Examiner chats with developer MachineGames' Creative Director Jens Matthies about the studio's debut title Wolfenstein: The New Order. Celebrated for pioneering the first-person shooter genre, Wolfenstein -- originally developed by id Software -- is one of the most renown franchises in all of gaming. The New Order, while aimed at maintaining faith in the series' roots, is intent on taking the franchise in an entirely new direction.
Examiner: What elements were core to Wolfenstein, when it came to creating the antagonists Wilhelm (Deathshead) and Frau? What was the inspiration that was used when creating these characters?
Jens Matthies: Wolfenstein games have always had larger than life antagonists. For us it was very important to honor this legacy, so that they feel like proper Wolfenstein enemies. But we also wanted to explore their personalities on a more profound level and make them truly representative of Nazi ideology. There’s an air of authenticity in these characters that shine through the larger than life exterior.
Ex: With a character like Deathshead, what is another antagonist we've seen in either games or films that can compare to him? He's obviously someone who is terrifying through his actions, but do his words, movements, facial expressions, etc. also generate fear?
JM: This is a man who has cheated death and ended up on the winning side of history. This joy of living permeates the character and is propelled by an outstanding performance by actor Dwight Schultz. The juxtaposition of his upbeat, somewhat lascivious demeanor and the horror of his actions contribute to a most fearsome cocktail.
Ex: How destructible will the world be in The New Order? How much of that will depend on the weapons players use and where they are shooting?
JM: We love when player actions affect the environment, so we’ve added lots and lots of destruction in the game. The more powerful the weapon, the more stuff will crumble around you.
Ex: With many different play styles being supported in the game, how was level design influenced and how much more difficult was that? Are there different play styles that work better in some missions versus others?
JM: Our goal is to leave as many possibilities open to the player as possible. With the occasional rare exception, the player is free to approach any combat scenario stealthily, tactically or full on guns blazing mayhem style (or any combination of the three).
Ex: Given the fact that the game doesn't support multiplayer, what type of length are players looking at for the campaign? How will replayability factor in this as well?
JM: An experienced player doing a speed run could probably beat the game in 10 hours, but a player who likes to explore the various locations and the deeper game systems can easily spend 15 hours or more on a full playthrough.
Aside from this, the player is tasked with a choice early on in the game. Depending on what you choose a specific timeline will open up which alters the vibe of the game. This fact, along with all of the perks and collectible functionality makes a very good case for a second playthrough.
Ex: What type of a plot are players going to be experiencing? Will it be a straightforward progression or will there be twists and turns that people aren't expecting? Did the film Inglorious Basterds provide the team with any inspiration?
JM: We are taking the player on an epic adventure through some awesome locations. You’ll get to meet fascinating characters, realized in the deepest narrative we’ve ever integrated into a game.
While Inglorious Basterds was never a direct influence, it did provide an immensely helpful way to communicate the tone we were going for with our story. Wolfenstein: The New Order is similar to Inglorious Basterds in the sense that both are a combination of over the top action packed pandemonium, married to a highly resonant drama.
Wolfenstein: The New Order is slated for a May 20 release in North America -- May 23 in Europe -- on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PC. Check back next week for our review.