I was pleasantly surprised by Wolfenstein: The New Order. The gunplay was fast-paced and arcadey, the levels were varied and interesting, and the plot and characters were a lot more detailed than I thought they would be. Of course, I had my issues with the first, like the heavy-handed symbolism and monologues or the headquarters missions, which brought the pacing to a snail’s pace, but overall, I thought it was an excellent FPS game.
Since all the recent Wolfenstein games are on Game Pass, I had little reason to wait around before giving The New Colossus a try. I wanted to see how BJ survived the events of the previous game, and I wanted, more than anything, to take down Frau Engel and Hitler. So I booted up the game, chose “Call Me Terror Bill” difficulty, and dove in to catch up with the resistance.
Changing a Few Rules
Turns out that BJ just barely survived his run-in with General Strasse and a nuclear bomb. Members of the resistance drag his body back to the U-boat and care for him for six months while he remains in a coma. However, when Frau Engel locates the U-boat and latches on with her flying airship, it’s all hands on deck, and in typical Blazkowicz fashion, the man of the hour wakes up right when everyone needs him most.
The problem is that the six months of no moving, and the side effects of his injuries, have left BJ with terrible muscle atrophy. He can’t walk on his own (unlike the 14 years he spent in a vegetable state in a mental hospital but whatever) so he crawls into a wheelchair, grabs a gun, and joins the fight.
BJ is back and everyone is glad to see him until he, Fergus, and Caroline are all captured by Engel and her goons. Engel is laughing at their misfortune and reminding the player just how terrible a human she is.
Not only does she make the resistance members suffer but she brought her daughter along to watch. When she doesn’t enjoy the spectacle like her mother, Engel mocks her for her appearance and tries to force her to participate.
Eventually, after Engel kills Caroline, BJ puts on the power armor that Caroline had been using and is back to normal like nothing ever happened.
The rest of the game is about BJ recruiting more members for the resistance to get revenge on Engel and causing havoc to convince people that there is a fight worth joining. There is also a lot more character development on the part of Blazkowicz.
often felt like in The New Order that he came off as kind of a generic American propaganda soldier but The New Colossus begins to show us that he has a complicated past that has helped to make him the way that he is.
I appreciated these moments and despite how tough some of them were to watch, I think they added a lot to who BJ is as a person and make the overall story better because of it.
I was extremely pumped to get to the end of the game and finally get Engel to shut up but, as is Wolfenstein’s tendency to do, it got a little ridiculous again.
Pregnant Anya saves BJ and kills an entire squad of enemies with a grenade; the resulting fire blast catches her shirt on fire, so she removes it and continues to shoot Nazis as blood and fire rains down on her half-naked body. This just feels like something out of a B-movie that you watch as a joke to see how dumb it is.
Wolfenstein tries to walk a fine line between being a serious first-person shooter about the rise of Nazis in an alternate timeline and scenes that you might imagine come straight out of Michael Bay’s imagination. One minute Blazcowicz is whispering about flower petals, and the next, Anya is topless with guns akimbo. It’s a little jarring.
It’s Tough to Bring Down Corruption
Seeing as I perfected The New Order, I thought I could just jump into The New Colussus without any issues. I was very wrong. This game is incredibly difficult, but not for all good reasons. There are a lot more enemies being thrown at you at once than before, and they will be relentless in getting toward your position.
They surround you, so you need to ensure that your head is on a swivel, or you are moving from cover to cover to keep them from flanking you. However, in this world of rubble and fire, there aren’t that many places that you can safely defend yourself without inviting enemy fire.
I had a pretty tough time trying to survive, and finally, right after I was helping the American resistance group escape out of their base, I needed to knock the difficulty down a peg.
I just couldn’t gain any traction, and I felt no matter how much I juggled the two main enemy paths, I would eventually come down to a timing problem where they would overwhelm me during a reload. Every second matters in this game on higher difficulties as the enemy bullets will shred you to pieces in a second.
The stealth sections make a return, and while they are a lot more open than before with more interesting locations to lurk around in, I felt like the mechanic didn’t work as well this time around. It felt like the enemies were too aware of their surroundings, and I was always alerting them even though I wasn’t moving or in their line of sight. After a while, I just tried to kill as many quietly as I could before the inevitable alert went out.
The headquarters missions make another return as well, but they are more tolerable this time. Mission objectives can more easily be found on the map, and the missions are a lot shorter in length, which allows you to get back to the real action much faster.
The perk system and weapon upgrades are a little different this time around. Instead of the perk being the way weapons are upgraded, you find weapon upgrade kits and are able to more freely choose how you want to enhance your arsenal. You don’t need to go around finding things like the suppressor or batteries for your energy rifle this time around; as long as you have a weapon kit, you are good to go.
I mostly ignored the perks themselves, though, as I found most of them took too long to get in my playthrough without either grinding for them or focusing exclusively on it, and I found the benefits to not be worth it in the end (at least in my single playthrough).
The New Colossus gives players a lot of new settings to fight in, like the new Nazi America, the Blazkowicz’s family farm, and a courtroom. I was always interested in where we would be taking the journey next. It felt like I was on some morbid road trip to see the sights of post-war America.
However, it could often feel like this game doesn’t do enough with its gunplay to set itself apart from the previous entry. I felt like I was doing the exact same things but with more difficult enemies. Almost all the enemies are ones that we have seen before, and most of the weapons are identical to the ones in the previous game as well (before upgrades).
The campaign is long too, and while I enjoyed the plot, it could feel like a slog in some levels as I carefully worked my way through them, avoiding enemy fire so I wouldn’t have to redo a sequence again and again.
Almost Too Many Plot Conveniences
While many of these answers make sense in the context of the universe that Wolfenstein has set up, they happen a lot, and it’s really up to you how much forgiveness you want to afford this alternate history sci-fi game. For me, there was only one part that I felt was both too convenient and too emotionally manipulative of the developers (spoilers).
Late in the game, Blazcowicz is captured and held on trial (which, of course, is completely fair in this Nazi world). He is sentenced to execution, and Engel beheads him live on TV, where she holds his head out for everyone to see in a gruesome display and then throws him into a fiery pit where a robot saves him.
The robot transports his head back to the resistance members, who put him in an incubation tube while they prepare him a new body that is conveniently available in his exact body size.
The transplant is done and is pretty much exactly the same, except now he has a metal strip around his neck that connects his head and body. Look, I like the idea that Blazkowicz is incredibly hard to kill and that the game doesn’t take itself too seriously, but this situation just bordered on lunacy.
For the rest of the game, I mostly tried to pretend it didn’t happen. In fairness, the game tried to foreshadow it by having Set explain his latest scientific breakthrough with his cat-monkey Frankenstein creature, but that didn’t ease the level of plot convenience to me.
It often can feel like the writers of Wolfenstein are encouraged to write themselves into a corner if it will be interesting and then allowed to save Bj in whatever way they feel will get the audience on their feet chanting his name.
Don’t get me wrong, though; I love a lot of what the campaign does in terms of its events. We get to see a lot more personality from the crew this time around. They aren’t all just doing the same tasks all the time when BJ comes around for a visit.
For example, my favorite encounter was after BJ came back from a mission; Fergus was struggling with a missile, and Max comes around, placed the missile into place, and quietly went back to what he was doing while Fergus was left laughing that the “dimwit” was so helpful.
I wandered over to Max to see him painting the walls. This abstract art with hippie colors was like seeing into the mind of Max to the guy he was before he was injured. It was great.
Or even the night when the crew celebrated BJ’s birthday and got drunk (despite going on a dangerous mission the next day). This level of camaraderie wasn’t in The New Order, and it helps to give The New Colossus so much more personality.
It also helps that, at the end of the game, these characters that you have come to adore are all on the broadcast to the people of the world proclaiming that the Nazi regime and its lies need to come to an end. It makes them feel like there are just as much a part of this fight as you are. They aren’t just a backdrop to the world; they are the world.
The New Colossus had a lot of interesting moments that kept me invested in the overall story of Blazokowicz and the resistance members but the overly difficult campaign, ridiculous plot moments, and stretched-out gameplay makes it feel like an experience I won’t be returning to that often. But it does make me want Wolfenstein 3 to release sooner rather than later. 8/10