A lot of first-person shooters claim that they offer two ways to complete every mission: stealthily or with a full frontal assault. Unfortunately, a lot of games fall flat in that regard, or if they DO manage to have some sort of noticeable ability to assassinate or avoid enemies, the reward is the same as when you just unload on them (i.e. enemies are now dead or you got to the goal).
That’s why playing Wolfenstein: The New Order was so refreshing for me: the reward for spending the time avoiding enemies and sneakily stabbing them in the neck was actually a gift and not just “okay, now you can say you did it with stealth but we’ll reward you and the fighty guy in the same way.”
Okay, I should back up a bit and explain what I’m actually talking about. For anyone who knows how the combat gameplay works in Wolfenstein, skip the next few paragraphs.
Like a lot of other adventure-FPS games (think Metro), fights in Wolfenstein are typically framed by cutscenes or at least some clear indication that a fight is coming. This lets you know that you should either start hiding in the shadows or get your guns a-blazing.
What usually happens when you pick the stealth route is that you wait in a corner for twenty minutes, worried that the passing guard will see you, trying desperately to learn the patterns of every moving character that you know is in the area. Then, when you finally get the guts to backstab the first guard, you either screw up and get caught, followed either by dying or restarting the checkpoint in frustration.
Now, let’s look at what happens when you go in with full force, dual-wielding bazookas: you can usually win, since most games don’t bother to punish brash players as long as they have some discernible skill with a mouse or dual analogue sticks.
What does this have to do with Wolfenstein The New Order? Since the very first Wolfenstein, stealth has been rewarded, although at first all you really gained was ammo conservation. The newest Wolfenstein is a great evolution of that concept.
The way it works is this: there are commanders in the combat area that are alerted any time you’re seen by any given enemy. Once they’re alerted they call in A METRIC BUTT-TONNE of enemies to try to mow you down before you get to the goal.
Now, if you can avoid every guard (or assassinate them quietly) and get to the commander before the alarm goes off, all you have left to do is pick off the few enemies that are there from the get-go.
This might seem like a small change from the original concept of “if you stealth through the level, you’ll save a few bullets” but somehow the amount of satisfaction you get from The New Order is a lot higher, likely because of the whole “I am a superman and am unstoppable” mentality that started with Quake. Only now, the reward only comes after being the opposite of a souped-up warlord.
Whatever the reason is, I really enjoyed stealthing through The New Order. It was a real learning experience for me as I typically try out stealth for a bit in any video game that offers it then put it aside in disgust and just blast my way through (sidebar: has ANYONE successfully used a stealth build in Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning? Seriously, so much wasted time).
But this game is different. I genuinely try to sneak my way around every level and only after at least ten failed attempts do I cave and blast through the baddies. That’s more than I can say for most games so I’m giving this shooter two thumbs up.
Also, you get to kill Nazis which–as I’ve learned from every good Indiana Jones movie–is extremely satisfying