It's a lot of pressure for a new studio to debut with an existing IP, even more-so when that existing IP also happens to be a successor to the franchise widely known for pioneering the first-person shooter genre. MachineGames has a lot riding on Wolfenstein: The New Order, but from what we've seen so far in our hands-on demo publisher Bethesda recently gave us, the game is most certainly on the right track.
While staying true to the franchise's roots, MachineGames delivers a brand-new Wolfenstein experience and accomplishes something many FPS games do not: it gets you excited about the story, which is absolutely necessary seeing as how it's a single-player only affair.
The game is set in the '60s in a world where the Allies lost World War II and the Nazis now rule the globe with the help of technologically advanced war machines. Players will assume the roll of the same protagonist from the series' previous entries, B.J. Blazkowicz.
By now you should be asking yourself, how did the game just skip almost 15 years into the future? Well, for the purpose of not spoiling anything, let's just say that this question and others like it are answered right off the bat.
In our demo, we played through the first three chapters of the game, allowing us to experience a good chunk of what it has to offer.
If you've played any modern shooters, such as Battlefield or Call of Duty, then this game will feel all but familiar. There's a bit to learn, of course, but you should be able to pick up and play without any hassle. Newbies need not fret either, the controls are simple enough to learn quickly and unless you're asking for it, the difficulty should not prove to be much trouble.
Most FPS's are known for having linear structures and at times, Wolfenstein: The New Order is no different; however, certain sequences break away from this archetype and offer a bit of exploration as well as several routes to engage enemies, allowing for the element of stealth. One of the most exciting parts we've seen so far is when you're allowed to choose your path and decide on whether or not you wish to take out the enemy with stealth or open fire for an epic gun battle.
Unfortunately, or at least in our demo, the stealth aspect is a bit rare and combat is usually forced, which almost makes the parts that do allow stealth feel like a waste of time.
Most of what makes the gameplay stand out are the little things, you can shoot off enemy helmets for plus-five armor, dual-wield just about every weapon in the game (including knives), pick locks and lean around corners to reduce exposure. While none of this is actually new to games, it's the fact that the developer took all these ingredients and threw them into one mixing pot that distinguishes and establishes this title's individuality.
Visually, Wolfenstein: The New Order is nothing revolutionary, but impressive all the same. Where the game truly pushes its graphical limits is in its cutscenes, which are, for the most part, complemented by well executed voice acting, though the dialogue can be a bit over the top at times. It's worth mentioning, though, that our hands-on was with the PlayStation 4 version of the game and we have not seen the title running on other platforms first-hand.
MachineGames is on to something, they're telling a story that's hard to tell and they're off to a good start. Their game is bold, it's a well-known franchise taking its core assets and adding so much more, with a deep focus on a balance between unique storytelling and fun gameplay -- something most FPS's struggle with. Three chapters is not enough to place a final judgement and the game still has a lot to prove, but one thing that's clear is the name Wolfenstein is in good hands.
Wolfenstein: The New Order is slated to launch on May 20 in North America and May 23 across Europe for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PC.