With each passing year, the modern video game industry seems to prove the notion that when it comes to established brands and recognizable franchises, predicting the future isn’t all that hard. But Wolfenstein: The New Order challenged that notion to its very core, taking a (once-beloved) tired property known for little more than its shooting and turning in one of the most surprising games of the year so far (read our review). And now that MachineGames has proven itself, the team is more than ready to keep the momentum moving with a sequel.
It seems strange after the fact to think that consumers and critics weren’t expecting a top-tier story and style from a studio made up of the minds behind The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay and The Darkness. While their past work may have hinted that The New Order would pack a punch, the developer still found a way to keep the story of previous games moving forward.
That’s a difficult task for any franchise, but in an interview with Giant Bomb, creative director Jens Mathies explained that keeping the previous games in the series as canon, not simply casting them aside and starting fresh, was the team’s goal:
“We love incorporating the legacy of the franchise that for people who are really passionate about Wolfenstein will see things that they recognize from earlier entries. Like I said before, it’s extremely important to us that it feels like Wolfenstein. It’s not that we’ve slapped a brand on a completely different shooter. It needs to be in that same universe. Also, of course, it’s creatively interesting to take the game into a really drastically adventurous direction, but still maintainingg that continuity with the earlier games. So it’s both a reimagining and a sequel at the same time. As a creative, that’s just a very interesting problem to solve.”
“We want this to be part of a greater saga. That said, of course, this game stands completely on its own. It’s not a requirement that you play anything of the previous games. You can be completely new to Wolfenstein and have a complete experience. But we also want to build upon things that have been established on their own.”
Clearly, publisher Bethesda tasked the right team with the job of bringing some life back to the Wolfenstein license. It was a risk moving well beyond the WWII-era setting of previous games, and thrusting B.J. Blazkowicz into a Nazi-controlled alternate history. But in the end, existing fans got to see the characters of prior games get more time in the spotlight, while moving into a world where MachineGames could make their own mark.
Pulling that kind of a rabbit out of a threadbare hat is rarely a one-time trick, and with interest (and integrity) at an all-time high for Wolfenstein, does Mathies think a continuation of The New Order‘s story is something the studio would embrace?
“We would love to do a sequel. We have a very, very clear idea of what we accomplished with this game, and what we want to accomplish with a sequel… It’s not like it’s one lesson. You learn things constantly, and there’s no switch that you don’t want to keep trying to dial a little higher. I wouldn’t say there was…I wish there was one big lesson. It’s more like 500 smaller ones. [laughs]”
We’ll steer clear of spoilers, but MachineGames certainly ended The New Order‘s campaign on a final note. That being said, the door was left open for a possible sequel (taking down a worldwide Nazi regime is a challenge capable of spanning several games). And if the rigorous amount of time preparing the script and setting of the game is what helped the finished product shine, Mathies’ plan for a possible sequel is even more promising:
“This is kind of an abstract, but because these projects are so long in terms of development–this was three-and-a-half years for this game–and given how long it takes to make a game these days, this kind of game, and whenever you design in terms of preproduction, what becomes the plan for all of those years, has to be a flawlessly polished diamond. If it isn’t, you end up paying for that further down the line. You have to react to it, change, and do stuff.
“I think we were able to polish that diamond a lot more than we have ever been able to in the past, but we still have new ideas for how we can polish it even further. If there is one grand lesson, it’s probably that: to take pre-production even one step further. After the next game, it’ll be the same thing again and again. [laughs]”
There’s no question that less promising/groundbreaking/inspired video games have earned the right to direct sequels, and Bethesda has earned a reputation of favoring quality over purely commercial sales numbers. Given that the publisher allowed MachineGames the freedom to craft the unexpected game they did, we’d be shocked if a sequel wasn’t officially announced before long.
Have you managed to escape the buzz surrounding the game, or are you one of its devoted fans already? Is there a direction you would like to see a sequel head? Sound off in the comments.
Wolfenstein: The New Order is available now for PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.
Source: Giant Bomb