Evil Cracks Its Knuckles in Wolfenstein: The New Order
First Person Shooters can be boring — if they just repeat what others have done before. But Wolfenstein: The New Order has got that beat — it’ll get your trigger finger itching. So we got Bethesda (the publisher) to let us find out more about the game from Tommy Tordsson Björk, the narrative designer at MachineGames.
Man Cave Daily: What’s the game’s premise?
Tommy Tordsson Björk: In Wolfenstein: The New Order, players assume the role of B.J. Blazkowicz, an American soldier who wakes up in 1960 after a 14-year long coma to find that the war has been lost and the world is ruled by the Nazis. It’s a violent tale of revenge where players are pitted against the ruthless Nazi forces. It’s a game that doesn’t hold back any punches and that’s why it’s rated M for Mature.
MCD: What’s the world like?
TTB: The world of Wolfenstein: The New Order is an alternate history spin on the 1960s. It’s a world controlled with an iron fist by the Nazis, thematically the total opposite of the ’60s that we know, which was a time when the civil rights movement took off and people were out on the streets protesting the war in Vietnam. The ’60s under Nazi domination is a world of total oppression where people can’t do what they want, be who they want, or even think what they want.
In this world, players will visit a number of different locations across Europe and the world and see how they’ve changed compared to our reality, like London, where the Nazis have completely demolished the city center and erected their own skyscraper which dwarves Big Ben standing next to it. In addition to this, players will get to meet and aid an eclectic cast of resistance fighters in their efforts to take down the infamous General Deathshead.
MCD: What about weapons?
TTB: Unlike many modern shooters, we let the players bring along all the weapons they find on the way. And as an added bonus to this you can dual-wield almost every weapon you find: shotguns, assault rifles, even sniper rifles. There’s also a unique laser rifle called the Laserkraftwerk which allows you to cut holes in metal sheet covers to snipe enemies through or open up new ways to navigate the environment.
MCD: How do you up the gameplay for those gamers who are used to First-Person Shooters?
TTB: Wolfenstein: The New Order is much more than a traditional shooter. We like to call it a first-person action-adventure shooter because it’s a total story-driven game experience that has a range of environments, characters and gameplay styles that you don’t normally see in standard first person shooters. It’s not just a game about pointing your gun at things and pulling the trigger. There is drama here, there is humor, there is adventure that is carefully layered throughout this whole experience. We wanted to shape the experience with a rhythm and flow that makes sure you can never anticipate where the ride will take you next. The levels have a non-linear structure which allows players to discover different routes through the environment. In addition to this, players can choose to approach combat scenarios in two different ways: go in guns blazing or take a more tactical stealthy approach. And there’s an entire perk system with special abilities to unlock based on your style of play.
MCD: Give me an example of something outrageous in the game.
TTB: There’s a level where an enormous bridge is blown up in a spectacular way and players have to navigate through the debris and the jumbled up cars of a derailed train. It’s just a really interesting setting for the action-heavy segments of the game. We also have quite a few understated but incredibly tense scenes where players encounter the villains of the game which have prompted many press to compare the game with Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds, which I think might be one of the best comparisons you could wish for.
MCD: Knowing that you are going to have the game on the PS4/Xbox One, did this influence what you wanted to make happen since these are more powerful platforms?
TTB: The extra resources available on the new consoles have allowed us to create more natural looking characters which is very helpful during the more intimate story scenes where you encounter other characters in the game. For example, there’s a scene in the game taking place on a train where you meet a character named Frau Engel, one of the villains of the game, and the new platforms allowed us to spend more resources on this scene to get the facial animations just right and really bring out the performance of the actor with all the little details, the subtle lip movements or facial expressions that make the character feel more real. Another example of how the next-gen consoles amp up the action is in the way it’s enabled us to create destructible environments, so that neither the player nor the enemy is ever completely safe when hiding behind cover because each bullet will chip away from the cover until it’s almost completely removed.
MCD: What about in-jokes?
TTB: There are plenty of those. We really love Wolfenstein 3D, which for many of us at MachineGames was the game that made us want to become game developers. I think one of the funniest in-jokes is how we kept the images of the games hero B.J. Blazkowicz accompanying the different difficulty settings. The easiest setting, “Can I Play, Daddy?,” shows a picture of B.J. with a baby bonnet and a pacifier and it’s really funny to see that in HD resolution if you played Wolf 3D back in the day. There’s also a great funny little secret hidden in the resistance headquarters which I won’t spoil for players who like to explore every nook and cranny of the game for secrets. I think they will be very surprised and delighted when they find it.
MCD: We can only pray it’s Robot Hitler. So what is the defining difference about this game as you see it that makes it stand out?
TTB: Wolfenstein: The New Order focuses purely on delivering a total story-driven single-player game and there are a number of different things which add up to this experience. We have an ambitious amount of variation in both gameplay scenarios and different environments you get to visit. There is a well-crafted story where players get to follow the game’s hero B.J. Blazkowicz along for a very personal journey of revenge. You will get to meet a colorful cast of characters, both allies and villains. Players will also have a choice of what style of play they want to use–knife a Nazi in the back or dual-wield assault rifles. I think all of these things combined will make Wolfenstein: The New Order a unique game experience for fans.
Wolfenstein: The New Order is for the PC, PlayStation 3/4 and Xbox One/360.
(All photos credit MachineGames)