Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus

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Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus
The game's cover art. The text "Wolfenstein II" is in the centre, with the text "The New Colossus" written underneath it, aligned to the left. Underneath and in front of the text is the game's protagonist, B.J. Blazkowicz, walking through a pile of enemy soldiers with Nazi buildings in the background.
Developer(s) MachineGames[a]
Publisher(s) Bethesda Softworks
Director(s) Jens Matthies
Producer(s) John Jennings
Designer(s)
  • Andreas Öjerfors
  • Arcade Berg
Programmer(s) Jim Kjellin
Artist(s) Axel Torvenius
Writer(s)
  • Jens Matthies
  • Tommy Tordsson Björk
Composer(s)
Series Wolfenstein
Engine id Tech 6
Platform(s)
Release
  • Windows, PS4, XB1
  • 27 October 2017
  • Nintendo Switch
  • 29 June 2018
Genre(s) Action-adventure, first-person shooter
Mode(s) Single-player

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is an action-adventure first-person shooter video game developed by MachineGames and published by Bethesda Softworks. It was released on 27 October 2017 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, and was released on 29 June 2018 for Nintendo Switch. The eighth main entry in the Wolfenstein series and the sequel to 2014's Wolfenstein: The New Order, the game is set in an alternate history which takes place in 1961 following the Nazi victory in the Second World War. The story follows war veteran William "B.J." Blazkowicz and his efforts to fight against the Nazi regime in America.

The game is played from a first-person perspective and most of its levels are navigated on foot. The story is arranged in chapters, which players complete in order to progress. A binary choice in the prologue alters the game's entire storyline; some characters and small plot points are replaced throughout the timelines. The game features a variety of weapons, most of which can be dual wielded. A cover system is also present. Continuing from The New Order, the development team aimed to characterize Blazkowicz for players to adopt his personality.

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus was released to a positive critical response. Particular praise was directed at the characters, narrative, shooting mechanics as well as the general presentation of the game. The game was nominated for multiple year-end awards, including nominations at the 35th Annual Golden Joystick Awards[1] and The Game Awards 2017, the latter in which it received the accolade for "Best Action Game".

Gameplay[edit]

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is an action-adventure shooter game played from a first-person perspective. To progress through the story, players battle enemies throughout levels. The game utilizes a health system in which players' health is divided into separate sections that regenerate; if an entire section is lost, players must use a health pack to replenish the missing health.[2] Players use melee attacks, firearms, and explosives to fight enemies, and may run, jump, and occasionally swim to navigate through the locations. Melee attacks can be used to silently take down enemies without being detected. Alternatively, players can ambush enemies, which often results in an intense firefight between the two parties. Enemy commanders can call for reinforcements several times.[3]

A cover system can be used in combat as assistance against enemies. Players have the ability to lean around, over, and under cover, which can be used as a tactical advantage during shootouts and stealth levels.[3] Stilts are also available during some game segments for a further tactical advantage.[4] The game gives players a wide variety of weapon options; they can be found on the ground, retrieved from dead enemies, or removed from their stationary position and carried around. Weapon ammunition must be manually retrieved from the ground or from dead enemies. Players have access to a weapon inventory, which allows them to carry as many weapons as they find. Players have the ability to freely mix weapons for dual wielding, giving them an advantage over enemies by dealing twice as much damage.[3] Players can also customize weapons through the use of upgrades.[5] Scopes and suppressors can also be attached to weapons.[3]

Plot[edit]

During the final events of the previous game, the Kreisau Circle retrieves the critically injured William "B.J." Blazkowicz (Brian Bloom) from Deathshead's fortress before destroying it with a nuclear cannon. Blazkowicz falls into a 5-month long coma. As he fades in and out of consciousness aboard the Eva's Hammer (a stolen Nazi U-boat commandeered by the Kreisau Circle), it is revealed that Anya, Blazkowicz's love interest, is pregnant with twins. The U-boat is soon attacked by Frau Engel, a sadistic Nazi commander. Blazkowicz, disoriented and handicapped, fights his way to Anya and Set Roth. Soon after, however, Caroline is captured by Engel and her forces. Blazkowicz devises a plan to get himself captured and taken to Engel's airship, the Ausmerzer, which is suspending the U-boat above water. Frau Engel tries to get her daughter Sigrun to decapitate Caroline, but the former refuses, resulting in Engel killing Caroline herself. Sigrun then has a change of heart and tackles Engel, allowing Blazkowicz to use Caroline's armor to regain his strength. While Frau Engel escapes, Blazkowicz disconnects the Eva's Hammer from the Ausmerzer and flees back to the U-boat with Caroline's body.

After Caroline's funeral, the group decides to carry out what would have been the next step in her plan to end the Nazi regime: liberate America and use it as a central base from which to free the rest of the world. The group sets out to contact a resistance group hiding in the Empire State Building amid the ruins of Manhattan, New York City, which was destroyed by a Nazi atomic bomb. Blazkowicz goes alone and finds Grace Walker, a passionate, scarred African-American, and Norman "Super Spesh" Caldwell, a lawyer-turned-conspiracy theorist. The building is soon attacked by Nazis, but Blazkowicz, Grace, and Spesh manage to escape.

Grace informs the group of her plan to kill the top Nazi leaders by destroying the Oberkommando, in Roswell, New Mexico near the site of an unearthed Da'at Yichud cache. Blazkowicz travels to Roswell disguised as a firefighter and with a nuclear warhead also disguised as a fire extinguisher, before heading to Super Spesh's diner. Spesh takes him to his bunker and to a tunnel that leads to the Oberkommando, where Blazkowicz deposits the bomb in the base's reactor and detonates it, destroying the Oberkommando.

After escaping Roswell, he takes a detour to Mesquite, his hometown. At his childhood home, he picks up an heirloom of his mother's, a ring, which he was told to give to his love. Blazkowicz's abusive father Rip then appears and shames him, and justifies his abuse of Blazkowicz. He also tells Blazkowicz he let his mother be taken by the Nazis because she was Jewish, and reveals that he intends to hand him over to the Nazis, but Blazkowicz kills him. Engel, having relied on Rip’s open telephone line to pinpoint the two men's location, captures Blazkowicz a second time and takes the heirloom for herself. Super Spesh visits Blazkowicz under the guise of his lawyer, telling him of their plan to break him out. However, Engel kills Spesh, having discovered his ruse. At his trial, Blazkowicz imagines breaking free from his captors and finding his mother, who comforts him and tells him he has one more hardship to endure.

Blazkowicz is sentenced to death and beheaded at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C. in front of millions in a televised event. However, the Kreisau Circle recovers his head and Set surgically grafts it onto a bioengineered Nazi super-soldier body. Blazkowicz then breaks into a Nazi bunker hidden under New York, stealing a file on New Orleans, which is revealed to be a large ghetto. Blazkowicz travels there to gather several freedom fighters under the command of communist Horton Boone. They break out of the ghetto and escape on Eva's Hammer. The Kreisau Circle considers stealing the Ausmerzer to prevent its use against the group's planned revolution, but realize that it would be nearly impossible due to an automatic defense system called ODIN. The group plans to steal the codes to deactivate ODIN by traveling to Venus, where the codes are kept in a Nazi facility. Blazkowicz assumes the identity of actor Jules Redfield and is invited to Venus to participate in a propaganda film audition produced by Adolf Hitler, who is looking for a suitable actor to play Blazkowicz. Blazkowicz retrieves the ODIN codes and returns to Earth to decipher them. The Kreisau Circle then mounts an assault on the Ausmerzer, where the resistance members disable ODIN and hijack its command systems. Blazkowicz and his team travel back to the ground, where Engel is on national television in California. Blazkowicz executes her, and the Kreisau Circle proclaims the start of a revolution to take America back from the Nazis.

In a post-credits scene, Blazkowicz takes back his heirloom ring from Engel's body and proposes to Anya. The revolution is depicted pictorially during the credits sequence.

The Freedom Chronicles[edit]

Released as downloadable content, the Freedom Chronicles follow the stories of other American freedom fighters battling the Nazis in the American Territories.

Episode 1: The Adventures of Gunslinger Joe[edit]

African American athlete and quarterback Joseph Stallion, nicknamed "Gunslinger Joe", is enslaved by the Nazis and forced to play in rigged football matches against Aryan teams. Joe eventually becomes fed up with this treatment and retaliates, beating the opposing Aryans unconscious and scoring a touchdown. He is promptly arrested for his defiance, but his captor, sadistic American dentist turned Nazi officer, Dr. Roderick Metze, decides to send him to Research Station Omega to be experimented on. As Joe falls unconscious, he cannot shake the feeling that he has seen Dr. Metze before.

Joe then wakes up in a cell, where he hears that an anti-Nazi revolution is sweeping across the country and that there is a Resistance cell headquartered at the Oak Street Hotel. He escapes his cell and fights his way through the facility, eventually making his way to the Oak Street Hotel. However, he is captured by Metze who gloats he sided with the Nazis as revenge for the South losing the Civil War. Joe then recognizes Metze as the man who arrested his father during the Nazi invasion. Angered, Joe escapes custody again by tackling one of his captors out a window.

Joe proceeds to pursue Metze to the secret police headquarters. While Metze manages to escape, Joe finds his father and frees him, burning down the secret police headquarters in the process. After making sure his father is safe, Joe pursues Metze across the Midwest to the Topeka Space Center in Kansas. There, he learns that Metze has fled to the Venus base in order to utilize a weapon called the Sun Gun (Sonnengewehr) to destroy the Midwest and end the Resistance. Joe stows away in a spacecraft and makes his way to Venus, where he confronts Metze directly. Metze is able to wound Joe and hold him at gunpoint, gloating that the only reason he didn't fire the Sun Gun is that it isn't operational yet. Joe then catches Metze off guard by tackling him and throwing him out a window to his death. As Nazi reinforcements arrive, Joe prepares for a last stand.

Episode 2: The Diaries of Agent Silent Death[edit]

Agent Jessica Valiant, codenamed "Silent Death", was a British OSA agent who was married to fellow agent Jack Valiant. Despite their best efforts in World War II, they could not prevent the Nazi victory. As a result, Jack sacrificed his life to ensure Jessica could escape Britain. Broken, Jessica fled to Rio de Janeiro where she lived in hiding until she received a mysterious letter instructing her to assassinate three high ranking Nazi officials who were responsible for Jack's death: Ubercommander Hans Stiglitz, Nazi collaborator Chuck Lorentz, and General Gerhardt Dunkel. Bent on revenge, Jessica leaves for California.

Jessica chooses Stiglitz as her first target and heads for the Gestapo headquarters in Sacramento. She manages to assassinate him and make her escape. Next, she heads to Hollywood to assassinate Lorentz. Finally, she travels to the Nazi Moon base to assassinate Dunkel. After all three targets are killed, Jessica returns to Brazil, where she intends to live out the rest of her life in peace. However, even though Jack's death is avenged, she still feels a void within her. Eventually, she receives another mysterious letter, informing her that a new revolution is forming in America and the Resistance needs her help. Jessica realizes that what she was missing wasn't just Jack, but also her desire to end the Nazi regime. She decides to travel back to America to fight the Nazis.

Episode 3: The Deeds of Captain Wilkins[edit]

Captain Jerry Wilkins, an American soldier who fought in World War II, was forced to flee America when the Nazis invade and drop an atomic bomb on New York City. For the next 20 years, he lived in hiding until he receives a mysterious message instructing him to travel to Kodiak Island, Alaska to stop a Nazi project called the "Sun Gun", which is under the direction of General Wolfgang Schwarz. Eager to continue the fight, Wilkins hijacks a Nazi U-boat and infiltrates a Nazi base in Anchorage. There, he meets his old second in command, Clive Cross, and a young resistance fighter, Ginny Williams. They inform him that General Schwarz is throwing a party in the nearby Kodiak Island in preparation for firing the Sun Gun. The trio makes their way to the base, where they first need to disable a pair of superguns so they can reach General Schwarz’s U-boat. Wilkins and Cross each go to destroy one of the superguns, and Wilkins destroys his target. However, Cross reveals himself to be a Nazi spy and springs a trap for Wilkins and Ginny. Wilkins is able to sabotage the second supergun, trapping Cross under some rubble. Wilkins then executes Cross for being a traitor.

Wilkins and Ginny continue on their way to General Schwarz’s U-boat, where Ginny reveals that she is, in fact, Wilkins' daughter. Wilkins is shocked at the revelation since he had not seen his lover, Henrietta since he had to leave for Europe to fight the Nazis. Determined to better know his daughter, Wilkins fights his way through the U-boat until he reaches the bridge where General Schwarz is waiting. However, General Schwarz is already waiting for him and has his hand on the lever to fire the Sun Gun. Fortunately, while Wilkins was fighting, Ginny had taken advantage of the distraction to disable all of the satellite dishes, preventing any attempt to fire the Sun Gun. Wilkins then kills General Schwarz and captures the U-boat. Despite their victory, Wilkins and Ginny decide to continue the fight, since the Sun Gun is still in orbit above Earth and must be dealt with.

Development[edit]

Wolfenstein II mocks recent events in American politics, including an easter egg that satirizes media coverage of alt-right leader Richard B. Spencer.[6]

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus was originally teased at Bethesda's press conference during E3 2016.[7] The game was officially announced at their E3 2017 conference in June 2017. The game was released on 27 October 2017 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.[8] A 2018 release for Nintendo Switch was announced during the September 2017 Nintendo Direct presentation.[9] The Nintendo Switch version will be released on 29 June 2018.[10] The game's collector's edition includes a Blazkowicz action figure, a steelbook, and a poster.[11]

The narrative theme of The New Colossus is "catharsis".[3] Creative director Jens Matthies was intrigued by the juxtaposition of America, which was "founded on the idea of freedom", to be under totalitarian control. The development team also enjoyed exploring iconic American locations and events of the 1960s, such as diners and parades.[12] The team attempted to make the enemies larger and more intimidating for players.[3] The game features over 100 actors,[13] whose performances were recorded using performance capture technology; about 40 hours of performances were recorded.[4] The development team wanted to delve further into the character of protagonist William "B.J." Blazkowicz, for players to feel as though they are him.[3] In the game's opening, Blazkowicz uses a wheelchair; the team was enthusiastic to include combat during these scenes, as a "testament to B.J.'s willpower".[13] The game was developed using id Tech 6; the technology and animations required a complete overhaul from The New Order, which used id Tech 5. The team also built a full body model of Blazkowicz, which can be seen from the first-person perspective.[13]

The developers stated that they did not intend the game to be a commentary on contemporary politics, other than a few jokes. However, commentators drew parallels between the game's premise and contemporary accounts of the rise of alt-right in the United States, particularly after the events of the August 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia which resulted in the death of counterprotestor Heather Heyer.[14][15] Bethesda's marketing head Pete Hines stated that game was "not written to be a commentary on current events, because no one – at MachineGames or at Bethesda – could predict what would happen".[16] Hines further stated that they otherwise made no changes to the game, nor plan to change downloadable content for the game, based on these events.[16]

Promotion[edit]

While the game itself was not intended to reference current events, Bethesda, supported by MachineGames, opted to use current attitudes towards Nazis from these events in its marketing of the title. Bethesda's Marketing VP Pete Hines stated: "We weren't going to hide from the fact our game is about killing Nazis and freeing the US from their rule, and if we can reference current events as part of talking about the game, so be it. Nazis are evil. We aren't afraid to remind people of that".[16] The game adopted the phrase "Make America Nazi-Free Again", based on Donald Trump's slogan "Make America Great Again", as its primary advertising tagline.[17] Other ads used the phrase "Not My America", a slogan used by groups protesting Trump's policies.[18] The marketing campaign drew positive attention, but was criticized by members of the alt-right, as well as Trump supporters who said the advertisements unfairly associated them with Nazis. Responding to the negative feedback, Hines said, "we don't feel it's a reach for us to say Nazis are bad and un-American, and we're not worried about being on the right side of history here".[16] He also said "people who are against freeing the world from the hate and murder of a Nazi regime probably aren't interested in playing Wolfenstein."[19]

Music production[edit]

Mick Gordon, who previously composed the 2016 reboot of Doom, returned to score Wolfenstein II along with newcomer, Martin Sieg Andersen, who previously composed the puzzle-platformer video game, Inside, along with special music contributions by Fredrik Thordendal, Pedro Macedo Camacho, who previously worked on Star Citizen and Christoffer Larsson. The official soundtrack was released digitally on June 19th, 2018.

Reception[edit]

Reception
Aggregate score
AggregatorScore
Metacritic(NS) 79/100[20]
(PC) 86/100[21]
(PS4) 87/100[22]
(XONE) 88/100[23]
Review scores
PublicationScore
Destructoid8/10[24]
Edge7/10 [25]
EGM8/10[26]
Game Informer9.75/10[28]
Game Revolution4/5 stars[27]
GamesRadar+4.5/5 stars[29]
IGN9.1/10[30]
PC Gamer (US)81/100[31]
Polygon9/10[32]
VideoGamer.com9/10[33]
Awards
PublicationAward
The Game Awards 2017Best Action Game[34]
IGN's Best of 2017 AwardsBest Shooter[35]
Best Story[36]

The game's announcement was met with praise from game journalists. Kat Bailey of USGamer named it the "best game of E3",[37] while Nerdist's Dan Casey and PC Gamer's Evan Lahti listed it among their favorites.[38][39] Oli Welsh of Eurogamer wrote that the game is "a bracing piece of trailer theatre with real character and daring".[40] At IGN's Best of E3 2017 Awards, the game was awarded Best Shooter;[41] it was also nominated for Game of Show[42] and Best Trailer.[43]

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus was released to "generally favorable" reviews, according to review aggregator Metacritic.[21][22][23] Chris Moyse's 8/10 score on Destructoid stated that "Impressive effort with a few noticeable problems holding it back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash."[24] Michael Goroff's score of 8/10 on EGMNow said that "Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus story and imaginative level design carry the burden of its quality on their shoulders, but they're backed up by solid shooter mechanics and really cool guns. While the experience as a whole might be inconsistent and sometimes frustrating, it's an experience worth having. After all, you get to blow up a bunch of Nazis. Also, did we mention the guns were really cool?"[26] Jason Faulkner from Game Revolution gave the game a score of 4 out of 5 stars saying that "Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus wraps up the feeling of a blockbuster movie in something you can interact with. There's a lot of games that do that, but the spectacle here is outstanding, and the fast-paced gunplay and compelling main story made me want more when the credits rolled. Killing Nazis is one of the most fun and wholesome things a person can do, and there's no better way than to do it with Wolfenstein II."[27] Andy Hartup of GamesRadar+ awarded it 4.5 out of 5 stars stating that "Wolfenstein II offers slick shooting, plenty of spectacle, and heaps of fun characters to interact with. The plot is far from perfect, and levels are a touch dull, but overall it's a must-play."[29] 9.1/10 was Dan Stapleton's score on IGN with the consensus: "The excellent shooting action in Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is paired with a fantastically written and acted story."[30] Samuel Roberts's 81/100 score on PC Gamer stated that "The New Colossus is a fun and frantic FPS, even if it doesn't feel quite as fresh as The New Order did."[31] "Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus jumps from breakneck bloodshed, to humour involving your endearing crew, with aplomb; a masterfully done sequel," was Colm Ahern's conclusion on VideoGamer.com with a score of 9/10.[33]

Entertainment Weekly placed Wolfenstein II at #10 on the list of the "Best Games of 2017",[44] Polygon also placed it at #10 on their list of the 50 best games of 2017,[45] and GamesRadar+ ranked it eighth on their list of the 25 Best Games of 2017,[46] while Eurogamer ranked the game 20th on their list of the "Top 50 Games of 2017".[47] EGMNow also ranked the game at #5 in their list of the 25 Best Games of 2017.[48]

Sales[edit]

The game debuted in 4th place in the UK and Australian Sales charts, 5th in the New Zealand Sales charts and 14th in the U.S. sales charts.[49][50][51][52]

Awards[edit]

The game was nominated for Best Gaming Performance (Brian Bloom) and Studio of the Year (MachineGames) at the 35th Annual Golden Joystick Awards,[1] though it lost both of them to Ashly Burch in Horizon Zero Dawn (Best Gaming Performance) and Nintendo EPD (Studio of the Year).[53] At The Game Awards 2017, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus won the award for "Best Action Game", whereas its other nominations were for "Best Game Direction", "Best Narrative", and "Best Performance" with Brian Bloom.[34] At IGN's Best of 2017 Awards, Wolfenstein II won "Best Shooter"[35] and "Best Story",[36] whereas its other nominations were for "Game of the Year",[54] "Best PC Game",[55] "Best Xbox One Game",[56] "Best PlayStation 4 Game",[57] and "Best Graphics".[58] The game was also nominated at Destructoid's Game of the Year Awards 2017 for "Best Xbox One Game".[59] In Giant Bomb's Game of the Year 2017 Awards, Hitler's audition scene won the award for "Best Wolfenstein II Moment or Sequence", while the scene of B.J.'s return home and confronting his father and the following scene of B.J.'s "execution" and return as a super-soldier became runners-up for the award.[60] The website also classified the game as a runner-up each for the "Best Story" and "Game of the Year" awards.[61][62] The game was also nominated for "Best Action Game" and "Best Story" at PC Gamer's Game of the Year 2017 Awards.[63] It won the award for "Best Campaign" and "Best Character" for Gen. Irene Engel in Game Informer's 2017 Shooter of the Year Awards;[64] it also came in the lead for "Best Shooter" in their Reader's Choice Best of 2017 Awards.[65] It also won the Herman Melville Award for Best Writing at the New York Game Awards 2018, whereas its other nominations were for the Big Apple Award for Best Game of the Year, the Tin Pan Alley Award for Best Music in a Game, and the Great White Way Award for Best Acting in a Game with both Brian Bloom and Nina Franoszek.[66] The game was also nominated for "Best Narrative" at the 18th Annual Game Developers Choice Awards,[67][68] for "Excellence in Gameplay" at the 2018 SXSW Gaming Awards,[69][70] and for "Narrative" at the 14th British Academy Games Awards,[71][72] and for "Action (Games)" at the 2018 Webby Awards;[73] in addition, it was nominated for "Outstanding Achievement in Original Music Composition", "Outstanding Achievement in Story", and "Action Game of the Year" at the 21st Annual D.I.C.E. Awards;[74] and for "Best Dialogue", "Best Original Instrumental" ("Lontano"), and "Best Game Audio Article, Publication or Broadcast" with "Scoring Wolfenstein II with the Baschet sonic sculptures" at the 16th Annual Game Audio Network Guild Awards;[75] and won the award for "Game, Franchise Action" at the 17th Annual National Academy of Video Game Trade Reviewers Awards.[76][77]

Sequel[edit]

On June 10, 2018, Bethesda Softworks announced Wolfenstein: Youngblood, a standalone sequel, in similar vein to Wolfenstein: The Old Blood, to Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus that will be released in 2019.[78]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Additional work for Nintendo Switch by Panic Button.

References[edit]

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