PAX East 2014: Hands-On with Wolfenstein: The New Order
I played a bunch of amazing games this past weekend at PAX East, one of which happens to involve everyone’s favorite past time – killing Nazis. I’ll be honest, I’ve never played any of the old Wolfenstein games but I am familiar with the premise and will play anything Bethesda has their name on. I’ve been looking forward to Wolfenstein: The New Order for a while and wasn’t disappointed with the demo.
Die Gute (The Good)
For starters, the game looks and sounds great. The demo begins with protagonist B.J. Blazkowicz right in the middle of the action. B.J. must find his way into a Nazi bunker while dodging bullets, explosions and a huge, badass-looking, Nazi-controlled mech. The game runs at 1080p and 60fps and I let out an audible “wow” as I navigated my way through the battlefield. The sound design is also impressive. Explosions are slightly deafening (in a good way) and firing off a weapon packs a satisfying punch.
Once I made my way into the bunker, I was faced with a swarm of steampunk-clad Nazi foes. I ended up dying almost immediately because I’ve been so spoiled by games with regenerating health. While the Nazis might be technologically ahead of their time, you still need to collect health and ammo the old fashion way by looting corpses. New weapons can also be recovered from slain enemies, most of which you can dual-wield in true, action-hero fashion.
In terms of gameplay, Wolfenstein: The New Order is a fairly straight forward shooter and that's not at all a bad thing. It may not exactly reinvent the FPS wheel, but it takes what already works in the genre and wraps it up in a good-looking, campy, Nazi-filled package.
Die Schlechte (The Bad)
As fun as it was, I did run into a few small issues. I spent the first few minutes of the demo aimlessly running around and inevitably getting blown up because I had no idea what I was supposed to do. The game’s HUD is very minimal and if you miss the on-screen prompt because you were say, busy fighting off robotic dogs, it takes some digging to find again. Directions shouted over my radio were often drowned out by the sound of gunfire – realistic, I guess, but not practical for an objective-driven game.
At another point I came to a locked door and for the life of me couldn’t figure out how to get through. After several hopeless minutes, one of the booth’s employees tapped me on the shoulder and helped me to press the right combination of buttons. Turns out I had to shoot a Nazi from under the door to make my way through. “No one has figured this out on their own yet,” She told me. Not a great sign.
All in all, I enjoyed my time with Wolfenstein: The New Order. I actually got to play the demo twice – one at the show and once at Bethesda’s Wolfenstein themed after party – and thoroughly enjoyed myself both times. I’ll definitely be picking this game up when it’s released on May 20th for PC, Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360, and PS3.