Wolfenstein’s New Order is to Combine Old School with New

A Mix of Tactics

Heading deeper into the facility, it’s only a second or two later that a real battle begins in a large, multi-story hallway with side rooms, a staircase, a mounted laser turret and a bipedal mech supporting several classes of Nazi troops. Here’s where the melding of different design conceits starts to really work in The New Order’s favor. I duck into a side room, find a second assault rifle (and I’m not palming two machine guns for high-powered destruction) before sprinting and sliding to a staircase to reach the upper floor.

From here, there’s dodging, strafing, cover-leaning (executed by holding LB on the Xbox 360 controller I’m using) and a whole lot of blasting. Where I set up is important because both that turret on the second floor and the mech on the first are trying to draw a bead on me. Even still, BJ can definitely handle it, and the cover mechanics are intuitive: holding LB, you can pop over cover, around the side of it, or even under it as the situation allows. You can also wield two guns or switch to one for more accuracy, and there’s no limit to the weapons you can haul around.

“That’s a way for us to let the player, during the action sequences, to dictate his own pacing, in a way. So if you want to, you can stealth through parts of it, but it’s not a stealth game, it just has stealth elements if you’re up for it.”

Before the end of the sequence, I’ve done just about all of it — sneaking around and flanking enemies from a path they haven’t covered, dropping them with two double machine guns as I run straight at their faces, taking cover and sniping them at a distance, grabbing their turret and cutting them apart with it. All the while, chunks of walls and cover are flying all over the place, as just about anything you can hide behind, it seems, can be taken away from you. I end the fight by ripping the turret free of its stand, Halo-style, and using it to mince up the mech, which falls much more quickly when faced with energy weapons.

The Nautica features a couple more big fights akin to this one, with some corridors and light combat in between. The first large room features a model of the moon and a number of museum plaques and exhibits outlining how the Nazis first landed there (which comes with a growly “F–k you, Moon” from BJ). That room is mostly vertical, with Nazis standing above on glass walkways you can shoot out. The moon model all but disintegrates under fire from soldiers, BJ and flying, irritating robots that are a pain to bring down. This is the first room where the demo’s difficulty, which the developers have noted is abnormally high, really starts to amp the challenge.

Climbing through the room puts BJ in an elevator shaft, where he has to shoot the brakes off one car (and inject a little sarcasm into the sitaution) in order to bring himself up to the next level. A few minutes later, he’s actually climbing up the wall with a cable in one hand and a gun in the other, blasting soldiers above him. After that, it’s on to the hangar, the demo’s ultimate showdown.

Setting a Pace with Multiple Pathways

The hangar is an area that Öjerfors and Björk mention a few times as really showing The New Order at its best. The huge room includes all manner of insanity: soldiers on patrol on a level of catwalks above, with mechs stomping around below. On the catwalk level are the helicopters in question, and each is outfitted with two mounted laser cannons.

“The hangar at the end of the demo — I really love that space because there are so many ways to actually finish it, and so many tactics and pathways to take that place on,” Öjerfors said. “You can stealth through a lot of it or just go in guns blazing. There are many smaller rooms you can go in on the sides, there are the two levels, you can use the helicopters’ machine guns.

“That’s a way for us to let the player, during the action sequences, to dictate his own pacing, in a way. So if you want to, you can stealth through parts of it, but it’s not a stealth game, it just has stealth elements if you’re up for it.”

Stealth works for a bit, and I sneak up behind and knife a soldier on the catwalk before climbing up on the helipad and knifing another. Then I get spotted, and reinforcements start flooding in from all sides. Hiding behind cover, I use BJ’s lasercutter — a prototype weapon I previously discovered, which can slice through certain metals or fire powerful energy blasts — to cut open a crate and grab a medkit.

Öjerfors said the lasercutter weapon is one of the ways you’ll see additional diversity in tactics come to bear as you play through the game. While most of the weapons in the demo have alternate fire modes, many of them will only be accessible as you upgrade the weapons over time, potentially through finding collectibles like gold in various levels. But it seems the laser cutter will see more progression than most.

“We were talking about alternate firing modes upgrades: (the laser cutter) is probably my favorite weapon, because that’s one you’re going to to find upgrades to throughout the game, not only to make it more powerful but also more versatile, so you can adapt it in different ways for different situations when you’re playing the game,” Öjerfors said.

During Öjerfors’ demonstration of the level, he actually used the cutter to dynamically slice a rectangular chunk out of a piece of cover behind which he was hiding, creating a hole through which he could aim his gun without exposing himself to fire.

“Early on, (the cutter) is mostly for rather simple progression mechanics: finding new routes through a level, or getting past bunkers, or unlocking secrets. But you get the (lasercutter) and the more powerful it gets, you’re going to be able to also use it tactically and in combat. You saw in the demo, I cut a hole through cover and I sniped through it. I was still stealthing but I was able to cut through it and kill a guy. Imagine a guy hiding behind a cover like that, and you can then, from a distance, take that cover away from him, and leave him exposed and just kill him outright. You can use it tactically, you know? We want to give the player many tools to play with in firefights. You can still just rush him, or you can flank him, as usual — or you can just take his cover away and headshot him.”

After clearing the room, the demo ended with a battle against a bigger robot that fired some kind of rail gun that seemed to ignore walls and send BJ flying. The battle was one of attrition, requiring me to sprint back and forth between charging stations for the powerful lasercutter’s energy blast fire mode, while dodging the rail gun fire. It was the demo’s weakest moment, though: for a boss fight, the mechanics were simple and repetitive, and the robot’s size kept it from getting near me and posing a real threat. It was the only moment when it seemed that adherence to an old-school style of design might not have served The New Order — but we’ll see how moments like that feel when the game is complete.

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2 Comments on Wolfenstein’s New Order is to Combine Old School with New


On May 28, 2013 at 12:13 pm

The real question to ask here is, WILL THERE BE MECHA HITLER??????


On May 29, 2013 at 3:03 pm

Bazooko’s Circus is what the whole hep world would be doing every Saturday night if the Nazis had won the war. This was the Sixth Reich.