Posted on August 31, 2013, Mitchell Saltzman Wolfenstein: The New Order Hands-On – Classic FPS Evolved
New takes on the classic shooter formula have been hit and miss with me. As much as I fondly remember games like Doom, Quake and Duke Nukem 3D, these days I now feel dizzied by the speed of games like Rise of the Triad and Nexuiz, two games that harken back to the good old days of first person shooters.
Judging from my lengthy hands-on time with the opening prologue mission of Wolfenstein: The New Order, I’m happy to say that it feels like Machine Games is on the right path to take the classic shooter formula, and subtly change it to fit the modern mold.
We’ve already covered The New Order extensively in the past in these two hands-on previews, so rather than set the stage with what’s going on in the story, this article will focus more on my reactions to the gameplay of the demo.
First, let’s talk about the game’s health system. Unlike 2009’s Wolfenstein, The New Order returns the series back to its roots with health and armor pickups. You can loot each enemy you kill for small amounts of health, and you can even overcharge your health past 100, but it will slowly decrease on its own back to 100 if you just sit around doing nothing.
Since you don’t want to just wait and let that extra health go to waste, the game moves at a very brisk pace, despite the movement speed being much slower than something like Rise of the Triad. The game is also very challenging, so you definitely have incentive to keep your health overcharged and keep moving from enemy to enemy when caught in a firefight.
But when you’re not caught in an intense gunfight against Nazis, The New Order does a good job of providing players with an environment that they want to explore. Secret areas have always been a big part of classic first-person shooters, and they’re back in full force here, making each area a joy to check out.
One particular room of the castle in the demo I played was filled with statues and paintings. After spending some time checking the place out, I noticed the sword held by one of the statues was crooked. After walking up to the statue and interacting with it, my character straightened the sword and revealed a hidden passageway that not only led to a room with a bunch of goodies, but also provided me with a tactical advantage in the next big gun fight.
In terms of how those actual gun fights play out, the game employs a free-lean mechanic that allows players to hold down a button to lock the character in place, and then lean in any direction with the left stick. It’s a great mechanic that allows players to utilize cover more effectively and I hope to see it used more frequently in the future.
As far as weapons go, the demo only offered a look at a few standard guns that you’d find in any first-person shooter. A pistol, assault rifle, shotgun, etc. The one unique weapon came in the form of a laser pistol, whose secondary fire could be used as a cutting device to cut open holes in vents and other metallic objects.
Most of the weapons you find can also be dual-wielded at the cost of sacrificing the ability to aim down scope. Most of the time, I avoided dual-wielding since ammo is surprisingly scarce, but when facing off against the game’s giant mech enemies, sometimes dual wielding became a necessity.
Overall, I walked out of the demo for Wolfenstein: The New Order mostly pleased with what I played. There was a moment in the demo where I had to restart a checkpoint due to an event not triggering, but there’s still plenty of time left for all of the bugs to be straightened out.
Wolfenstein: The New Order hits the PC, Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360, and PS3 in 2014.
Don’t miss the rest of our PAX Prime 2013 coverage all weekend and next week!