Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus
Blazkowicz returns home to find America ruled by Nazis
“It feels like Wolfenstein, but there’s tons of new stuff happening” played it
Set immediately after TheNewOrder, this sequel sees an injured BJ Blazkowicz returning to the United States to find his homeland occupied by the Nazis. Joining forces with a ragtag resistance, he embarks on a series of guerrilla missions to bring the German war machine down from the inside. “The first game was about building a resistance, or planting the seed of one,” says creative director Jens Matthies. “And in the new game these resistance groups are forming alliances to ignite a revolution and take back America. Then they want to use the United States as a platform to liberate the world.”
It’s a bitter homecoming for Blazkowicz, who’ll have even more reasons (as if he needed any) to want to kill every Nazi he sees goosestepping over his country. “We’ve always wanted to bring Blazkowicz to the US from the beginning, but we needed a lot of time to explore it,” says Matthies. “It’s his homeland and he has a connection to it, and that’s interesting to explore.”
I play a level set in the desert town of Roswell, New Mexico. I’m in disguise and free to explore the streets, but if I get to close to any patrolling Nazis I’ll be recognised. There are huge wanted posters all over town. I overhear an officer berating a pair of Ku Klux Klan members for their poor German, and the image of swastikas draped over the idyllic, romantic image of Main Street, USA, is quite striking. It’s like a fascist Disneyland.
“We thought a lot about how the Nazis would subvert the ’60s culture that we know. There was civil rights, Woodstock, The Beatles, the space race. It was a very rich time in terms of Western culture. So we wondered what this iconic time period would be like if perverted by the Nazis.” The collision of fascist propaganda and dreamy Americana is a powerful one, and evidence of the Nazis’ advanced technology is seen all around, including a robot busy cleaning tables in a diner.
I’m in Roswell to meet a resistance contact. After a tense run-in with a suspicious milkshake-slurping Nazi officer, I meet the contact and he guides me to a railway leading to Area 52, an underground Nazi weapons facility. This is where things get really Wolfenstein as I creep around an industrial maze of corridors and catwalks knifing Nazis and, when my cover is blown, shooting them. It isn’t much of a leap from the last game, but the combat still has the same exaggerated, cathartic, weighty feel to it.
“We were incredibly happy with how the first game felt. But we switched engines, so we rebuilt every system, including AI, player movement and so on,” says Matthies. “It still feels like Wolfenstein, but there’s tons of new stuff happening. If a grenade goes off near you, you’ll fall to the ground but can still keep shooting. Things like this make the combat feel more immersive, but we still want to retain the feeling of the original game. We’re just evolving, polishing and refining it.”
When TheNewOrder was released it was a bold reimagining of the Wolfenstein series. So, perhaps predictably, this new game doesn’t have quite the same feeling of freshness. But that aside, the shift to an American setting, the increased focus on strong characters and dramatic storytelling, and an array of preposterous new weapons to wield makes Blazkowicz’s return an exciting prospect. And if the opening level, in which our hero charges around in a wheelchair shooting Nazis with one hand and pulling himself along with the other, is anything to go by, MachineGames hasn’t lost any of its sense of humour.
Do these dogs even know they’re Nazis?