A couple weeks back I got to check out Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus at a gameplay event Bethesda put on here in Los Angeles. Even though I’m a huge fan of both “Wolfenstein: The New Order” and “Wolfenstein: The Old Blood,” I was a little nervous going in. When “Wolfenstein 2” was announced back at E3 this year, I was happy that Machine Games was taking the story in a bigger, bolder direction… I was just a little wary that they might forget that the reason “The New Order” was a hit (one that inspired 2016’s incredible “DOOM” reboot in many ways), was thanks to incredible gameplay first and foremost. After getting to sit down and dig into an admittedly short 35-minute long chapter, my fears are mostly gone.
The name of the game in “Wolfenstein 2” is more. There’s more of a story, more of the excellent gameplay, more of the post-WWII world where Hitler and his Nazi regime won the war and more options to clear levels how you see fit. Surprisingly, I couldn’t find one negative to the increase in, well, everything Wolfenstein 2 has to offer. The side characters especially, both new and returning plastered a smile on my face every time they were on screen. Grace, the American resistance group’s leader is an awesome character. She’s smart, resourceful and she isn’t afraid to push B.J. around a little bit.
The chapter I got to play began with Grace giving B.J. a mission where he would head to New Orleans via a stolen Nazi submarine and recruit the town’s preacher and/or resistance leader, Horton. Before the mission started, I was presented with both Fergus and Wyatt which was weird seeing as I was pretty sure one of them died in “The New Order.” Either way, choosing one or the other’s path results in acquiring one of two insanely cool guns. One is a laser blaster that absolutely melts Nazi’s, and the other one seemed like a gas-powered rivet gun but I wasn’t able to try playing with both. The weapon mod system also returns in “Wolfenstein 2,” and I was given ample parts to upgrade my weapons how I saw fit which was pretty cool.
The actual level was absolutely full of new additions to the series. First up, B.J. has a pair of stilts at his disposal which can be activated at any time by double tapping “A” or “X.” I really liked this because just like in “The New Order,” if I stopped moving for even a second I’d get shot to bits by bad guys. The stilts not only propelled me up above the battle to get some cheap shots in, but it let me scan the area for new pieces of cover and for new branching paths to make my way through.
Countering the stilts is a slightly less cool ability that lets B.J. slide through air vents by literally compressing his body. I got to see both in practice after clearing the first wave of Nazi soldiers and being lead into a factory. At first, I used the air vents, and I died five times thanks to officers seeing me and alerting more soldiers to come. I obviously got sick of that pretty quick so I used the stilts to enter through the second floor which put me right in front of both of the building’s officers. I took them out quickly with my pistol and vualá, I was ready to advance.
Speaking of the weapons, it felt like by this chapter I had nearly, if not all of the weapons the game had to offer and while it was a nice mix there wasn’t anything that stood out from “The New Order” or its expansion “The Old Blood.” It felt familiar, but more fine-tuned (in a good way). The machine gun on hand in Wolfenstein 2 is more of a SMG than a full-on AR, and I didn’t like it as much as the AR in “The New Order” or “The Old Blood,” but that’s my only complaint as far as weapon variety goes.
After clearing out the warehouse and finding Horton, a cutscene between the two characters played and I was hooked on Horton instantly. He has an ultra cool Deep South 70’s vibe that was acted incredibly (below), and his reservations towards helping B.J. and his friends were legitimately understandable. They argue about who served their country better since B.J. went overseas to fight and Horton hung back to build people’s morale, and the cutscene itself was well lit, insanely well directed and it leads into the next section perfectly.
Naturally, B.J. and Horton come to an agreement, but Horton only agrees on the condition that B.J. ride through the streets of New Orleans on a re-programmed giant metal Nazi wolf that breathes fire. I’m not going to lie, after fighting those guys a bunch in “The New Order” and “The Old Blood,” it was awesome to have the tables turned. The wolf also controlled really well and the fire effects looked great. The level itself was kind of a breeze thanks to my over-powered friend, but it was fun nonetheless.
I think that’s the biggest thing “Wolfenstein: The New Colossus” has going for it. Despite its extremely dark subject matter (especially in the current political climate), it still manages to stay fun and be chock full of hope. These characters are going up against, well, a colossus but they manage to find the good in the unfortunately bleak world they’re in and that helps the game keep a great pace. On the other hand, while I had an absolute blast with the demo, the level I got to play packed a ton of variety into a relatively short amount of time so it was a little hard to focus on whether or not certain aspects would remain fun over multiple hours of gameplay. At the end of the day though I enjoyed my time with “Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus,” and I’m really excited to play more of the game when it releases for PS4, Xbox One and PC on October 27th, 2017.
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