Wolfenstein: The New Order showed us that protagonist B.J. Blazkowicz has a softer, more human side when he’s not churning through Nazis and turning them into a thick paste. Now, Wolfenstein II wants to show us just how calm he is under pressure with an updated bank of animations dubbed the ‘Tension System’.
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As you are playing The New Colossus, a hidden value will track exactly what pressure you are under, and B.J.’s behaviour will adapt to suit. “The Tension System measures the main character’s situation - if he’s in combat, very hectic combat, or if he is in a situation that is dead calm,” senior game designer Andreas Ojerfors tells me over Skype. “That’s a value that our different game systems have access to. So when it comes to weaponry, we animated differently how Blazko uses his weapons, depending on what kind of situation he is in.
“If he is just walking about, there are no enemies nearby and you choose to do a reload, he does a pretty calm reload. But if you are in the middle of combat, people are shooting at you and you are down behind cover, B.J.’s going to do it really fast. The same thing goes for every type of weapon animation we have - they are sped up when you are in an intense situation. It’s a fluid value that we look at, so we understand how tense a situation is. It’s very dynamic system.”
The Tension System also has an effect on the game’s soundtrack, upping the tempo when action picks up, and slowing it down again when things go calm. It looks like some of Wolfenstein II’s biggest strides forward will be in the animation department, with a bunch of unique animations tied to each weapon.
Not only that, but those animations are made even more complex by the game allowing players to choose a different weapon for each hand - layer the complexity of the Tension System over that and MachineGames have a huge bank of animations to play with, making sure each shot, each, reload, and every gun combination feels satisfying.