The Infinite Zenith

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Tag Archives: Wolfenstein: The New Order

Wolfenstein: The New Order- The Lunar Base mission as an example of good set piece design

“I’m on the motherfucking moon” —Blazkowicz

Each of Wolfenstein: The New Order‘s missions stand out in their own right owing to their unique level designs and settings, allowing the game to continually impress and surprise the player. In a title where each mission is memorable, the Lunar Base mission stands out for its boldness, taking Blazkowicz to a Nazi facility set on the lunar surface. In-game, it’s shown that the lunar base is a cutting-edge research facility, and its remote location makes it ideally suited for storing the nuclear launch codes: this ties in seamlessly with the story and simultaneously provides an excuse to set a mission on the moon itself. Coupled with the appropriate arsenal (read “cool space guns”), the Lunar Base truly evokes a diesel-punk feeling, incorporating high tech gimmicks with technology from the sixties and offers a full environment to explore. As I fight through the facility and down enemies with a small array of laser weapons, glimpses of the lunar surface can be caught; it hits me that this is how space missions ought to be designed. Combat and exploration in a well-organised, well-constructed space environment can effectively convey the sense that one is in space without the need to introduce the disorienting effects of zero-G and conflicting choices in the sound department (specifically, picking one of realism or theatrics).

  • I mentioned back in my Wolfenstein: The New Order final reflections post that I would be returning to do a talk on the Lunar Base mission, and so, here I am at present. This is a shorter talk with fewer images, but I emphasise that this mission is without equal and is perhaps the strongest mission in the entire game. Here, I am equipped with the AR Marksman, which can only be used in automatic plasma mode while on the moon.

  • Last year at around this time of year, I was going through the Battlefield 4 campaign and had just beaten the first mission after a brunch at the Chinook Restaurant at the Banff Park Lodge. It’s become somewhat of a yearly family tradition now, as are my own propensities towards obtaining a breakfast omelette of ham, cheese, tomato, peppers, mushrooms and salsa plus typical fare for a English Breakfast for my first plate, followed by roast beef, scalloped potatoes, honeyed ribs, seasonal vegetables, fried basa, citrus-seasoned cod and grilled chicken on round two.

  • The Chinook Restaurant’s snow crab this year was as fantastic as I remember, and to round things off, I had a pear pie, chocolate mousse, cheesecake and chocolate fondue for desert. A stroll along the Bow River followed, under cool but sunny skies. While I’ve mentioned before that the AR Marksman was not particularly useful when dual-wielded in rifle mode, in plasma mode, the weapon becomes a powerful short to mid-range alternative that can decimate enemies at close quarters.

  • The AR Marksman’s only limitation in plasma mode is that it needs to be periodically charged, but most of the enemies drop battery units that can refill the energy in small increments. By limiting players to only a pistol as having ammunition pickups, the Lunar Base mission encourages players to explore their environments to figure out where charging stations are before charging into a firefight.

  • Blazkowicz dons a space suit to move between different sections of the facility, and here, the Earth can be seen. This past weekend has been quite busy, as I’ve been implementing a simplified version of my Unreal simulation for testing with MiddleVR. I also picked up a 2.5-inch SATA III hard drive enclosure so I could remove the hard disk from an older laptop, and a gamepad so I could test my simulations more thoroughly. While the gamepad’s an older one that does not support XInput (it only supports DirectInput), I’ve gotten XInput emulation working, so it should at least work where required.

  • The interior design at the Lunar Base is varied and distinct enough for players to differentiate the areas: Blazkowicz fights through the living quarters, research labs and as seen in the previous screenshot, even traverses a short section of the moon. On the Lunar Base, commanders wear noticeable red uniforms that give them an appearance not too different from the costume of Street Fighter II‘s M. Bison.

  • Tape reels can be seen here: while the moon base is quite futuristic, the inclusion of an iconic element from an older age clearly illustrates the divergence of technological advancement from our own world. It is subtle details such as these that set The New Order apart from other shooters, and while The Old Blood was very entertaining, atmospherically, The New Order still surpasses The Old Blood. I remember one person from AnimeSuki remarking that they were “always game for alternate history” in the Wolfenstein thread, and while I never had a chance to reply (on account of their being permanently banned), I would recommend this game to them and anyone else who loves alternate history.

  • The Laserkraftwerk is perhaps the best weapon during this mission against multiple targets and Superstadten: armed with a scope, the weapon does a ridiculous amount of damage and blows enemies apart when fully charged. Back at AnimeSuki, discussion on the game and its successor, The Old Blood has dried up. At least one person cites the game’s “advanced” requirements as a deterrent, but armed with my still-powerful PC, I contend that this is a title that is definitely worth trying (it’s worth buying a GTX 760 or 960 just for this game). In fact, my decision to pick up The New Order was primarily because of the Lunar Base mission.

  • Blazkowicz is riding a tram between facilities here, and more of the lunar surface is visible: the Lunar Base is built in an impact crater, hence the presence of cliff-like walls. The Apollo missions yielded photographs that presented the lunar surface as being quite flat with rolling hills, but lacking an atmosphere to provide erosion and reduce impact force, collisions with other solar bodies result in craters that are well-preserved.

  • Pools of blood and meat chunks are the result after Blazkowicz fights his way back to the transport bound for Earth. A pair of Suprestadten show up, but they can be dealt with quickly enough. I’ll be returning to regular programming this week: Non Non Biyori‘s halfway point will be discussed, along with the whole of the Sabagebu! and Shirobako OVAs.

In choosing to keep the gameplay consistent with the remainder of Wolfenstein: The New Order, but setting the mission in a completely foreign environment, the Lunar Base offers the developers to construct a completely different environment that can tell a very rich story about how different the universe in The New Order is relative to ours. The amalgamation of the decidedly futuristic aspects of a fully operational moon base with old-school computers and tape reels illustrate just how technology has advanced in their world. The choices in level design result in a mission that serves as one of the most enjoyable set pieces in the game, without sacrificing any exploration or player freedom. In comparison to the space missions of 007 Nightfire and Call of Duty: Ghosts, The New Order offers a familiar gameplay experience that accommodates for exploration: there’s no punishment for taking time to explore the level and really marvel at just how different the Lunar Base is from the other missions, and the weapon selection has been diversified to include plasma and laser weapons that are iconic with space fiction from an older age.

Wolfenstein: The Old Blood Review and Reflection

“I’ve got a plan: break into the keep, kill every Nazi in there.” —William Blazkowicz

The last game I went through during its release year was Metro: Last Light back in 2013. This year, my interest in playing through Wolfenstein: The New Order led me to pick up a special package on discount. It was 50 CAD for both The New Order and The Old Blood, while The New Order on its own was 67 CAD. I was quite excited to hear about The Old Blood; a B-movie style trailer showcasing new secrets, guns and enemies convinced me that this standalone game might be worth checking out. After seven hours, I’ve finally beaten my way through Castle Wolfenstein, fought off a mecha-Jaeger with nothing more than a pipe, stormed my way through a zombie-infested town and killed the eldritch abomination that acts as the game’s final boss. This journey, though short, perhaps succeeds in evoking the old-school Wolfenstein feel more effectively than The New Order: whereas The New Order was a fantastic alternate history, The Old Blood really brought back elements from classic Wolfenstein titles through its hidden areas, which included full-on levels from the original Wolfenstein 3D. However, The Old Blood doesn’t stop there; there’s a full-fledged story in The Old Blood that ties in with The New Order, dealing with Blazkowicz’s efforts to secure a folder containing the location of Deathshead’s compound.

The Old Blood paints a much more complete picture of how The New Order began; players know roughly the end result, so the main challenge in The Old Blood was to provide a compelling narrative about how the events of The New Order were reached. How the Allied forces’ assault came to fruition was actually the consequence of Blazkowicz’s efforts to secure the folder against all odds. The mission to retrieve it began simply enough, but things rapidly deteriorate. Blazkowic heroically tries to save Agent One and continue with the mission, realising the significance of this folder, adding new weight and dimensions to The New Order‘s opening raid. The fact that such an effort was made towards ending the war and the Allies’ eventual failure at Deathshead’s compound adds to the poignancy in The New Order. A secondary theme with Helga deals with the oft-explored topic of dangerous knowledge, culminating Helga’s not-so-subtle death when an abomination she summons destroys her. As with The New Order, The Old Blood succeeds in painting a narrative for this Wolfenstein universe, which, coupled with the highly responsive shooting mechanics, makes for a superbly entertaining shooter.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • The twenty screenshots I’ve got here only represent ten percent of all the screenshots I took throughout the game. The first section to The Old Blood is sneaking through Castle Wolfenstein’s dungeons, which are patrolled by prototype Supersoldaten, hulking monstrosities that can soak up and deal vast amounts of damage. Fortunately, these prototypes are constrained by their power supply: shutting down a generator allows Blazkowicz to use his pipe to pull out the power cable and disable them.

  • Gratuitous violence makes a welcome return in The Old Blood: on occasion, rounds from Blazkowicz’s arsenal will blow heads and limbs off, while more powerful effects from explosions will rend bodies. With this unsubtle an indicator, there’s no need for hit markers at all.

  • The Old Blood might be a serious game, but humour is quite common. Blazkowicz himself frequently makes hilarious remarks off hand, and the Nazi soldiers share some interesting conversations, with one of the more notable being one soldier correcting another about having ‘lying in bed’ as opposed to ‘laying in bed’. Blazkowicz has no patience for what a literal grammar Nazi and quickly wipes both out with the pipes.

  • As The Old Blood progresses, there’s a decreasing need to use the pipe as a primary weapon, although their usefulness in climbing walls, opening doors and performing hilariously violent take downs means that they remain fun to use even when more powerful weapons are available.

  • The 1946 assault rifle is an excellent all-around weapon and now can be fired in burst mode. Ammunition for the weapon is very common, so this weapon can be relied upon in almost every situation. Here, I fight my way through a kitchen, with large racks of meat being visible. The Calgary Stampede is on, and over the past few days, I had the opportunity to attend. This year, I was there mainly for the midway fare: the lobster corndog proved to be a surprise. Though smaller than a conventional corndog, the lobster conferred a sweeter flavour that complemented the corndog’s savouriness.

  • The Kampfpistol behaves similar to a flare gun and fulfils the role of an under-barrel grenade launcher. Capable of taking down fire troopers in a single shot and yielding a large blast radius, this weapon is excellent against tougher enemies or large crowds. Callbacks to Bethseda’s Elder Scrolls: Skyrim and even DOOM are present- up here, I found a Cacodemon plushie in one of the rooms.

  • The Old Blood‘s graphical requirements are steeper than that of The New Order‘s: the former makes use of volumetric lighting to give the sense of age in Castle Wolfenstein, and while not every ledge or balcony can be explored, The Old Blood‘s level designers do a fantastic job of capturing how large Castle Wolfenstein is. Here, I’m wielding the Bombenschuss, a bolt action rifle that is excellent for long-range engagements. This weapon is quite fun to use and can destroy fire-troopers with a single well-placed shot to their fuel tanks.

  • The Schockhammer is an automatic shotgun that excels at close-quarters combat, and when dual-wielded, can decimate the enemy ranks. I absolutely love the mood and lighting in the castle; this feels like a fitting place for a party of sorts, and despite its medieval appearance, the dining hall feels quite fitting for a grand banquet. At the Stampede, I also had the chance to try out a Montreal smoked meat poutine. It was absolutely delicious, warding off the cold winds that picked up later in the evening.

  • While there’s nothing wrong with a good firefight, stealth is a viable and surprisingly satisfying option. Unlike The New Order, commanders in The Old Blood were a little trickier to find, so I ended up getting into numerous firefights and did not get around to unlocking the perk that comes from stealth-killing commanders, which would’ve made it easier to find secrets and gold pieces. The library is a very ornate place and gives a welcoming sense: for high-ranking officers, it must be quite nice to have come from a hearty dinner in the dining hall and settle down here for a good book before retiring for the evening.

  • Blazkowicz is captured by Rudi Jäger and interrogated, but manages to break free and kill his favourite dog. Unfortunately, Wesley can’t be saved, and Blazkowic is forced to continue the mission alone. It is here that Blazkowicz learns from Wesley his trick for keeping cool against difficult situations: “Count to four, inhale. Count to four, exhale”. Some of Blazkowic’s remarks show a sensitive side, others are nonsensical: together, they portray Blazkowicz as a human being, rather than a killing machine.

  • The Bombenshuss is perhaps one of the most useful weapons in The Old Blood, allowing for long distance engagements. The weapon is only ineffective against the Supersoldaten, and unlike the Marksman rifle of The Old Blood, ammunition is quite common. The trams taking Blazkowicz between the town and castle do much to remind me of the last part of 007 Nightfire‘s The Exchange, where James Bond escapes Drake’s castle on a tram, as well.

  • The town adjacent to Castle Wolfenstein is not actually Wulfberg. It is here that Blazkowicz meets Kessler and Annette for the first time, and the architecture of this town is quite similar to the town of Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka; however, Blazkowicz is unlikely to find Rabbit House or any coffee shops here. Instead, this mission marks the end of the first act: Blazkowicz must take down a raging Jäger, who’s got a suit of powered armour rocking dual chain guns.

  • In homage to Wolfenstein 3D, Jäger will shout “mein leben!” (lit. “my life”) when defeated. His dialogue lamenting the loss of his favourite dog was downright hilarious, and on my first encounter with him, I was laughing to much to aim straight, resulting in my death. On my second attempt, I made use of the Schockhammer to blow out Jäger’s capacitors and peel of his armour plating. This boss fight hails back to an older style of gameplay and was hugely entertaining, solidly wrapping up the first half of The Old Blood.

  • Wulfberg is not the same town visible from Castle Wolfenstein: it’s a different town elsewhere, but it’s clear that many graphical assets were reused from that area. The area is patrolled quite heavily by the Nazis, but stealth options make them fairly straight forwards to take down.

  • I’ve jumped ahead a ways to after Helga interrogates Blazkowicz, and a mysterious alchemical force transforms the Nazis into zombies. Called “shamblers” in game, they have nothing to do with one of the shotguns from Metro: Last Light and are yet another instance of Nazi zombies. Despite their demonic nature, they’re actually quite dull as opponents, and care be taken out without too much difficulty.

  • Owing to the turn I took, I got the Annette route in The Old Blood. Here, my HUD shows a feature that would have been quite nice to have had in The New Order (apparently, I never discovered it): the ability to overcharge armour in a similar fashion as health.

  • The only thing cooler than fighting Nazi zombies is fighting Nazi zombies in a powerful mecha that explodes enemies with its powerful claws. Enemies that get too close are able to board, but Blazkowicz is able to pilot the craft with one arm, using his free arm to wield a weapon.

  • The atmospherics here are reminiscent of Hallow’s Eve, intended to raise the supernatural air surrounding the game’s second half. However, the official documentation suggest that the zombies themselves have scientific origins, with the chemical gas being a Da’at Yichud creation.

  • Which other title do I have that starts out in a zombie-infested town, then enters a cemetery of sorts and descends underground? That would have to be Half-Life 2‘s Ravenholm mission. Despite being familiar, The Old Blood manages to introduce a new spin on things, and although not quite as riveting as Ravenholm and its poison headcrabs, The Old Blood nonetheless does a fine job with the atmosphere.

  • This monstrosity is supposedly created by King Otto I, making use of ancient Da’at Yichud genetic technologies. After destroying Helga, it’s up to Blazkowicz to defeat it. The process is somewhat tedious: the trick is to iterate through shooting it in the mouth, escaping its arms, and using it to kill off the hordes of Nazis and Nazi-zombies in that order until it’s dead. After the monster is defeated, the cutscene depicting Blazkowicz’s next mission to take Deathshead’s Compound, plays, ending the game.

The Old Blood doesn’t disappoint from a gameplay perspective; movement and shooting is tactile and highly intuitive. The first half of the game is set in Castle Wolfenstein itself, reminiscent of 007 Nightfire‘s The Exchange mission, where 007 is tasked with infiltrating Raphael Drake’s castle in the Alps when MI6 suspects that a party is meant to be a cover for a missile guidance chip’s exchange. I absolutely loved the winter feel of that mission, for it felt very much like the annual Christmas parties at my cousin’s house (during which we spent playing team deathmatch in 007: Agent Under Fire). I always wondered what it would have been like to revisit Drake’s castle during the day, although the plot progression meant that was simply not happening. On the other hand, The Old Blood presents just that: a Germanic castle to explore by day. Shooting through the corridors, kitchens, staff quarters and even a library, as well as finding hidden-away secrets, were a blast. The second half of The Old Blood, though interesting, is modestly reminiscent of Half Life 2‘s Ravenholm. Despite being a familiar experience, it was nonetheless entertaining. Taken together, The Old Blood is a satisfying, worthy prequel to The New Order, although the focus on World War II-era weapons and equipment means that with both games out, it would be more logical to play through The Old Blood prior to starting The New Order.

Wolfenstein: The New Order, End-game Review and Reflection

“I know you tried,
I tried too,
Sometimes all our dreams just don’t come true.”

—Melissa Hollick, I Believe

After returning to the Resistance headquarters with Set Roth, Blazkowicz sets about helping carry out a plan to eliminate Deathshead for good. The idea is to steal a German U-Boat armed with a nuclear cannon, and use said nuclear warhead to destroy Deathshead’s compound. Simple in theory, things become more complicated when it turns out the launch codes are located on the Nazi’s Lunar base. To reach said base, Blazkowicz must find a Nazi scientist and assume his identity, then fight his way through the Lunar base to get the codes, and return to Earth. Things hardly ever proceed smoothly, and Blazkowicz finds himself crash-landing back at the London Nautica. Even after escaping the building, he must fight off the colossal London Monitor, and upon defeating it, learns that the Resistance headquarters was raided by Frau Engel and key members were captured. The final mission takes on a new dimension, as Blazkowicz fights through Deathshead’s compound to free them before the Resistance can fire on it with the U-Boat’s nuclear cannon. After a gruelling struggle against a robot powered with Fergus’ brain, and the Deathshead himself in an exo-suit, Blazkowicz is heavily injured, but nonetheless clears the Resistance to fire their nuclear cannon. Thus ends eleven hours of what has been one of the titles that exceeded expectations back in 2014, and with The New Order now complete, I can begin Wolfenstein: The Old Blood.

Wolfenstein: The New Order has been praised for its gameplay, mechanics, world-building and characterisation. In particular, Blazkowicz’s characterisation, and his dynamics with Anya made the game particularly enjoyable. Rather than being painted as the epitomisation of manliness as in previous Wolfenstein titles, the Blazkowicz of The New Order is presented as a multi-faceted human being whose single desire in life is to live a normal life. His remarks throughout the game suggest that he grows weary of this conflict, and coupled with dialogue with other characters (such as Wyatt), he feels the strain of constant warfare on his psyche, as it would appear that his decisions ultimately have a minimal impact on the bigger picture. On my first playthrough, Wyatt berates Blazkowicz as having chosen him to be the survivor, feeling that letting Fergus, a veteran, live might’ve given the Resistance a better fighting chance. Conversely, Fergus will tell off Blazkowicz if he lives, wondering if someone younger, like Wyatt, would have been able to continue the Resistance for longer owing to their youth. All of these things, the consequence of a harsh world where the Third Reich has won, lead Blazkowicz to yearn for a world where there was no need for such a conflict, and fuels his efforts to create such a world, even if he knows that such an outcome may not be possible within his lifetime. The ending song, Melissa Hollick’s I Believe, is a hugely emotional reminder of this: there is a better future, and while one might not live to see its fruition, this is still something that’s worth fighting for.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • The last time I played a game with massive sewer spaces was Enter The Matrix, which featured a lengthy level set in the Matrix’s sewer system. After a meeting with the other Rebels concludes, Agents show up, and the player (either as Ghost or Niobe) must move through the sewers to help various Rebels. Several interesting locations, such as Breathing Room and Malachi and Bane, are visited, featuring vast caverns filled with water-moving machinery.

  • Unlike Enter the Matrix, the sewers in The New Order don’t take more than fifteen minutes to traverse. After exiting the sewers, Blazkowicz reaches the subterranean rail system; the Tesla upgrade can be found for the Laserkraftwerk. This upgrade allows shots to disable electronic enemies for a short period of time. For this section, I elected to go with stealth, using a combination of throwing knives and silenced pistols to take the commanders out.

  • A super-soldier shows up after Blazkowicz attempts to open the door to the next area: at this point, the Laserkraftwerk isn’t sufficiently upgraded to take them out in one shot, so I depleted the battery on mine, then switched to dual assault rifles to finish him off. Once the area is clear, the Resistance will show up and help smuggle Blazkowicz onto a U-Boat.

  • The New Order picks up upon reaching the U-boat mission; starting with a pistol and shrapnel shells for the shotgun, players have the option of going silent or going Rambo; the option is usually the better option until at least all of the commanders have been taken out.

  • I absolutely love the level of details in the environment within the U-boat. Through the Da’at Yichud’s technology, the Third Reich has reached a sufficiently advanced level of technology such that their constructs are quite familiar to that of the modern day, and their submarines feel roomy as do modern nuclear submarines. The primary difference is that the Nazi U-boats of the 1960s use a nuclear cannon rather than ballistic missiles to deliver their nuclear payloads.

  • Access to the Da’at Yichud technologies means that the U-boat here, dubbed “Eva’s Hammer”, might be powered by sources that are more advanced than the nuclear reactors of modern submarines. The narrow confines of the U-boat make it an ideal place for using the shotgun, and the shrapnel ammunition upgrade, automatically unlocked at this mission’s beginning, is superbly useful, being able to take out enemies from behind cover or around corners.

  • One of the best features in The New Order is the ability to peek around corners and fire. Against tougher enemies, this method allows for quick retreats behind the safety of cover. It took me a little less than a month to beat The New Order, but in that time, muscle memory has led me to try and use the cover system in titles like Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3.

  • The Laserkraftwerk is a beastly weapon once the targeting scope is found, allowing for opponents to be destroyed in a single shot by firing multiple shots at once: this mode of fire will drain out the device’s entire battery, but can also defeat a super-soldier in one shot. On average, it takes two to three shots to take down the ordinary opponent, but this is hugely satisfying when the shot finishes them off; the death animation is the target exploding in a shower of blood into chunks of meat.

  • Once the Resistance has control of the U-boat, Set Roth takes Wyatt and Blazkowicz to a hidden Da’at Yichud facility, one of many hidden caches of their wondrous technologies. Those who are familiar with Hebrew will translate Da’at Yichud as either “secluded knowledge” or “seclusion knowing”, reflecting on the organisation’s secrecy. While here to pick up some tools to help the Resistance, it’s also possible for the Laserkraftwerk to be given a portable reactor, allowing it to slowly regenerate its power supply.

  • After making use of the spindly torque to wreck absolute havoc on the Gibraltar Bridge, Blazkowicz is tasked with finding the chief Nazi scientist and steal his identity such that he may enter the lunar base and access the launch codes for the nuclear cannon. Shortly after this mission starts, the assault rifle can be upgraded with an under-barrel rocket launcher. While the rockets are rare, they deal massive damage and have surprisingly low recoil, making them quite useful against tougher opponents.

  • This mission is actually quite similar to the Half-Life 2 mission where Freeman has to carefully make his way under a bridge to reach a power station and disable a force-field blocking his progress. That mission will seem quite easy compared to this: the bridge in The New Order is much larger, and the clever use of destruction to produce a path that weaves up and down is quite disorienting; this does much to give the sense of chaos caused by the spindly torque and also results in some interesting combat sequences.

  • The train car dangling from the rails by a thread is where Blazkowicz needs to go. I believe there was a AR Marksman somewhere on the map, and while it would’ve made taking out distant enemies far easier, I managed to get by okay without it. From the U-boat onwards, every mission is characterised by a highly unique setting that makes them memorable.

  • Here are a handful of screenshots from the Lunar Base: this mission alone made The New Order an order of magnitude more impressive than I had originally expected. It’s been quite some time since I’ve played any games set in space, with the last one being 007: Nightfire, and I was tempted to pick up Call of Duty: Ghosts for the space missions at one point. While there are no extended combat sequences in the vacuum of space, the Lunar base mission represented a different style of gameplay that was superbly enjoyable.

  • While dual-wielding AR marksmans in their semi-automatic configuration is not a good use of ammunition, the weapon also has an alternate, automatic firing mode that fires plasma rounds. This turns the AR marksman into a reasonably effective assault rifle, and while the weapon can run out of energy quickly, charging stations are also reasonably abundant. By the time I reached this point in the game, it was mid-May, and I’d just returned home from dim sum.

  • The corridors of the Lunar Base accommodate some interesting firefights, with plentiful cover and recharging stations to ensure that Blazkowicz is not torn about by laser fire inside the base. After much travelling through the base and shooting to the section where the nuclear decryption keys are held, there’s a bit of backtracking to return to the shuttle bay, and a fight with two super-soldiers will end the level.

  • I’ll do an extended talk on the Lunar Base mission at another time, similar to the mission talk I did for Metro: Last Light‘s swamp mission, so for now, I’ll return to the point where Blazkowicz has crash-landed back at the London Nautica and is forced to make his way back to the ground. I know that this is just a skybox with meshes placed here and there to give the impression that the buildings are three-dimensional, but that doesn’t stop the scenery from looking any less impressive.

  • The interior of the London Nautica seems to be falling apart. This mission was comparatively short, but it’s still quite well done because this time, Blazkowicz gets to explore a different area in the London Nautica, and the mission’s ending is a fight with one of the most visually impressive bosses in living memory. For this section of the game, the assault rifle and shotgun are the best weapons for dealing with any threats: as with the Gibraltar Bridge, stealth is less effective here.

  • The London Monitor is probably the second largest boss I’ve ever engaged on foot in any first person shooter (Crysis‘ Alien Warship takes the title there), and facing it for the first time, I managed to beat it in one attempt. This robot was so massive, I wondered if any of my weapons would do anything to it, but like games from an older era, the London Monitor follows a deterministic pattern: shooting the eye to stun it, followed by destroying its missile launchers, and repeatedly shooting its eye to stun it further will open up a component that leads to the reactor. Firing on this will destroy it, and perhaps unsurprisingly, this component is protected by machine guns.

  • The Resistance’s headquarters is ransacked by Frau Engel’s forces, and one of the songs on the soundtrack seems to excel at conveying Blazkowicz’s desire to get even right to the players. During this section of the game, with the guitar blasting away in the background, I opted to dual-wield the assault rifles and shotguns to stop everything that moved in the headquarters. This has been The New Order‘s equivalent of a home base, so it was sad to see the place up in flames.

  • After a panzerhund caves the main door in, an alternative passage can be found into the hanger bay. Here, notice the sort of damage the MG60 can do; entire chunks are gouged from the enemies, and their rib bones can be seen. Once Blazkowicz returns to the hanger, a fight with the panzerhund awaits. This is the only instance where players must fight one on foot, although a fully upgraded Laserkraftwerk and Tesla Grenades, plus a lot of back-pedalling, will be sufficient to destroy this monstrosity.

  • The last ten images to this post will deal with storming Deathshead’s compound: it’s the final mission, and is one of the longer sections in the game. Through it all, all of the different pieces in the game come back together in this level, which begins with Blazkowicz single-handedly storming the compound with the intent of rescuing Anya and the other Resistance members before they give Deathshead a thank you gift…in the form of a nuclear cannon’s deadly blast.

  • In the tight confines of the lower halls, dual-shotguns can wreck havoc on even the tougher mechanical enemies. While The New Order is not strictly a horror game, use of implied imagery, dialogue, sounds and lighting, as well as the occasional, well-placed jump-scare, The New Order can evoke fear and surprise in its players, although hardened veterans of the FPS genre will often take things in stride and quickly dispose of enemies before things get too hectic.

  • I mentioned somewhere that dual AR marksman in their semi-automatic firing mode is impractical, but for completeness’ sake, here I am, dual-wielding them. I absolutely love the amount of detail on these weapons, whether it be the weapon’s construction, or the reflections of the scope. Despite fighting in close quarters for the most part, the AR marksman are quite useful in some sections where there are great halls.

  • This is that same courtyard from the first mission, although in the fourteen years that’ve passed, Deathshead’s compound no longer resembles a medieval castle, and has been upgraded to look fully modern, not dissimilar to the architectural elements found in Blofeld’s lairs in the earlier 007 movies. The next instalment in the 007 francise, SPECTRE, is set for release somewhere in November, and I look forwards to seeing what it entails: the last movie, Skyfall, was released back in 2012.

  • The MG60 is perhaps most useful in Deathshead’s compound, where charging stations are plentiful and the enemies are numerous. There’s no capacity to aim down sights, but as a directed energy weapon with little recoil, the MG60 is surprisingly accurate even at longer ranges when fired in bursts. Throughout most of the game, portability means that the weapon is less practical, but portability is secondary to caution and firepower in this final mission.

  • Things seem a little too quite as Blazkowicz enters one of the labs; there are no enemies to shoot at here, and after encountering Bubi, Blazkowicz finally takes down one of the more unsettling secondary antagonists in The New Order. While I was given the option to perform a knife takedown, I wished to use the Laserkraftwerk on him just to see what would happen, but the weapon only fired one beam, killing him instantly. On a future playthrough of either the game, or just this mission, I’ll see if it’s possible to vapourise him with the Laserkraftwerk.

  • The fight with the robot containing Fergus’ brain was one of the most clever boss fights I’ve seen in any game: immediately, Blazkowicz loses all of his weapons, and has access to only a knife and Tesla grenades scattered on the arena. A few grenades will stun the robot, allowing Blazkowicz to remove Fergus’ brain from the robot. While reminiscent of the SpongeBob episode “Welcome to the Chum Bucket”, where Plankton powers a robot using SpongeBob’s brain in a similar fashion, this moment was especially poignant in The New Order, since it’s clear that Fergus is suffering.

  • After defeating the robot, Deathshead himself enters the fray in a powered suit reminiscent of Mecha-Hitler of Wolfenstein3D, complete with quad laser Gatling guns. Deathshead is protected by an impenetrable shield powered by these dirigibles, and two 88 mm flak cannons are available for use to dispose of these airships. Once they’re down, Deathshead’s shields disappear, and as per usual, the LaserKraftWerk becomes the best weapon for the job.

  • Once he sustains enough damage, Deathshead disappears into a basement area for a final confrontation. This fight is grueling, and highly-paced, in the spirit of arcade-style bosses from an older era. After enough damage is done to Deathshead’s powered armour, walking up to him will trigger the final cutscene, ending the game. In the end, Wolfenstein: The New Order is able to incorporate elements from older games and pair them with the immersion of more modern titles.

  • Coupled with good characterisation and a satisfactory story, The New Order is able to deliver a surprisingly moving adventure that exceeds expectations. I beat the game in the twelve hours that most players got out of it, and at some point in the future, I will probably go back and play through the Fergus timeline. For now, though, I’m going to take a short break from Wolfenstein and complete Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 before starting Wolfenstein: The Old Blood. Up next is a post on families in Girls und Panzer, as I aim to demonstrate that analysing speech patterns in an anime is a fools’ errand, and then after that will be my take on the Ano Natsu de Matteru OVA.

For all of the things Wolfenstein: The New Order does correctly as a game, the emotional impact ultimately stands out most for me. While it is a superb shooter, and carrying a full arsenal to put the Nazis at the ass-end of an ass-kicking is immensely entertaining, The New Order weaves in a story where Blazkowicz is doing the very thing he would rather not be doing with the aim of building a better world. Even though Blazkowicz does find “someone” for him, this emotionally meaningful relationship feels constraint by the fact that they can’t live a normal live with one another so as long as the Third Reich is in power. These sort of elements transforms Blazkowicz into a believable character, and in doing so, the game is able to effectively convey these feelings to the players. Immersion in the form of emotion is a hallmark of a well-designed game, and in The New Order, does much to help players really feel like they’re a part of this world. How well a game can immerse its players into their world is ultimately my benchmark for what constitutes a good game, and The New Order would, by all definitions, pass this test with flying colours.

Wolfenstein: The New Order, Review and Reflection At the halfway point

“Okay, okay. So you put a Nazi on the Moon. Fuck you, Moon.” —William “B.J.” Blazkowicz

At the halfway point in Wolfenstein: The New Order, I’ve seen Blazkowicz reawaken after fourteen years of inactivity, learn of the Third Reich’s victory in the Second World War. He learns that the resistance has been captured, and sets about freeing their members; since I picked the Wyatt timeline, I ended up liberating Wyatt. Joining up with the Resistance, Blazkowicz then blasts his way through the London Nautica to steal stealth helicopters, and also learns about the Da’at Yichud, an ancient secret society that constructed incomprehensibly advanced technology. This technology was later reverse-engineered by Nazi scientists and used to win the Second World War, accounting for how they beat everyone to the bomb and created a nigh-unstoppable war machine. However, Blazkowicz’s efforts revitalise the Resistance, and they also learn that a living member of Da’at Yichud, Set Roth, was responsible for sabotaging the Nazi’s super concrete and is incarcerated at a prison camp in Croatia. Infiltrating the camp, Blazkowicz liberates him and other prisoners, as well; keeping his word, Set Roth agrees to help the Resistance fighters undermine the Third Reich.

Wolfenstein: The New Order has proven itself to be anything but a dull shooter; seven chapters after the prologue mission, I’ve experienced seven different environments that demand different tactics. Stealth is a hugely viable option for most of the game, and players can avoid unnecessary confrontations through caution and well-placed headshots using the silenced pistol in conjunction a bit of skill with thrown knives. At Eisenwald Prison in Berlin, weapons aren’t even an option for much of the mission, forcing players to think creatively to get past the guards or find new paths with the laser cutter. Upon visiting the home of the Resistance, the game’s dynamic shifts again, feeling like a town hub in a RPG. These elements, combined together with the various news paper clippings in the environment and idle dialogue between the enemy soldiers, solidly provide the sense that Machine Games have taken the time to craft an incredibly detailed, and dark world. Instead of just shooting Nazi soldiers, the players have a chance to really immerse themselves in an alternate history where the Allies never won. The resulting world is an extension of the horrors the Third Reich committed, made possible by the technology reverse-engineered from the Da’at Yichud: this can be seen in both Eisenwald Prison and the labour camp, where prisoners undergo horrors that mirrors those committed in the Second World War, and even ordinary citizens live in a bleak, totalitarian world. This sort of environment adds an additional dimensional to Wolfenstein: The New Order, giving weight and reason for Blazkowicz to continue his fight against the Nazis. However, players with a penchant for stealth may also listen in on conversations between some of the Nazi soldiers, and contrasting the game’s villains like General Deathshead and Frau Engel, everyone else seems to be ordinary people doing their jobs. Yes, it’s the game’s objectives to kill them and advance, and yes, they’re merely a collection of mesh data and components governing their behaviour, but the fact that Wolfenstein: The New Order is able to get players to pause for a moment and think about things before plunging a knife into a Nazi’s skull attests to the game’s uniqueness compared to other titles.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Fourteen years after the prologue, Blazkowicz mentions that his legs are like jelly, and that he’s got the mother of all headaches, but that doesn’t stop him from taking down Nazis as easily as he did previously. After brutally knifing an officer, the mission profile says that the objective is to rescue Anya. As I make my way through the institution, blood and bodies are everywhere. The scenes of carnage stand in contrast to the vivid colours, suggesting that the institution is a fairly humane place for its patients.

  • Watching the Nazis systemically murder the patients and Anya’s parents is enough to get Blazkowicz back on his feet, and after spending several moments just watching the chaos unfold, it feels good to take control of Blazkowicz and lay down some old-fashioned fisticuffs. I spent most of the first section of the mission sneaking around with a pair of knives, performing takedowns. Eventually, I found a double-barrel shotgun,  and proceeded to blow limbs and heads off all opposition encountered.

  • After a bit more destruction, I finally reach outside; having found the 1960 Assault Rifle, it became vastly easier to clear out more distant foes. This rifle is an improvement over the 1946 version, featuring a larger magazine size and more manageable recoil. The Tesla grenades also make an appearance here; they’re a direct upgrade of the stick grenades seen in 1946 and add EMP capabilities, making them great for anti-mecha engagements.

  • While it’s amusing to gouge holes in, or blow off pieces of the Nazi soldiers with the double-barrel shotgun, this weapon is more appropriate for the drones owing to its high stopping power and spread. The whole colour palette in this scene is unreal: it almost feels like BioShock: Infinite, where beautiful skies and colours are offset by the bloody carnage that the player character will wrought within their environment.

  • Wolfenstein: The New Order is a mix between the serious and comical; after capturing Friedrich Keller, the game prompts players to find “splatter protection”. Moments of humour are infrequent, but their presence suggests that even in a world that has gone down this direction, there are still moments where humour can be applicable.

  • The third mission takes place under rainy skies, as Blazkowicz, Anya and her grandparents make their way to a checkpoint in Szczecin after learning that the captured resistance fighters are held at Eisenwald Prison. Contrary to Keller’s claims about the German forces bringing Blazkowicz and the others to their knees, the checkpoint is passed through smoothly. This mission reminds me somewhat of Metro: Last Light owing to its atmospherics.

  • The “signal detected” indicators on the HUD indicate the presence of enemy commanders: these are the enemies that can summon reinforcements onto the battlefield and make for more frenzied combat. At the higher levels, making use of stealth to approach them and take them out quickly can reduce the probability of death. The id Tech 5 engine is put to excellent use in The New Order, and destruction furthers the weapons’ powerful feel; while I wouldn’t do that here, I’m fairly certain those watermelons can be destroyed.

  • The architecture of interiors in The New Order is one of the reasons I soon came around and began wishing to try the game out; while there are no flak towers to explore like the mission in Sniper Elite 2, the vast concrete structures of the Third Reich nonetheless evoke the architectural style of the flak towers.

  • The New Order may reward players graciously for maintaining a stealthy approach, but like Deus Ex: Human Revolution, there are moments where the only option is firepower. Such moments are rare, pitting Blazkowicz against mechanised weapons, and while there are strategies to beating said robots more quickly, the easiest way is to dual-wield weapons and unload on them until they explode.

  • I was not expecting Frau Engel’s pulling Blazkowicz aside to be as suspenseful as it was; on board a train for Berlin, Blazkowicz is asked to perform a “purity test” involving the selection of seemingly random images, and because I was quite unaware that choice makes little impact here, the moments were quite tense, attesting to the amount of effort that went into making these scenes. Regardless of the choices Blazkowicz makes, Frau Engel will note that this was just a game (unless one goes for the gun, which will result in immediate death) and lets him go.

  • Machine Games’ vision of a world where the Third Reich had won is a compelling one; consistent with Nazi architecture, Berlin is a city filled with vast buildings and dreary concrete apartment blocks. Such buildings were supposed to be modeled after the Roman Empire, taking on a style that fuses elements from Neoclassical and Art Deco. Their military installations have a much more utilitarian look to them, and from a personal perspective, I find these buildings to be rather more interesting than the grander structures.

  • The laser cutter adds a new dimension to gameplay: certain areas of the game are blocked off by chain link fences or aluminium gratings and can only be accessed by making use of the laser cutter to clear a path. Battery-operated, the laser cutter must be recharged after usage lest its power runs out, and players must make certain that the openings they cut are large enough to be moved through: there have been some occasions where I created too small of an opening to fit through and ran out of power.

  • Eisenwald Prison is where the captured resistance fighters are kept, and has the highest degree of backtracking in any of the levels in The New Order. I remarked that each level in The New Order is unique, and this refers to the fact that each mission is memorable for its gameplay and setup; this mission is characterised by a relative lack of weapons, and increased emphasis on sneaking around.

  • This scene reminds me of the tunnels in my old junior high school: they led to a vast crawlspace underneath the classrooms, which were dimly-lit and showed signs of deterioration: crumbled concrete littered the floors. We went down there to put some things in storage, but the deeper areas were not used for such owing to their inaccessibility. It’s not something I’ll forget, as it was quite the experience: I did not know that such an area had even existed until that point.

  • I missed one of the upgrades for the laser cutter, which allows it to fire beams that can damage enemies. It’s supposed to be found in this large room filled with coal-fired furnaces. After assassinating all of the soldiers in this room, it’s possible to go around and explore; this is something I’m definitely going to do on my next playthrough of the Fergus timeline.

  • In games, I’ve visited such prisons thrice now, counting The New Order: previous titles to have featured prisons with a central guard tower and a cylindrical block of cells include Metro: Last Light and Battlefield 4. The one that seems like it’s been cared after the best is in The New Order, as the other incarnations feature more run-down locales. Sneaking to the top of this block and freeing Wyatt proved to be easy enough even without the laser cutter upgrade.

  • Once Wyatt is freed, Blazkowicz will have full access to his arsenal again. With a full-scale prison break underway, there’s really no need for stealth. One moment I tried to pull off was to use a pair of Tesla grenades in the same manner as TheRadBrad on the Fire Trooper, as TheRadBrad finds, this is somewhat overkill, reducing the Fire Trooper into a puddle. Care must be taken at the end of this level, since there are auto-turrets that can quickly waste Blazkowicz.

  • While I don’t have too many photos of the Resistance’s hideout, I can say that I love these chapters because it feels like the city hub areas of Deus Ex: Human Revolutions, allowing for players to take a breather in between missions and more importantly, explore some of the history in the fourteen years that Blazkowicz was out. One of my favourite news paper clippings reads that China was able to defeat and push back the Imperial Japanese Army, although would have likely been defeated by the Nazi war machine.

  • The assault on the London Nautica follows after Caroline tasks Blazkowicz to steal a series of top-secret stealth helicopters in the so-called Project Whisper. After Bobby Bram runs an explosives-laden vehicle into the base of the building in a suicide attack, Blazkowicz must navigate the rubble to the entrance. These tactics are prima facie justified against the Third Reich, but from another perspective, what’s done is tantamount to terrorism.

  • The fight inside the London Nautica’s lunar exhibit was one of the most entertaining sections of The New Order this far into the game; under the Nazi’s rule, science and technology are apparently at the forefront of their society, sufficiently so that they’ve even put a man on the moon. The London Nautica may be a leading facility on weapons research, but there’s also a full-fledged museum similar to the Telus Spark Science Center for promoting interest in the sciences.

  • Of course, I’m not here for the learning, and I’m definitely not here to help put on a show about the intricacies of the human brain: no, I’m here to fight my way to the hangers and steal some helicopters, eliminating any opposition in my path. Here, I’m wielding the MG60, a directed energy weapon that slows Blazkowicz down but deals serious damage. Dropped by the ÜberSoldaten, this weapon is an absolute monster and can punch through the aluminium boxes.

  • The AR Marksman rifle is the only scoped weapon in the game, and ammunition for it is extremely limited, but optics, coupled with a long barrel means that this weapon is unparalleled at long range engagements. Like every other weapon save the double-barrel shotgun, the AR Marksman can be dual-wielded, although this confers no practical advantage, owing to the limited ammunition availability and the fact that the weapon is intended to be a precision tool.

  • If one has not already done so, the Da’at Yichud lab at the London Nautica’s upper floors contains numerous health packs that can overcharge Blazkowicz to 300 health, unlocking the regeneration perk, which decreases the time it takes for health to recharge to the next highest multiple of twenty. The Laserkraftwerk can be picked up here, and upon doing so, Blazkowicz will toss away the old laser cutter. The Laserkraftwerk is initially a glorified laser cutter with built-in ranged capability, but when fully upgraded, becomes the single most effective weapon in The New Order, being able to shoot down enemies from behind cover, take down multiple targets at once or even reduce a ÜberSoldaten into chunks of meat and metal in one shot.

  • I kicked off the hanger portion of the game by making extensive use of the silenced pistol and knives to take out the commanders, then switched to more conventional weapons to take out the remaining foes. The wide open spaces in the hanger make it quite suited for the AR Marksman, and one of my favourite aspects about the rifle lies in the fact that the scope is reflective and on closer inspection, mirrors details in the environment.

  • I absolutely love the automatic shotguns and their twenty-round capacity. At close quarters, dual-wielding them is incredibly effective at downing opponents, including the heavy robot. While the Laserkraftwerk is effective at damaging it, the heavy robot possesses a powerful EMP attack that can drain out the Laserkraftwerk’s batteries. At these times, it’s prudent to backpedal and switch to the assault rifles or shotguns, while making use of the Tesla grenades to stun it.

  • After all of the enemies have been cleared out, Caroline and the others appear to help fly the helicopters back to their hideout to end this mission. I stop for one final moment to take a look at the fantastic lighting: the graphics in The New Order are crisp and modern, well-polished enough to substantially contribute to the immersion even if the textures in some places appear a little lower-resolution. I’m not playing the game on full settings because my GPU, for all its power, does not have 3 GB of VRAM.

  • After the heist on the London Nautica, the resistance sets about preparing the new helicopters for their use. Meanwhile, Anya has discovered that the super-concrete the Nazis have been using are decaying, and asks for a sample. While retrieving a saw required to obtain said sample, Blazkowicz falls into the sewers. The only enemies encountered down here are the drones, and the double-barrel shotgun is excellent for shooting them down. The reflection upgrade can be found for the Laserkraftwerk in the sewers, and realising that this is probably one of the more important weapons in the game, I made it a point to find every conceivable upgrade for it.

  • The concrete sample, coupled with information from the archives, sends Blazkowicz to a forced labour camp with the hopes of finding one Set Roth, a living Da’at Yichud member who has been altering the super-concrete’s composition so it would decay over time. The first bit of the mission is highly linear, and Blazkowicz must operate a cement machine. The machine breaks down, and after learning more about Set Roth’s whereabouts, he is captured by The Knife, tortured, and manages to escape certain death.

  • The labour camp level gives a limited insight into the sort of brutality that’s carried over from the Second World War, especially through dialogues with inmates such as Bombate and watching Frau Engel beat another inmate to death. After agreeing to help Set Roth liberate the prisoners, Blazkowicz goes in search of a battery that will give Set control over Herr Faust; the lighting in this level is filled with greys, making it even drearier than Eisenwald Prison, to emphasise the sort of atmosphere at the labour camp.

  • After Set Roth saves Blazkowicz from execution, the player has a chance to partake in some Titanfall style combat, piloting Herr Faust to create a large enough distraction for Set Roth to free the other inmates. The overwhelming firepower conferred by Herr Faust allows Blazkowicz to smash his way through the camp in style, although Frau Engel manages to survive. This is pretty much it for the game’s halfway point, and I’ll make good time towards finishing the remaining half, which I’ll naturally blog about. I’m also surprisingly on schedule right now, so I’ll strive to have the Ano Natsu de Matteru OVA out before the month is out.

I’m likely to finish Wolfenstein: The New Order quite quickly a this point; the world Machine Games has built is incredibly compelling, and the gunplay is absolutely solid: there doesn’t need to be any hit markers when I fire, because every successful hit is denoted by visual cues, whether it be the enemy soldier recoiling, bleeding, losing limbs, or in the case of the more powerful weapons, outright exploding into blood and chunks of meat. of course, I needn’t actually do this, since stealth is an equally viable option, and Wolfenstein: The New Order has a system that rewards players for following a certain style, providing perks to facilitate different approaches to the game. It’s mildly ironic, but in a game whose most famous incarnation was characterised by straight-up firefights, I’ve found that stealth is hands down, the best option in Wolfenstein: The New Order. The game’s first half was a slower-paced, modestly linear tour of the world the Nazis have created, and with Blazkowicz set to steal a Nazi U-Boat armed with a nuclear cannon, the second part is going to be a hugely cinematic experience that I cannot wait to experience.

Wolfenstein: The New Order First Impressions

“In my dream, I smell a barbecue, I hear children, a dog, and I see someone…I think I see someone. These things, none of it for me. I move by roaring engines, among warriors. We come from the night.” —William Blazkowicz

It’s July 1946, and with their advanced technologies, the Third Reich began tuning the tide against the Allied forces. With the aim of stopping the war, the US Special forces launch a desperate raid against General Wilhelm “Deathshead” Strasse’s fortress. After his aircraft is shot down, Blazkowicz manages to regroup with his forces and infiltrates the castle, but before they can find Strasse, they are captured. Blazkowicz manages to escape, but shrapnel pierces his skull, rendering him unconconscious. This is the prologue of Wolfenstein: The New Order, but despite being a first person shooter enthusiast, initially, I had little interest in this title; I am not particularly familiar with the Wolfenstein universe, and prior to The New Order, the only classic shooters I had finished were Doom and Doom 2. However, checking out the gameplay footage, I was soon persuaded to reconsider and pick this title up for myself, to try my hand at helping the Resistance in a world where the Third Reich has achieved total power. What changed my mind? The realisation that Wolfenstein: The New Order featured an incredibly diverse set of locales for Blazkowicz to fight in, which, amongst other locations, includes combat inside of a cutting-edge lunar research facility.

The first mission acts as a prologue that sets the stage for what is to happen, and admittedly, it feels quite similar to most of the modern military shooters out there. However, all of this changes once Blazkowicz leaves the trenches and enters Deathshead’s castle itself; by this point in the game, Wolfenstein: The New Order screams “classic arcade shooter”, featuring the ability to fashion armour from helmets and metal plates in the environment, a lack of fully regenerating health that forces players to find health pick-ups in the levels, the capacity to carry a full arsenal of awesome weapons and the power to dual-wield almost any weapon in the game for twice the firepower (and double the reload time, with a slightly reduced accuracy). These old-school mechanics bring back gameplay mechanics from earlier shooters: I’ve been playing first person shooters since GoldenEye 64 was released, and callbacks to shooters of this age (most noticeably, the dual-wielding and vast array of weapons players could access) complement the modern generation visuals quite nicely; having played games like Halo, Crysis and Battlefield, it can be restricting at times to only carry two weapons around if ammunition for them are scarce: having access to everything plus the kitchen sink really allows players to approach a situation from the manner of their choosing, whether it be to quietly take out enemies one at a time with the knife and silenced pistol, methodically pick them off from a distance or charge into an enemy emplacement with grenades and both guns blazing.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Wolfenstein: The New Order is a game that defies the conventions set by modern military shooters. Gone is the notion of fully regenerating health, omni-present military jargon, doors that only squadmates can open and so on; instead, players are immersed a world that saw the Third Reich winning the Second World War. The pilot here is Fergus Reid, a Scottish airman who worked at a shipyard before joining the air force.

  • The opening mission actually does take after games like the Battlefield and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare franchises; Blazkowicz is ordered to carry out several tasks in a very linear fashion, such as manning a gun to down enemy fighters. However, even this sense of familiarity is dwarfed by the inclusion of fantastical elements, such as the Horten Ho 229 jet fighter: towards the end of the Second World War, the Third Reich began diverting more resources into the development of Wunderwaffe in a desperate bid to turn the tides back in their favour against the Allied forces.

  • Historically, this effort was too little too late, and for their ingenuity, superior German weapons were overwhelmed by simpler, more numerous Allied weapons. In Wolfenstein: The New Order, this is not the case, as the Third Reich was able to develop exceptionally advanced weapons that outmatched anything the Allies had. This first mission is intended at infiltrating the central research centre with the intent of taking out Deathshead and ending the war.

  • I’ll dispense with the sub-machine gun in favour of the 1946 Assault Rifle, the mainstay of the Wehrmacht. With a thirty-round magazine, this weapon hits hard but also has a substantial amount of vertical recoil that can be controlled by firing in short bursts. After the first automatic machine gun nest is destroyed, Blazkowicz enters the trenches surrounding Deathshead’s compound.

  • I’m not sure if there’s an upper limit to how much health can be picked up: the overcharge mechanic is a simple but brilliant addition to Wolfenstein, where health packs will boost Blazkowicz’s health past 100 if he’s already at full health. Unlike most shooters that cap the player’s health and forcing them to leave additional health packs on the map, this mechanic allows extra health packs to become useful even if a player already has full health.

  • I have not properly dual-wielded weapons since the days of Halo 2. The dual-wielding system in Wolfenstein: The New Order is not as versatile as the one in Halo 2 and in fact, is quite similar to that of GoldenEye 64, which allowed players to dual-wield any weapon in the game, from pistols and assault rifles to even rocket launchers and laser rifles. The New Order brings this back, and at the expense of accuracy, doubles Blazkowicz’s firepower.

  • Compared to most shooters, where pistols remain as sidearms or weaker weapons to be switched out when better weapons are acquired, the pistols of Wolfenstein: The New Order are remarkably powerful and can down most basic enemies with a headshot. Moreover, attaching a suppressor does not appear to limit their damage output or bullet velocity, increasing their usefulness as an excellent ranged stealth ewapon.

  • One of the best aspects about Wolfenstein: The New Order is the sheer presence of Nazi Architecture, a style that incorporates Neoclassicism and Art Deco elements in mimicry of the Roman Empire to signify the strength of a Thousand-Year Reich. The liberal application of concrete and spartan environments in more utilitarian structures can be seen here, and in fact, many of the interiors of Wolfenstein: The New Order resemble the interior of the Berlin Flak towers.

  • Über Concrete is a special building material whose merits as a construction material far surpasses anything that we presently possess, and is the reason why the Third Reich is able to construct their cities and facilities so aggressively to build the structures later seen in the game. The last time I did any sort of architecture-related talk was for Puella Magi Madoka Magica and Tari Tari.

  • I’ve always wanted to fire a FlaK 40 cannon: designed as an anti-aircraft gun, these weapons were large and produced only in limited numbers, being mainly used for the Flak towers of Berlin. It’s the only weapon powerful enough to destroy the Baltisches Auge (Baltic Eye, or Stomper), an early robotic weapon that Deathshead developed.

  • Blazkowicz must take out the operators of two FlaK 40 cannons, before making use of the second one to clear the debris off a cliffside. It took me quite a bit of time to figure this out, and I tried to power-slide underneath the flaming wreckage first, before realising that the weapon was what was needed to progress further.

  • After Blazkowicz rendezvous with his squad, they begin the ascent up Deathshead’s castle. From here on out, the game feels less like a modern military shooter and more like a classic shooter of the Wolfenstein 3D and DOOM era. He accompanies Private Probst Wyatt III, a naive and green soldier who nonetheless holds a strong sense of duty.

  • The game will automatically inform players how close by the enemy commanders are. Taking them out will prevent them from summoning reinforcements, and to close the distance, making use of stealth kills is the easiest way of getting close enough to them to dispatch them. If the enemy commanders are alerted to Blazkowicz’s presence, stealth will disappear out the window on very short order.

  • There are secret passages and collectible items scattered throughout many of the levels, encouraging players to explore and allow themselves to be immerse in a world filled with richly-crafted lore. Things such as this is rare in most modern titles set in our own world, so developers that take the time to build a world for players to explore are to be commended for daring to dream.

  • I picked up Wolfenstein: The New Order the day I finished my multi-agent systems oral exam, and even on a connection as fast as mine, it still took a few hours to download. Spent from giving the oral exam my best performance, I opened The New Order the next day and played through this mission. I reached this point when a friend showed up with an early Birthday gift: the HGUC Stark Jegan. I’ll build that later during the summer closer to my birthday.

  • Besides health packs, bread, plates of sausage and potatoes, and even dog food can be collected to restore Blazkowicz’s health. A week ago, I was out to a pub near campus to celebrate one of my friend’s birthday, and it was also game night. This marked the first time that I’ve been in a pub for a NHL playoff game, and while our team fell behind 3-0, by the time my bacon-wrapped wild boar with fried onions and demi-glace mushrooms came, we’d caught up. We won the game later that evening 7-4.

  • Of course, the current team we’re playing against is a powerhouse, and the team I’m cheering on will need to be as determined and resourceful as Blazkowicz if we’re to win. Back in Wolfenstein: The New Order, I use a mounted MG46 to clear out hordes of Nazi soldiers. This is the equivalent of the chain gun seen in DOOM and Wolfenstein 3D, but for its firepower, it also reduces Blazkowicz’s mobility.

  • The mission goes south when Blazkowicz and his squad are knocked out by falling rubble and reawaken in one of Deathshead’s human experimentation labs, where horrific experiments are conducted on captured individuals. Features such as drainage implements and a built-in incinerator suggests the frequency and efficiency at which these experiments are conducted, contributing to the unsettling nature inside Deathshead’s facility.

  • The early supersoldiers are crude, but still remarkably powerful. Lacking any other effective weapons here, the best way to dispatch them is using dual assault rifles: at such close ranges, the loss of accuracy does not matter. However, the increased reload time may be a problem; it’s a good idea to back pedal and strafe while reloading to avoid being destroyed by the supersoldier.

  • Trapped in a shrinking room, Deathshead leers at the player before everything goes black. When Blazkowicz comes to, Deathshead forces him to choose between Fergus or Wyatt. This decision affects the story to a limited extent, but otherwise does not affect gameplay or event progression, but the choice is a difficult one, forcing players to make a cruel decision that mirrors the worst aspects inherent in warfare.

Moving forwards, I am looking forwards most to exploring Machine Games’ interpretation of a world where the Third Reich has won. This is one of the aspects that I look for in a game: how well can a studio build their world so that it can immerse the players? A sufficiently good amount of world-building will be able bring out the weight of Blazkowicz’s fight against the New Order, in turn giving players a reason to be excited about seeing what happens to him next. I’ve gotten just far enough to see the cinematics for Blazkowicz’s fourteen years in a Polish institution, and knifed the first Nazi officer in 1960. It’s time to go exploring and see how much of the game’s perks, collectables and Enigma code pieces I can collect, all the while shooting everything that moves and contributing to the resistance’s efforts to undermine the Third Reich.