Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus

The New Colossus is not The New Order. That much should be obvious from the title, but I want to make it perfectly clear. If you go into The New Colossus expecting more of the tone or content of The New Order, you will be disappointed. I know this because for the first half of the game, I was disappointed.

The New Colossus picks up immediately after the events of The New Order. You’ve dealt the Nazis a defeat, but not a killing blow, and they’re still in charge. But instead of liberating Europe, you’re moving on to free America. America surrendered after the Nazis dropped an atomic bomb on New York City, so you and your team of misfits are going to start a new American revolution.

I think maybe I have rose-tinted glasses when thinking back to The New Order, because I recall handily beating that game on “I am Death Incarnate” difficulty (the highest you can start with) and loving it. I started The New Colossus the same way and immediately died over and over until I realized that this isn’t fun and dialed the difficulty down to their version of “medium”. Even with the difficulty turned down, the game is still very challenging because you die very quickly if you don’t have armor. Even when you do have armor, there isn’t much indicating you’re being shot or where you’re being shot from until that armor has evaporated, and then you’re essentially done for.

However, the shooting and action does feel great. Enemies visibly react to being shot, weapons all have an appropriate punch to them, and heavy weapons can make you feel invincible. When you’re not sneaking around( which is still an option), you can run, dodge, shoot from cover, and melee, all of the options you want from an solid action game.

Thematically, The New Colossus is about revolution, and not the dour, grim game that The New Order frequently was. It rapidly switches from Nazi oppression and fascism on display to humor and humanity. It’s more rollercoaster than whiplash though, handled in a manner that few games can pull off. It’s a game that will shock you sometimes, but the shocks aren’t meaningless. They serve a purpose.

I’ve heard plenty of other people say that anyone wanting to play Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus should turn the difficulty down to easy and run through it, which I don’t particularly agree with. The action is fun and worth engaging with, even though it does suffer from lack of feedback. And running through the levels to get to the next cutscene neglects the wealth of background information in the well-done collectibles as well as the beautifully designed levels themselves. Maybe take one approach or the other, but play it. It doesn’t quite live up to The New Order, but it’s still an excellent addition to the series.

Below the cut are some thoughts and notes that will contain spoilers. This is your only warning.


Reference: Machine Games (developer). Wolfenstein 2: The New Colosssus [Bethesda Softworks, 2017]

Source: Purchased via Humble Store

AGAIN: SPOILERS HERE. GO AWAY.

I had the appearance of Hitler in this game spoiled for me by a rogue Kotaku article. I guess it’s only a spoiler if, like me, you’ve been assuming that all of these games are in the same continuity. I felt safe in that assumption because the previous games made Deathshead a central figure and rarely mentioned Hitler at all, which makes sense because you kill Hitler in Wolfenstein 3D. But no, he’s definitely still alive. I was pleased to see that this depiction of Hitler was extremely undignified. What Machine Games did was the opposite of glorifying him.

Frau Engel was a good antagonist up until the execution, at which point she utterly falls off of the map. From a story perspective, this kind of makes sense because she believes she killed BJ, but the Kreisau Circle and the other revolutionaries are still a threat. Instead, it felt like she had moved on and the second half of the game was just kind of moving on without her.

What I loved best about the revolutionaries of The New Colossus is that they’re not nuclear family Americans. They’re the people of color, women, communists, anarchists, and other marginalized people because the white people of this game rolled over for the Nazis. They’re learning German and trying to blend in and not cause a fuss.

The end credits music is possibly the worst single selection of all time. “We’re Not Gonna Take It” is thematically appropriate, but maybe not the best for the time period (made slightly better if it’s a teaser that the next game will take place in the 80’s) and this cover of it is absolutely awful. It’s bad, very bad. Contrast that to the beautiful cover of “I Believe”, that literally made me tear up at the end of a Wolfenstein game, and it’s even worse. Awful.