Wolfenstein: The New Order Preview – Return to Wolfenstein

A sequel to 2009’s more lackluster Wolfenstein title, players return to the role of B.J. Blazkowicz, stuffing their size thirteen combat boots into the backside of Nazi soldiers. And super soldiers. And robot dogs.

Actually, The New Order almost feels like a return…a Return to Castle Wolfenstein, no doubt. Puns aside, the next release in the long running series returns to its first-person shooter roots, eliminating a lot of the open world and oddness that came with the previous title.

I spent some time with the game at PAX, enough to get inside Agent Blazkowicz’ head and see just how rough the future will be with the new Nazi menace. The first few minutes of the game started fast, with B.J. and another soldier flying towards a Nazi stronghold within a squadron. Beset by strafing fire from Nazi jetfighters (they are really advanced in this game), I did my best to take them down before abandoning the plane for a nearby one.

After jumping, I felt the weight of the mission and my comrades’ lives on my shoulder. While some of it felt ripped straight from a Spielberg war movie, the game utilizes short cutscenes between some of the larger fighting to keep progressing the story. I had a second to sit and talk with a younger soldier, giving him some words of confidence. Some comments were also made about it being a transport ship, full of soldiers, and the possibility of all those lives going to waste.

While that plane did not last much longer either, crashing onto the beach began the real meat of the demo. After saving my comrades from giant, mechanical dogs with steel traps for mouths, I made my way through Nazi trenches with guns blazing, sometimes even dual-wielding weapons. There were a few opportunities for me to go different routes through the area, giving players some ability to change up their game. Ultimately though, everything arrives at the same conclusion. I did also find some hidden passages and areas along my way, and in one instance snuck into a morgue. I didn’t find any cool chalices or treasure to steal, but the inclusion of secret areas still felt like a nice touch.

Making it to the stronghold really changed the game in my perspective, adding some excellent layers in both storytelling and gameplay. Fighting my way to the top after Wilhelm “Deathshead” Strasse (an antagonist from both Wolfenstein and Return to Castle Wolfenstein), I met him face to face after dealing with one of his pet Übersoldaten. My crew and I were captured, and Deathshead being the crazy man he is, gave me a choice of who to dissect. I was not expecting this kind of choice within the game, and while I initially tried to let some sort of behind-the-scenes timer run out, he began making quips that his patience was endless. I ended up picking the pilot from the beginning, and after a short intermission of screams, it returned with Deathshead leaving me to die from incinerators. I left the game right as we escaped, busting out through a window and falling several stories into the waves below.

I can say I felt a bit overwhelmed, but overall the game felt like a return to the addictive Return to Castle Wolfenstein, with the ridiculousness and crazy sci-fi thrown in for good measure. I can also say that at one point, I did pause the game and learn there will be different forms of upgrades available, though I never found exactly what kind. I gathered they might be similar to the previous title, letting players upgrade weapons and equipment.

Fans of the FPS genre and the Wolfenstein series will certainly fall in love with this game. It’s got the build of an excellent story-driven game and it is a great return to the series on top of that. It is slated for released on May 20th, 2014, for PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.

Wolfenstein: The New Order