So I Played Some Wolfenstein: The New Order

By Jim Rossignol on August 26th, 2013 at 9:00 pm.


Huh, the spellcheck on here knows the word ‘Wolfenstein’. Good job, dictionary attendants. Anyway, the reason I’ve had cause to use that peculiar faux-Teutonic title today is that I played an early press build of the latest game in the series, Wolfenstein: The New Order, at Gamescom.

It was a strange experience, not least because it seemed so desperate to remind me that Nazis are evil. Have we forgotten that already?


Wolfenstein: The New Order is a Bethesda-funded reboot of the Man vs Nazis idea first rolled out by Id at the very start of the first-person genre, and it’s being made by Machine Games in Sweden. Fine pedigree there, then, with folks from the Riddick and Darkness games as part of the team responsible for the big push on a game that founded shooters as a concept.

The hands-on at Gamescom was from a level at the start of the game, showing BJ’s journey from his 1940s adventures to the game’s 1960s-with-Third Reich alternate world core. As such I got to see World War II bombers crashing into the side of a castle, before shooting super-Nazis in the not-future. A good range of things to see and shoot, then. I also got to see the game’s cover-mechanic, which is really rather neat: you simply hold a button next to things you want to look over/around/under, and move accordingly. Intelligent stuff, and a fine extra to the usual gamut of first-person control things.


It goes without saying that it looked great, too. Pretty, detailed, explodey. All as you’d expect.

Seeing and shooting was, however, hampered by the decision to demo the PC version of the game with gamepads only. Some mixture of my dislike of gamepad for first-person, the requirement for pinpoint accuracy, and the awfulness of the pad itself led to what should have been a straightforward experience of scripted whack-a-mole being an excruciating exercise in thumbstick twiddling. Oh how I sighed. Oh how I rolled my eyes when I died and watched the difficulty vanish on my second attempt.

I wonder whether the devs stood behind me were aware of my snorts of irritation and annoyance, or whether they simply assumed I was a cack-handed fool. But the truth is I used gamepads every day, and have no issue controlling games with them. This causes me to suspect that the PC version of Wolfenstein perhaps isn’t totally cut out to be shown at its best using a pad, which makes the decision to force the press to use one – this was Germany for goodness sakes, there was no mouse and keyboard shortage here – all the more mystifying.

We should put that aside, shouldn’t we?


The New Order has plenty going for it in the unrealistic dude-shooting department. You can pick up mounted weapons and strut about like The Heavy from TF2, you can regain health simply by eating, and overdoing it just means you have even more (temporary) health, meaning you can take on a shrew-like eating habit, without fear of fat ankles. There are secrets, there are mutant Nazi Franken-bots, there’s dual-wielding, there’s getting knocked across the room by grenades, there are stealth sequences where enemies conveniently never have their back to a wall… all that good stuff.

The problems with it… well, they seem like problems that a lot of games share. It basically looks – from this very brief slice of the game – like a lack of imagination. Now, they are probably holding on to all the imaginative stuff to show off during the mech-thumping 1960s alternate history part of the game that I didn’t get to see much of – and I suppose, if I am honest I DO want to see that stuff, despite my complaints in this article – but what I did see of the game wasn’t doing much to hold my poorly-serviced attention. I mean, sure, I pretty much have a conveyor-belt of videogame distractions aimed directly at the incinerator hatch of my mind, but I don’t usually get the itch to walk away from a game this soon.


One of the things that contributed to that itch was how bluntly nasty the game seems to want to be. I don’t mind things being a bit dark, and there are games which benefit from their grisly moments – the demo I saw of The Witcher 3 the same week reminded me of that – but Wolfenstein just seemed to miss the tricky mark that makes such horrors effective on the player. Neither slapstick pastiche, nor artfully bloody, nor any satisfying grade of guts between. At the dinner party of videogames with nasty subplots, it felt like the teenager who just blurted out something truly disgusting, to the distaste of everyone else, who had tastefully framed their own gore stories with well-worn conceits.

The “big choice” the player has to make in this chapter of The New Order is which of his friends gets his eyes cut out by a vile Nazi doctor-general, and the opening scene of the 1960s was a vignette in which we helplessly watch mentally ill people and their carers being shot in the head by Nazis, before finally being able to act to save BJ. Blood and ugliness seldom turns me off, but this was just clumsy gruesomeness. So blunt. Tactless gore shock value stuff.

I get it: Nazis are bad. I was just looking for some run and gun.


Anyway, as with something else I saw that week, Wolfenstein looked like it had benefited from the rich seam of cash that Bethesda was able to offer its developers. The polish oozed from it. It does not look like it benefited much from interesting design decisions, however. Perhaps that’s something to do with the source material. Perhaps it was simply the quality and quantity of the demo shown at Gamescom. Perhaps there’s much more to come. You should certainly take my opinions with a pinch of anti-pepper.

Either way, I’m beginning to think I’d prefer a game of the pop band.

Wolfenstein: The New Order lands on the fortified beaches of our imagination in 2014.

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112 Comments »

  1. XhomeB says:

    Mr Jim, may I indulge upon you to answer a question or two?
    Were the levels linear? I mean, “insultingly” linear? Return to Castle Wolfenstein ones did have points A and B and C you had to progress through, but there were often alternative paths to take and many optional rooms to explore.
    Does the game FORCE you to use iron sights? It’s something I cannot stand in modern shooters, you can’t run-and-gun and enjoy the experience simply because it’s impossible to hit anything standing more than two metres from you.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      it definitely wasn’t completely linear, no. And I didn’t use iron sights much. The actual pace and heft of the shooting (from the hip) was pretty good.

      • XhomeB says:

        Thank you. Could you please ensure that whoever writes a WOT of the final version addresses these points in the review, as well? I’d be grateful. They’re very important for me, I’m pretty certain that many Wolfenstein fans feel the same.

      • latina168 says:

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  2. FurryLippedSquid says:

    I don’t know why they felt the need to turn away from the comically villainous, over-the-top Nazis from RtCW & ET in this game and the last. That was perfect. There’s really no need for this Iron Sky quasi-science fiction bullshit (yes, I’m aware there were aspects of that in RtCW).

    :sad face:

    • Bull0 says:

      Iron Sky was enormously comical! “DO IT MOON CORPORAL!”

    • frostay says:

      Wait wait, Iron Sky’s Nazis were just about the very definition of over the top villainous comical Nazis. That was the entire point of the movie…

    • cunningmunki says:

      I recently replayed RtCW and I saw little sign of any attempts to make the Nazis comically villainous, it’s all played dead straight, just like its sequel “Wolfenstein”. Plus, all the “quasi-science fiction bullshit” has been there all along too, and very prominent, not just aspects. You may be getting confused with Wolfenstein 3D, which, believe it or not, was not meant to be particularly comical either, although the Robo-Hitler was pretty funny.

      I suggest you lock yourself in a room for a few hours and replay RtCW (and even Wolfenstein if you have time to spare, it really wasn’t that bad).

    • LionsPhil says:

      The irony is that overegging “THE NAZIS WERE EVIL” to ridiculous 40K-ian extremes kind of undermines that there were actual, real-life, people, who probably considered themselves of sound mind, who did actually commit the various atrocities of WW2. In reality. Not in a comic book while screaming “SCHNELL! SCHNELL! FLAMMERWERFEN DAS KINDERLINGS UND PUPPYDOGS!”

  3. SirKicksalot says:

    Please watch this QuakeCon demo: http://youtu.be/mk8KdC6ehIE?t=3m20s
    At least the section I linked to directly. I hope this is more representative of the game’s writing and cleverness.

    • orange says:

      Nice, thanks for posting. Gameplay looks pretty solid and gunplay feels great from I can tell. Comes the closest to FEAR in a long time. Would love a FEAR game in this engine and with fully destructible interior environments :) One can dream…

    • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

      Bullet sponge much! Hope that was on easy!

  4. FakeAssName says:

    How da fook did this make it onto the showroom floor without the German police curb stomping someone?

    Last I heard all Nazi symbology was still baned.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      It wasn’t on the show floor, it was closed press demos.

      • TehK says:

        You could play it on the show floor in the normal Wolfenstein booth, too (at least on Wednesday). I didn’t notice any particular censorship, but I also didn’t search for it.

        I was mostly annoyed to see a good looking, well performing shooter with great feel to the guns and having to play it with a gamepad! Thanks for mentioning that, Jim. So I wasn’t the only one who felt awkward playing like that :)

    • Koozer says:

      As far as I could see there wasn’t any Nazi symbology on show, only the Wehrmacht. I found it quite amusing my Austrian cousin being so gleeful to get a Bethesda goody bag with a giant Nazi mech crushing the faces of innocents on the side.

  5. Drinking with Skeletons says:

    Yes, Nazis are much more fun as villains when they focus more on outlandish quasi-occult rituals and preening evil rather than…well, war crimes. That is not so fun.

    So, any explanation on why Bethesda are publishing a primarily (exclusively?) single-player FPS in this vein? It just seems odd. I could see if they were doing a Dishonored-type thing (i.e. very flexible, not-quite-nonlinear design) but this seems more like Killzone or Call of Duty without the multiplayer. Not to disparage those titles, but methinks the end result might feel a little slight.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Bethesda own a huge catalogue of titles now, they’d be mad not to try and use some of that.

      • Drinking with Skeletons says:

        Well, of course they should utilize some of their properties. It just seems an odd approach. I’m not much of a multiplayer fan, myself, but it takes something special for shooter mechanics to really function well in singleplayer: Bulletstorm’s score system, Metroid Prime’s, uh, Metroid gameplay, Doom 3′s scares, Bioshock’s plasmids, etc. What does this title offer to make it more than a “walk down the hall and shoot guys” thing? Like I said, I immediately thought of Killzone, and the last thing I want more of is that. Brr.

        • strangeloup says:

          I thought Killzone was quite good, actually. The aesthetic is very much 40k, and the second one at least has a really good sense of weight and heft to it (fnar) that I’ve not seen outside of Starbreeze games. It’s nothing amazing, sure, but pretty solidly engaging Space Nazi faceshooting.

    • HadToLogin says:

      I kinda hope Bethy will make last level where we see those vile cutting-eyes doctor or someone as bad getting rescued by BJ to be transported to US and live happily as US citizen doing some fun research for good Americans.

  6. Iskariot says:

    Well, it was to be expected that Nazi’s would be portrayed in a simplistic, one dimensional manner. I don’t mind for a shooter like this. I hope the game will have some good meat on the bones when it gets released.

    The preview does make me cautious though. I was burned by the terribly disappointing Hitman Absolution. That won’t happen again with this one. I will wait for the reviews before making a decision.

  7. Pockets says:

    “stealth sequences where enemies conveniently never have their back to a wall… all that good stuff.”

    So what you’re saying is the one way to beat them is to get round the back, then?

  8. Joey Fudgepants says:

    Will there be a DLC package that allows you to play as Peter Hook?

  9. iARDAs says:

    I think this game will be either good or bad… Perhaps average.

  10. Pich says:

    It’s been a while since we had a good old gore’n'lead shooter. Most modern FPS have shifted to tacticool.

    • FurryLippedSquid says:

      “tacticool”

      Did you just make that up, or is it an industry thing?

      Either way, I almost vomited.

      • derbefrier says:

        working as intended

      • jonahcutter says:

        “Tacticool” has been around for a while now. It refers to the fetishizing of modern armaments, with all the attachments and accessories one can add to them. “Mall-ninja” is another one, for people basically cosplaying as soldiers, but with real weapons and gear.

        “Tacticool” is used a lot about gun and prepper culture, where even some of their own make fun of how overdone a lot of nutjobs kit their weapons out.

        I don’t know who made the comparison, but someone made this one: Modern assault rifles are Barbie for grown men.

    • Kobest says:

      Perhaps you should try the new Rise of the Triad? Or the upcoming Shadow Warrior? :) Call of Juarez: Gunslinger might be a good choice as well!

    • cunningmunki says:

      I read that as “tacicool”, as in taciturn. I thought it was a made up word to describe something that is intentionally uncommunicative in an attempt to appear cool and aloof.

  11. ScruZer says:

    This is the first negative preview I seen of this game. I suspect it is because it’s made by an unknown euro studio. If this was made by Respawn or some other top tier american developer it would probably be praised like the second coming of christ.

    • SpaceAkers says:

      he was happy with the choice of developer.

      what do tiresome violence and frustrating gamepad controls have to do with a developers nationality?

      go away, dummy.

    • SirKicksalot says:

      The name of the studio is unknown, but the people there made Riddick and The Darkness.
      If Riddick demos focused on combat, execution and Xzibit, I assume their reception would have been negative too.*

      The Darkness is also extremely violent and unpleasant. It has some of the most shocking moments of this gaming generation. It’s also genuinely touching at times and extremely well written.

      *Obviously I don’t remember the decade-old Riddick press demos, but IIRC nobody gave a shit about it until it came out.

      • strangeloup says:

        The Darkness is one of the most underrated games in the genre, I reckon. One of the weird things is that the games both seem substantially better written (and certainly have better art direction) than the comics, which were a bit 90s Darker and Edgier.

        • Dave Tosser says:

          The Darkness is a gem, but it’s nowhere near as clever as it wants to be. Whiny gothic pseudo-poetic nonsense of a script considered, it was quite silly at times. Watching telly in a video game is having a wank to the thought of yourself having a wank.

          Starbreeze’s trademark weighty, punchy shooty bits couldn’t save Syndicate from being a hate crime against the shooter, and I doubt they’ll save this. I really liked 2009 Wolfenstein, too. Completely vapid, consolised nonsense, sure, but none of the mandatory modern manshoot muck got in the way of the whimsical Nazi murder. You could shoot their hats off and everything, which is the basic requirement for a WW2 shooter.

          • lurkalisk says:

            This isn’t being made by Starbreeze. This is Machine games, founded by those of Starbreeze who left before Syndicate was made. So this is (hopefully) basically the good old SB, not the one that made Syndicate.

    • darkChozo says:

      I think that accusing RPS of an anti-European bias might be the most confusing thing ever.

      Also, wouldn’t that make Jim self-hating?

  12. PopeRatzo says:

    Wait…Nazis are bad guys?

  13. sabasNL says:

    Can we have a game where the Nazis are not the most evil bad guys for a change?
    What did you say? Company of Heroes 2?

    *runs to the store*

    No but really, I want a game where the Führer is a charismatic intellectual pacifist, where the swastikas have been replaced with flowers and smileys, and where the only tanks are the ones containing beer…
    That’d be excruciating.

    • dE says:

      Er schießt Blumen statt Granaten. Er trifft jeden, auch die Harten. Anstelle Giftgas gibt es Rosenduft. Schwängert mit Weihrauch die verschmutzte Luft.

      I’m sorry. I don’t know how that happened.
      And the comment monster just ate a rather relevant part of the post.

      • SuicideKing says:

        “He shoots grenades instead of flowers. He makes everyone, even the tough. Instead of poison gas there rose fragrance. Impregnates the incense with polluted air.”

        0_0 (dafuq?)

        • InnerPartisan says:

          Your Babel Fish apparently has severe problems with German sentence structure. You should have that looked at by somebody.

          • gunny1993 says:

            Google translate is a babel fish with sever mental disabilities.

          • Tei says:

            A secret FISA law force A.I. to have big parts disabled, so don’t become self-aware and try to kill us.

        • dE says:

          He shoots flowers instead of grenades, he gets everyone – even the tough (stupid) ones. Instead of poison gas there’ll be rose scent. He fills the polluted air with incense.

          It’s from the berlin Punkrock Band “Die Ärzte” and their song Friedenspanzer (Peace-Tank). I originally provided a youtube link to the song but the comment section censored it out everytime I tried. I thought it’d be oddly relevant, as it is – at least superficially – about a Tank that is quite different from what you’d expect it to do. Instead of killing people, he spreads love. Technically it would be “it” over her too, alas german and its highly genderized language makes that a bit odd to translate.

          • SuicideKing says:

            Ah. Interesting. Thanks for the correct translation and explaining it! :)

    • Don Reba says:

      No but really, I want a game where the Führer is a charismatic intellectual pacifist, where the swastikas have been replaced with flowers and smileys, and where the only tanks are the ones containing beer…

      Stalin vs Martians is not too far off the mark.

    • Muzman says:

      This is where’s kind of a shame that Blackadder didn’t survive World War 1.

    • Zenicetus says:

      Well, you could always boot up one of the Silent Hunter games playing as the Kriegsmarine, or any of the several WW2 air combat games that allow playing the German side (Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe, anyone?).

      Tactical combat sims like that have always provided enough distance to be enjoyable, maybe due to the focus on the hardware of war, and not so much the overall context.

  14. Yosharian says:

    How does it feel? When Nazis treat you in this way? Tell me. How does it feel? Does your heart grow cold?

    *head bop*

  15. persopolis says:

    It’s really hard to make up horrible things as far as nazi’s are concerned. The whole killing the mentally ill thing? they totally did that: Aside from being anti-semites Hitler and his pals also had a raging hard-on for eugenics. Forced sterilization and euthanasia of so called “undesirables” was the order of the day.

    • GallonOfAlan says:

      Yes they did, and worse. Which is why it’s crass to use it a a cheap shock in a game that just uses Nazis as rent-a-bad-guys.

      • persopolis says:

        True, I hadn’t thought of it that way. We will of course have to wait how they implement it, but it does indeed seem like they will simply use it to fuel our retro-futuristic revenge fantasies.
        The problem is that going on a righteous rampage in video games is fun. It’s a cheap but effective trick to get the audience on your side. I can imagine that it would be hard for the designers and writers to pass up such an acceptable target.

    • GGboy says:

      They weren’t alone. Same for the Soviets, but for some reasons the world chooses to deny or “forget” that fact. My great-grandparents used to tell me of unimaginable things they witnessed and experienced from both sides, tears were coming to their eyes when recalling them, but they wanted everyone to know and remember. They actually said: “Nazis committed attrocities like none before them, but compared to the Soviets, they at least retained remnants of their humanity.”

      • persopolis says:

        I never said they were the only ones.
        No side is innocent in war: be it the British firebombing Germany, the American internment of Japanese, the soviets organizing mass-executions, the Japanese experiments with biological warfare and the rape of Nanking, the Italians gassing the Ethiopians, or the German plans for genocide: they were all despicable crimes.
        The act of you comparing these crimes and saying that one was less bad than the other implicitly diminishes their importance and the suffering inflicted by them. This is a massive “fuck you” towards everyone who lived through the experience, towards everyone who tries to keep the memories alive, and towards everything we have learned, and are trying to learn from this dark piece of history.

        • Shazbut says:

          He wasn’t doing that, Persopolis. Show some sensitivity

        • SuicideKing says:

          And Vietnam…and yeah, he wasn’t doing that.

        • persopolis says:

          I’m sorry if that’s the case, but it did kind of look like that he was getting at that. Most Nazi-apologists I’ve seen start out their diatribe with some BS about how nobody acknowledges soviet war crimes, and that this somehow makes the shit the Nazi’s pulled off seem less bad in comparison.
          I was trying to nip this situation in the bud.
          Plus, think it is perverse to compare suffering: It probably was mainly this that sparked my comment.

  16. Papageno says:

    The kids these days pay so little attention in history class that they probably think someone made up Nazis as a villain race for video games. #get_off_my_lawn

    • XhomeB says:

      Everyone knows that Nazis were actually a bunch of aliens who came from the dark side of the moon!
      Germany, you say? Is that some kind of pasta brand?

      • SuicideKing says:

        You mean the Dark of the Moon.

        The Dark Side of the Moon is damn nice place in my head, where there’s a lunatic.

    • cunningmunki says:

      I don’t think that’s far from the truth. I’m sure I remember seeing an article about some school kids who thought Nazis were a fictional creation or modern legend, basically like werewolves, witches & zombies.

  17. WJonathan says:

    Sounds disappointingly like Raven’s Wolfenstein. As a huge fan of RtCW’s single player campaign, I was put off by the slasher-film level of gore in Wolfenstein. The nurse-murder sequence halfway through the game made me feel gross and I almost stopped playing. I guess I’m tired of feeling like a. someone is trying to shock me into a reaction or (worse) b. someone is trying to appease a slaughter-fetish. The cartoonish gore (exploding decapitations from a sniper rifle?!?), the dull levels, numbingly easy gameplay, and lack of secret goodies made me wary of future releases. Many didn’t like RtCW’s campaign, but I thought it was a high-water mark for first-person shooters.

    • DatonKallandor says:

      You missed out on Wolfenstein then. It was yet another classic underrated shooter from Raven – which really is their MO – that everything a big budget version wouldn’t have:
      Non-omniscient AI
      No two weapon limit
      Infinite Nazis to shoot
      Crazy Superweapons

      • cunningmunki says:

        I only recently played Wolfenstein and I concur it is definitely underrated. Having said that, I was only able to play it by using a mod called “neuro-wolf” which speeds up your pace slightly, reduces the head-bobbing, and gets rid of all the horrible, console-friendly, keypress hints and objective markers that plagued it.
        Once I got rid of all that shit, it was great fun!

    • Andrew says:

      I completely agree. I found RTCW a far superior, more tense game to Wolfenstein.

  18. Felixader says:

    WTH? Those nazis in the last screen look eerily like Space Marines (Warhammer 40.000).

  19. Zwebbie says:

    If only you could talk to the Nazis.

  20. Radiant says:

    Whoa whoa whoa.
    ‘ opening scene of the 1960s was a vignette in which we helplessly watch mentally ill people and their carers being shot in the head by Nazis, before finally being able to act to save BJ.’

    Is this a ‘is it all in his mind?’ psycho drama bs like the darkness?

    PLEASE SAY NO.
    We need to call walker and get this added to his list of dos and don’ts:

    Do not set your game in a mental patients head.

    Having the story possibly be a figment of some mentalists imagination renders your story completely pointless and therefore a giant waste of my fucking time. Don’t do it.

  21. racccoon says:

    The artwork is masterful, looks very like what you’d expect from a nazi filled world of hatred. just imagine if we hadn’t of won. what a messed up world it would be. Of course blue and blond hair would of been in, so they would of sold a lot of bleach and eye contacts, there’d only be one winner at anything. If you did win outside of them for the sake of it, you’d just be sent to the chamber rooms and not the changing rooms.
    Sickness aside: The Wolfenstein series of games are cool games, great to play, it looks like a nice well done job from the youtube interview vids.

  22. stahlwerk says:

    Well I stand up next to a mecha.
    I chop it down, with the help of a quicktime event.

  23. PoulWrist says:

    Every time I read someone write about the old Wolfenstein, I expect it to be mentioned that it was actually a FPS remake of a top down 2D action game. But noone ever does :( Is this just not a known fact?

  24. Jackablade says:

    Any chance we might see an objective based multiplayer like we had in Return to Castle Wolfenstein and Enemy Territory?

  25. Jahnz says:

    Maybe I’m just strange, but I always wanted to see a single player WWII game from the perspective of a German soldier. Not a card carrying Nazi but rather a common draftee fighting for his country and family. There could be some very interesting moments in that experience. Moral choices about how you deal with occupied countries and citizens, etc.

  26. HisDivineOrder says:

    Having a PC gaming site play early versions of the game on gamepads is either because they don’t want you going back and describing how un-PC the game is OR they have something to hide and think you’ll be so busy futz’ing with the control pad you won’t have time to think about anything else.

    Or it could be because they’re all console gamers at heart, which means they’d be wholly unqualified to make a Wolfenstein game entirely.

  27. randdy says:

    my classmate’s sister-in-law makes $83 hourly on the internet. She has been out of a job for eight months but last month her check was $14577 just working on the internet for a few hours. Read more on this site http://www.jazz77.com

  28. engion3 says:

    So excited for the idtech5 engineeeee, i loved rage.

  29. verbaloid says:

    This game would greatly benefit from Dishonored type of gameplay diversity, at least with stealth elements. Because being a bland shooter it is a little too dissapointing.

  30. Fistmax says:

    Hey RPS could you check Mighty No.9 http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/mightyno9/mighty-no-9

    Its being kickstarted by Keiji Inafune who made some of the Megaman games would be great if you guys haave coverage of it :D

  31. mahfoudk says:

    Wolfenstein The New Order Keygen Free Download : http://wolfensteintheneworderkeygenfree.blogspot.com/

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