The mega nerd show known as PAX East took place this past weekend in Boston, MA, and I was one of the 70,000 lucky ones in attendance. My very first stop on Friday, the first day of the show, was at the Bethesda booth where I was treated to 1.5 hours of hands-on time with the upcoming re-imagined shooter, Wolfenstein The New Order. Bethesda is getting ready to release Wolfenstein so the build I was playing was very close to the final version and it showed. With a release of May 20th on the horizon, it’s good to see the game is nearly ready for consumption.
Wolfenstein The New Order starts with a bang as players are thrust into the boots of BJ Blaskowitz, a bomber’s co-pilot in the midst of a massive aerial assault. As the plane takes on damage, it is up to the player to fix the problems before they are shot down. This frantic and very loud introduction serves as the title’s in-game tutorial but it isn’t long before you’re thrust into a turret, taking down enemy bombers, then diving head first from one plane to another in mid-air! The action just never slows down in Wolfenstein The New Order and it is sure to get your blood pumping right from the get go.
Visually, Wolfenstein looks a little like Dishonored with the muted colours, industrial look, and massive mechanical creatures and machines. The sound is loud and very war-like, but this volume comes with a price. The vocal audio of the characters are overshadowed by the game’s atmospheric sounds and there was no option to increase the vocals over the sound effects. This made understanding the story a little difficult. Additionally, the game starts out with no map available to the player and absolutely no guidance on where to go or what your objective is save the instructions from your commander which was hard to hear in the first place. Once crash-landing on the shore and being attacked by some mechanical dogs, I found myself underwater in a downed plane searching for a way out. It took several back and forth trips through the plane to realize there was actually a hole in the side of the plane that I can swim out of. I can’t say why I didn’t see this at first, but it felt very hidden and wasted much of my time. Once outside the plane and in the water, again, I had no idea where I was supposed to go. I don’t know if this will change in the final release but I did feel at a loss in the beginning of the game due to no map and no objective marker.
Once I made my way to dry ground, however, the game’s corridor shooter mechanic came into play and it was always evident where I needed to go, even if there were still other rooms that could be searched. The gameplay itself was solid, hectic, and incredibly fun. The beginning of the second level had me scaling up the side of a building while watching for and taking out enemy soldiers in the windows as I climbed past them. It was something I had never experienced before and it was glorious.
Wolfenstein The New Order rewards players with perks for achievements in four different categories: Stealth, Tactical, Assault, and Demolition, allowing players to upgrade their skills in whichever mode of play they choose. Bringing the option of stealth into this otherwise blatant first person shooter is a nice touch and it works well. Players that are able to take out the base Commanders without being seen will be rewarded with fewer or no enemies attacking all at once.
Wolfenstein The New Order is scheduled for release on May 20th on Xbox 360, PS3, Xbox One, PS4, and PC. Get ready to be thrust into an alternate history 1960 world in which Germany won WWII.