Wolfenstein: The New Order review: Blazkowicz forever

B.J. Blazkowicz makes his return in Wolfenstein: The New Order--and what a return it is. Our review

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After taking a few years off the beaten path, Wolfenstein: The New Order has returned to its Nazi-stomping roots, bringing bad-ass B.J. Blazkowicz to the front lines as he takes on a powerful Nazi regime in 1946. Doing away with the silly supernatural elements from the previous release, the game mostly sticks with what made the series so fun in the first place – blasting Nazis to kingdom come with a wide arsenal of crazy weaponry. Check out the review follow-up to see if Wolfenstein still shines days later.

Back Into Action

It doesn't take long for Blazkowicz to get thrust back into the fray. Following an invasion on an island stronghold that left him catatonic for 14 years, Blazkowicz restarts his Nazi-killing past-time when they're sent to shut down the asylum where he's being treated. Soon enough, the blood starts spilling, and the weary soldier finds himself leading a group of rag-tag soldiers against the tyrannical Deathshead, flanked by an army of loyal troops and cybernetic terrors. Where The New Order excels is with its good old-fashioned run and gun gameplay. Throughout the game's 16 levels, Blazkowicz will find a number of weapons that get the job done, from automatic shotguns that spew bullets like popcorn to a very effective laser welder that can evaporate any given soldier into a bloody mess. Machine Games did remarkable work with the controls, as they're responsive and pinpoint, right down to leaning around corners. It feels strange having the grenade and weapon select button mapped on the same trigger, but easy enough to overcome.

Just your average chaingun robo-Nazi

Despite its bombastic action, the game does provide opportunities to play it quiet. If you get the attention of guards, they'll sound the alarm and bring even more enemy forces to contend with. Machine Games manages to balance this tactic just about right. Whether burying of a knife in a Nazi throat or propelling a silenced bullet into a Nazi's head, the stealth feels right at home. The more stealthily you handle a mission, the more perks you have the potential to earn, such as increased reload times and accelerated speed with two shotguns. (Hey, running with those isn't as easy as it looks.) If Machine Games unexpectedly excelled at stealth, it wasn't so lucky trying its hand at exploration. For instance, before you can torture a Nazi with a chainsaw, you're forced to first seek out a protective vest and goggles. Um, excuse me, but this is Blazkowicz we're talking about, yes? He practically gets bloody throughout the game anyway. Why would we need this stuff? Seeking out little items in the home hub is also a chore that distracts from the action. Thankfully, when the action happens, it's gratifying. Even on the highest difficulty, it rarely feels frustrating thanks to an array of health packs and ammunition, and a generous respawn system.

An Old but New Wolfenstein

Considering that this is the series' debut for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One (as well as previous consoles), Wolfenstein: The New Order is a fine achievement. The game runs at a fluid 60 frames per second without missing a beat, and I would very rarely notice any hitches. For good measure, Machine Games has also managed to craft a wonderful, if somewhat terrifying, alternate world in Germany. From blasting your way through a planetarium with a giant moon statue in the center (which, yes, you can destroy) to a run in a bloodied prison hall, where soldiers await around every corner. This game is a sight to behold, especially on the newer systems. The cinemas were lacking in that level of polish and presentation. Rather than playing out in real-time, the story is told through cinematic cut-scenes that crudely cut into the action sequences. Story is an important to give us context for the bloody spectacle in Wolfenstein, but telling it in-game would've let Machine refrain from braking its stride.

We need a mop

The Alternate Routes

Wolfenstein's missions will take quite a while to get through, but the game offers an interesting wrinkle with two alternate storylines. Early on, you're asked to sacrifice one of two soldiers to Deathshead, and the choice you make actually affects certain decisions through the game. You'll want to see where both lead, just to see what gets thrown your way. It's an interesting addition that adds some replay value to the game. On top of that, seeking out hidden Nazis treasures can unlock bonus Trophies/Achievements in the game, and considering the open-world presentation of each level, it pays to explore.

A One-man Show

The New Order is a single-player game only, and you'll probably uncover everything it has to offer in about 15 hours or so. Multiplayer is usually a given, especially for first-person shooters, but its absence here didn't bother me. The addition of a Nazi vs. freedom soldiers mode would just feel like a cheap throw-in. The alternate timelines, hidden goods, and sheer fun of reducing Nazis to bloody chunks made the package feel complete even without multiplayer.

Conclusion

Despite the lack of multiplayer and fetch-quests that interrupt the blood-spilling action, Wolfenstein: The New Order is a welcome return to form for the series. Its gameplay is good fun, whether you prefer blasting enemies to bits or being sneaky-like. The beautiful presentation makes the most out of the new hardware, and it squeezes some impressive life out of older systems. Blazkowicz's return has been a long time coming, but Machine Games has assured that it was worth it. Final Score: 8 out of 10.
This review is based on a PlayStation 4 review copy provided by the publisher: Wolfenstein: The New Order is available now for Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3 and PC for $59.99. The game is rated M for mature.

From The Chatty

  • reply
    May 19, 2014 9:01 PM

    Robert Workman posted a new article, Wolfenstein: The New Order review: Blazkowicz forever.

    B.J. Blazkowicz makes his return in Wolfenstein: The New Order--and what a return it is. Our review

    • reply
      May 19, 2014 9:21 PM

      This is encouraging!

    • reply
      May 19, 2014 9:27 PM

      I knew it was gonna be good.

    • reply
      May 19, 2014 9:30 PM

      I'm OK with running around shooting stuff. Doesn't sound like there's much more to it.

    • reply
      May 19, 2014 9:41 PM

      Looking forward to this one.

    • reply
      May 19, 2014 9:46 PM

      Very happy to read this!

    • reply
      May 19, 2014 9:49 PM

      has anyone found a pc review? it's id tech + 40gb so I'm curious how the pc version looks.

      • reply
        May 19, 2014 10:12 PM

        I'm curious about a PC review as well. I love Wolfenstein, but 50gb of HDD space is a lot to ask.

        • reply
          May 19, 2014 10:15 PM

          yeah screw that. I don't care if the game is good, 50gb is too much.

        • reply
          May 19, 2014 10:16 PM

          Offload your torrented stuff to an external

        • reply
          May 19, 2014 10:21 PM

          Titanfall is around 40gb and it looks shitty, i think it's common nowadays

          • reply
            May 19, 2014 10:25 PM

            The vast majority of that is the uncompressed audio.

          • reply
            May 19, 2014 10:26 PM

            Eh. I thought Bioshock Infinite from Steam was nuts at 13 gigs and Skyrim only occupies about 8 gigs. Asking for 50 gigs may not be asking for much if you're using SATA drives but if you're running on SSD drives, that's about a fifth of what I'd consider 'the most common consumer SSD size', 250 gigs.

            • reply
              May 19, 2014 10:27 PM

              Megatextures don't screw around.

            • reply
              May 20, 2014 9:19 PM

              Why would you not have larger, terabyte-sized data HDDs in conjunction with your SSD?

      • reply
        May 19, 2014 10:12 PM

        Early PC code was apparently not available.

        http://www.pcgamer.com/2014/05/20/why-our-wolfenstein-the-new-order-review-is-delayed/

      • reply
        May 20, 2014 6:50 AM

        There's been reports of texture pop in like what happened in rage.

    • reply
      May 20, 2014 12:35 AM

      Good news everyone! This is so far the most anticipated game of this year for me, good to hear it delivers.

      I hope this one sells much better than the last one, which got undeservedly bad rep.

      • reply
        May 20, 2014 6:39 AM

        I just finished the last one a month ago. Pretty fun game. The city hub was worked pretty well too.

    • reply
      May 20, 2014 12:52 AM

      Looking forward to this game now!

    • reply
      May 20, 2014 3:52 AM

      Isn't Skyrim like 16 gigs with the HD texture packs? Anyway now that we are getting uncompressed textures and audio I expect most games on PC will be very large but I never have more than a few games permanently on my PC and the rest I just download and delete as I play and just re-download from Steam if I want to play it again.

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        May 20, 2014 4:22 AM

        I'd wait on the PC version, apparently just like Rage its having driver issues and texture pop in, which new drivers will probably fix but I'd wait until they get it sorted. Id Tech 5 is such a mess for a supposedly cutting edge game engine. Cryengine, Unreal, REDengine, Frostbite and even offshoots like Dunia look and perform so much better.

        • reply
          May 20, 2014 5:35 AM

          Considering the problems Rage had I'm surprised it's having the same issues.

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            May 20, 2014 7:13 AM

            I just don't think Id Tech 5 works well unless it has the exact right settings which is fine for console but bad for PC when there are so many different set ups. I got Rage running perfectly but only with one specific set of Nvidia drivers and with a lot of tweaks in the Nvidia control panel.

      • reply
        May 20, 2014 7:51 AM

        M-m-m-m-m-m MEGA TEXTURES from ID5 engine.

    • reply
      May 20, 2014 4:00 AM

      Surprised this game is good considering that real bad video earlier this week

      • reply
        May 20, 2014 4:06 AM

        Everyone was saying that was a trollish video, game was set to the lowest difficulty and not indicative of the full AI and gameplay.

        • reply
          May 20, 2014 4:07 AM

          Regardless that was proper broken.

        • reply
          May 20, 2014 4:15 AM

          When has AI difficulty settings ever resulted in modified enemy reactions like this? It's typically the scalings that vary (health, damage, sense ranges, reaction speed, etc), almost never a change in the behaviour itself. That said, I am willing to believe that they exploited the AI in a way that it wasn't prepared for, so it's not really indicative of a typical playstyle.

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            May 20, 2014 4:19 AM

            I sure as hell wish difficulty settings worked that way. There's nothing interesting, IMO, about difficulty levels that just change the amount of damage it takes to kill you/enemies. I want easy to mean the AI is dumb as a rock and has stormtrooper aim, and hard to mean they're crack shots with advanced tactics.

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              May 20, 2014 4:23 AM

              There's pro and contra for it. If you change the rules of the game world from one setting to another that can create a sense of disconnect in the player too. I typically want a reliable game world that follows its own rules. So there's some merit to keeping all the game rules intact between difficulty settings but offering a tougher challenge to the experienced player. Then of course there's aso the production side of it where anything more than adjusted scalings (which is a science in itself - balancing is hard work!) creates a higher workload.

          • reply
            May 20, 2014 4:20 AM

            The first Crysis game I can say for sure, I had to go into the files and create my own hybrid difficulty because the AI reaction times on Delta were set to some insanely low values and ruining the game for me.

            Not saying that's what's happening here, I really don't know. Just reporting what the defense force has been saying. I don't care about this game at all, and that video did it no good for sure.

            • reply
              May 20, 2014 4:22 AM

              And I also misread your post. So yeah, that too.

          • reply
            May 20, 2014 7:18 AM

            Halo, Crysis, most sport games.

            • reply
              May 20, 2014 7:30 AM

              Interesting I was thinking off Halo specifically, because that's one of the games that is known to create a perception of smarter AI by using scaling, as noted by the devs themselves.

              http://web.cs.du.edu/~sturtevant/s13-ai/lecture2.pdf
              Check the slides on page 8-9.

              Or this summary:
              http://aigamedev.com/open/review/halo-ai/

              It’s obvious in retrospect, but Bungie found a correlation between how smart the AI is, and how tough it is.
              - When you improve the AI relative to the player, obviously the game gets tougher.
              - However, when you make the AI tougher (e.g. with more health points), the players believe they are smarter.

              • reply
                May 20, 2014 9:31 AM

                Some AI behavior was disabled on easier settings. Halo AI is actually fairly cool.

                • reply
                  May 20, 2014 9:32 AM

                  It's supercool, I wasn't dissing it. It's one of my fave series.

      • reply
        May 20, 2014 4:15 AM

        If you want a scathing review, Eurogamer gave it a 6. http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2014-05-20-wolfenstein-the-new-order-review

        ...and they used a less witty headline ("Mein kraft.") than Robert Workman did ("Blazkowicz Forever").

        • reply
          May 20, 2014 4:17 AM

          Also, one of the commenters said that there was a giant day one patch (5 GB on PC and PS4, 7 GB on XBO). Is that true?

        • reply
          May 20, 2014 6:30 AM

          So... bargain bin.

        • reply
          May 20, 2014 10:27 AM

          Well of course they did not like it... they played it on an XBOX ONE :)

      • reply
        May 20, 2014 4:18 AM

        Turns out it's a decent to semi-decent shooters. Probably best to approach it with managed exceptions.

        But hey, good FPS with an emphasis on the actual shooting are rare now, so I think I'll give Wolfenstein 2009 (Raven) a shot and if I like that maybe 2013 in a couple weeks. I do like the smoothness of the RAGE-engine.

        Though the Joystiq review has pointed out some boneheadeness about their gameplay design. Apparently it's smoothing sailing until you clear a room and then have to approach and confirm the pickup of every single piece of ammo by pressing a key. Genius.

        • reply
          May 20, 2014 4:24 AM

          I pretty much hate shooters now, virtually no intererest. I have a weird love of Killzone (which I know is trash but it's the trash I like) but otherwise, I think FPS games being the one and only game for me as it was when the FPS genre became huge - long gone. I actively dislike them now, they bore me.

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            May 20, 2014 4:45 AM

            I feel sort of similar, but it's more an issue of every new single-player FPS campaign being a roller-coaster railshooter, and every new multiplayer FPS loaded with persistence, MOBA-esque RPG elements, and microtransactions.

            I'm playing through the Quake 2 mission packs right now (just finished Ground Zero; going through The Reckoning right now). I'll probably pick up Heavy Bullets this week. As for Wolfenstein: The New Order, I'll allow at least a few weeks of community reviews before I think of getting it (BTW, this is how I've been treating all $60 games for the past few years, aside from the occasional "take 3 twenties out of your wallet and set them on fire" exercises with stuff like Persona 4 Arena and BlazBlue: Continuum Shift Extend).

            • reply
              May 20, 2014 5:24 AM

              There's plenty of new FPS campaigns that aren't roller-coaster shooters. You keep repeating that every game is CoD and it's simply not true. I'm starting to think you're just a complaining enthusiast.

          • reply
            May 20, 2014 5:18 AM

            There is no level design in FPS games now. You get a linear corridor with a pretty backdrop and that's it. No branching paths, no secrets, no vertical movement, no exploration. It makes me sad.

            • reply
              May 20, 2014 5:23 AM

              There's plenty of games with those things.

              • reply
                May 20, 2014 5:39 AM

                I think it's a valid complaint (though slightly exaggerated) when leveraged against the current state of FPS games as a whole.

                One of my major complaints with Bioshock infinite, one of the high watermarks of the FPS genre in recent years, was that lack of exploration off of the on-rails path leading to a static experience and shallow experienced compared to the likes of Thief or System Shock.

                Dishonored is the one noteworthy recent counter-example I can think of offhand.

              • reply
                May 20, 2014 5:45 AM

                The only recent shooter I can think of that qualifies is Borderlands 2. Everything else is either a corridor run (COD, BF4, Killzone, probably Wolfenstein) or not a shooter (Dishonored, Thief).

                • reply
                  May 20, 2014 6:00 AM

                  Or any Halo game

                  • reply
                    May 20, 2014 6:05 AM

                    It is kinda why I wished Titanfall had a proper campaign. The jetpack in Halo: Reach gave some of the later levels some verticality and it was fantastic.

                • reply
                  May 20, 2014 7:09 AM

                  What about Arma, Far Cry 2 and 3, the Metro games (which have corridors but also exploration), or even the Halo games which tend to be straightforward but which give you some space to operate. There are a lot of shooters which aren't super linear if that's what your looking for.

                  • reply
                    May 20, 2014 7:19 AM

                    Arma is a bit too hardcore for me (I would classify it as a sim-shooter, maybe the only one?). Far Cry 2 was ok but the respawning checkpoints were a pain in the ass. Also fuck malaria. Never cared for the Halo games either, but I might give Metro a try some day. After I upgrade some hardware at least.

          • reply
            May 20, 2014 6:02 AM

            Abrasion, do you have a Vita? You should get one for KZ: Mercenary alone.

            • reply
              May 20, 2014 6:07 AM

              Have you never seen the threads "abrasion vs handheld" people? They are a sigh to behold as I manage to infuriate a huge group of manchildren with too much time on their hands handheld gamers with my ridiculously obtuse attitude.

              • reply
                May 20, 2014 6:07 AM

                "sigh to behold" definitely a freudian slip there

              • reply
                May 20, 2014 6:34 AM

                well, you big boy are missing out on the best FPS you can play on the go. It's also known to be better than Shadow Fall. Also really replayable as they encourage you to play the levels in different ways. MP is good, too.

                • reply
                  May 20, 2014 6:37 AM

                  I'll do the same thing I did with the God of War prequels (which kicked ass on my PS3) wait, or never play em.

              • reply
                May 20, 2014 6:37 AM

                Isn't it exhausting? Take it from an ex hater of everything, life is so much more enjoyable when you like everything instead. My Vita rules, and with PSN+ I have more games than I can keep up with. Jump in, live life, play Persona 4 Golden even though anime is garbage ass bullshit.

                • reply
                  May 20, 2014 6:39 AM

                  I agree, my Vita was collecting dust until Muramasa Rebirth (for free on PS+) and Persona 4 Golden. Hooked on P4G now. :(

                  Also I was really looking forward to Soul Sacrifice (also for free on PS+) but it's just kinda dumb.

                • reply
                  May 20, 2014 6:43 AM

                  Did you know Persona 5 (PS3) is going to be about being a slave? Should be interesting.

                  They should call it 12 Months A Slave.

                • reply
                  May 20, 2014 6:47 AM

                  Nah I still only hate selectively - you guys just never notice when I love things. GTA4 and GTA5 brought to me joy that is difficult to put into words. 4 especially (despite 5 being better in every way) - just with it's timing.

                  GTA5 was basically a highlight for 2011, 2012, 2013 combined, it was that god damned fucking good, it's mind boggingly good.
                  Also boobs are cool and movies and good TV shows but handhelds r 4 dum dums!

                • reply
                  May 20, 2014 7:05 AM

                  I'm afraid to start playing P4G because I have too much other stuff to play.

                  There's generally too much games on every platform I own, somebody should do something about it, how the fuck am I expected to keep up with all this.

              • reply
                May 20, 2014 6:37 AM

                Also a true gamer does not care about platforms. You just go where the good games are. Be in on a toaster, a "kiddy" Nintendo system or even a phone.

                • reply
                  May 20, 2014 6:44 AM

                  Don't even go there, it's a pointless debate. I will never, ever purchase a handheld ever period. I'll wait for it to come to PS3 / PS4 or I won't play it.
                  I am glad you like yours though, this is good!

    • reply
      May 20, 2014 4:33 AM

      Hard to get a consensus on the game.

      One review says the script is juvenile, the next one says its intelligently written.

      I'm gonna wait for other people to play it. I'm not a fan of most single-player FPS's. Playing Battlefield single player was close to torture. FEAR 3 bored me to tears most of the time.

      • reply
        May 20, 2014 4:46 AM

        This is what you get when reviewers have to rush through a game before the 'bargo. Wait a few weeks, and let actual gamers review the game.

        • reply
          May 20, 2014 5:00 AM

          Actual gamers can suck a fuck, they are idiots.

        • reply
          May 20, 2014 6:52 AM

          My reviews are the Let's Play videos. They are also my demos now.

        • reply
          May 20, 2014 7:10 AM

          Is embargo too hard?

        • rms
          reply
          May 20, 2014 9:47 AM

          Fricking right. I saw Thief 'reviews' where the writer blew through it in 8hrs. What a joke, and completely disrespectful to the devs.

      • reply
        May 20, 2014 5:06 AM

        It's almost like different people have different likes, dislikes, and opinions

      • reply
        May 20, 2014 5:38 AM

        There will be a quick look on GiantBomb later today so you will be able to see for yourself.

      • reply
        May 20, 2014 5:39 AM

        sometimes you just want to shoot Nazis in the face.

      • reply
        May 20, 2014 6:48 AM

        Single-player FPS are ultra boring. I think the last one I completed was Doom II 20 years ago.

        • reply
          May 20, 2014 6:55 AM

          How does it feel, to be wrong and to also smell of wee?

          • reply
            May 20, 2014 7:01 AM

            How's it feel to be a dick? Some people have different tastes in game, i know, weird right?

            • reply
              May 20, 2014 7:03 AM

              How does it feel to take what was clearly a lighthearted jape and get really offended?

              Chill out.

            • reply
              May 20, 2014 7:16 AM

              He wasn't trollin dude

        • reply
          May 20, 2014 7:05 AM

          I wish I could enjoy multiplayer shooters more :( Unless it has coop I don't have much fun. I usually end up getting killed a billion times and get frustrated since I don't have as much time to get good as I used to.

        • reply
          May 20, 2014 7:17 AM

          That's my exact opinion on multiplayer FPSes, they are so boring and pointless. The last one I played was Quake 1 but that was over LAN, so much better experience when you are all in the same room.

          I love the fact that Wolf is SP-only.

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            May 20, 2014 7:18 AM

            ^^^^^^ Wait Wolf is SP only focused? My interest just went up. Multiplayer FPS bores the utter shit out of me like nothing else. Even an SP game with MP in it, because I wonder what compromises were made to hamfist the MP into the game.

            • reply
              May 20, 2014 7:21 AM

              RTCW and ET had some of the best team based multiplayer ever-- I might just be thinking of Enemy Territory though which was an MP only game.

              • reply
                May 20, 2014 7:25 AM

                That's absoloutely correct - but it was also like a good decade ago, we were all 10 years younger, with amply more time in a market of games 1/3 the size it is now at least.

                MP gaming sucks now, it's awful, time consuming garbage. My time is much much more limited and a great SP game is like a brilliant book. A great MP game is like playing Basketball with your buddies or something - it's fun too (if you're into that) but some of just prefer the book!

              • reply
                May 20, 2014 7:56 AM

                Return was a fantastic MP game. I had no idea this game was single-only. That means I'll be waiting till its $10 on steam.

        • reply
          May 20, 2014 10:06 AM

          You're missing out on a few good games. I agree the vast majority are utter crap, but the Valve games, for example, are really good in single player...

      • reply
        May 20, 2014 7:18 AM

        Sounds like they got their 'Tarantino-inspired' approach to story right on the money then. That sounds like how 99% of his films are reviewed.

        • reply
          May 20, 2014 7:40 AM

          I think it depends on how well they execute on this fictional world, and how clever their jabs are at the Nazi mindset/xenophobia.

          Reviews were split on Far Cry: Blood Dragon's narrative too. And I definitely agreed wtih the crowd that said it was pretty unfunny and forced. And of course the vanilla Far Cry 3's story was complete tripe. I really don't know how these writers get hired by AAA studios.

    • reply
      May 20, 2014 5:45 AM

      Refreshing to see a nice, healthy spread of review scores for a game. Usually it's a sign of a game that at least tries to do something a little differently or uniquely. The problems that the guys who are giving low scores underline are not the kind of problems that usually bother me a whole lot, so I guess I'll be buying when I get home today.

      I'm really interested in seeing the script that I've now seen called "Intelligent", "Stupid", "Unique", "Unimaginative" and everything else between the worst ever and the best ever.

    • reply
      May 20, 2014 6:25 AM

      Sounds like fun! I could go for a good single player FPS!

    • reply
      May 20, 2014 10:04 AM

      watching the Quick Look... the "nightmare" scene just sold me on the game :)

      • reply
        May 20, 2014 3:25 PM

        Every time I watch one of their videos I can't help but think how bad they are at the game they're playing, haha.

    • reply
      May 20, 2014 10:17 AM

      Driver issues on AMD cards. Big surprise http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2014/05/20/wolfenstein-new-order-pc-problems/

      • reply
        May 20, 2014 1:24 PM

        No problem on my r290 and latest driver, nor have I seen any in forums. No idea why RPS having issues.

        • reply
          May 20, 2014 1:44 PM

          Yeah, tons of people playing with Radeons over on OCN.

      • reply
        May 20, 2014 2:47 PM

        I'm getting the occasional slowdown, but it's smooth most of the time.

    • reply
      May 20, 2014 2:56 PM

      It's a Quake engine game so it's probably going to suck.

    • reply
      May 20, 2014 3:10 PM

      ...the more perks you have the potential to earn, such as increased reload times

      That should be decreased reload times, no?

    • reply
      May 21, 2014 5:00 AM

      Cool I'll wait for it to be $5 on steam in 6 months