Opinion-Bytes: Will the Dangling Carrot Sway You Into Buying Wolfenstein: The New Order?

wolfenstein-new-order-top630

A lot of people give the famed Doom franchise credit for launching the FPS genre, but this style of gameplay had its roots firmly established in the 70’s. That said, if you really wanted to discuss the first game to kick things off proper, that honor belongs to Wolfenstein 3D (1992). I probably need four hands to count how many times I’ve played the game in its entirety over the years, and many more if I were to throw the reboot – Return to Castle Wolfenstein (2001) – into the mix. I’d like to pretend the franchise remained a contender ever since, but I’m only able to count how many times I played its sequel – Wolfenstein (2009) – with a single finger.

Opinions vary wildly on that installment, but for me, it was honestly one of the most forgettable games I’ve played in the last decade. Not because the game was riddled with bugs, mind you. It’s just that Raven and Id Software produced a dreadfully boring game, and it all boils down to horrendous AI and archaic level design. Instead of being challenged by adversaries with intellect, I was met with mindless drones which would respawn endlessly until I forced my way through them. Furthermore, the maps only served to make me feel like a rat in a maze. Plenty of people felt the same way I did apparently, because Wolfenstein didn’t sell nearly as well as its publisher Activision had hoped.

So, here we are some years later, and Wolfenstein: The New Order is ready to release on May 20, 2014. I’m obviously not going to buy this game… not yet at least anyway. Despite the fact it’s being handled by MachineGames and Bethesda Softworks, my skepticism remains at an all-time high.

“Wait, Id Software have no involvement in the latest Wolfenstein? What gives?!”

Chin up. This is a GOOD thing. Id Software may have been kings of the industry once, but they haven’t come up with anything fresh in a long, long time. Their most notable effort in recent years was Rage, and it was a flop.

Not only that – and this may sound like blasphemy – but Doom 3 wasn’t as revolutionary as we were lead to believe either, by fans or media alike. Sure, it was a ton of fun, but it was still little more than your standard run-and-gunner. So, why did it work? For starters, the premise validated the game’s linearity – You’re trapped in a space station on Mars, and you’ve got to get the hell out of Dodge. The end. Thanks to the immaculate textures and lighting – which were a gamer’s wet dream upon release – a dark and spooky atmosphere oozed from every pixel. We can’t expect every game to turn out like Doom 3 though, because when it comes to games or even film, simplicity is exceedingly difficult to pull off. Just think of all the summer blockbusters you’ve seen – They’re all eye candy, but some ‘just work’ while others miss their mark. Unfortunately, Wolfenstein (2009) was one that missed the mark, and by quite a bit at that.

So yes, I’ll wait until I see some reviews and actual gameplay before making a decision. I mean, that’s the reasonable thing to do, right? Right.

Well, Bethesda seemingly wants to secure your money before YOU decide to be reasonable, because they’re offering beta access to the next Doom with every pre-order.

It’s a brilliant strategy, to say the least. The previous Wolfenstein all but killed the franchise, so they needed a hook to reel people back in… but how? Why, by dangling a carrot off a stick, of course! “Wolfenstein? Pssh. Wait, huh? Doom beta access is included? SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!” Just by glancing at Reddit and various message boards across the web, people are already excited to pre-order because of this announcement, meaning a boost in day 1 sales is now an inevitability. Interested or not, these gamers are going to give the new Wolfenstein a try, and for better or worse, word of mouth will take care of the rest.

Well played, Bethesda. Well played… but I’m still going to wait. ‘Beta access to Doom’ sounds nice and all, but keep this in mind – It’s been in development hell for a while now. It’s nice to have confirmation that it’s still in active development, but it could be years before it’s ready for beta testing.

But how about you? Does this sway your decision to pre-order the game in one way or the other? Leave your thoughts below, and we’ll discuss it!

Advertisements

Xbox One To Get Serious?

Image

It’s been another short vacation from writing on the blog, but I felt this piece of news was significant enough to take a moment and report ASAP.

It seems a Twitter source is saying that the ongoing ‘Resolution Gate’ has forced Microsoft to do another 180.  Namely, reducing the amount of power its OS requires.

If you haven’t been paying attention to next-gen news, there’s been a big ‘to do’ over how the PS4 performs over its main competitor, the Xbox One.  Since their launch a couple of months ago, there’s been games that have had higher resolution on the PS4 than their Xbox One counterpart, and with increased frame rates to boot.  The latest such example is 2013’s reimagined/reboot of Tomb Raider.

One of the problems with the Xbox One, is that there’s a chunk of its GPU that Microsoft has told devs not to use, as it’s important for all the features the OS has in place, as well as its relation with the bundled Kinect camera.  Devs on Call of Duty: Ghosts had asked Microsoft to use some of this GPU in order to make the game look comparable to the PS4 iteration, but Microsoft allegedly said ‘no’.  Now, it seems there’s buzz that Microsoft is going to do what they can to hack a lot of fat off of the Xbox One’s OS.

It’s a good move, because a lot of what I’ve read seems to indicate that the OS runs like crap.  The PS4 UI certainly has that feel of ‘more is coming in the future, just hang in there’, but at least it runs smooth like butter and can actually display the games the way devs want them to be seen.

It’s definitely concerning that Microsoft are having to make another 180 this close after launch based on internet rage, but tell me something – One machine is $500, the other is $400.  The cheaper one is the better performer.  Which one would you buy based on that info alone?

Of course, something like this was bound to happen eventually – That one, if not both of these companies would improve upon their OS over the course of the generation… but for MS to scramble to make it happen so soon is troubling.  And, as the Xbox One optimizes over the years, the PS4 will continue to be optimized as well.  I have a feeling even after Microsoft tweaks the Xbox One’s Ui to be less resource intensive, the PS4 is still going to be unmatched.

Time will tell.