Have You Played… Wolfenstein: The New Order?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

We’re all doing Macauley Culkin faces about how good DOOM turned out to be despite high suspicion to the contrary, but let’s not forget that, under Bethesda’s stewardship, olden id games had already been treated surprisingly well. Wolfenstein: The New Order [official site] was a sprawling, spectacular singleplayer shooter of the kind we so rarely see in these MP-focused times, and it somehow managed the impossible too: making BJ Blazkowicz a real human. A real human in an entirely absurd world.

WTNO isn’t anything like as frantic as DOOM, or as reverential to its past, but it had an excellent line in solid, crunchy, even strategic combat, set in huge and imaginative levels. It’s an insane journey through so many different places, going far above and beyond what I ever expected. And it stars this huge hunk of spam with these soulful eyes, who ends up on a personal crusade rather than just an anti-techno-Nazi one.

It shouldn’t work. Even thinking about it now, long after I played it and liked it, I feel that it shouldn’t work. Human drama + cyberdogs. Mech-suit-assisted concentration camp breakouts. A trip to the moon and back. Secrets and retro Wolf 3D levels. What a ridiculous mix of things.

But somehow, they steered that wild ship straight and true. As they did with DOOM.

You realise, of course, that this might just mean we end up with a decent new Quake game for the first time in forever?


  1. TeePee says:

    *looks at screenshot* – I didn’t realise John Cena fought the Nazis.

    Certainly explains why the Nazis lost, though.


  2. Joe Clark says:

    Absolutely adored Wolfenstein: a parody of shooters which is also a great shooter. Superb work.

    And although I have no idea what I’d expect from a new Quake game, there is something very beguiling about Quake V. It just looks right, you know?

    • Ross Angus says:

      I know what you mean. It’s like Orson Welles said about “Citizen Kane” – it’s the “z” and the “k” which make it stand out on the poster. Or am I mixing up fact and fiction again?

  3. TomxJ says:

    What a coincidence! I installed this for the first time last night and was up till 3am with that crazy bundle of blue eyed meat shivving Nazi-scum. Its bloody brilliant!

  4. AutonomyLost says:

    I have, and it’s wonderfully entertaining and action-packed. I was especially taken aback regarding the depth of the characterisation, and involvement of, auxiliary personalities within the campaign. It gave it all just a bit more gravitas than I was expecting going in to a Nazi-eradication-sim revival. This game was a sleeper, and might just get a reinstallation because of this article.

  5. GernauMorat says:

    I have. Finished it twice. Was just thinking of going for a new playthrough, as I’m up for a good shooter and won’t be able to get NewDoom for a while.

  6. gbrading says:

    First played it this year; I enjoyed it. The story is rather rote, but the shooting is good and weighty. It did however try to add depth to the Nazi-dominated 1960 the game takes place in, and had some fairly good characters.

  7. Plake says:

    what the f* happened to r-p-s?!? why is it now zoomed-in on android browser and can’t be adjusted?!? nice one…

    • Undermind_Mike says:

      I’m still having a similar problem on Safari on iPhone and it’s making it too inconvenient to read the articles :(

  8. AutonomyLost says:

    I’m browsing on Chrome on an Android phone right now and nothing’s amiss. Maybe give that a go?

    • Premium User Badge

      particlese says:

      Firefox and Opera are also fine while the stock “Internet” thing (Android 6) is…yeah, super wonky. Seems like it doesn’t know how to resize (m)any images on various RPS pages

      Not a good place for bug reports, I know, but since there are already a couple examples in a cluster…

  9. Blackcompany says:

    Absolutely Loathed this game.

    I realize I am an exception to the rule, but…I see it as everything that is wrong with modern gaming: Forced stealth sections with all but auto failure on detection. The paths through which, I might add, seem to walk you by every guard and dog in the area.

    Poor story telling.

    Uninspired characters.

    Lackluster level design full of corridors and a single, linear path that must be followed at all times.

    Gimmicky, weak-point boss fights.

    Nazis as bad guys? Again? Really? I mean, sure, its Wolfenstein, so that goes with the territory…but…c’mon.

    I dont know. Maybe I am just jaded where the FPS genre is concerned, but I struggle to see how the same people who liked Dishonored, with its player freedom and multiple paths through levels and its varied and interesting toolset…could even enjoy this game at all…

    • gpown says:

      “Demons as bad guys? I know it’s a Doom game, but… come on.”

    • Hoot says:

      You’re entitled to your opinion, but to be honest, you are wrong on all fronts.

      The New Order was actually an exceptional piece of computer game storytelling, and the action was beautifully done as well. I say this as someone who cut his teeth on The Catacomb Abyss and has played pretty much every noteworthy FPS since.

    • Hoot says:

      Also, although I adored Dishonoured, it doesn’t give me a personal reason to and then let me unload a shotgun into a Nazi scumbags face.

    • bit.bat says:

      Liking 2 games that are different is not that hard to imagine really.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      I struggle to see how people who like pizza can say they like omelets. They are lying to themselves and to the public.

    • Durgendorf says:

      I accidentally made an omelette pizza once. The cognitive dissonance haunts me to this day.

      • Borreh says:

        “I accidentally made an omelette pizza once. The cognitive dissonance haunts me to this day.”

        Quote of the day. I’ll print that and hang it over my bed.

    • Buggery says:

      Wrong, though?

      Stealth in this game (apart from the crappy opening section in The Old Blood) was pretty much always just about trying to get a head start. If you fucked up, no worries; you’ll just have to have a more hectic shootout.

      That, and the whole game was meant to be a grindhouse parody… but somehow ran with it so sincerely that the plot actually worked out to have a surprising amount of emotional relevance.

      And who the hell complains about Nazis as bad guys? They’re literally the perfect, guilt free enemy archetype!

    • pantspizzaz says:

      One of the things that enrages me about modern video game culture, and was actually responsible for me selling my PC and not gaming for two years, is the idea that an open world game is automatically better than a linear one. They are two equally feasible design choices that fit different games. I’ve always enjoyed linear games because they keep the pressure up by forcing you forward. They also allow talented level designers to craft a specific experience. If a linear game is designed poorly it should be criticized, but so should bad open world games, and it seems like they are never similarly judged.

      Linear vs open world is a decision that needs to be made based on the story of the game, the setting, the objectives, and what kind of atmosphere the developer is trying to create. Wolfenstein is a desperate, rushed fight against an overwhelming foe; of course it’s linear. As a counter example, Just Cause 2 is a slow-burn uprising in which you methodically retake city by city, base by base; of course it’s open world. I’ve never understood why Far Cry 3, a game where you are trying to rescue your friends from dangerous villains, chose an open world design that allowed you waste as much time as you want. That doesn’t make any sense. The design clashes with the story. It’s baffling why it was so well-received.

  10. Hammurabi says:

    I finally got around to buying this. Started installing it (after clearing hardrive space…need a new drive or 3) somewhere around Saturday evening. Then my wife went into labor (a week earlier than predicted), and I haven’t gotten to play it yet, I’m close though.

    • Darth Gangrel says:

      So for you it’s more like Wifenstein: The New Order. Life will never be the same again once you become a parent, so it’s like a new order/era has begun.

      • Rizlar says:

        Also trying to ensure the continued existence of your genes… sounds a little bit Nazi is all I’m saying.

      • Hammurabi says:

        Yeah, the parent thing really rearranges time and priorities. The new one isn’t my first, but the other ones are all old enough to not need so much attention. My 5 year old like to sit in my lap while I play, as long as its not something slow paced like an RPG or a strategy game.

  11. Senethro says:

    Would anyone agree that this game had among the least weird and awkward depictions of sex in a video game? As in this lady and this dude are doing it but the camera isn’t going voyeur on them and the narrative isn’t going to judge?

    • GernauMorat says:

      For my money it depicts a romantic relationship better than almost any other game I can think of.

    • Xocrates says:

      Yeah. While I’m not sure I would say it’s done well, it certainly feels like the least gratuitous one that I’ve ever seen in a game.

    • Sulpher says:

      The fashback to the coma sponge bath gave me some odd yet thrilling feels.

    • Durgendorf says:

      I’d say it was a huge part of making this game that shouldn’t work, work.

  12. Hoot says:

    “You realise, of course, that this might just mean we end up with a decent new Quake game for the first time in forever?”

    Please, don’t say things like that. It isn’t good for my heart.

    I already dream of a new arena Quake and the demise of the crapfest online shooters have become.

  13. PoundCoin says:

    God damn it.

    Re-installing again.

  14. Jekadu says:

    Such a brilliant game. It only had two sour notes as far as I was concerned.

    First, I felt there was no clear thematic resolution to Anya’s character arc. There’s a revelation near the middle of the game that’s just never acknowledged again. By all rights it should have caused some kind of conflict, but everyone involved just ignores it and the burden of tying together the thematic loose ends is dumped on the player in an unsatisfactory fashion.

    Secondly, I’m ill at ease with the whole Jewish conspiracy thing. There are implications there that I am not comfortable voicing, as I do not have any direct connections to the Holocaust that I know of. There are professionally written articles on other websites, however, that explain how the sheer scale of its tragedy makes it very difficult to depict it in a respectful manner.

  15. JakeOfRavenclaw says:

    I think I was expecting something different than what this game is actually offering, and I couldn’t really get past that disappointment. Dropped it about four hours in, and haven’t been able to muster the enthusiasm to go back to it yet. Which is a shame, because on paper I’m right in the middle of its exact target audience: I love Bioshock, Metro, Half-Life 2, Bulletstorm, the Shadow Warrior reboot, etc. This one just didn’t click.

    Part of the problem (and I realize this may be unique to me) is that the environments in the early portions of The New Order are super bland–and yes, that’s a the result of a deliberate attempt to create a Nazi dystopia, but Bioshock and Half-Life 2 did the dystopian thing too and still managed to be visually interesting. And the shooting is as basic as it gets, without any options for interesting movement (areas where Shadow Warrior and Bulletstorm excelled). It’s also heavily broken up by cutscenes (each level felt very much like an isolated setting rather than part of a larger coherent world), and the story takes itself incredibly seriously (which is probably a selling point for a lot of people, but I found it really tough to care about. It’s so relentlessly dour that it actually takes away from the fun). And there are a lot of little annoyances too, like having to manually hoover up ever. single. piece. of armor and ammunition, or the fact that the stealth isn’t particularly satisfying, but it still feels like you’re being punished if you don’t go stealthy…

    I dunno, maybe it gets better as it goes on, but I think this might be one game that I just don’t get.

    • Jekadu says:

      What makes it work for me is how it just runs with its setting. It’s as if the writers woke up one day and realized that giving the Nazi elite superpowers and goofy Science Fiction tech is actually pretty friggin’ terrifying.

      • Borreh says:

        Yes. TNO is a fascinating deconstruction of the “camp wacky Nazi jetpack Hitler warlock” theme, and it works because it takes this absurd premise, confronts it with reality that is often ignored by simillar titles (It’s the first game that depicted Holocaust for crying out loud) and the result is an almost punishingly dark and terrifying setting.

        However, TNO always seems to realize how absurd the entire premise is, so it keeps winking at the player often enough to keep the game fun despite all of its heaviness.

        And I ABSOLUTELY disagree with the shooting. The shooting in this game (especialy with the 1960 German assault rifle) is one of the best ones in recent years.

        • JakeOfRavenclaw says:

          I truly wish I had the same experience with it that you did :-/

          Then again, reading through all the glowing responses in this thread is convincing me that I may actually be insane, so there’s that.

    • basilisk says:

      The story really doesn’t take itself incredibly seriously. In fact, the constant and sudden fluctuations in tone are part of what makes it so fascinating.

      Some bits are very serious, yes. Other bits are perfectly ridiculous and cheerfully wallowing in their own ridiculousness.

    • eddyschecter says:

      Needing to pick up ammo nd armor is annoying, the cutscenes are annoying. A number of the missions are just pointless and there is too little FPS continuity to be a great game. For me its not dourness or how seriously the story takes itself that are the problems but how these things took the place of good action opportunities.

  16. mvar says:

    amazing game. Great action, great weapons and a totally absurd storyline which reminds me of Philip Dick’s “Man in the high castle”. I think i’ll be replaying this (and wait for some steam discount on Doom!)

  17. basilisk says:

    Oh, yes. Probably my favourite story-based FPS of all time. I have no idea how on Earth did they make this strange hybrid of so many incongruous parts work together so well, but they did, and with more confidence and style than any other game in recent memory. It’s such a perfect package that manages to be dumb and clever and completely over-the-top and surprisingly subtle, switching from one extreme to the other at the drop of a hat. (Also, you can dual-wield full-auto shotguns, so that’s a bonus, too.) Brilliant.

  18. LennyLeonardo says:

    Good flipping grief, what a great game. I mean, the rejigged Nazified 60s pop songs, the moon, that bloody chuffing Jimi Hendrix guitar scene. Breathe in, count to four…

  19. Ross Angus says:

    I think this post needs a “soulful eyes” tag.

  20. tr76 says:

    Bloody great game, but I found it very difficult to forgive it for ‘Downtown London’.

  21. Zenicetus says:

    It gets my personal prize for “Game that turned out to be much better than I thought it would be.” Not that there weren’t problems. Some of the boss fights (especially the last one) were too heavily scripted as set pieces. I wasn’t a fan of the constant po-face tone for BJ either, although I give the writers credit for an ending that fit the mood.

    One thing it did very well, was accommodate a play style of remaining stealthy for as long as I could, then inevitably screwing up somewhere and hauling out the heavy weapons for general mayhem. Not every game pulls that off well, and this one did.

  22. Chaoslord AJ says:

    Didn’t play cause “censored version” here, can’t really support that though it’s actually rather my nanny state’s fault than Beth’s.

  23. cpt_freakout says:

    I also only played it till this year, and man, was I absolutely surprised by the quality of the writing. Not in the “this sounds and reads well” sense, but in the ways in which it builds the logic behind its alternate history setting. Compounded with the actually functional mix of solemnity and not-quite-absurdist humor, TNO’s writing is definitely some of the best in AAA gaming, IMO. There’s an article out there to be written about TNO’s different characters’ relationships to the body – the nazi machine-man, as silly as it may sound, is not actually too far off from what some ideologues from the 1930’s envisioned as the end-point of modernity. But I rant… fortunately, it’s also just a really FUN game.

  24. der_Zens0r says:

    Would love to play it, but they removed all nazi-signs of it in Germany and because of steam, it´s not possible to play it uncut (and in english) here :(

    I just cannot shoot nazis that aren´t nazis anymore.

    • swiftshlock says:

      You could buy a key for the uncensored version (obviously not from Steam directly) and activate it using a vpn connection.

      They used to make it so you could only play the uncensored version with a non-German IP address, but this has since been lifted. I can play my uncensored Steam version without vpn active. Same for The Old Blood. Has been this way for a couple of months now.

  25. fiah says:

    I loved it! I used a VPN to dodge the stupid censoring although I don’t think it actually matters that much. I’m definitely going to play through it again sometime, and hearing DOOM being compared to this in good terms sounds like TNO is in good company :D

  26. ShaunOfTheFuzz says:

    I felt like I had lived through the time of the great single player campaign and was doomed to see those halcyon days drift in to the warm, bittersweet bosom of nostalgia, then this incredible game came out. I love it deeply.

  27. SlimShanks says:

    Totally excellent, like many others I was extremely pleased by how wrong I was about this game.

  28. Chorltonwheelie says:

    Absolutely fucking loved it…and The Old Blood.
    Pretty sure I’ve seen Blazkowicz with his top off on a podium at Trade.

  29. Premium User Badge

    particlese says:

    Nope! I finally have a computer which can reasonably play it, so thanks for the reminder.

    Looks like I can even get the “normal” version here in German-speaking non-Germany. I saw a poster in front of a game store the other day advertising the new Doom as “100% uncensored!”, so I was a little worried for a second here, but the Internet says all’s well. (That poster could have just been normal marketing or a subtle jab, but I haven’t been here long enough to know if it’s actually exciting.)

  30. NegativeZero says:

    I loved how the plot was kind of a meta-commentary on Wolfenstein itself as a franchise. BJ is a relic of the past, a soldier from a war that his side lost. He’s a man who’s singular purpose is killing Nazis. It’s all he knows, all he lives for and all he’s good at. And no one really needs a Nazi killing machine any more. He’s been absent for so long and in the mean time, everything has changed and there’s no place for someone who’s entire existence is just Nazi murder. Things are just not that simple any more.

    … Except, as it turns out, he’s exactly what the world needed and ends up showing a surprising degree of depth and versatility while proving that yes, maybe there is a place for a square-jawed Nazi murderer in that more modern era after all.

  31. dethtoll says:

    I won’t lie — I wasn’t sure about the game and I pre-ordered it on the sole basis of the Doom beta. I’m sure as shit glad I did, though, because the game turned out to be absolutely amazing. The Old Blood is just as good, not least because it retcons Return to Castle Wolfenstein, which I like increasingly less these days.

  32. Uninteresting Curse File Implement says:

    Game played well enough for me to ignore the story, but man that story was basically Bioshock Infinite levels of “daft to the point of nastiness”.
    Like B:I, it wouldn’t stop trying to demonize its antagonists to ridiculous levels, simply to justify the main character being a sadistic prick.
    Then just as Bioshock then turned around and said: “Well guess what? The revolutionaries ain’t much better than the opressors!” Wolfenstein turns around and says: “Well guess what? The jews HAVE been running the world with incredible technology from a secret lair!”
    Like… whyyy?? There can’t possibly be any bad intent here, just as in Ken Levine’s case, but these are multi-million dollar projects, don’t they even bother to check what those guys write??

  33. C0llic says:

    A great game with a fun, schlocky, self-aware storyline (but still played straight). Altogether very well put together, and it felt like an old-school shooter without being slavishly retro – Wolfenstein kept the bits from modern shooters that are actually good.

    It was also really long, which came as a shock to me when I played it. Can’t recommend it enough.

  34. Somerled says:

    No, no I haven’t. Because the PC version is stupidly expensive! I really want to, but I haven’t.

  35. a very affectionate parrot says:

    TNO is a fantastic game, I wasn’t expecting much when I played it and it blew me away. The plot was average videogame stuff but the characters, especially BJ, were great.
    Also alternate history Jimi Hendrix is an awesome character.

  36. DOHrps2015 says:

    I join those in saying this is one of those Best Ever Games. I expected nothing, and was just shocked at the level of commitment to the concept and the world that was created. Some of the most interesting parts of the game are incidental audio, overheard comments from the citizens of this totalitarian state. It defies categorization in many ways, and elevated the genre, and it is really an action game with a real drama as its underpinning. GO BUY IT NOW. Take your time. Observe – read, listen, examine. Consume the whole product with diligence and you will find a very worthy example of the art form.

  37. Ultraman1966 says:

    I’ve been playing this recently and I was really surprised. I couldn’t finish the last Wolfenstein game (2009) as it was utter tosh but this game has really got me hooked. It manages to the protagonist feel human and vulnerable…to a certain extent. It’s worthy of high praise; yes, it has its flaws but you can’t deny that it has some great moments and actually emotional in parts.

  38. renzollama says:

    It might be worth mentioning that anybody who pre-ordered Doom on steam got a free copy of The Old Blood. It doesn’t have the same narrative punch that The New Order has, but the mechanics are all there and still very enjoyable.

  39. BB Shockwave says:

    “it somehow managed the impossible too: making BJ Blazkowicz a real human”

    Yeah, a real evil bastard of a human. When the mass-murdering evil Nazi scientist has to point out that you are massacring innocent civilians, men, women, children, and NEEDLESSLY, then there is something wrong with the protagonist.

  40. suibhne says:

    It was interesting to see this article come out after DOOM’s release, because it really took DOOM to show Wolf’s deficiencies. I still see TNO as the best narrative-driven FPS in years, but DOOM delivers the best pure FPS gameplay is a decade or more.

    I’ll take one of each, thanks.

  41. eddyschecter says:

    I found Wolfenstein a brutal slog through unnecessary repetitive actions picking up ammo, opening doors includes ‘cutscenes’ now so we can become immersed in the action rather than playing it.endless cutscenes garbage missions such as collecting coffee and toys for autistic rebel, the graphics are better suited to finding hidden objects games. To my mind settling for cartoony realism in immersive 3-d FPS gaming and improving the detail of background images should not be the point. And now Doom comes along with the same model of no saves, just mission checkpoints, and when your widdle health gets low demons spit powerups and ammo at you WTF is that? Also annoying is the attempt to direct gameplay with a series of point based challenges. They want you to use their fatality moves and will upgrade your armour and guns for doing so, but I would just as soon Shoot the demons rather than engaging in the silly ‘cutscene’ demon takedown moves, which do not interest me in the least’ but not doing so, like in Wolfenstein will prevent me from leveling up to full weapon and abilities capabilities. Stupid additions to the game no one wanted but the game creators thought made things ‘more interesting’ these are FPS gameplay should be seamless and fast not annoying with ‘ads’ or messages about something you just KILLED.