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How I Made… Wolfenstein: The New Order

Jens Matthies, creative director at MachineGames, explains how he and his team rebooted the FPS classic

Wolfenstein 3D was the game that caused many of us to get into developing games in the first place, so when my company MachineGames was acquired by Bethesda in 2010 we asked if we could have a crack at it. We’ve been making Wolfenstein: The New Order ever since. 

I started in the games industry in 1998 at a studio called Starbreeze. We made a number of games while I was there, most notably The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay and The Darkness, but in 2009 a few of us left to form MachineGames, where I’m creative director. 

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I made this - Wolfenstein: The New Order

Wolfenstein: The New Order is an action-adventure shooter that takes place in an alternate version of the 1960s, where the Nazis have won World War II and taken over the world. They have access to this great scientific knowledge, although it’s a bit of a mystery where it came from.

We’ve taken inspiration directly from things like Mecha-Hitler to honour the outlandish nature of the series. Nothing’s based on real Nazi technology but it’s certainly rooted in it. I think if the Nazis knew how to make robot dogs they would have!

You play as the classic Wolfenstein protagonist BJ Blazkowicz, but while he used to fight for an army, now it’s basically just him against a global force. When id Software made Wolfenstein 3D in 1992 it was very clear that they were inspired by the action heroes of the day. We wanted to play off of that archetype and find a depth in that character.

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I made this - Wolfenstein: The New Order

There’s a lot of Nazi ideology that’s so bizarre it feels like fiction, which definitely inspired what kind of story we wanted to tell and the world we created. [Quentin] Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds is a really helpful example, because it shows that you can tell a story on a very sensitive topic and still infuse it with humour.