Wolfenstein: The New Order Review

Wolfenstein is a great a series and seems to get better with each sequel in my opinion. Wolfenstein: The New Order pits players as protagonist B.J. Blazkowicz, pretty much every Nazi’s worst nightmare. B.J. has been the main protagonist in each game but The New Order really fleshes out his character. No longer is he just a one-man war machine with few words but an actual character that players can feel for. The New Order doesn’t really do anything new for the genre but what it does do is excel in gameplay to make it one of the greatest shooters of the generation and even of all time. After beating the game several times it’s clear the developers at MachineGames really put their hearts into The New Order as well as successfully revitalized the Wolfenstein series.

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Wolfenstein: The New Order takes place three years after the events of the previous game. It’s 1946 and B.J. and the allies infiltrate a Nazi fortress run by the returning antagonist Wilhelm “Deathshead” Strasse. They are soon captured by Deathshead himself and B.J. is given the choice to save either Private Probst Wyatt III or pilot Fergus Reid. This does slightly affect the way the story is played out for the rest of the game giving players the ability to play through two timelines. During the escape B.J. is severely wounded and brought to a psychiatric asylum where he remains in a vegetative state for fourteen years. He is cared for by a nurse named Anya Oliwa and her parents who run the asylum. In 1960 the Nazis come in to exterminate everyone in the asylum but B.J. awakens just in time and eliminates the Nazi invaders. He saves Anya and they escape to her grandparents’ farm. B.J. soon learns that the Nazis won the war and now rule the world so he decides to join the resistance led by Caroline Becker from the previous game.

The story is actually engaging and tells the tale of a pretty terrifying alternate reality. B.J. himself is no longer a one-dimensional character thanks to the great writing and excellent voice acting by Brian Bloom. The resistance is based out of a hideout in Berlin and can be seen as the hub area of sorts. The New Order is a linear, story-driven game with a slight emphasis on exploration. B.J. can walk around and interact with NPCs in the hideout and can also find multiple ways to complete objectives throughout missions. There are various collectibles to find throughout the game encouraging repeated playthroughs.

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The meat of the game is definitely combat which is extremely satisfying. Bullets rip through enemies in a glorious gory fashion and you can even dual wield most weapons which definitely helps heighten the carnage. B.J. has several weapons at his disposable which can be upgraded via pickups or perks and you can also carry all weapons at the same time. The perk system is cool as it adapts to your playstyle so if you’re able to kill enemies with grenades you’ll unlock grenade perks. Killing enemies using stealth will unlock various stealth perks. It works well and is a great way to encourage players to try new things. Many scenarios require you to kill one or multiple Nazi commanders. You can go in guns blazing or you may want to be quiet and use stealth. Taking out these commanders eliminates the possibility of them calling reinforcements. If they are alerted to your presence more enemies will join the fight. The enemy AI is pretty good during combat and stupid if you’re using stealth. They’ll get behind cover and even try and flank you in some situations which caught me off a guard a few times as I thought I was safe behind cover then all of a sudden there was this Nazi shooting me from behind. Killing enemies with stealth can be satisfying but many times I would kill an enemy only a few feet from another and the other wouldn’t even flinch. You can’t pickup bodies and the stealth just feels very barebones as there’s no real punishment for being discovered. Using guns is a lot more fun anyway and thankfully stealth is never forced upon you. You’ll encounter several different types of enemies including dogs, soldiers, mechs, and a couple of boss battles.

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One of the coolest things about The New Order is the ability to kill enemies and tackle objectives in different ways. In most cases you have the option of stealth or combat and some areas have multiple ways to navigate like through vents or connecting rooms. Early in the game you acquire a laser cutter allowing you to cut through fences and metal grates which is often required to proceed through certain areas of the game and you will eventually replace this with a laser weapon. I don’t know why as it never gets any better than that and it becomes a minor annoyance to keep switching back to the laser. Another minor annoyance is the required button press to pick up anything. You walk over so much ammo and items and it would have been a good idea to implement an auto-pickup as there’s no reason not to pick up anything.

The game looks great and sounds even better. The New Order uses the id Tech 5 engine which was also used in Rage. All of the textures seem to have a slight film of grain on them which can look odd up close. Character models and animations look good and I only encountered a few technical hiccups on PC. I beat this on PS4 multiple times around release and now on PC and never noticed any significant issues or game breaking bugs which is good. The sound quality is great from the guns to the explosions and the music does a good job at setting a specific tone for different situations. Listening to a knife dig into a Nazi’s head or the sound of a shotgun blast as it blows the limbs off an enemy is awesome to hear and very satisfying. The music intensifies during combat and then tapers off after the enemies are eliminated. Given that this series has always been about running and gunning more than anything I was impressed with the story and more so with the voice acting. The voice work really deserves recognition as I felt all the characters were believable. Dwight Schultz’s work as Deathshead is some of the best voice acting I’ve heard in a while. He truly made Deathshead feel like an evil and sadistic individual breathing new life into the villain.

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Wolfenstein: The New Order is one of the greatest shooters I have ever played. It has a great story, excellent voice acting and amazing gameplay. It doesn’t revolutionize the first-person shooter genre but it takes what’s great about it and just amplifies it. The New Order gives you freedom, choices, and reasons to replay. While it’s stealth mechanics are very simple, you’re not forced to play that way and can go in all guns blazing which is where the game truly shines anyway. I’ve never had more fun shooting Nazis than I did in The New Order and each time I finished playing I just wanted more.

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