Wolfenstein: The New Order PC Launch Impressions20 May 2014
In case you missed the news, Wolfenstein: The New Order PC review code only came in as the game launched, thus delaying our review. That doesn’t mean we don’t want to tell you about it, though! At this point I’ve played the hyperactive Nazi blaster for two or three hours, which I suspect is enough time to comment on the early game and its performance.
Let’s start with the customisation and graphical options, because those tend to be pretty important with any game that is also heavily aimed at a console audience. Pleasingly, they’re actually pretty good: you’ve got a wide range of detail settings that go from Low to Ultra, and there’s an FOV setting. Alas, it’s not an FOV slider, so it’s not very slidey at all.
It appears to top out at 100 – and a few forum posts indicate that this can’t be made to go any higher, even using the in-game console – so bear that in mind. 100 should be just about high enough for most, though; if I’m honest it still feels a little too low when set to that, but it’s still perfectly comfortable. I think I took all of the screenshots here with that FOV setting, so you should get a fair idea of how it goes.
Performance-wise, Wolfenstein: The New Order chews up and spits out your hardware. I tried running it on near-max settings and it was mostly playable (i7-3820, GeForce GTX 670) although the audio was lagging behind the lip-synching, and it was dropping a few frames with stopwatch-like regularity. Lowering everything to High largely fixed those problems. There’ve been a couple of minor lip-sync issues and one or two sections of jerkiness, presumably when it’s loading the next section of a level into memory, but that’s not really something I’m going to complain too loudly about. Honestly, I pretty much consider that par for the course.
Hopefully, performance will improve a touch when new drivers come out, as while the game looks good I don’t feel like it’s really stretching my hardware to breaking point. It’s worth noting that there are some complaints of hideous framerates and optimisation, which may or may not be related to AMD cards – I haven’t got one, so I can’t check.
All in all, then, I don’t have too many complaints about performance. On my hardware it runs fine on High, loading times are tolerable, and I haven’t really hit any issues with the port. Not bad at all.
I suppose I should mention the controls, though, as that’s where the game starts to feel like it was designed primarily for consoles in terms of the button layout. Swapping between single weapons and dual-wield with X makes logical sense, as does switching fire mode on the left and right weapons with Z and C, though it never really feels entirely comfortable. In a true rarity for modern FPS games you can actually lean, but this a modifier bound to left-Alt. Again – it makes total sense, but it feels ever so slightly awkward and wrong. That might just be because I’m used to leaning with Q and E (and this lets you lean up and down, too, so that wouldn’t work here) but I figure it’s worth mentioning.
I don’t want to talk too much about the gameplay just yet because that’s really the job of the full review, but I’ve largely enjoyed what I’ve played so far. It doesn’t seem to be as over-the-top and ridiculous as most of the trailers made it out to be (which is quite a feat for a game in which the Nazis have conquered the world with giant robots and cyborg dogs), instead taking itself about as seriously as it’s allowed to with this premise. Right now, the best comparison I can make is probably to something like The Expendables in that it’s patently ridiculous, but not comically so. No bad thing.
You can blast the heads of Nazis into gooey red chunks with a shotgun, though, so that’s one box checked.
I’m also rather enjoying the way it trades off between stealth and action with a natural confidence. Most of the time you’re free to sneak around, stabbing enemies and headshotting them with a silenced pistol, but if you want to then you can just dual-wield assault rifles and hold down both mouse buttons to cause a frenzy of destruction. A neat little Perks system offers you permanent bonuses for fulfilling certain tasks (kill two enemies with one grenade or get 10 stealth kills with the knife, for instance)
Also, you can eat dog food to replenish a few points of health. Again, another box checked.
To close off this early impressions piece, I’ll also say that I’m really liking the cutscenes, writing, and dialogue. A rather excellent Scottish soldier is the voice-in-your-ear for the first mission (set in 1946, as the Nazi war machine advances inexorably forward) and the train scene is just as good in-game as it was in the trailer. Said train scene is probably the highlight of the writing so far, and I’m hoping it’s not the only bit that’ll be quite so sphincter-clenchingly tense.
Our full review of Wolfenstein: The New Order will be up whenever I finish the game, which will hopefully be a little later this week.