Wolfenstein 2 isn’t getting multiplayer because it would ‘dilute’ the storytelling, says Machine Games

wolfy2

With us living in the age of ‘games as service’, there’s been a bit of hand-wringing about the death of single-player games. Of course, there are still plenty of single-player games in development, and in the case of Machine Games’ Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus, the studio say they’ve made a concerted effort to not let anything detract from that solo experience.

“The only way we can create these super immersive narrative experiences is if we can solely focus on the single-player,” narrative designer Tommy Tordsson Björk told Gamesindustry.biz. “Having a multiplayer component in this work process would just dilute it all. That’s the danger if you try to do two things at once.”

This won’t come as a surprise if you’ve played the previous Wolfenstein shooters from Machine Games. Neither of them have had multiplayer. And in a narrative-driven, single-player experience, another mode seems superfluous.

If you cast your mind back five years, you might remember that Spec Ops: The Line included a multiplayer mode, despite the fact that, like Wolfenstein, it had an otherwise strong single-player focus. After launch, the lead designer expressed his regret that it was tacked on, describing it as a “cancerous growth”.

Alec took Wolfy 2 for a spin last month, and it looks like he had a lovely time killing Nazis. Take a gander at his impressions. It’s due for release on October 27.

45 Comments

  1. Mecha_Rocky says:

    Good news. I wish DOOM 2016 did the same, luckily its multiplayer didn’t detract from the SP experience at all. I have a theory though that we would have gotten more SP campaigns from the devs if the MP never existed…

    • BigEyeGuy says:

      They contracted a third party to develop the multiplayer portion of the game.

      • CaptainDju says:

        True, but it still used resources (financial rather than human in this case) that could’ve been used in the SP campaign.

        This being said DOOM is the perfect example of a game where the multiplayer part can be completely ignored and the scenario and technical aspects didn’t seem to have suffered at all so it’s all fine in the end.

        But still…

  2. futabot says:

    I’m rather fine with this. They could have also opted with, “Quake Champions is thataway.”

  3. drezworthy says:

    I’m glad they focused all their resources on a quality storied single player. The last thing I need is another multiplayer game. Actually I only have time for the one I play right now and all other gaming is single player and kind of a relief actually from the multiplayer.

  4. Scobie says:

    Excellent news.

  5. N'Al says:

    Hardly surprising.

  6. PatHat says:

    The clear and hush-hush reason why Wolfenstein won’t have multiplayer is because any sort of PvP mode would allow players to play as Nazis, presumably in equivalent balance to Kreisau Circle fighters they are oppressing. People tend to think that historical reenactment shooters like Battlefield are enriched by playable allied and axis powers, but no way that a smart publisher is letting players embody a Nazi in a game that bills itself as current to the political moment.

    Presumably a co-op campaign in TNC would be “fun,” but the IP is already tying itself in so many knots trying to distance itself from any identification with Nazism that it’s simply smarter to avoid the thorny question of multiplayer altogether.

    “Super immersive narrative experience” is code for “we’re trying really hard to finely engineer the public reception of our project that turns real-world absolute evil into entertainment.”

    • Premium User Badge

      Grizzly says:

      Hmm, not so sure about that. Machine games has previously noted that they’ve been rather surprised at how their games have become rather politically relevant all of a sudden, and both Return to Castle Wolfenstein and Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory certainly did not have this problem, despite being multiplayer games (Enemy Territory is more or less the foundation of modern multiplayer shooting, even). Nor has the recent Call of Duty, or any battlefield games set in this era, or Hearts of Iron IV which literally lets you play as Hitler! If you look outward to things that would be considered more controversial to the general public post 9/11: The re-release of Medal of Honour let you play as the Taliban, and Counter Strike, the most popular multiplayer shooter of all time, lets you play as literal terrorists blowing up public places. All of these are multiplayer centric games where you do get to play as the bad guys.

    • Vandelay says:

      Err… What are you talking about? The game is rife with Nazi imagery, so I don’t see any attempt to distance itself from who it is basing its enemy on.

      It isn’t billing itself as having any connection to current movements. There was one silly marketing thing that riled some even sillier people up, but the game itself was long in development before real world movements really gained ground.

      And not playing as Nazis? Plenty of games let you and there is rarely much issue with it (I assume the new CoD will.) Plus there is supposed to actually be an alternate version of Wolfenstein 3D in the game that has you play as a Nazi, with the original game’s images of Hitler replaced with BJ.

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        Risingson says:

        But you are ignoring the current context. What has happened with the Wolfenstein 2 “make America nazi free again” campaign. What IS happening right now in the free world. Why playing as Nazis is, right now, a bad joke.

        • PatHat says:

          I think Risingson makes the most relevant point here–creators don’t really get to choose whether their game is political or not, do they? If current affairs are relevant, then devs don’t get “backsies” on a game’s story. Plus, the Wolfenstein reboot was always about reinvigorating the franchise by actually thinking about what the real implications of the Nazis winning the war would be in an alternate history timeline. Recall J’s easter-egg dialogue with Blaz in the Wyatt timeline of TNO about how the Nazi racial policy was influenced by American Jim Crow. The devs have always been asking for a dialogue with reality, and the “Make American Nazi-free again” marketing has further welcomed this. All political interpretations are on the table, and this is a pretty high-stakes game.

          • Merry says:

            I’m not sure what conclusion you came to here.

            Games are fictional. Fiction may be bad-taste depending on the current climate, and in the same way games about soldiers shooting other soldiers can be distasteful.

            But as long as the atrocities of the Nazis are never mentioned I think a simple soldier-soldier battle is a legitimate.

            Do you think otherwise?

          • dethtoll says:

            Ahh, yeah, Merry, that’s the good stuff. That is some quality Radical Centrism. But I think you can pomo it up some more.

        • battles_atlas says:

          As the article states, the original had no MP either. This argument is trying to explain something which doesn’t require explanation.

        • Merry says:

          Risingson

          Your argument is old. If the game were about gassing Jews in their thousands then you may have a case, but objecting to shooting soldiers in Allied costume is banal.

          Nazism is a problem, but the bigger problem is the president and it is irrelevant to involve games and the people who play them.

      • welverin says:

        I think it’s important to note that any such decision and implementation would have occurred long before this year’s stupidity and it’s ridiculous to suggest they chose not to include MP so people couldn’t play Nazis for that reason.

    • Bforceny says:

      I think COD has a similar issue – on the one hand, the videos that focus on the SP campaign have this very serious tone, are hinting at mature storytelling –
      showing the horrors of war and the genocide. On the other hand, they have the videos with a MP focus and a “dude, we got to get the squad together – grab your headset and snacks, it’s tbag time!” attitude…it’s weird.

    • Merry says:

      I think you just invented this, and there is no “clear and hush-hush” conspiratorial reason for the decision other than what Machine Games say, that it “would just dilute it all”.

      Likewise, I think you invented the idea that “the IP is already tying itself in so many knots trying to distance itself from any identification with Nazism”. It would be suicide to promote Nazism, but I see no “knots” to avoid doing so.

      If your imaginings have any substance then please explain your sources.

      • PatHat says:

        Merry, I am talking about the moral difficulties of turning, to repeat myself, real-world evil into entertainment. There is no big conspiracy. But bottom line, sometimes Nazis shouldn’t be used in pieces of art or media meant primarily for fun’s sake. It’s a subjective take in some ways–for example, I didn’t like Inglorious Basterds for the same reason.

        I’m still very excited to see, and maybe play, what Machine Games cooks up. For more of a similar feeling, I’ll point you to Paul Dean’s review of TNO in Eurogamer: “The New Order has all sorts of war stories it wants to share with you and it knows how it wants you to feel, but it’s not convincing…. Where it most tries to stand out, in its narrative and setting, it often comes off as juvenile.”

        • Merry says:

          There is no reason to repeat yourself. “the moral difficulties of turning real-world evil into entertainment” have been discussed over and over, and that was not your original point. There were war films a long time before we had video games, and the same idea has provided a story line for any number of media ever since.

          You have no reason to assume your conspiracy, and everything points to the developers’ words being genuine.

          The rest of your comment changes the subject, and I must assume that you are trawling for responses. You will get no more from me.

        • Merry says:

          And how does your “The clear and hush-hush reason why Wolfenstein won’t have multiplayer” square with “There is no big conspiracy”? I think you are trying to be alarmist.

          • PatHat says:

            Merry

            With respect, you’re subjecting my comments to a ridiculous level of scrutiny. E.g: The “conspiracy,” a word I never used or trawled for. E.g. your circular criterion for “substance.”

            Not really anything else to say at this point

  7. TotallyUseless says:

    Good decision. Having a multiplayer on such a solid single player shooter would only introduce toxicity to the series, squeaking kids, and adults going cyka blyat.

  8. Crusoe says:

    Bioshock 2

  9. Michael Fogg says:

    Wolf TNO went into -80% sale territory faster than you can say ‘Schutzstaffeln’, despite the good reception. The dev is shooting itself in the foot by limiting the games’ lasting potential. A good SP campaign and solid MP compotent were traditionally complimentary sides of a good FPS, the captivating fiction of the game’s world making players spend more time with it in MP.

    • battles_atlas says:

      According to wiki it made €21m, in Europe, in the first month. Think we can say it did OK.

    • itsbenderingtime says:

      Yeah, but that was in the era before the MP-only shooter behemoths (like TF2 or Overwatch) or MP-focused shooter behemoths (like COD or Battlefield) were sucking up all the air in the room. Why make a half-baked MP mode just to see it die a silent, empty-server death?

      I applaud them for letting the multi-player games focus on multi-player and focusing their single-player game on single-player.

      • Michael Fogg says:

        thanks for reminding me I’m old ;)

      • welverin says:

        Do you actually believe what you posted?

        Overwatch is the only game that came out after it. Shooters being heavily and even solely MP focused long predate The New Orders release, The New Colossus is being released in an identical environment, if anything we’ve seen more single player only games since then.

        • Sirius1 says:

          What I read him as saying is that the time when “a good sp campaign and solid MP component” were traditional is a good deal earlier than TNO’s release, and that particular era died with the rise of those MP behemoths.

  10. colw00t says:

    Machinegames/Starbreeze has never really made a multiplayer-focused game, anyway, so I’m glad they’re sticking to what they’re good at.

  11. Stingy McDuck says:

    I’m just glad I won’t have to download plenty of gigabytes of multiplayer content I won’t use.

    I hope this game is a big success, maybe old shooters could come back. I would love a modern interpretation of Heretic or Hexen. Maybe a second Duke Nukem 3d sequel could get it right this time.

  12. Shankers says:

    Understandable but I still would have loved a return of the likes of Return to Castle Wolfenstein MP and Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory set in the recent games. A different studio could have dealt with the MP side of things like they did in the previous games. Maybe next time.

  13. heretic says:

    If I’m not wrong MachineGames are former StarBreeze studio – their Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay was a really stellar single player game, real gritty and immersive. I forget whether it had multiplayer though.

    I think they’re going to get a day-1 buy from me :) well, after reading the review from RPS of course.

    Have to vote with your wallet, I want more SP experiences like this so will be supporting them!

  14. AngoraFish says:

    Great news.

  15. dethtoll says:

    Reading the comments was a mistake.

  16. WJonathan says:

    Well, then, why not schedule a MP release as DLC 6 months or so after the initial SP hits the market? Dedicated players would still be interested in multiplayer, as shown by the many years people continued to enjoy Return to Castle Wolfenstein’s MP. Unless the development team simply is burned out at that point and just wants to move on to something new.

  17. Premium User Badge

    Neurotic says:

    And I hope this trend continues!

    • TheSplund says:

      I concur, but sadly we’re now starting to see a shift towards more easily developed, high-profit, games that depend heavily on user-driven content (ie The Division) and a shift away from the traditional immersive screen-written SP with acting. Granted, the SP sandbox genre is clever, but large maps are filled (or taken advantage of, depending on your perspective) with repetitious side-quests which pander to the completionists (Batman for example) though Hitman utilised this idea well.
      Almost off-topic, I’m an R6Siege fan, and I’m disappointed by the emphasis on the PvP mode rather than the pure PvE TH modes, sure you can play 1 v All but the development hasn’t been there like in PvP.

  18. TheSplund says:

    Hur-bloody-rah!

  19. Jaykera says:

    I applaud this decision. Not having multiplayer is actually a pro to me.

  20. Herzog says:

    Can anyone remember the mp part of Wolfenstein 2009? No? Well that is for a good reason. I am fine with no added mp part.

    A standalone successor to rtcw mp or Enemy Teritory? Sure sign me up. But please don’t sign Saber Interactive again Bethesda ok?

  21. bill says:

    While I always thought it was dumb that every FPS seemed to be required to tack-on multiplayer even if no-one was ever going to play it…

    There was an interesting discussion on Crate & Crowbar this week about whether having a tacked on multiplayer might allow game devs to avoid being required to stuff crap like microtransactions and loo boxes into their singleplayer.

    The general idea was that, bearing in mind the recent star wars cancellation, the current trend seems to be for publishers to want games that they can monetize and try to keep players playing for a long time.
    If your game is SP only, then they have to stick it into that and change the game to accommodate it.
    But if it has multiplayer, maybe the devs can keep all that stuff in the MP and avoid polluting the SP.

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