Award: Best Reason to Kill Hitler… Again
Wolfenstein: The New Order is a game no one was even betting on existing. After the failure to reignite the franchise with 2009’s Wolfenstein, it seemed like protagonist B.J. had finished his tour of service. Then The New Order drops, not only serving as an excellent conclusion to the chaotic running narrative but as one of the most fluid shooters on the market. Where the original Wolfenstein helped give birth to the genre, Wolfenstein: The New Order is a reminder of how to do a shooter right. In a world full of set pieces and levels that are little more than linear strings you run down without a second thought, this is the shooter we’ve been waiting for.
Instead of demanding you work within it’s rules, The New Order gives you the power to choose how you want to play. If you’re slow, stealthy, and focused on marksmanship, then you’ll find vents to sneak through and locks to pick while you carry around a silenced pistol. You can slip in behind the Nazis commanders and take them out before anyone is the wiser. If you’re a run and gun type, then you can rush around, overcharging your health and dual-wielding every kind of gun imaginable (even dual-wielding knives if you prefer). If you prefer cover based shooting, you can aim around cover like in Killzone and regenerate some of your health whilst keeping the Nazis at bay. To say you have flexibility is an understatement.
There’s rarely a moment where the game requires you to play a certain way, instead usually encouraging you to use everything in your arsenal. If you’re running low on assault rifle ammo, just run headfirst into the crowd while you dual-wield shotguns. If you’ve been detected, quickly throw a silent knife to kill the Nazis commander to stop him from calling reinforcements. If you’re low on health, get behind cover and whip out the laser gun and marksman rifle. Swapping between all the styles is as simple as one or two button presses. Other shooters still struggle to fit all the gameplay options The New Order has, and it makes it look easy.
What helps carry you through all the gunshots and silent stabs is the fantastic, campy story and characters. From a Nazis defector to Jimi Hendrix himself, your allies are of many creeds and stretches of life, all with one goal. Kill General Deathshead, and unshackle the world from Nazis domination. All the while propaganda, eavesdropped conversations, and even “classic” Reich albums paint a world of oppression and dogma that is at times both curious and repulsive. But that is only the first layer to the narrative, as The New Order is as much an alternate history story as it is a story about Wolfenstein as a whole.
Much like Halo: Reach, this feels like a closing arc for the franchise. As the final moments of the game roll on, you realize that this might be B.J.’s last fight for a long time. There’s no DLC expansion that magically resurrects fallen allies or rewrites history again. There’s no cheap reset to the events that started it all. No matter what choices you make and what path you walk, you finally can let someone else carry on the fight. You served us well, William. Here’s to over a decade of putting the Reich in its place.