Wolfenstein: The New Order has a hard task ahead of it. Not only does it have the unenviable task of being the leading light in Bethesda Softworks’ winter line-up – and therefore carrying the weight of a heavy reputation all by itself – but also it’s a cross-generational videogame that, for many, will be the first taste of a next-generation first-person shooter (FPS). This isn’t Call of Duty and this isn’t Battlefield; Wolfenstein: The New Order is a fantasy FPS that will set the standard that many will follow.
Sadly, based on the preview build made available to Electronic Theatre, the bar appears to have been set relatively low. Reserving judgement of the final product until it’s in our own hands and available to play on our own consoles, the demonstration version of Wolfenstein: The New Order was perhaps misplaced. It took a good twenty minutes to get to some enjoyable combat and even then it was over before any real depth could be established. Wolfenstein: The New Order purports to offer great tactical freedom in it’s combat – stealth, melee, heavy gunner and more – and yet the only experiences available here were a couple of QTE assassinations and trigger happy killzones. In this first demonstration Wolfenstein: The New Order showed promise, but offered nothing to suggest that it would command your attention for more than a few hours.
Mechanically Wolfenstein: The New Order offers several interesting ideas. The preview build began about an hour into the videogame so there was no training offered and all the immediate assets were available, including the very rewarding health system. Based on that seen in the original Wolfenstein, and subsequently DOOM and QUAKE, players begin with 100 health points by default. Should they lose health it will only rebuild a small amount (25 points seemed to be the cut-off in this build, though that may change) however collecting additional health from fallen enemies or medipacks located throughout the levels will allow you to enter ‘overcharge’ mode and raise your limit up to 200 points. Any extra points over the basic 100 limit will slowly tick down, but this boost does allow the player to engage in some otherwise far too risky combat strategies.
Wolfenstein: The New Order does includes armour as would be expected, but also borrows the cover system from the underrated Bodycount. Able to enter into the cover mode at any time and in any location, players simply hold LB (on Xbox 360 and Xbox One) to lock in place and can then lean in any direction using the left stick. It’s a simple technique but one which Bodycount proved could be wholly successful, and after it’s inclusion in Wolfenstein: The New Order we’re likely to see much more of it in the future.
Set for release this autumn, Wolfenstein: The New Order promises engaging combat and a storyline that drives the player, forcing their hand at pivotal moments in a way that will change the experience forever. Sadly, at this point in time, Electronic Theatre is yet to see any of this. While faith remains invested in Wolfenstein: The New Order and in Bethesda Softworks’ ability to deliver, Electronic Theatre is looking for more time with the videogame before we get our hopes up.