If I learned one thing from Wolfenstein: The New Order it’s that killing Nazis will never get old, and I’ll never get tired of killing them. Young studio MachineGames’ partnership with Bethesda as the franchise’s new publisher is an unlikely match-up, but the result is a beautiful and thorough look at a commonly asked “what if” history question. id Software’s Wolfenstein series has been around for more than three decades and is often regarded as the granddaddy of the first person shooters we see on the market today. While The New Order doesn’t revolutionize the basic shooter mechanics we’re used too, it does manage to blend the best of the genre with a compelling story and some of the most fleshed out and relateable characters players can experience in recent years.

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Killing Nazis sure is fun.

Wolfenstein: The New Order, the sequel to 2009’s Wolfenstein, continues within the alternate World War II timeline. Series protagonist B.J. Blazkowicz returns following a failed mission to stop Wilhelm “Deathshead” Strasse that rendered him a John Doe in a Polish asylum for fourteen years. In The New Order, he comes to in the 1960s to find himself in the worst kind of nightmare. America, like the rest of the world, has surrendered and the Nazis have won. Blazkowicz’s transition from wheel-chair ridden to Nazi killing machine is unbelievable to some, but I think of it as more out of necessity; he knows he needs to help take down the new world’s rulers and with the help of unlikely but likeable allies, he sets out on his search for the underground Resistance. 

The Nazis, even in reality, feel like the perfect made up video game villain. They justify their horrific actions with a blind sense of belief that what they’re doing is right. Wolfenstein’s futuristic and sci-fi feel, complete with robots and laser based weaponry, initially feels out of place based on the year. As crazy as it is to imagine, given the well-known facts about the Nazis’ scientific and medical experiments, the world imagined by MachineGames isn’t out of the realm of possibility. This new world is frightening and completely dominated by an organization that should have never been formed in the first place.

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Frau Engel is easily one of the most terrifying villains in my gaming experience…just, look at her laughing face.

The New Order somehow manages to find balance between its over the top violence and realistic humanity. The campaign is littered with moments of human suffering and behavior, from tender moments between Blazkowicz and his love interest Anya, to civilians being subjected to unnecessary medical experimentation. Combine that with a mixture of stealth and shoot ’em up sequences and sound story pacing, The New Order is able to succeed where other shooters have failed in their campaigns; it’s compelling and interesting.

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Blazkowicz and his love interest Anya make an incredibly attractive couple.

The omission of multiplayer has been a source of contention within the community. Some feel there is no replay value without it. In order to keep players interested and willing to give the campaign more than one go around, MachineGames’ weaved in story changing decisions, minor side objectives, and scattered items such as gold pieces and enigma codes to find. Based on a game changing decision early on, access to some of these are unattainable, so if you’re looking to complete everything the game has to offer you’ll need to finish the campaign more than once; and while I’m not sure if any of it is interesting enough to go through again, I plan to, just to see the subtle differences.

I actually welcome the absence of a player vs player multiplayer. The only way the company could have added one was to place players in control of members of the Resistance against player controlled Nazis, which some people might be uncomfortable with. A horde mode of sorts with gamers facing down waves of enemies increasing in difficulty would be the only plausible way to approach multiplayer, and while I think the developer would of done a great job with it, it would of been a distraction from The New Order’s strengths.

Mechanically, the game was nothing special and felt reminiscent of the original Bioshock. You’re able to cycle through a weapon wheel, pick up weapon upgrades and unlock various, but rather boring perks by completing challenges with each weapon and play style. I’d  inadvertently earn them and barely checked the menu to see what I’d have to do to unlock the next one. Since I couldn’t allocate skill points in areas that would benefit my personal approach to combat, I felt like they were pointless and I didn’t feel motivated to progress through the skill trees; I was able to gun down Nazi’s without them just fine.

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Duel wielding wasn’t as fun or as effective as I’d hoped it would be.

The ability to duel wield any weapon, including assault and marksmen rifles, is fun in theory, but I’d avoid doing so because it’d eat so much of my ammo that I’d feel like I was wasting it. I would occasionally take advantage of it when enemies would bunch up around corners and spraying bullets was actually a better tactic, but in my play through this was rare and I’d normally sit back and pick them off with my assault rifle as they’d poke out from behind whatever cover they’d use. The cover, lean, and slide system was easily one of the best implemented features in the entire game. The New Order didn’t force me to snap against a wall during fire-fights, which I appreciated; and the lean and slide feature was seamless with a quick hit of a button. The “hit X to pick up items” mechanic may have annoyed some players, but I’ve never really minded it. The prompt was clear and wasn’t a glaring distraction even in the heat of battle.

The original Wolfensteins were difficult games, as evidenced by The New Order’s nostalgic mini game when Blazkowicz would sleep and have a nightmare. So in honor of the previous titles, I attempted the campaign on Uber, before knocking it down to normal for the sake of this review. The menu when selecting a difficulty was amusing, by hovering over the various levels, Blazkowicz’s appearance would change, with the easiest resulting in him with a pacifier and baby bonnet. In a pseudo attempt to make the game seem tougher then it actually is, MachineGames omitted the typical regenerating health in modern day shooters, and substituted it with health packs that could overcharge you and health that only recovered to the nearest twenty interval. Most of my time spent was spent with health ranging anywhere from 20-40%, because I’d have smashed my X button prior to seeing any enemies and have picked up all the health packs before needing them.

Graphically The New Order was hit and miss for me. Surprisingly, I felt cutscenes looked better close up rather then zoomed out, but one stunning shot of a sunset stands out in my mind still. But the small additions, like a passionate character using their hands while talking or blinking made the fictional world feel real. You could see how the Nazi’s ruling the world has taken it’s toll on the people being forced to live in it.

MachineGame’s has managed to bring life to a fictional, but believable alternate World War II timeline with Wolfenstein: The New Order. With beautiful graphics, compelling story and characters, and well done mechanics, The New Order reminds me why first person shooters won’t necessarily suffer without multiplayer.

Image Sources: 1,2,3 and 4

Wolfenstein: The New Order Review - Killing Nazis is Still Fun
MachineGames did a great job bringing the Wolfenstein series to the next generation. The New Order brings back the fun of killing Nazis and mixes it with a terrific story.
Story9.5
Gameplay8.5
Character Development9
Graphics8
Pros
  • Believable alternate timeline
  • Some of the most fleshed out characters in recent years
  • Well implemented gameplay mechanics
Cons
  • Poor perk/skill system
  • Duel wielding feels heavy and pointless
  • Lack of multiplayer
9Overall Score
Reader Rating: (1 Vote)
9.1

About The Author

Nikki P
News Editor/Community Assistant

I'm Nikki and I like video games.