Wolfenstein: The New Order Review


Developers MachineGames have attempted to make it clear that given enough care and affection, there’s still room for an old-school style shootout. With Wolfenstein: The New Order not only have they done so, but they’ve done it with a style and attention to detail that somehow places the incessant cascade of Nazi blood upon the screen secondary to the vision and craft that’s found its way into this engaging alternate reality.

Game: Wolfenstein: The New Order
Developer: MachineGames
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Reviewed on:

WNO box

You won’t need to know much about the series to delve into this latest iteration, inspite of it being a sequel to 2009’s Wolfenstein set three years on. As the game begins you’re in the well trodden boots of war hero William ‘B.J’ Blazkowicz as he attempts one last fleeting effort to halt the Nazi war machine at a compound in the year 1946. In this alternate reality the Nazis prove infallible thanks to their technological advancements (robo-dogs for the win) and set off a chain of events that sees them take control of the world. Que 1960, where Blazkowicz finds himself amidst a group of resistance fighters with the aim of, well, you know the drill from here on out – Pain, guns and blood, and lots of it.

There’s no doubt that the presentation has a distinct action movie agenda; over acting is plentiful, as is extravagant story set pieces. Although characterisations can be thin at times it’s by far the most detailed ones seen in a Wolfenstein game to date. Blazkowicz will mutter inner-monologue that jabs fun at the game’s own ethos, whilst the people around him are also written well enough to be taken seriously without ever being particularly subtle. The whole setting becomes cohesive in an acceptable way when the juxtaposition of this seemingly old-school protagonist is meshed with The New Order’s compelling landscape and narrative.

It’s inside that narrative where MachineGames have done particularly well to bring the idiosyncrasies of what might have been the eccentric Nazi rule to a somewhat believable happy medium. Yes, giant mechs are beyond bordering on the farfetched, but its not inconceivable that it would have at least crossed their minds knowing the kinds of experimentation that actually did take place at that time. The depiction of a Nazi ruled world influxed with Propaganda and the results of a regime that murdered millions has been dealt with carefully, plus a story fueled by the relatively old notion of out-of-game cutscenes are surprisingly captivating.

The gameplay itself is aided by the level design and some excellent art direction. Whilst there is a ‘corridor’ of sorts, the spacious design does prevent the shooting feeling too linear. I did find myself having to pull out the map 3 or 4 times early on as I struggled to find my bearings through Nazi camps and compounds that shared little variation from room to room – a minor scratch in a well polished canvas that does offer a few different paths to traverse between the start and your end goal like hidden paths and vents. With that in mind, the minor confusion when hunting down collectables is made somewhat worthwhile at least.

I’m a fan (perhaps one of the few) of the id Tech 5 engine being utilised here, too. Frame rates and visuals hold up well asides from a bit of texture pop-in, and like id Software’s shooter Rage that also used the engine, I found the smoothness of gameplay a real highlight. If you’re still looking for that ‘true next gen’ experience there really isn’t anything breaking any graphical or gameplay barriers. However, portrayals of places like London and Berlin in this alternate history look great and play even better, meaning you’ll be pushed to find too many complaints in the visual area.

Wolfenstein: The New Order treads a wobbly line somewhere in between old-style shooters and more modern takes on the genre. For instance, medipacks are littered throughout the game and will be your main source of health, whilst you’ll find armour and ammunition from dead enemies sprawled across floors that you’ll need to manually pick up with a button press. It feels genuinely odd not being able to simply walk over these items, plus sometimes having to retrace steps or spend precious seconds trying to align the cursor with the right spot to find the item negates what is otherwise a well-paced experience.

Another quirk is the manual cover system. You won’t snap to anything – thankfully – but you can lean in various directions. It’s actually quite intuitive compared to some other titles where the ability seems a bit fruitless when used in a hectic gunfight. The modern elements such as stealth are also viable ways to play and none of them feel tacked on for the sake of it. Level design and enemy placement all seem to have been carefully placed so that different play styles can be achieved – with the exception of boss fights, which rules out pretty much everything asides from the default ‘run and gun’ approach.

Issues arise when the game attempts to make life harder for the player. Instead of making enemies more aggressive or smarter, the game ops for the pure numbers game often throwing several over-armed mechs at you at once, inevitably testing your ammo, skill and patience. Some parts become a little tedious, too. Searching for inconsequential items in less-than-inspired locals might flatten your enthusiasm that the game does so well to build up the rest of the time. As enjoyable as the excessive narrative and dual-wield blasting is, the peaks only seem to highlight the troughs in gameplay all the more.

There’s no real XP system to be found, but you’ll grab perks that benefit you by playing the way you enjoy the most. For example, bolstering your stealth or your kamikaze approach by allowing you to tread more silently or bolster your dual wielding skill respectively. It works really well and again creates a balancing act between old and new by allowing to focus on pulperising Nazi’s whilst keeping interest with some character development of sorts. Upgrading the large arsenal of weapons throughout the game adds similar enjoyment – it’s these areas where The New Order hosts some of its best ideas.


With a well lengthed 9-10 hour campaign, here is a glorious reminder of a time when the single player wasn’t an afterthought to the multiplayer – in fact, there isn’t a multiplayer at all. It’s also reminiscent of a time when shooting was the feature and not the means-to-an-end; a success story where many similarly driven games have failed. Wolfenstein: The New Order doesn’t offer anything that’s actually that new, but it does well to prove that older sensibilities still have their place amongst the modern FPS era by offering an intriguing scenario and some tightly honed gameplay. As a result, the Wolfenstein series can be firmly inserted back onto the gaming map.


Began gaming on a hand-me-down Commodore Vic-20 back in the mid 80's and hasn't managed to shake the addiction yet. Genres of choice include anything that contains bullets and/or bouncy balls. Has been known to dabble in Destiny content.


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