| "While I was gone, they set the world on fire. It wasn't a war anymore; it was a remaking."
- B.J. Blazkowicz
A New World
The voice that utters those lines in the announcement trailer belongs to none other than B.J. Blazkowicz, longtime Wolfenstein protagonist and legendary killer of virtual Nazis. In The New Order, B.J. once again takes on his old foes, but as you might have guessed from the Jimi Hendrix accompaniment, this isn't a World War II-era shooter. It's the 1960s, B.J. has been out of commission for almost two decades, and the Nazis won the war.
The alternate-history world of The New Order is a result of the aforementioned "remaking." Nazi edifices have sprung up in the shadows of major cultural landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and Big Ben, and the Third Reich holds all of Europe in its iron grip. While the developers were coy about what kind of technological leap fueled this Nazi ascendancy, they were giddy about the creative freedom this narrative foundation gave them. The armored mech so lovingly constructed in the trailer is just one example; environments, guns, enemies, vehicles, and more can all be crafted to the developers' whims, all in service of this dark, industrial, authoritarian version of 1960s Europe.
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As the player, you discover this bad new world along with B.J. This, observes creative director Jens Maathies, is one of the tricks the team has learned over the years. "You can't underestimate the power of making the player experience the world in the same way as the character." The amnesia that wipes B.J.'s slate clean and brings his awareness down to the player's level begins when a secret mission goes bad during the height of the war. After B.J. washes up on the shore of the Baltic Sea with no recollection of who he is, he spends the next decade and a half languishing in an asylum. But as history shows, the Nazis do not take a sympathetic view to the mentally infirm, and so the day comes when they arrive at B.J.'s refuge to purge the inhabitants.
Although MachineGames isn't following in the footsteps of its recent predecessors with respect to multiplayer, it certainly has great respect for the franchise that it has taken on. The action in the demo seemed to target the sweet spot of making the player feel both powerful and vulnerable, able to cut a swath through the Nazi regime but still forced to be smart, to be quick, and to be skilled. The characters and the world are intriguing, and it will be interesting to see what details surface as development continues. Wolfenstein: The New Order is scheduled to be released in Q4 2013 for the PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360, as well as next-generation consoles.