There are few things more terrifying to a modern video game publisher than having one of their most nostalgic, iconic, or beloved franchises tarnished by a string of underwhelming games. But don’t tell that to Bethesda, since they seem to be tossing caution to the wind with Wolfenstein: The New Order, the latest game in the series that, so far, is looking to be interesting, if not a guaranteed success.
The most recent trailer for the game promised an experience that had nothing if not attitude, and the newly-released gameplay video keeps the trend going. Placing players into the boots of hero William Joseph ‘B.J.’ Blazkowicz on board a train headed for Berlin, this single scene is more compelling than many had expected the entire game to be. Don’t take our word for it; see for yourselves.
Anyone familiar with first-person shooters will know that Wolfenstein holds a special place in the genre’s history, first challenging players to seek out the occult and mystical weaponry of Adolf Hitler’s forces in 1981. Since then, a number of sequels have sought to keep the brand alive, but with a jump to modern sensibilities, the series has been… mishandled, to say the least.
The most recent evidence being 2009’s Wolfenstein – a game which dove headlong into the supernatural, with such a serious tone and aspiration, it ended up disappointing audiences and publisher Activision alike. So it came as a surprise when Bethesda announced The New Order almost a year ago in the form of a Jimi Hendrix-infused, cryptic cinematic trailer. But with each new detail – this video included – it’s becoming clearer that the developers at MachineGames are taking things in a new direction.
The exact plot details are still quite complicated, but what’s plain is that The New Order won’t be set during the events of WWII, but in an alternate history in which the Nazis defeated the Allied forces and, as the name suggests, have fortified their rule well into the 1960s. It is in that decade that Blazkowicz returns to the fight, and as this video suggests, must find his way behind enemy lines to return history to its proper course.
That means battling the likes of past villain General Deathshead, and Frau Engel, the vindictive (but oddly charming) woman Blazkowicz encounters on the video’s titular train. The section of gameplay shown is reported to take place quite early in the campaign, and while it’s far too soon to call The New Order a fresh start for the series, this section shows serious promise. With a visual style that seems drawn from the BioShock universe, and a tense scene channeling Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, the result is nothing if not unexpected.
It seems that the game is embracing that 1960s, quirky approach from top to bottom, and while that may make it somewhat unpalatable to those who enjoy sci-fi or supernatural over oddball, it’s something new. And that’s something this franchise desperately needs.
What do you think of The New Order‘s chances, having seen it in action? Are you still skeptical given the series’ recent entries? Or have you seen enough to keep a closer eye on the game as release approaches? Sound off in the comments.
Wolfenstein: The New Order releases May 23 for Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4, and PC.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.