Wolfenstein: The New Order preview: storming Berlin

Wolfenstein: The New Order's first few hours won't reinvent the FPS wheel, but so far, it feels like a competent shooter with a pretty novel alternate WWII timeline.

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The Wolfenstein series is largely recognized for its different take on World War II and Wolfenstein: The New Order, the latest entry from Bethesda and MachineGames, is no different. One of the major differences this time around involves moving the timeline forward and asking the burning question, "What would have happened if the Nazi war machine had won WWII?"

The answer is grim, but a brief hands-on of the game's first few chapters show that players will have plenty at their disposal to take out the Nazi scum. Of course, while the setting is somewhat different, at heart, The New Order feels very much like a familiar FPS experience.

Players control William 'BJ' Blazkowicz, an American soldier that begins the game infiltrating General Deathshead's castle, alongside his allies, during the latter end of the ongoing war. This portion of the game serves as a lengthy tutorial, teaching shooting, dual-wielding, lock-picking, and stealth takedown mechanics, as Blazkowicz is rushed by Nazi soldiers and mechanically-enhanced dogs. Stealth turns out to be somewhat of a misnomer, given how often you'll be shooting at Nazis, dogs, drones, and giant robots. But it does offer the chance to save some headaches, since Nazi commanders will not hesitate to call in reinforcements if they spot you or hear you firing from a distance.

The tutorial level concludes with Blazkowicz taking on a Super Soldaten, a hulking Nazi super soldier machine. The soldier will charge at you and take a lot of punishment, making it one of the game's more formidable enemies. After the Soldaten is dispatched, Deathshead will successfully capture your compatriots, requiring Blazkowicz to choose which of his two friends should be spared. While his selection won't alter the timeline drastically, it will offer up some noticeable differences that players will encounter later in the story.

The ordeal in the castle will ultimately fast-forward the story to 1960, where the Nazis have won the war and taken over the world, leaving Blazkowicz as one of the few Resistance members left to stop them. This leads to a harrowing fight to escape the confines of an asylum, where I had to be a little more careful about shooting, since I had limited ammo during this sequence. Difficulty ramped up slightly as I made it outside, where Nazis deployed pesky recon drones that would fly into tight spaces and fire away, while maneuvering to avoid my own shots.

Most of what I played was standard FPS fare. However, The New Order does attempt to mix up an otherwise linear FPS formula through the addition of perks, the kind of thing typically spotted in an FPS multiplayer mode. As the game progresses, players can opt to aim for Stealth, Tactical, Assault, or Demolition perks in order to unlock corresponding upgrades, like extra ammo and new weapons. This encourages trying out more than one play style and adds a semblance of variety. However, I didn't have enough time with the game to try out many of the cooler perks.

The New Order looks to veer on the side of classic shooters. It doesn't offer a lot in the way of fresh ideas and its stealth option didn't work out so well for me in the face of towering robots. However, the game does competently pull off many of its old-school shooting mechanics, while the story carries a consistently engaging tone. Just be wary that this tone can be pretty gruesome and some of the visuals, such as the scene where the Nazis purge the asylum, may not be for the squeamish. The PlayStation 4 version that I tried out also looks pretty solid, consistently running at a smooth framerate, though there were numerous instances of screen tearing that left me feeling a bit disappointed.

The Wolfenstein story ventures into the future on May 20 when it releases on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

From The Chatty
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    February 24, 2014 12:00 PM

    Ozzie Mejia posted a new article, Wolfenstein: The New Order preview: storming Berlin.

    Wolfenstein: The New Order's first few hours won't reinvent the FPS wheel, but so far, it feels like a competent shooter with a pretty novel alternate WWII timeline.

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      February 24, 2014 12:05 PM

      This pleases me.

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      February 24, 2014 1:34 PM

      Just when I thought I couldn't be more excited.

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      February 24, 2014 2:01 PM

      If they do more Nazi renditions of popular music (in-game, dammit!), I think I'm in; the shooting looked good-ish.

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      February 24, 2014 4:51 PM

      The uploader has not made this video available in your country.

      Scheisse, where am I supposed to get my nazi-shooting fix now? >_>

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      February 24, 2014 5:04 PM

      excite!!!

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      February 24, 2014 5:40 PM

      Voice acting sounds really great.

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        February 24, 2014 5:42 PM

        Voice acting is pretty good. I'm not keen on Blazkowicz, though. He sounded bland.

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          February 24, 2014 11:32 PM

          I always felt that Blazkowicz in the remakes was a bland/generic American war hero. In the old Wolfenstein 3D games though, he felt badass.

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      February 24, 2014 11:53 PM

      I want to play this!

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      February 25, 2014 1:54 AM

      Yes! I will like this one, I'm sure. I loved SP side of all previous Wolfenstein games and I really like how the RAGE engine looks like. This has to be good!

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      February 25, 2014 11:03 AM

      It has blood and dead Nazis. I'll buy it.

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      February 26, 2014 6:35 AM

      All I want out of an Id style game is tight shooting, cool weapons, and enemies that explode in bloody chunks when blown up, I don't need anything that wasn't already thought up in the late 90s. Plus any game where you can dual wield sniper rifles interests me:)

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