Let’s Re-Examine ‘Wolfenstein: The New Order’ on Waypoint 101


#1

In this game, you not only punch Nazis, but you shoot and knife them, too.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/vb7833/lets-re-examine-wolfenstein-the-new-order-on-waypoint-101

Waypoint 101 — Wolfenstein: The New Order [Spoilers Unleashed]
#2

Very good praxis imho


#3

Oh man everybody picked Fergus, which means nobody gets to see J’s scene where he calls out BJ on America’s bullshit


#4

for the sex fiend nazi, I didn’t really read her being a sex fiend as a villain trait, but more of a power one. She gets to be in her 50s-60s, having raised several sons to adulthood, and still be a high ranking nazi officer who gets to have all the sex she wants with young, beautiful, stupid men decades her junior.


#5

real good pod cast. wolfenstein was a fantastic choice for waypoint 101, and they went for it in this one.


#6

I’m glad they’re finally doing this! I’m veeery interested in seeing what they’ll think about a late game reveal.


#7

This was my thought when everyone said they picked Fergus. I feel like it could have been an interesting facet of the discussion at least. Maybe we’ll hear about it next time since they asked for people to send in clarification and opinions about how the Wyatt route is different.


#8

I mean it’s a super short scene but I really, really appreciated that it exists. And I appreciated that BJ goes through a pretty typical cycle for someone being confronted with that for the first time - he gets angry and denies, but then after a minute he thinks and realizes that he was wrong, and apologizes. then they become guitar buds. It’s good.


#9

It’s definitely one of the best scenes in the Wyatt playthrough so far. Plus it really would have played well into the discussion about Wolfenstein being re-contextualized by the current American political climate that was mentioned a few times in this episode.

I also love that we can get a trippy Jimmy Hendrix music video in the middle of a game about killing nazis in alternate 1960’s(?) Germany.


#10

oh shit i forget that they drop acid together.

anyway I sent my thoughts in on an email


#11

I hope they also get a chance to see Wyatt’s thoughts on the choice after you get back, that was an interesting scene.


#12

I had a few thoughts on the episode that I think I’d like to share. A great deal of those are linked to some of the topics that come up in this episode, particularly the discussion that springs from @CrimsonBehelit’s great question from the other thread.

Firstly, I’d just like to say that I loved this episode. It felt really well balanced between discussing the context of the game (contemporarily and today), the game itself, and contributing original thought, whether about the Nazi Party, the world design, or the game’s narrative. I wanted to focus on the first of those additional points, since it is the only thing I can speak to.

Before we begin, I’d like to flag up that I’m by no means an expert in this field, just a passionate history graduate who recently came off reading Richard J. Evans’ fantastic Third Reich trilogy (The Coming of the Third Reich, The Third Reich in Power, 1933-1939, and The Third Reich at War), which I can’t help but wonder if Zacny has ever found the time to read.

I think the constant recycling of Nazis-as-villains that CrimsonBehelit brings out is important. While we have a 70+ year Western history of engaging with Nazis as media figures (from propaganda at the time to post-war depictions of them), many of these portrayals are rooted in other media representations or, as Walker says, contemporary anxieties that are projected onto an ‘other’ regime. The historiography (that is, the history of the history) of Nazi Germany has grown up in more-or-less parallel to this, with intersections along the way, but less cross-contamination than one might hope. There’s a reason why parts of this game, as noted in the episode, feel like they come from Inglorious Basterds, not historical analysis.

Part of this is what Zacny touches on in his response to CrimsonBehelit’s question regarding the Nazi Party’s leadership being ‘fuckups’ ‘at the end of their tether’ (which is a pretty accurate assessment of a lot of them). One of the elements that Evans devotes a great deal of time to in his books is Nazi education policy, which, despite widespread support for the Nazi Party among teachers and doctors, was simplistic and emphasised physical education over traditional scholarly work. Both the curriculum (which included having to spend summers working as free labour for farms) and the Hitler Youth (which encouraged students to resist the discipline of their teachers) encouraged this.

In tertiary education, Nazi influence absolutely transformed the sector. A combination of forced reduction in student numbers, Aryanisation (i.e. forceful expulsion of Jewish faculty), and social pressures saw some sectors (e.g. law) wither away almost entirely while others (e.g. medicine, which included ‘racial hygiene’) saw their proportions rise in an overall declining area. However, even medicine saw its standards drop precipitously, as the quality of secondary education plunged (and professors were forced to pass increasingly poor scripts) and medicine came under pressure to include increasingly dubious psuedo-science (e.g. homeopathy) as legitimate branches of what it did. However, this fact is inconvenient for any alternative-history of Nazi Germany, since it raises substantive questions about the long-term viability of a system performing direly on an educational level.

I only raise this because I think it can be a worthwhile endeavour to, in order to counteract this image of hyper-competency that we see in media, discuss the real Nazi Germany as it was. I’m not an expert (and I’m largely speaking from Evans’ work), but I think, as Zacny taps in this episode, looking at the system in practice truly shatters any illusions one can have about their competence or efficiency.


#13

Just got to the bit where Patrick starts talking about the voice acting for BJ and he has to stumble so much because he doesn’t know the VA. This is like a huge nitpick for me because it seems like nobody in games journalism can remember VAs unless they are literally just Nolan North or Troy Baker. BJ is voiced by Brian Bloom, an actor who’s also in Dragon Age, XCOM, and was the lead in and co-wrote Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. He also was the villain in and co-wrote that good popcorn flick A-Team movie however many years ago.

It’s like the same 5-9 people in every game, you all can put in the effort to put names to voices.

Yes, that moment some weeks ago during the Destiny 2 stream where Danika yelled to Austin off-mic about how he couldn’t remember who Gideon Emery is was heaven for me.


#14

Fantastic episode and really enjoyed listening to the team disect their thoughts on the game. I like the weekly podcast but this really gave a chance to dive deeper into the ideas presented.

Some of Austins points about what the game was implying was eye opening to me, it’s just not a part of games I usually engage with. I tend to be far more focused on broad strokes or mechanics then singular sections. Do other people find this when playing games?


#15

I had very mixed feelings on my first and recent playthrough of Wolfenstein: TNO. The cutscenes are definitely a highlight, using a more filmic approach, with stylized jump cuts and a good guitar tempo in the background, to frame scenes, making the game feel like a Tarantino production.The mayhem unleashed on waves of nazis in a variety of settings was also satisfying. My issue was the stylized and sometimes comic atmosphere especially when dealing with concentration camps, incinerators, and experimentation of holocaust victims.

It’s something I noticed from the very first chapter. Victims, and I’m assuming concentration camp prisoners, with their backs peeled open and strung up to machines in the incinerator room. It’s gruesome and ghastly, but I think it also has a tint of “look at this cool sci-fi tech that the nazis have” that obscures some of the monstrosity. In the concentration camp, BJ daftly brushes off dead prisoners before jumping out of a cart headed into another incinerator. It just felt tone-deaf to me.

Machine Game’s comments on not wanting to make politically charged games has me somewhat concerned about TNC. I look forward to playing it, more so than when TNO was released (I think the reveal trailer for TNC nailed what was missing with TNO reveal), but I’m growing more concerned with how they handle situations with race and if those situations will come off feeling as tone-deaf as I felt the situations with concentration camps felt in TNO.


#16

The cutscenes are definitely a highlight, using a more filmic, with stylized jump cuts and a good guitar tempo in the background, to frame scenes, making the game feel like a Tarantino production.

There’s cutscene in the London Nautica when BJ drops down into the lab is a highlight of this - it uses a triple-splitscreen effect which is straight out of '70s cinema, but the more immediate reference was probably Tarantino.


#17

A lot of Tarantino’s visual flair come from other era’s of cinema, but like you said he’s probably the most immediate (and modernly relevant) reference for cinematography style of TNO.


#18

Yeah watching a Tarantino movie is like watching a mixtape of stuff from the '60s and '70s to the point where it can be overwhelming if you catch a lot of his references at once. He’s probably the biggest “sampler as filmmaker” out there.


#19

This was a fantastic episode of analysis, although I have to say I was extremely surprised by the discussion surrounding the Fergus/Wyatt choice!

I think this speaks to the experience of playing a game for the first time, but when I got to that scene the first time I played the night the game released (I’m… a fan of WWII games, to put it lightly) the last thing on my mind was the material consequence. To me, sparing Wyatt was my instant gut reaction. I never thought as far ahead as “will there be different rewards awaiting me based on this choice?” or anything of the sort. Instead, I had an extremely visceral and moral inclination to let Fergus sacrifice himself for poor Wyatt, who was green, scared, and most importantly, brave. Braver than I would be in that kind of situation, at any rate. I think the scene with BJ teaching the private controlled breathing really made me feel like the game wanted me to look out for the weak, rather than calculate who would be “best” to save in a material sense.

To think about lives in terms of material value to a cause, I think, is a cornerstone of nazi ideology. I’ve never really made my mind up about whether that’s the point the scene is trying to make - Deathshead forcing you, cruelly, into partaking in his worldview - or whether it’s a byproduct of the game being… well, a game. I think video games, even the best written ones, still have a really hard time wrapping stories about resistance to oppressive cataloging and organizing of people around game mechanics, which are by nature, well… mechanical. It reminds me of the problem multiple Assassin’s Creed games have had where liberating oppressed peoples - be it black slaves in Freedom Cry or child laborers in Syndicate - moves them from clockwork machines to be treated as currency for upgrading your clockwork machines.

I think attaching actual mechanical value to picking one over the other in Wolfenstein works against the game’s politics, although I also completely agree that having health packs is WAY MORE VALUABLE than the lockpicks Wyatt offers (mostly because I found the stealth gameplay lacking) but look, there I go again assigning material value to characters who are supposed to be living, breathing people in a story. In a way, I think Fergus being the far more obvious “gameplay” good choice ends up wrapping back around into making me feel good about always picking Wyatt - I’m not choosing him because he gets me better stuff, I’m choosing him because it feels like protecting the weak and letting wizened old Fergus go - who has already clearly given the war effort so damn much - is the moral thing to do.

Really looking forward to the next episode! This game really… goes places.


#20

only thing i can really say is i’m surprised they enjoyed the stealth considering how badly implemented it is