Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus Seems Like More Of The Same

Wolfenstein 2 releases October 2017.
Wolfenstein 2 releases October 2017. Bethesda Softworks

Wolfenstein: The New Colossus is being hyped as “fucking bananas” ever since Pete Hines dropped a tease for MachineGames new sequel back in February. Bethesda Softworks thought enough of the title to make a centerpiece for it's E3 showcase, and the Americana-Diner-laced-with-Nazi-propaganda set piece is one of the most striking displays in Bethesda’s booth or anywhere on the showfloor. The visuals are peak Bethesda, a Nuka Cola machine was the only thing missing.

Wolfenstein is still establishing its spot in a storied roster but the upcoming sequel hopes to be the brand-defining standout that really gets over. After a brief hands-on with Wolfenstein: The New Order it’s clear the story is there, but the combat plateaued quickly.

The world of Wolfenstein comes alive almost immediately. Once again, B.J. Blazkowicz finds himself injured and disabled during a Nazi raid on a hospital. This time the hospital is in the giant nuclear sub he hijacked in the first game, and the Nazis are there specifically to kill him. Driven mad by revenge TKTK hunted down B.J. and the other resistance fighters, but moments before they arrive B.J. manages to rouse himself and climb into a wheelchair. Yes, Wolfenstein has wheelchair combat but it’s mostly just like when you play Oddjob in Goldeneye.

The level design is intricate in form and function. Environmental details, like an out-of-the-way nook housing some stowaway’s personal knick-knacks and hidden diary, add weight and presence as much as the textures and lighting (this was a PC build). There are hydraulic lifts and conveyors that will push B.J.’s chair around, although steps are fine too which I thought was a bit too easy.

The corridors in this submarine twisted and turned, and around any corner could be a lethal microwave trap. This section of the sub was hardwired with microwave traps because scientists are crazy? Didn’t catch the logic on it, but it’s basically an excuse to nuke Nazis and now we’re talking. Suddenly the level itself can be used as a weapon, but it cuts both ways. You learn the hard way to be careful.

It became near impossible to judge a lot about the combat from the demo, unfortunately. Wolfenstein: The New Colossus will be a game featuring some intense, over-the-top “fucking bananas” stuff. Scooting in a wheelchair with a machine pistol while microwave traps did the dirty work isn’t representative of what the experience will be. Yes, I shot guys with a machine pistol and did a little duck-and-cover, but I didn’t get any of the giant explosives or laser weapons that turn Nazis into goo. I did notice enemies were relatively the same size, a feature in FPS games I always find annoying. Wolfenstein is not the only offender, I’d just like to see shooters take more of a Borderlands approach and frequently vary the enemy size so headshots aren’t such a gimme.

Wolfenstein is getting the full Bethesda treatment during its E3 coming out party. But will it connect with fans on the level they expect it to given the impact other Bethesda games have had? Too early to tell but the demo is promising. The release itself adds a challenge too. Wolfenstein: The New Colossus is up against stiff competition when it releases on Oct. 27 alongisde Assassin’s Creed: Origins and Super Mario Odyssey . May the best game win.

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