Wolfenstein: The New Order Review

Wolfenstein: The New Order is a game I’ve had on my ‘to play‘ list for a long time. I first received it as a present near release but didn’t make much progress. Indeed it was a game I mentioned on one of my earliest backlog updates on this very website. However at long last I’ve finally managed to complete the story of the game. Although if I’m honest towards the end I had to really force myself to play the game through to completion.

Overall the game felt greater than the sum of its parts. It doesn’t excel in any areas in my opinion although it was fairly enjoyable. The biggest strength felt like the alternative universe set in a 1960’s where the German Nazis not only won World War 2 but went on to dominate the world. Certainly a far cry from the series earlier 3D games (the last I played was 2001’s return to Castle Wolfenstein). The setting feels original and unique. As if a lot of effort and thought went into this part. The story is fine, with lots of NPCs in the story, although I found them flat and didn’t really much care for them to much as the story played out.

The game has some very nice level design and environments. It really goes to town with its storyline and set pieces. The game uses health and armour packs to provide a ‘retro’ feel given most modern first person shooters have recharging health or shields. I kind of thought this worked well.

Technically the game on consoles runs nicely at 60fps and dynamic 1080p. The graphics have a nice amount of detail even for a game that came earlier in this generation of consoles. It also use has gritty visual style that suits perfectly. I can’t be certain of how long it took me to play through but I would guess somewhere between 20 to 25 hours. It certainly isn’t the shortest game. Oh and yes, the Easter egg is fantastic.

However there are things the game didn’t do well in my opinion. Most notably its use of stealth. It feels like the game was forcing it as a playstyle far too often with few tools to actually play it that way. If you can sneak through a set piece by remaining undetected it will make that part easier. However later on the levels and placements of enemies made this harder or more tiresome and I ended up just going in guns blazing as I couldn’t be bothered with the stealth anymore. The perk unlock system is also just a set of challenges to unlock something, rather than anything more in-depth.

The game includes five difficulty levels which is great, although the main difference seems to be the amount of damage you and enemies take rather than improved AI or anything. Until the final few levels I played the game on the default difficulty but for the last few levels turned the difficulty down and found myself preferring the game that way. Unlike other games such as Halo: Combat Evolved on Legendary, the game just becomes mostly irritating rather than changing the experience massively. At harder difficulty the ‘retro’ health packs and armour pickups obviously become more important.

Wolfenstein: The New Order is nothing I would regard as stunning but equally far from the worst single player, story-based first person shooter than I have played either. Never as downright sterile or flat as something like Halo 5, but equally doesn’t reaches the unique heights or set pieces of something like Titanfall 2’s campaign. If you enjoy the ride and accept the game for what it is, then it is a fun and strong modern update on an old game. A solid reboot.

Played (mostly) on PlayStation 4 Pro. Previously played the opening level on PlayStation 4.

And if one green bottle should accidentally fall…

So 2018’s Call of Duty has rolled out, and all appears to be good; critically and probably commercially too. Actually Activision and Treyarch added a really well received Battle Royale mode that will probably be the new Twitch darling for a little while.

It’s been known for some time that Call of Duty Black Ops 4 wouldn’t have any single player campaign. However I had personally hoped that there would be some meaningful solo PVE content that allowed people not necessarily into PVP to have a reason to play Black Ops 4.

Unfortunately that doesn’t seem to be the case. One Reddit user has researched in detail just how much of the game is available offline. And it isn’t much at all. Basically no Blackout mode and no ‘offline’ progression for either Zombies or Multiplayer. So beyond some basic tutorials there is no reason for someone interested in single player to buy this game. Whilst that’s not a surprise it’s a shame that the developers couldn’t have been more honest and responded in greater detail before the release. The community should not have to provide all the details.

There is a chance the game has more solo content when online but this is probably unlikely (EDIT: it appears levelling at least in Zombies is a thing when solo and online). And whilst there is nothing wrong with this game being multiplayer only, this represents the moment the popular Call of Duty series gave up on single player gamers.

Of course Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 isn’t alone in prioritising online multiplayer. Star Wars Battlefront (2015) and it’s 2017 sequel both have anaemic, barebones solo content. The sequel added a campaign but that wasn’t really what the community wanted. The Battlefield series has a paltry single player mode and no solo content beyond this. Rainbow Six Siege launched with a PVE mode that supported group and solo play but has been abandoned since launch. And the last Halo game had a solo campaign with nothing else for solo players. Would anyone be surprised if Halo 6 ditched the campaign or at least moved towards an online/open world design?

Unfortunately the days of rich solo content when publishers were scared of not shipping meaningful solo modes have gone (Unreal Tournament, Quake series, Rainbow Six Vegas etc.). Publishers of multiplayer first person shooters just don’t care about solo gamers.

So it seems these days first person shooters break down into; story driven or open world (Wolfenstein, Doom, Metro or Far Cry), Live Service (Destiny) or multiplayer (Call of Duty, Battlefield, Rainbow Six, CS:GO) and therefore the solo first person shooter is far from dead. However the multiplayer first shooter is now an irrelevant game type where solo players are concerned. A real shame because it wasn’t always that way and it arguably shouldn’t have to be either. How does that song finish again… ‘There’ll be no single player games sitting on the wall.’