reignites the series that created the first-person shooter genre. Under development at Machine Games, a studio comprised of a seasoned group of developers recognized for... read more
reignites the series that created the first-person shooter genre. Under development at Machine Games, a studio comprised of a seasoned group of developers recognized for their work creating story-driven games, Wolfenstein offers a deep game narrative packed with action, adventure and first-person combat.
is an action-adventure first-person shooter video game developed by MachineGames and published by Bethesda Softworks. It was released on May 20, 2014 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4,Xbox 360, and Xbox One. The game is the seventh main entry in the Wolfenstein series and the sequel to 2009'sWolfenstein. Set in alternative history 1960s Europe in a world where the Nazis won the Second World War, the single-player story follows war veteran William "B.J." Blazkowicz and his efforts to stop the Nazis from ruling over the world.
The game is played from a first-person perspective and most of its levels are navigated on foot. The story is arranged in chapters, which players complete in order to progress through the story. A morality choice in the prologue alters the game's entire storyline; some characters and small plot points are replaced across timelines. The game features a variety of weapons, most of which can be dual wielded. A cover system is also present.
Development began in 2010, soon after id Software gave MachineGames the rights for the franchise. The development team envisioned Wolfenstein: The New Order as a first-person action-adventure game, taking inspiration from previous games in the series and particularly focusing on the combat and adventure elements. The game attempts to delve into character development of Blazkowicz, unlike its predecessors—a choice from the developers to interest players in the story. They also aimed to portray him in a heroic fashion.
At release, Wolfenstein: The New Order received generally positive reviews, with praise particularly directed at the combat and the narrative of the game. Considered a positive change to the series by critics, it was nominated for multiple year-end accolades, including Game of the Year and Best Shooter awards from several gaming publications. A stand-aloneexpansion set before the events of the game, titled Wolfenstein: The Old Blood, was released in May 2015.
Wolfenstein: The New Order is an action-adventure shooter game played from a first-person perspective. To progress through the story, players battle enemies throughout levels. The game utilizes a health system in which players' health is divided into separate sections that regenerate; if an entire section is lost, players must use a health pack to replenish the missing health.
Players may take cover behind objects during firefights, using it as a tactical advantage and to avoid taking damage from enemies.
Players use melee attacks, firearms and explosives to fight enemies, and may run, jump and occasionally swim to navigate through the locations. Melee attacks can be used to silently take down enemies without being detected. Alternatively, players can ambush enemies, which often results in an intense firefight between the two parties.
In combat, a cover system can be used as assistance against enemies. Players have the ability to lean around, over, and under cover, which can be used as a tactical advantage during shootouts and stealth levels. The game gives players a wide variety of weapon options—they can be found on the ground, retrieved from dead enemies, or removed from their stationary position and carried around. Weapon ammunition must be manually retrieved from the ground or from dead enemies. Players have access to a weapon inventory, which allows them to carry as many weapons as they find. With some of these weapons, players have the ability to dual wield, giving them an advantage over enemies by dealing twice as much damage. Players can also customize weapons through the use of upgrades; for example, a rocket launcher can be attached to the side of an assault rifle, and a laser cannon can be transformed into a wire cutting tool.
Three years after the destruction of the Black Sun portal, the Nazis have developed advanced technologies, enabling them to turn the tide against the Allies. At dawn on July 16, 1946, U.S. special forces operative Captain William "B.J." Blazkowicz (Brian Bloom), accompanied by pilot Fergus Reid (Gideon Emery) and Private Probst Wyatt III (A.J. Trauth), take part in a massive Allied air raid against a fortress and weapons laboratory run by his nemesis, General Wilhelm "Deathshead" Strasse (Dwight Schultz). The three are captured and brought to a human experimentation laboratory where Deathshead forces Blazkowicz to choose who he will gruesomely kill, Fergus or Wyatt, before leaving Blazkowicz and the survivor to die in the laboratory's emergency incinerator. They escape the laboratory, but Blazkowicz suffers a critical head injury during the escape, rendering him unconscious and putting him in a coma. He is brought to a psychiatric asylum in Poland, where he remains in avegetative state for 14 years from which he is unable to awake. He is cared for by the asylum's head nurse Anya Oliwa (Alicja Bachleda) and her parents, who run the facility under the Nazi regime. Blazkowicz watches as Anya's parents are regularly forced to hand patients over to Nazi authorities, who deem them Untermenschen for their mental disabilities.
In 1960, fourteen years after Blazkowicz' admission, the Nazis order that the asylum is to be shut down, killing all the patients and executing Anya's family when they resist. Blazkowicz awakens from his vegetative state as he is about to be executed, killing the extermination squad and escaping the asylum with Anya. Blazkowicz and Anya drive to her grandparents' farm, where they inform him that the Nazis won the war by forcing the United States to surrender in 1948, and that the members of the ensuing Resistance were captured. Blazkowicz interrogates a captured officer from the asylum (he was hidden in the trunk of a car), learning that the top members of the Resistance are imprisoned in Berlin before brutally executing him with a chainsaw. Anya's grandparents smuggle her and Blazkowicz through a checkpoint in Stettin before they travel to Berlin. During the train ride, Blazkowicz and Anya enter into a romantic relationship. When they arrive, Anya helps Blazkowicz break into the prison, where he rescues the person he spared fourteen years prior (Fergus or Wyatt) and finds that the Resistance movement is a revived Kreisau Circle led by Caroline Becker (Bonita Friedericy), who was left paralyzed due to her injuries at Isenstadt.
The Resistance execute an attack on a Nazi research facility in London, bombing their base of operations, stealing secret documents and prototype stealth helicopters. The documents reveal the Nazis are relying on reverse-engineered technology derived from an ancient organization known as Da'at Yichud, which created such inventions as energy weapons, computer AI's, and super concrete; however, it is also revealed that someone is tampering with the super concrete's formula, making it susceptible to mold deterioration. The Resistance discover a match with Da'at Yichud member Set Roth (Mark Ivanir), who is imprisoned in a forced labor camp. Blazkowicz agrees to go undercover inside the camp and meets Set, who tells him that the Nazis have been using technology made by him and other Jewish scientists to mass-produce and control robots, and offers to help the Resistance in return for the destruction of the labor camp. Blazkowicz finds a battery for a device that controls the camp robots, and him and Set take control of a robot, which they then use to destroy the camp and rescue prisoners.
Set reveals to the Resistance that the Nazis' discovery of one of the Da'at Yichud caches, which included advanced technology centuries ahead of its time. Set agrees to assist the Resistance by revealing the location of one such cache, but states that the Resistance requires a U-boat to access it. Blazkowicz obtains a U-boat, but discovers that it is the flagship of the Nazis' submarine fleet, and is equipped with a cannon designed to fire nuclear warheads, which requires codes from the Nazi lunar research facility to operate. Blazkowicz uses the technology found in the Da'at Yichud cache, namely the Spindly Torque—a sphere that destroys the super-concrete—to steal the identity of a Nazi Lunar scientist and infiltrate the Lunar Base. He succeeds at obtaining the codes, but upon returning to earth, he discovers that Deathshead has mounted an assault on the Resistance base, capturing some of the members.
The Resistance use the nuclear codes and the Spindly Torque to mount an assault on Deathshead's compound. Rescuing the captured resistance prisoners and evacuating them, Blazkowicz makes it to the top of the tower, struggling to Deathshead's workshop. Inside, Deathshead greets Blazkowicz, revealing to him that he possesses the brain of the soldier that Blazkowicz chose to die, and puts it in a robot. The robot comes alive and assaults Blazkowicz, who defeats it and puts his friend to rest by destroying the brain. Commandeering a larger robot mecha, Deathshead then attacks Blazkowicz, who gets the upper hand and destroys the robot, dragging Deathshead out of it. He repeatedly stabs Deathshead, who pulls out a grenade, which explodes and mauls Blazkowicz. As a gravely wounded Blazkowicz crawls towards a window, he mentally recites The New Colossus as he watches the Resistance survivors boarding a helicopter, alongside Anya and Set. Seeing that they have reached safety, and bleeding heavily from his injuries, Blazkowicz orders the Resistance to fire the nuclear cannon. After the credits, a helicopter is heard approaching.
After developer MachineGames was founded, the employees all began brainstorming ideas, and pitching them to publishers. In June 2009, MachineGames ownerZeniMax Media acquired id Software and all of its property, including Doom, Quake and Wolfenstein. Bethesda Softworks, who had previously declined a pitch from MachineGames, suggested that they develop a new game from a franchise acquired by ZeniMax. MachineGames inquired about developing a new game in theWolfenstein series; the studio visited id Software, who approved of MachineGames' request for a new Wolfenstein game. By November 2010, paperwork was signed, allowing MachineGames to develop Wolfenstein: The New Order. Preliminary development lasted approximately three years.
The existence of Wolfenstein: The New Order was first acknowledged by Bethesda Softworks on 7 May 2013, through the release of an announcement trailer. Prior to this, Bethesda teased the upcoming project by releasing three images with the caption "1960". Though originally due for release in late 2013, the game was delayed to 2014 in order for the developers to further "polish" the game. In February 2014, it was announced that The New Order would launch on May 20, 2014 in North America, on May 22, 2014 in Australia, and on May 23, 2014 in Europe. The Australian and European release dates were later pushed forward, resulting in a worldwide launch on May 20, 2014. All pre-orders of the game grant the purchaser an access code to the upcoming Doom beta, in development by id Software. For the German release of The New Order, all Nazi symbols and references were removed; it is a criminal offence to display Nazi imagery on toys in Germany. Following the game's release, MachineGames began developing Wolfenstein: The Old Blood, a standalone expansion pack set before the events of The New Order. It was released in 2015.
The initial inspiration for Wolfenstein: The New Order came from previous games in the franchise. Senior gameplay designer Andreas Öjerfors said that it was the "super intense immersive combat" that defined the previous games, so MachineGames ensured that this elements was included in The New Order. The development team refer to the game as a "first-person action adventure", naming this one of the unique defining points of the game. "It is the David vs Goliath theme," Öjerfors explained. "B.J. against a global empire of Nazis." Öjerfors also acknowledged that many aspects of the game's narrative are simply exaggerated elements of the Nazi Party: "The larger than life leaders, strange technology, strange experiments." The team viewed the game as a "dark-roasted blend of drama, mystery, humor." Creative director Jens Matthies explained that they "take perhaps the most iconic first-person shooter franchise in history and push it into a strange new world."
Development was conducted on the id Tech 5 engine, which allowed the developers to scale the game equally between different platforms.
Wolfenstein: The New Order is the second game to use id Software's id Tech 5 engine, after Rage (2011). The game utilizes the engine to add a large amount of detail to the game world. The team often found it difficult to develop the game with 1080p resolution at 60 frames per second, particularly on complex environments, but "we always made it work somehow", said Matthies. He has also said that the main advantages of the engine is the speed and the detailing, while its biggest disadvantage is dynamic lighting; "on the other hand the static light rendering is really awesome, so you have full radiosity and can do really spectacular-looking things using that," he added. Senior concept artist Axel Torvenius said that one of the main inspirations for the art design of the game was movies from the 1960s, calling out the James Bond movies. The design for the Nazis in the game was influenced by the aesthetics of the Nazis at the end of the Second World War; "it's blended with the style of the 1960s and the fashion ideals of how to express yourself visually," Öjerfors explained. This viewpoint is also influenced by the element of exaggeration, which is common throughout the game's design and has been acknowledged by the team as a development inspiration. Character models can be covered in up to a 256k texture; however, this is not used often in the game on individual characters, due to the difficulty of seeing it from a distance.
Wolfenstein: The New Order only features a single-player mode. The team felt that dividing focus and resources across both a single-player and an online multiplayer mode would be less efficient. When questioned about the lack of an online multiplayer mode, Öjerfors explained that the decision was simple. "If we could take every bit of energy and sweat the studio has and pour all that into the single-player campaign, it gives us the resources to make something very, very cool, compared to if we would also have to divert some of our resources to making multiplayer." Executive producer Jerk Gustafsson attributed the choice to the style of game the team is familiar with, stating that MachineGames is "a single-player studio".
The team attempted to develop characters that offer a unique experience to the game. "The overarching goal for us was about building an ensemble of genuinely interesting characters we wanted to interact with," said Matthies. They also strived to connect the thoughts and actions of all characters to the human experience, allowing players to know "why a person is doing what they are doing". Matthies feels that all characters, particularly the allies, contain some dimension of his own personality. "They're an expression of something that is part of me that I think is interesting to explore," he said.
The game's playable character, William "B.J." Blazkowicz, has been previously featured as the playable protagonist of all Wolfenstein games. When developing the character of Blazkowicz for The New Order, MachineGames considered his appearances in previous games in the series. When doing this, they realised that the character had never really developed at all throughout the games; "He's just the guy that you play," said Pete Hines, Vice President of PR and Marketing for Bethesda. The team discovered that they were interested in exploring his story, which is what they later invested in. One particular scenario that the team envisioned is putting Blazkowicz in situations where he is uncomfortable. Matthies said, "that's really interesting to me. I love taking things and making them real." Throughout the game, Blazkowicz communicates some of his inner thoughts through short monologues, many of which reveal that he has been traumatized by some of his experiences. "We always loved the idea of a prototypical action hero exterior juxtaposed with a rich and vulnerable interior psychology," said Matthies. One of the largest priorities for the team when developing the character of Blazkowicz was to "reveal whatever needs to be revealed to [Blazkowicz] and the player" simultaneously; Matthies felt that, despite the simplicity of this concept, it is rarely used in games. Prior to developing The New Order, the team had primarily worked on games that involved antihero protagonists. However, id Software wished Blazkowicz to be portrayed differently in the game. Matthies said, "It's really important to [id] that BJ is a hero, and not an anti-hero." The team attempted to develop Blazkowicz into a character that players could relate to, as they felt that players are generally unable to relate to video game protagonists. "The goal is not to have a protagonist that's so neutral that you can project yourself into them; the goal is to have a protagonist that is so relatable that you become them," said Matthies. They also tried to make players become "emotionally in sync" with Blazkowicz, using the morality choice in the game's prologue to do so.
Wilhelm "Deathshead" Strasse, the game's main antagonist, has been previously featured as an antagonist of Return to Castle Wolfenstein (2001) and main antagonist of Wolfenstein (2009). For The New Order, the team achieved closure on his story; to do so in an effective way, they wanted to find an interesting angle to portray him: his personality is full of enthusiasm, and he appreciates life after his near-death experience in the previous game. When developing the Nazis, Matthies states that the team "didn't want to cartoon-ify them", instead opting to treat them seriously. Gideon Emery, who portrayed Fergus Reid, auditioned for his role in the game. He described Fergus as "a tough as nails soldier, who gives [Blazkowicz] both support and a pretty hard time in the process". Matthies felt that Fergus is a type of father figure to Blazkowicz, and that he "only gives negative reinforcement". Conversely, he saw Wyatt as a "sort of son surrogate", as Blazkowicz is tasked as being his protector and mentor, and that he gives "positive reinforcement". Max Hass, a seemingly brain-damaged member of the Resistance, was inspired by the character of Garp from John Irving's novel The World According to Garp. Alex Solowitz portrayed Max in the game. "Max was the most challenging character to cast, which seems counter-intuitive because he's a pretty simple guy on paper, but it took a tremendous actor to pull that off and a long time to find him," Matthies said.
A large aspect of the game is the alternative history in which it is set, where the Nazis won the Second World War. The team saw this aspect as an opportunity to create everything at a very large scale, with very little limitations; "so many things that we can create, and work with, and expand on. So, I never really felt that we were limited," said Öjerfors.
Wolfenstein: The New Order makes use of an original score that reflects the alternative universe depicted in the game. "We wanted to identify with different sounds that were kind of iconic, 1960s sounds, and then do our own twist on them to make a sound authentic enough that it felt realistic," said Hines. In total, eight original songs were included in the game, and an additional three famous songs were reworked from their original version into German, for use in marketing; the reworked songs cannot appear anywhere in the game, because the owners wish never to associate their work with any Nazi imagery. To promote the original songs, Bethesda created the fictional Neumond Recording Company, along with backstories for some of the fictional bands that play the original songs.
The team placed a high importance on the game's music. During the game's development, composer Mick Gordon traveled to Sweden to meet with the team, and spotted the game over three days, partly collaborating with bothFredrik Thordendal and Richard Devine. Gordon expressed the difference in composing the soundtrack forWolfenstein: The New Order compared to other games; "usually you sign onto a project and then you're given a list of 150 battle cues to do," he said.
When searching for a genre in which the soundtrack would be based upon, the team initially sought inspiration from the music of Richard Wagner, who was posthumously admired by Nazi Party leader Adolf Hitler. After studying Wagner's work, the team discovered that it didn't necessarily fit with the game's tone. The team then searched for a style of music that would suit the Nazis, ultimately selecting distortion. "There's lots of analogue distortion types, there's all sorts of different pedals and valves and things that are really breaking up," said Gordon. The team also took inspiration from 1960s music, using analogue equipment such as tape machines and reel-to-reel machines. Gordon has said that the soundtrack is "a tribute to all things guitar". In collaboration with each other, the team of musicians composed over six hours of music which scores the game. Matthies said "A lot of the score features odd time signatures yet it's all very groovy."
Wolfenstein: The New Order was released to mostly positive reviews. Metacritic calculated an average score of 81 out of 100 based on 23 reviews for the Windows version, and 79 out of 100 based on 18 reviews for the Xbox One version and 73 reviews for the PlayStation 4 version. GameRankings assigned it an average review score of 84% based on 12 reviews for the Windows version, 82% based on 17 reviews for the Xbox One version, and 81% based on 48 reviews for the PlayStation 4 version. Reviewers liked the game's concept, narrative and combat mechanics.
The combat mechanics of the game received praise. Daniel Hindes of GameSpot felt that the intensity and variety of the combat in the game has granted the series "a breath of fresh air", and believes that it managed to fulfill his nostalgic expectations from the series. Metro 's David Jenkins said that the combat in the game is the "real deal", naming it one of the best recent single-player shooter games, while Ryan Taljonick of GamesRadar called it "satisfying". Simon Miller of VideoGamer.com lauded the game's shooting and stealth mechanics, naming the former as "solid". Similarly, GameSpot's Hindes noted that the stealth was "simple but effective", and named it one of the best things about the game. Steve Boxer of The Guardian also called out the stealth, calling it "decent".
Colin Moriarty of IGN considered the narrative and characters one of the best features, stating that it's where the game "really shines". Metro 's Jenkins also praised the story, stating that the mix of tones is "bizarre but obviously intentional". Matt Sakuraoka-Gilman of Computer and Video Games called the narrative "intelligently written, brilliantly voiced and highly polished". Kotaku's Mike Fahey felt somewhat divided about the story, initially finding the attempts at emotion too obvious, but ultimately feeling satisfied, calling it "spectacular". He also praised the characterization of Blazkowicz in the game. GamesRadar's Taljonick also felt mixed about the game's characters, finding Blazkowicz interesting, but feeling as though the supporting characters were quite undeveloped, leaving players to forget about them during gameplay. Conversely, Matt Bertz of Game Informer noted that the attempts to give Blazkowicz more depth feel odd in reflection to his brutal actions during other parts of the game. VideoGamer.com's Miller also felt negatively about the narrative, calling it "awful". Joystiq's Ludwig Kietzmann commented on the drastic changes in the narrative's pacing, feeling that it "dragged down" whenever the player is forced to search for ammunition; Steven O'Donnell of Good Game believed otherwise, feeling like he was "gearing up and patching up" after each fight.
In the midst of World War II, the Nazis drop an atomic bomb on Manhattan, settling their victory. Reviewers praised the use of this alternative history within the game.
The game's use of an alternative history concept, with the Axis victory in World War II, was commended by many reviewers. IGN's Moriarty and GameSpot's Hindes called it "interesting", with the former naming it one of the standout points of the game. Jason Hill of The Sydney Morning Herald called the concept "absorbing", while Owen Anslow of The Mirror called it "intriguing". Destructoid's Chris Carter felt that the development team "went all the way" and spent a lot of time on the game's concept.
The graphical design of the game received commentary from reviewers. GameSpot's Hindes praised the visual design, noting that it accurately captured the time period, while effectively depicting the alternative storyline in which the game is set. Taljonick of GamesRadar stated that the game's level design contributes to his enjoyment of the shooting sequences. He also praised the size of the levels, enjoying the possibility of participating in a large gunfight "with some sort of plan". Kotaku's Fahey praised the level design for similar reasons, admiring the degree of detail in the game. Digital Spy's Liam Martin shared mixed commentary on the design, noting that the character models are animated well, but the game is "hardly a shining example of next-gen graphical potential". ABC's Alex Walker criticized the game's graphical design, commenting that the developers "focus[ed] their attention" on other aspects of the game.
Most critics and commentators shared the opinion that The New Order was better than they were expecting from a Wolfenstein game. Jon Blyth of Official Xbox Magazine called the game an "unexpected gem", while ABC's Walker said that he "never expected [to] enjoy [the game] so much". The Sydney Morning Herald 's Hill said that the game ensures that the series is "a relevant force again", while Destructoid's Carter felt that the game "does wonders for essentially rebooting the franchise without rendering all the previous stories moot". Edge agreed, calling the developers "brave".
Within a week of its release, Wolfenstein: The New Order became the second-best selling game of 2014 in the United Kingdom, behind Titanfall. The game also topped the weekly UK charts in its first week, totaling a quarter of all games sold in the region and accounting for 36% of revenue. According to MCV, it was the 22nd best-selling game of 2014 in the UK. In the United States, the game was the fourth and seventh best-selling game of May and June 2014, respectively. The game was also ranked the fifth and fourteenth best-selling digital PlayStation 4 game of May and June 2014, respectively. In its first week in Japan, the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 versions of the game were placed on the charts at 15th and 8th, respectively, collectively selling over 11,000 units. By June 2014, the game had sold almost 400,000 physical units in Europe, equating to over €21 million.
Wolfenstein: The New Order received multiple nominations and awards from gaming publications. The game won Game of the Year from Classic Game Room, received nominations from the Golden Joystick Awards, Good Game Game Informer, and IGN Australia, and received runner-up from Polygon. It was also placed on various lists of the best games of 2014: USA Today placed it at 9th, Eurogamer at 10th, and Ars Technica at 6th. The game also received nominations for Best Shooter from The Escapist, The Game Awards, Game Informer, GameTrailers, Hardcore Gamer and IGN. It received nominations signifying excellence in storytelling from The Game Awards, the Golden Joystick Awards, IGN Australia and the SXSW Gaming Awards. It achieved runner-up for Biggest Surprise awards from both Giant Bomb and the readers of Kotaku. It was also nominated for Best PC Game by IGN Australia, receiving runner-up by Kotaku readers. The game was also nominated for Best Multiplatform from Hardcore Gamer, Best Console Game from IGN Australia, and Best PlayStation 3 Game, Best Xbox 360 Game, and Best Xbox One Game from IGN.
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