Demos at conventions are normally extremely controlled things. That goes double for big companies with whole swaths of staffers dedicated to nothing but marketing and PR.
Wolfenstein: The New Order‘s press area at PAX East was pretty much the exact opposite of a controlled demo. The PR handler met me at the door to a room filled with eight PlayStation 4s, I sat down and she walked away. What followed was as much of the game as I could play, straight from the beginning, until I had to leave.
That’s a sign of confidence. It’s also a sign of how far along a game is in its release schedule. Wolfenstein: The New Order is due for PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One and Xbox 360 on May 20, a little over a month from now. That release date proximity means that Bethesda was willing to just let the game go here on the show floor.
So, I played the first 30 minutes of Wolfenstein on the PlayStation 4. What followed was a bombastic shooter that felt extremely familiar. Not familiar in the sense of a Wolfenstein title, but familiar in the sense of, say, Killzone 3.
The guns, the sounds, the feel, the fluidity, leaning in and out of cover, squishy targets and the Nazi imagery all ring true to the Killzone build, and I genuinely felt like I was playing a game in that series instead of the classic Wolfenstein line.
That’s not necessarily an insult. This still has the hallmarks of a Wolfenstein title. In my brief stint with it, I saw nasty robot dogs, giant hulking machines of death, tons of Nazis powered up beyond the score of World War II’s real technology and plenty of crazy weaponry. Wolfenstein has always been a series that featured a science fiction twist on classic history, and that persists here regardless of new school mechanics borrowed from other properties.
This franchise has always been staple in the “pure shooter” genre, no muss and no fuss. Based solely on the opening of this game, I imagine that trend will continue with New Order. There’s a storyline here, though, and soldiers to care about with backstories potentially worth understanding. That, of course, remains to be seen.
The gameplay, the guns, the shooting and the look all scream top-tier corridor shooter, something Wolfenstein fans will love from the game. I’ll note, though, that I wound up lost a few times. Missing on-screen prompts, directions screamed over waves of gunfire and a map that I couldn’t seem to access through menus or quick button presses held me back. I would have asked, but, as I mentioned, there wasn’t a PR handler nearby.
It looks good, plays well and hopefully packs a narrative worthy of our time. We’ll be keeping an eye on Wolfenstein: The New Order, and our time with it at PAX confirmed that we’ll be picking it up on release in order to hand you folks a review.