The playable demo available at this year’s PAX East consisted of a small portion of the single-player campaign, set in a rich, beautifully rendered alternate WWII reality where the Nazis utilize all sorts of high-tech wizardry (including some pretty bad-ass looking mechs) in addition to their regular, era-appropriate weaponry.
It wasn’t exactly clear just how far into the game this particular level is set, but it kicked off with a bang, throw me straight into the fray. After a short cut scene, I was storming a beachhead under a hail of incoming gunfire. However, in addition to the standard pillboxes, the beach was also defended by a giant Nazi mech. After instantly dying several times, I reluctantly turned the difficulty down, which allowed me to finally make it past the beachhead and into the Nazi base. While I did storm this beach with my Allied brother’s in arms, once I made it inside, I was on my own.
It was at this point that the game felt like an instantly familiar, corridor shooter, literally. I continued through a winding, and somewhat confusing, Nazi base, blasting both electrified infantry soldiers, and the occasional mechanized K9. While inside, I was instructed over the radio by an unseen member of the Allied forces to find and destroy a couple enemy anti-aircraft guns. After using one of these guns to blow apart debris obstructing part of the base, I was abruptly attacked by a new, much larger mechanized Nazi beast, subsequently ending the demo.
Much of the game’s control scheme is akin to most other FPS titles, except for the L1 button (the demo was played on a PS4 controller). While the L1 button is held, instead of turning in the direction that the right stick is pushed, the player controlled character performs a “peak” in that direction. While similar to the Battlefield “peak”, this maneuver isn’t just available when players are standing against cover. Instead, it can be performed anywhere. This did feel a bit freeing as I didn’t have to plaster myself against cover to use it, but it also felt odd and occasionally frustrating, especially when it came to going prone. My only other gripe was that instead of automatically picking up ammo when walking over fallen enemy soldiers, I had to press a button to collect the ammo. This seemed unnecessary and led to multiple instances where I found my ammo running dry mid firefight because I hadn’t mashed the button while walking over available ammo.
The highlight of the demo was the gunplay. The pistols, rifles, and machine guns I was able to find weren’t cumbersome, but did feel like they had appropriate weight and were satisfying to fire. The game includes both a weapon wheel, which allowed me to carry multiple different gun types, and the ability to switch back and forth between two weapons of choice via the triangle button. I was also pleasantly surprised to find that I could duel-wield not only pistols, but assault rifles as well. While the duel-wielding was limited to the specific weapon type (I couldn’t have a pistol in one hand and a rifle in the other), it was a ton of fun to step into a room and mow down a Nazi crew with a file in each hand. My favorite part of the demo would have to be when I came across the mounted turrets, which could be removed and carried until the ammo runs out. While initially slow to start as the turret begins to spin, the efficient lethality at which this gun diced-up enemy soldiers was immensely satisfying and gorgeously gory.
Wolfenstein: New World Order is scheduled for release on PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, and Xbox 360 on May 20.