Since the first Wolfenstein game came out some 30 years ago, the title has had quite a bit of success with the gaming community. There’s something innately fulfilling about giving Nazis the beatdown, with some pretty insane weapons, and a brash, tough protagonist. It’s 2017 now, and it’s good to see some things don’t really change, at least not by a lot. Wolfenstein: New Colossus picks up where the previous installment, Wolfenstein: New Order, leaves off. The Nazis won the Second World War, America is under German control, and the atompunk vibe is in every corner of ‘60s USA. Our hero, BJ Blazcowicz has survived the events of the previous game, but just barely. The resistance has moved its base into the massive submarine Eva’s Hammer, in order to keep the fight going.
Things happen, and before long, you’re back in the saddle, quite a bit worse for wear, and slinging lead like it’s nobody’s business. In between the action, the game gives you a lot of insight as to what’s going on in our hero’s head, and it’s not very encouraging. Battle-weary, and still suffering from all the battles he has fought, you are in the shoes of a fighter on auto-pilot, just doing what he has to until he can’t do it any longer. This point is brought home even clearer by all the drama back at Eva’s hammer, Blazcowicz’s past, and the struggles the resistance is facing.
It’s not the most fun thing to hear, as Terror Billy, as he has come to be known, randomly spouts lines that, for the life of me, sound painfully emo, and had me less empathizing with his internal pain, and more rolling my eyes each time he laments about the burden he has to bear. I get that games need a compelling story, and it’s meant to show his desolation and despair, but this seemed to me, a little heavy-handed. The tone changes sharply past the halfway mark, bringing back the tough FPS protagonist that we expect Terror Billy to be, which is a refreshing change. The story, while understandably basic, is carried by the storytelling the game does. There’s tension, surprise, revenge, and all the things one would expect, but shown in a compelling way, despite being heavy-handed at points. It’s also wonderfully over-the-top, with the previous sojourn to the Nazi Moon Base being trumped by, well, something else totally awesome.
Fortunately, the Nazi-blasting is as good as ever. Every cutscene is crafted to both push the story forward, and remind you just how forking evil Nazis are. It’s not hard to hate Frau Engel, the main baddie of this installment. She a textbook psychopath, and she revels in that role. She’s not a very complex character, but the sense of crazy really does go through.
Regular grunt Nazis are about the same, with a nice little touch. If they manage to drop you, your last conscious moment before an in-game death will often be a quick “I hope you died painfully” or some such quip from the soldiers. I suppose that’s warranted though. You do put quite a lot of them to bed in true Id Games gibfest fashion, particularly with melee or stealth kills.
Weapons in the game are plenty of fun. First off, you have a hatchet. This is mainly for stealth, or up-close kills, both of which are quite brutal, and can be executed with a quick middle click once you’re in range. If you happen to have more than one hatchet on you, you can even throw it at your foe, which is mostly useful for stealth kills (just don’t bother trying to stealth run the game. It’s not natural). Should you need to make more of a statement, you have a slew of firearms with which to do that. You’ve got the standard submachine gun, and assault rifle, as well as a sticky grenade launcher, a very interesting multiple-barrel, magazine-fed shotgun, and a grenade pistol, along with a regular handgun, for when you spin the mouse wheel a little too far by mistake. You’ve also got grenades that you can upgrade with additional effects, though you can’t carry all that many.
The weapons are designed to look heavy, industrial, over-the-top versions of WW2 era weaponry, for the most part, and it really fits with the game’s theme. Each weapon can be given upgrades using kits strewn all over the map, and while you’ll just stumble across a few, you’re going to want to head off the beaten path if you want to get more. The upgrades are extremely helpful particularly on harder difficulty settings, when the enemies can both dish out, and take quite a beating. Ammo is generally plentiful, so whether you take a stealth approach with a hatchet, or you prefer kicking doors down and dual-wielding two different firearms, ‘Ol William has you covered.
As in the previous game, there are also heavy weapons that you can either pick up from crates, emplacements, or heavy troops, and while these give you very serious firepower, you also move slower, making you prone to taking hits. You can’t put these heavy weapons away either, so if you need to climb a ladder, you’re going to have to leave them behind.
Apart from upgrades to your weapons, the game also rewards your play style. For example, making enough kills while using two weapons at a time rewards you with increased ammo carrying capacity, and dispatching enough enemies with headshots increases damage when you use the iron sights of your weapons. There are quite a few, but if you keep playing the way you play, you’ll become more efficient at your job. Conversely, if you want to try a play style that you’re less familiar with, this makes it more rewarding, and a little easier each time you unlock a perk.
The only real problem with the game is its length. After the twist in the middle, it all goes by very quickly, even with all the little side quests trying hard to keep you occupied. It’s like a roller coaster that’s slow to start, but gets really intense when you start flying, and like the amusement ride, it’s over a little too quickly, which is a terrible shame. All in all, it’s a title I enjoyed, and would recommend to anyone who likes a nice shooter. Just don’t try to stealth your way through it.
Also published in GADGETS MAGAZINE December 2017 – January 2018 Issue
Words by Ren Alcantara
Developer: MachineGames | Publisher: Bethesda Softworks | Platform: PC