As big FPS fans, the Wolfenstein series is close to our hearts. Wolf 3D invented the genre, Return to Castle Wolfenstein showed the arrogant Proto-Call of Duty world of Medal of Honor that we wanted zombies with our WW2, and Raven’s Wolfenstein is also a game. But it was MachineGames’ wonderful Wolfenstein: The New Order that truly returned the series to greatness, nearly even getting our Game of the Year 2014, and it’s still one of the best shooters of all time. The Old Blood was a fun follow-up, but soon we’re getting the proper sequel. And now… we have played Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus. We’ve got a gameplay video you can see here</a< or below, and here’s our thoughts on it too.
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We’re in Neu Orleans, July 1961-A as Doc Brown would say. We’re about to learn an important lesson… that the default mouse-and-keyboard keymappings in the game are utterly crazy. We played an hour of The New Colossus and we’ve still got no idea what the Melee key was. Consequently, as you can see in the video, we died more times than was healthy. We swear we’re good at FPSs, Wolfenstein in particular… when we get to customize our own controls.
Anyway, excuses aside, there’s so much to digest about this game. First let me assure fans of the previous games that The New Order’s wonderful mixture of serious storytelling, pure OTT ridiculousness and tongue-in-cheek references is absolute back in The New Colossus. Bad things might be happening in Neu Orleans, but there are also plenty of hysterical moments of pure comedy too, with some wonderful writing and acting too. If I have one criticism it’s that the cutscenes, no matter how good, go on for a mite too long. They’re entertaining though, and the one I saw brought back Anya (now pregnant), Fergus (now with a misbehaving robotic arm), Bombate (you don’t want to know what I saw him doing), and the brain-dented Max Hass. Oh, and BJ Blazkowicz of course, back for the umpteenth time. Oh yes, and the game does take into account whether you saved Fergus or Wyatt in the last game apparently.
The mission was simple: find a freedom fighter called Horton and his group somewhere in New Orleans. Getting there would be less easy. Teams of soldiers and fire-breathing Panzerhunds are roaming the streets, and stealth wasn’t likely in this first scenario (although I’ve been assured by MachineGames that stealth is once again tough but absolutely possible in Wolfenstein II). So I got thrown into the thick of an action scene, with little cover and no idea what key activated dual wielding. So, I died a lot.
But, like Dark Souls, I kept coming back for more and slowly Got Gud. I also got a very strong reminder – there isn’t really any regenerating health or shield, and you have to pick up health packs and armour. I would say that’s a novel concept, except Wolfenstein and Doom seem to be the only games in the single-player FPS town these days so I think people are getting used to them again. Still it took me a few deaths to remember. You’d think I hadn’t just replayed The New Order. It’s the keys, I swear.
And the main thing I discovered was: this is still Wolfenstein. In terms of shooting, it is still so much fun. Blasting Nazi soldiers in the face, especially ones armed with fireball-shooting guns or robotic armour, never gets old. There’s still the mechanic of Nazi officers calling in reinforcements if you leave them alive, so you have to track them down before you can continue otherwise you’ll be swarmed with enemies – which was difficult with the one I encountered because he was in a building with several floors.
Then we have the weapons, and god they’re glorious. If I have one complaint it’s that they look kind of similar at first glance, all metallic with bits sticking out. Often I had to fire it to work out which gun was the shotgun. Then you actually do, and wow it’s so satisfying – especially when you fire all barrels at once. There’s a long-range rifle, machine-gun, triple-barrelled shotgun, pistol, all with alternate fire modes, and all can be dual-wielded in any fashion you choose, which once I got used to it I was mixing-and-matching ridiculously so.
Then there are the special weapons. The ‘Dieselgewehr’ pumps out fireballs and can be refuelled at stations on the wall, and the ‘Laserkraftwerk’ was my personal favourite. It’s basically a Railgun, and it just tears through people, machinery and even walls apart. It made short work of a Panzerhund, I can tell you, and made what should’ve been a tough boss battle in a confined area ridiculously easy. A couple of shots and it melted into nothing. Apparently you only get that if Fergus survived your New Order playthrough, as if you saved Wyatt you get sticky remote bombs instead.
And then, after making contact with Horton and his group who I frankly disliked immediately, I reached the crowning glory of the playthrough – Riding a Panzerhund through the streets of New Orleans, blasting soldiers, Elites, and even other Panzerhunds with steady streams of flame. We did it against zombies in The Old Blood, and it’s even better in the sequel. So, so satisfying. Unfortunately there was where my playthrough had to end, far too soon.
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus will be out October 27 on PC, Xbox One and PS4, with a Switch version out (somehow) in 2018. It can be pre-ordered on Steam now for £39.99/$49.99.
One interesting addition was the inclusion of robotic legs for BJ that, at a second push of jump, allows him to double his height. Other than appearing in some puzzle moments I didn’t really see the benefit of this new feature as it simply made me easier to get shot, but I guess with a little practice I’ll see whether it’s of use in combat when the final game comes out.
Other than that, the one thing I didn’t mention was how gorgeous the game looks, especially on PC. The last game came out on the last generation of consoles and still generally looks good, but The New Colossus is a massive leap forwards. The smoke, shadow and light effects were truly impressive, the soldiers looked superb, and the flame effects got me killed I was staring at them so much. I just hope I can run it looking this good.
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is shaping up to be every bit as fun as The New Order, with an interesting new setting in Nazi-occupied 1960s America. The shooting is as fun and satisfing as ever, the characters and story are delightful with just the right mix of serious and ridiculous, and, well, it’s everything a Wolfenstein game needs to be. We’ll be playing it again, for sure, and maybe again it’ll be a Game of the Year contender.
Are you planning on picking up Wolfenstein 2? Did you like the first game? Let us know in the comments!
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