Recently I got the chance to speak with Peter Sokal, Community Manager of id software about the pending latest chapter in the Castle Wolfenstein series. I want to thank Peter for answering our questions and Robert at Activision for arranging the interview.
GVK: What is the background and setting for the game?
PS: In Wolfenstein, you play as B.J. Blazkowicz, an elite agent for the Office of Secret Actions (OSA).
The story in Wolfenstein takes place just after the events of Return to Castle Wolfenstein, and the Nazis are back. Upon investigating and researching the dark occult, they discover an energy source known as the Black Sun. To access the Black Sun, the Nazis must first find a way through a realm known as the Veil, which leaks energy from the Black Sun into our reality. They believe that they can utilize this energy to create weapons and improve their army. B.J. learns that the crystals used to take advantage of the Black Sun’s power are located in one city in the world, a fictional city in Germany called Isenstadt. B.J. is sent there to discover what the Nazis are up to, and try and put a stop to it.
GVK: What are some of the locales gamers will see in the game?
PS: Gamers will come across a myriad of locations within Wolfenstein. Since the game isn’t centered around being historically factual, it allowed us to come up with tons of cool, never before seen locations, that gamers will get to experience. Some examples include a mysterious Digsite and an underground Nazi lab. There are a variety of locations in the game that keep the experience fresh and exciting.
Additionally, the Veil will change the way these locales look and feel, as the Veil is a bridge between reality and the supernatural. Essentially, it’s a mysterious and deadly alternative dimension filled with strange creatures and unique powers. Every time players enter the Veil they will be able to experience its effects – and these have never been seen before in the Wolfenstein franchise.
GVK: What are some of the weapons we will see and will there be a BFG style weapon and flamethrowers?
PS: In addition to an array of conventional weapons, from the 98K rifle and MP43 assault rifle to the flamethrower, gamers will unlock the power of a dark, parallel dimension and utilize the Nazis’ own occult experiments, perverted science, and otherworldly weaponry, against them, paranormal forces, and superhuman creatures. The Nazis are using energy from the Veil to enhance their weaponry, and B.J. will get a chance to give them a taste of their own medicine. A great example of this is the Particle Cannon. Powered by Veil energy, it destroys cover and turns enemies into ash. There are more cool weapons that players will be able to use throughout the game, but we will be talking about later. Also, something that is crucial to the weaponry in the game is the upgrade system. Treasure is a huge part of the Wolfenstein franchise and now gamers will be able to use the treasure they find in the game to upgrade all of their (weapons and veil powers) giving BJ the proper equipment to kick Nazi ass.
GVK: Will vehicles be used in the game?
PS: B.J. is a one-man army that is called in to turn the tide of battle. While the Nazi’s will need newer and bigger weapons and vehicles to defeat him, B.J. is comfortable with his own armory.
GVK: What forms of multiplay does the game include and will the be co-op play?
PS: We are building on what made the multiplayer in Return to Castle Wolfenstein such a fantastic experience. We’ve also incorporated the Veil, which adds an exciting new element to the multiplayer game.
Co-op was discussed, but in the end we determined that Wolfenstein is the story of B.J. Blazkowicz fighting against the Nazis and it didn’t make sense in terms of the story to have two of him running around.
GVK: What engine is the game using and what are some of the new features it will offer gamers?
PS: Wolfenstein is using idTech 4, but with a ton of enhancements.
Raven knew at the beginning of development that they wanted to make sure that we stayed competitive in the marketplace and they also had a great experience working with idTech in the past which means they knew the ins and outs of the technology. Additionally, they added some great tech changes that make the game look modern and keep all the bells and whistles that you would expect for a next-gen game. They pretty much re-wrote or re-worked every system in the technology. They started with a new lighting system, called deferred shading, that allows them to create realistic lighting and soft shadows. They added a system of post processing effects that let us do cool things like depth of field, overbloom, motion blur, full screen desaturation and distortions. They added Havok physics to really help the world come alive and shine with tons of shrapnel, chunks and destructible pieces. One of the biggest additions was the creation of thier streaming system. This system lets them load and unload the assets around the player and allows us to have continuous, highly detailed environments throughout the entire game. It’s crazy when you look around at all of the detailed models, textures and enemies that you’ll find in the game.
GVK: What can you tell us about the A.I. in the game?
PS: We knew from the beginning that we wanted Wolfenstein to deliver the gameplay experience that people would expect having played Return to Castle Wolfenstein and Wolfenstein 3D. At the same time, we also wanted to introduce the Wolfenstein experience to people that might be new to the franchise. At its core, the game is about fast action and combat. Starting there, we built layers on that foundation to highlight and push different gameplay and to keep the player involved. Even basic Nazi soldiers will take advantage of cover, use blind fire attacks and work to flank the player. On top of that we’ve got the awesome Wolfenstein universe to draw from. While the game is set in World War II, it’s not a World War II game. You can expect some cool enemies that are created in a world where dark and twisted science merges with the mysterious strangeness of the occult. Wolfenstein allows us to offer surprises around every corner – it’s a pretty cool universe to be let loose in. When you factor in the weapon upgrades and the Veil, you find a layered system that gives the player the opportunity to take on combat the way they like. Additionally, Wolfenstein allows for a ton of play styles thanks to the upgrade system. Whether you want to sneak around and pick off enemies with silencers or go in guns blazing, the A.I. has been designed to act accordingly.
GVK: Blending action with a detailed plot can always be tricky. How have you attempted to create this element, and will scripted events be a part of the game?
PS: Wolfenstein has always been about fast-paced combat with explosions and surprises around every corner, so we knew that keeping that intact was essential to the game. We also wanted to make sure that this time around players could also enjoy a really deep and engaging story, so we added NPC groups for B.J. to interact with throughout the game and push the story forward.
An example of these groups is the Kreisau Circle. These are citizens of Isenstadt who have taken up arms against the invading Nazis and are helping B.J. in his discovery of the Nazis plan. Interacting with these groups gives players important story elements as well as missions throughout the game.
GVK: The past game dealt heavy with the supernatural, will that continue in the new games?
PS: The Wolfenstein franchise is known for its supernatural elements and unexpected twists. The goal when designing this game was to keep ratcheting up the intensity in terms of combat and the supernatural throughout the campaign, and to keep players unsure about what was around the next corner.
GVK: What are the biggest obstacles you faced in creating the game and the biggest success?
PS: One big obstacle that we faced was the fact that people might view this as “just another World War II game.” However, this is also one of the biggest successes of the Wolfenstein franchise. Wolfenstein takes place during World War II and features Nazis, but other than that it is very much its own experience. Since it is not an attempt to be historically relevant, we can throw a lot of unexpected twists at the player and give them a fresh experience. With occult, supernatural and sci-fi undertones the game really stands out.
As Kevin Cloud once said, saying Wolfenstein is a World War II game is like saying Indiana Jones is a World War II movie.
GVK: What are some of the enemies players will face and will there be Boss battles?
PS: Players will face a variety of different enemies in the game. There will be battle-hardened Nazi soldiers, but there will also be a lot of enemies that have harnessed the Veil to make themselves more combat effective. A few examples of this are the Scribe and the Heavy Trooper. The Scribe has learned to utilize the Veil and can put shields around his allies, move with blazing speed, and throw energy projectiles at the player. The Heavy Trooper wields a devastating Particle Cannon and is like a walking tank. Players will have to use their weapons and their cunning to take down these enemies.
Players will be really impressed with the Veil-created bosses they will have to face in order to stop the Nazis..
GVK: What formats will the game be released on?
PS: The game will be released on the PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3
GVK: Roughly how long is the game?
PS: Game length is based on what style of player you are.Those who want to explore, find all the treasures, and get all of the unlocks will spend more time with the game than those people who will just run and gun through the levels..