Wolfenstein: The New Order (or just plain New Order as I keep calling it) is a 2014 release published by Bethesda and developed by MachineGames, making it their first title. The founding members of the studio had worked at Starbreeze on games like Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay and The Darkness before starting up their own development house and recruiting from the pool of game development talent in their home country of Sweden. After forming in 2009 MachineGames started sending out concepts and ideas to publishers for their first project. Despite declining one of their previous ideas, Bethesda encouraged the team to put a pitch together for one of the franchises parent company ZeniMax had purchased by buying id. This pitch went over so well that after id agreed on the concept presented ZeniMax also bought MachineGames.
If you played either Return to Castle Wolfenstein (LP'd by kefkafloyd in 2011) or 2009's Wolfenstein (LP'd by Your Evil Twin in 2013) you may be a step ahead of most people in terms of story, but only slightly. General Wilhelm Strauss, AKA Deathshead, a major antagonist from both of those games returns in the same role this outing as a technology focused arch-villain; a contrast to the majority of enemies in the previous games that were focused on the Paranormal and Supernatural. Because series protagonist BJ Blazkowicz more or less killed all of the Nazi's supernatural experts Deathshead has had even more opportunity to push his technology and science driven brand of evil craziness. Instead of facing down ancient reanimated warriors you are tasked with killing giant robots and Space Marine looking super soldiers. I think this was a good move not only because it pulls things slightly back towards reality (as much as an alternate timeline WWII game that sees you fighting against a walking mech in 1943 can be pulled towards reality) and doesn't require a bunch of explanations on how or why magic works in universe to make any sense of what's going on. Anyways, sufficiently advanced technology is like magic or something like that.
Gameplay itself is your basic shooter stuff: you aim down sights, shoot people, throw grenades, melee enemies and sneak around when necessary. The fun comes from just how good the combat feels and the way the game arranges set piece fights. On the surface the game is a balls to the wall action shooter that allows you to dual wield any weapon, awards you with dismemberment and gruesome kill animations and revels in throwing dozens of people in the path of a seemingly unstoppable killing machine. However, if you fall into the trap the game sets you will simply not survive. Go ahead and rush into every fight firing double fisted, you will die. Even if you plan things out you may not survive with more than minimal health in some areas. The same sort of logic applies to our hero, BJ Blazkowicz. On the surface he's your cliche huge strong soldier man and most characters treat him like he shares an IQ score with Forrest Gump on an off day. Below the stoic surface there's a roiling sea of grief, pain and doubt. This was actually part of the pitch MachineGames presented, they wanted to make BJ a real person instead of "A lump of meat with a gun" as he had been perceived in previous games.
Despite coming out in 2014 you don't have regenerating health, you don't have a two weapon limit, you don't have a real leveling system, you don't have invincible allies, you don't have multiplayer, you don't have a billion guns to choose from and you don't have long and boring gimmick levels. This game relies a ton on older shooters rather than the current crop of military FPS games. For example; you pick up health, armor and ammo from fallen enemies and from inside crates. You also have a map button with minimal HUD overlays guiding you. You also have stealth sections and mechanics without an instant game over for breaking stealth. If you lament the sea of samey military shooters on the market today New Order is probably exactly the game you wanted but never knew existed or had ignored. It plays more like Shadow Warrior than anything else. Unlike Shadow Warrior, though, the ability system here is pretty minimal: you perform certain actions (mostly killing Nazis in different ways) and earn new abilities. In a bit of a twist from modern convention these abilities aren't necessary to progress the game or beat progressively harder enemies. Instead they provide minor boosts or abilities. Being able to throw knives, for one is helpful, but not a requirement. Other boosts include giving you slightly large magazines for weapons, allowing more bullets to be carried, providing faster weapon switching and giving you some armor for killing enemies quickly. Nothing game breaking or anything like that, just modest boosts for doing side assignments.
The game presents something like 163 total items to pick up. This encompasses letters, Enigma Machine Codes, golden items, records and a series of journal entries. I've picked all of these up in a previous run so you won't see me running through stupid areas to try and find things throughout the LP. Instead I'll show the items I've found off every couple videos in a special video. There are also health and armor statues that give you boosts in those categories. Each Health Statue you find boosts your "starting" health by ten points, meaning you won't have to overcharge to get a higher total health and will instead be able to basically hoard health points once you pick up enough of them. Armor Statues work differently and instead boost the percentage of armor you get from the various armor pickups in the world. By halfway through the game if you are dedicated to picking up these statues you may end up getting double the normal amount of armor from any of the various armor pickups. Sadly, I find this less useful because you still max out armor at 100, so you may end up picking up pieces that will provide 200 armor at times.
I'm going to take us through the game once as a major playthrough and then come back and do a quick assembly of major differences that would appear if we made a different set of choices. The game sports two "timelines" though the thrust of the content is the exact same, some details are vastly different and these are what I want to showcase. Until then I'm going to try and do two videos a week with the occasional third video for collectible time. Some of these levels are incredibly long, taking up to an hour, so I'll be breaking them up like with the first level to make it so you don't have to commit an hour to watching someone else play a game.
Blind Sally posted:
The collectible letters are here^^^
Ramona's Diary is here ^^^^^^^^
i am paul newman posted:
"He can't go alone.. TO THE MOON!", here's most of the ingame propaganda and safety art translated.
Kefkafloyd's Music Corner
Track 01: Deathshead
Heard during the torture and Ubersoldat scenes in 1946 (and elsewhere), this mechanical track is Deathshead's "theme," inasmuch as it plays when he shows up and does something. It's a very dreadful theme in the literal sense. It's foreboding and uncomfortable electronica, which works perfectly to make you feel terrible while Deathshead taunts you. It's almost like the sounds you'd hear in his laboratory.
Track 02: Adrift
The gentle acoustic theme of BJ floating in the Baltic sea. I find it captures the melancholy theme of the game very well. Is this the end of BJ Blazkowicz? Were the Nazis really meant to rule the world? Yet, as sad as it is, the brightness of the mandolin gives us some hope.
Track 03: The New Order
The main menu music, loosely inspired by the main theme of RTCW and Wolfenstein '09. The big, grungy guitar wails of the opening fade into a gentler variation for extended trips in the menu for reading journals or codes. While I wish the reference to the earlier Wolfenstein theme was a bit more overt, it's still worked in there very well.
Track 04: 14 Years
This is where the music really starts coming together with the game. It starts with a dreamy acoustic guitar that picks up where Adrift left off. When it focuses on BJ and his allies, the guitars are more upbeat, the play with the snaps puts that smile on your face, and then bam, in come the Nazis and everything goes bleak. The game wears a lot on its sleeve, and the music plays a part in that.
Track 05: Frau Engel
Frau Engel is a ghastly character, someone who's bought into the culture of The Reich completely. It has a horror movie feel, which amplifies the sheer helplessness of her interrogation. Strangely, it comes ahead in the soundtrack versus the next two tracks, which are featured prominently in the checkpoint level. I'm including it here because I don't want to go out of order.
Track 06: Papers, Please
The sneaking section track for this level. When you're not under alarm, this is what plays. It reminds me a lot of the Phazon Mines section of Metroid Prime 1.
Track 07: Kill Everyone
The music heard when fighting the robots at the end of this level. Fairly appropriate for fighting robots, I'd say. This is going to be a usual thing, as a lot of the robot fights tend to follow this motif of pounding electronica.
Track 8: Concrete for Miles
One of my favorite songs on the soundtrack, as heard when BJ is riding the bus into the prison. It's a grungy Nazi theme, feeling both oppressive and yet... toe-tappingly groovy?
Track 9: Zellenblock B2
This is another version of the theme heard in Concrete For Miles, except it's a very James Bond-y or Mission Impossible style infiltration theme. If you haven't noticed the constant theme of grungy guitars, this is about as deep as it gets. I'm a big sucker for spy themes, and this one is endlessly listenable.
Track 10: The Kreisau Circle
An acoustic interpretation of some of the main menu theme for when you meet the Kreisau circle. It fits with the fast-cut pace of getting all those characters thrown at you. Very similar to 14 Years.
Anyway, here's the latest track, 11, aptly named The London Nautica.
It reminds me a lot of a mixture of the Metroid main theme, along with some inception-esque BRRRRRM.
Track 12: Konzentrationslager
The dreary, sad guitar of the camp's ambiance. Sounds a lot like the slow part of the main menu music. Listening to it again, the music seems to have a sense of grief, of hopelessness, for a sense of loss for times better lived. It fits right in with the conversations you hear around the camp.
Track 13: Herr Faust
Herr Faust (or Sir Fist) was the giant, lumbering robot that BJ commandeered at the end of the level. Fredrik Thorendal, lead guitarist of the Swedish metal band Meshuggah, guest stars on this track. Thorendal provides his trademark heavy guitar sound backed with Mick Gordon taking a turn at crunchy rhythm and synth. It's industrial, with a slow, ponderous beat that sounds like the rhythmic stomping of a murder robot. This music is half of what makes Herr Faust's rampage satisfying.
Track 14: Der Mond
Lazyfire describing this as Carpenter-esque is astute. It reminds me a lot of the opening title song for Super Metroid. It's serene and ghoulish at the same time, as if the moon is haunted by Nazis. Probably one of my top three tracks in the entire soundtrack, and I wasn't expecting to say that about an ambient track. It's pretty much perfect for that short romp onto the lunar surface.
Aside from Der Mond, the London Nautica theme makes a comeback during the base interior. There was also some very Steve Miller Jungle Love-esque synthesizer stuff that went on while infiltrating the red-light corridors, but they are at best cues and not a real song.
Last, but not least, is Mond Mond, Ja Ja by Die Kafer. It's the song playing in that tram.
The London Monitor is basically an upgraded version of the "Stomper" (or Baltic Eye) from 1946. I love the things the Monitor crew yells at you. It's both hilarious and tragic at the same time. I suppose that destruction of state property IS tantamount to treason... it's just so over the top. So where do they store that thing when it's not in use? Does it just wander around all the time, striking fear into the hearts of the citizens?
What's in the background when you're fighting it? Well, that would be...
Track 15: Kybernetic
Mick Gordon teams up with Richard Devine for another combination of music and machine. Unlike Herr Faust, Kybernetic is not busy at all, it's more of an accompaniment to the terror that is the London Monitor. It's not really a standout track to me, but it works where it's used.
PAnick Shows Off His Work
Yay glad someone noticed them (Quake 3 Rocket Launcher), had to dig in old quake 3 files to find the model and texture. I also had to talk to the guys at id first to get permission to add it. They were very happy about it.
Yeah our coders did tweak the idtech engine a bit when we got it. Detailing the resistance base was so much fun. They gave me a month but I could have easily worked on it for at least a few more weeks. The challenge with painting textures was to also create a story in every room, and not just make it dirty.
Teklas room took a while texture. So many papers...
My main task was weapons, robots and vehicles and all those things were awesome to model I also did a huge amount of just....stuff. Furniture and props...you know boxes, tables, chairs, books, pens, lamps....etc. Lots of stamping as well.
I would direct you to my portfolio website but that would spoil a lot (bosses and characters that not yet revealed) so don't go there yet.
Things that have appeared so far:
All of us artist had to study hard all the different kinds of symbols that might have even the slightest hint of any nazi connection. Neo-nazism made it especially hard when working on the censored version of TNO. They use such common letters, numbers and basic shapes that we had to erase. And they constantly come up with new ones:
Most people think it's only swastikas and eagles, but the worst was finding all the numbers. I had a bug report where the prison bus I created had the number 8 on the sides, which is fine by itself. BUT if you walk around it fast it COULD be read as 88. Bad number.
Guy talk about the censoring.
Assault Rifle 1946
When designing this weapon we of course drew much inspiration from the StG 44 (Sturmgewehr 44) which was one of the first modern assault rifles. The 3D model underwent a couple of redesigns.
We added a front grip that could be folded out so the gun could be held in the more recognizable MP 40 grip as well.
This design was a little too close to the real StG44 and besides most fps players have already fired this weapon in numerous WW2 shooters already.
So we added a couple of things to make it a little more unique.
I fattened it up a bit and gave it little more details close to the player view. As many things during 1946 the Nazis were still trying to figure things out and see what could be done. So why not just stick two "bullet acceleration" tanks on the side of the old StG 44.
warning big 1920x1200
So about that moon level...
I can't really tell you much but most of you got the impression that things were cut. We had big plans for the moon, but game development etc.
Since the Lunar Rover is mentioned in the Art book I am allowed to talk a little bit about that.
You were supposed to drive between bases on this huge moon surface, you could stop anywhere and go out and look at weird dig sites (ufos?). Me and a coder were tasked with making the Rover. We worked hard on that thing trying to make it work but in the end it just came down to not being that fun.
Have moon gravity, drive fast, hit small rock, launch yourself into orbit. Constantly flip it and so on. Boring
Have moon gravity, drive safe and slow, Boring.
Have more normal earth gravity and drive fast, but then it's no longer special with driving on the moon.
And so on. I got pretty good and was able to do some sick stunts but it wasn't very user friendly
We would surely hit some kind of good balance with enough time.
There is a legal reason why the base is empty in some places. We wanted all kinds of those hazmat dudes doing all kinds of science stuff everywhere. You see only one scientist I think and that's in an area where you can't use weapons.
Most things that reminds you of things (star wars, alien and so on) are pretty much always an artist doing an homage.
London Monitor/ Prototype Monitor (Stomper)
I was completely split in happiness and dread when I got this thing on my desk.
"oh cool, gonna build a huge robot!"
"..it's how big?"
Yeah after I build it I had to make it 300% bigger. No wait actually only 280% bigger.
But it was great fun and seeing it move around in the game is awesome. As was mentioned, as a mech (especially with three legs) it isn't very effective realistically, but it's main purpose as a terror weapon was to just look fucking scary and show off how far the nazis would go (crazy).
Actually I no longer have anything spoilery on my homepage (if you have watched all the LP's so far) so feel free to check out some of the stuff I did for TNO here:
Too funny not to do. The determined crew of the London Monitor (you didn't think one guy could pilot that huge thing did you?) tracking BJ's crimes against the Reich, even as their Kybernetik monstrosity falls apart. Keep up the great LP, Lazyfire!
edit: did a quick hack-job on those swastikas. That was going to drive me insane otherwise.