Wolfenstein: The New Order preview: First play of Bethesda reboot on Xbox One

Wolfenstein: The New Order may have revealed itself in a stylised trailer at this year's E3 expo in Los Angeles, California, but it showed nothing of the gameplay. We scratched our chins, thinking that any extra info beyond what we've already seen would remain as mysterious as its alternate Nazi history plot. But behind closed doors at the Bethesda booth we got to dig deep into the game on an Xbox One.

Throw Bethesda's name around and it conjures thoughts of open-world epics, with both the Fallout and Elder Scrolls series springing to mind. Wolfenstein: The New Order doesn't fully adopt such a style by any means - the title is produced by MachineGames out of Sweden - but it's certainly brushed off on the title.

First and foremost Wolfenstein: The New Order is a first person shooter; at its core a homage to the 1992 Wolfenstein 3D release from id Software - a game which defined the genre all those years ago.

But it's the thinking man's first person shooter - one moment you'll be puzzling to find the exit hatch after mowing down a horde of mechanical Nazi dogs (no, really), the next minute you'll be delivering coffee to a female Führer (and we're still dead serious) and then using twin shotguns at close range to rip apart an SS-styled soldier. It's madness, carnage, malaise even.

Among all this The New Order is thick with dark, dark comedy. And we're talking coated with black treacle kind of dark - some of the profanity fuelled one-liners from our protagonist B.J. (no sniggering, kids) are a nod to what the latest Duke Nukem could have been.
Throughout our play session we quickly learnt that the latest Wolfenstein game is bloomin' difficult. Shoot-outs require plenty of ducking and diving, swapping of weapons and leaning around corners to dispatch your foes. Some mechanised enemies need to take on a flurry of hits before they're out of the way.
But it's less that the shooting elements are tricky and more the navigation. There's no map on display as this corridoor-driven shooter ought to not need one but, in saying that, seeking out chains to bust open, lift brakes to shoot off and panels to heat-cut open with secondary weapons did prove a little taxing. We got the knack of it soon enough - keep an eye out for anything that glints - but it's these moments which change the drive of the game.
That's when the title feels like a different beast. Think Oblivion with Nazis but with its own swagger. First person shooters are ten a penny these days so Wolfenstein had to be different to stand out. And stand out it does - even hours after playing it, its hard-hitting gameplay, lingering difficulty and downright bizarre concept - which stays true to the franchise's history - all remain on our perplexed yet enthralled brains.
Available for Xbox One, Xbox 360, Playstation 4, Playstation 3 and PC, Wolfenstein: The New Order will be available in Q4 this year. We look forward to seeing the game from front to back nearer to its completion date, around November-December time.