Wolfenstein II The New Colossus Hands-On Preview
At a recent event held at the Iam8Bit Gallery in Los Angeles, the good people from MachineGames and Bethesda Softworks gave game journalists a chance to play two levels from the upcoming sci-fi first-person shooter Wolfenstein II The New Colossus (Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC), which will be released on October 27th. Here’s a recap of what happened when I took control of series hero William “B.J.” Blazkowicz.
Oh, and obviously, spoilers follow. You have been warned.
For those unfamiliar with this series, Wolfenstein II The New Colossus is the sequel to 2009’s series reboot Wolfenstein, 2014’s Wolfenstein: The New Order, and the latter game’s 2015 stand-alone expansion Wolfenstein: The Old Blood. All of which present an alternate history version of the world in which the Nazis fully and blatantly embraced the occult during World War II. Though in Wolfenstein II The New Colossus, like Wolfenstein: The New Order and Wolfenstein: The Old Blood, the setting is not the Second World War as we know it, but is instead a version of the 1960s in which the Nazis won WWII and have since taken over the world, with you working with the resistance to take those bastards down.
As for the levels we got to play, the first was the same demo they had at E3 a few weeks ago, in which Blazkowicz has to shoot a bunch of Nazis on a German U-boat while confined to a wheelchair. Though it says something that replaying this level was just as exciting fun as it had been when I originally played it.
Like during my E3 playthrough, I again started my time in this level of of Wolfenstein II The New Colossus by grabbing a machine gun from a comrade, wheeling myself into a hallway, and surprising a Nazi with a couple shots to the head. While my mobility may have been limited, which made it impossible to duck behind cover, I was still fairly spry, and could not only move at a good clip — albeit sometimes with my gun in my lap, not at the ready — but I could also lean a bit to the left and right.
Making my way through the narrow corridors of the U-Boat, I not only took out dozens of Nazis, but I also took advantage of the sub’s moving parts to get around, such as some conveyor belts and gears that just happened to be large enough to carry a full-grown adult in a wheelchair. Which was helpful, since being confined to a wheelchair meant I couldn’t go up stairs. Though I also took advantage of the microwave traps set up around the sub, which instantly turn anyone into chunks of blood and viscera if they make the mistake of walking into their nearly invisible waves.
After blasting my way through this section of Wolfenstein II The New Colossus, and enjoying a cut scene, I started the next level, which is set in a small New Mexico town called Roswell that you might’ve heard of. It was here that the game started to remind me of Philip K. Dick’s alternate history sci-fi novel Man In The High Castle, as this section started with me exploring a sleepy town that’s clearly been transformed by the Nazis and their oppressive ways. After a brief bit in a diner, which really drove this point home, I made my way into an underground tunnel that led to a train station.
Once again, Wolfenstein II The New Colossus put me in the enviable position of shooting Nazis from the first-person perspective. Except now I was not only more agile, since I was no longer confined to a wheelchair, but I had some new toys to play with as well. First, I used some throwable hatchets to take out a guard all quiet like, though I could’ve just as easily used one to melee this guy. I also, in this section, found some upgrade kits for my guns, which I used mid-battle to add such accoutrements as larger ammo magazines, improved scopes, and silencers to my weapons.
There was also some gold lying around, but neither the developers nor anything in the Wolfenstein II The New Colossus demo indicated what role it might play in the game.
After clearing out the train station, I climbed on board, hit the starter, and then made my way to the other end of the train to my next objective. Though this took a while because this was not a small choo-choo or a New York City subway car, but rather was an elaborate transport that had both passenger cars and freight areas. Which is why I got to shoot Nazis in both narrow corridors and in large open areas. It kind of reminded me of the train gun battles at the end of both Call Of Duty: Ghosts and the first Gears Of War.
Once the train was emptied of all Nazis, I made my want to the other end, I hit a switch in a control room, and sent it crashing into the end of the line. Getting out, I found myself at a secret underground installation, the one I had been sent to destroy with the nuke I had in my pocket.
As before, completing my mission involved a lot of gun play, though also a lot of looking around for ammo, health packs, and armor. Suffice it to say, Wolfenstein II The New Colossus is no cake walk. Though it does have multiple difficulty levels, so don’t worry if, like me, you’re not a natural born killer.
Eventually, I took out all of the Nazi jerks, put the nuke where it belonged, and headed for the door. But of course, the Nazis weren’t done with me yet, and it was then that I faced the demo’s ultimate challenge…which no, I’m not going to spoil.
What I will say about the Roswell section of Wolfenstein II The New Colossus is that it did introduce some new elements not found in the U-Boat part. For starters, the Nazis have apparently seen the first Iron Man movie, because they now have guys in mech suits like the one Tony Stark built in the beginning of that movie. Except theirs are sturdier and are armed with a new heavy laser gun. Though if you beat them, you can grab that laser like how Marcus Fenix and his kid pick up similarly large weapons in Gears Of War 2, 3, and 4.
Along with these Iron Man wannabes, you’ll also face some rather tricky Nazi robots in Wolfenstein II The New Colossus, ones who are capable of quickly dodging out of the way of your bullets. So much so that one of my fellow journalists confessed that she eventually gave up trying to shoot them and instead just whacked them in the face with her hatchet. As for me, I never resorted to such brutality; I found my automatic shotgun did the trick.
Unfortunately, it was also during the Roswell section of Wolfenstein II The New Colossus that I noticed some irritating parts of the game (though some of them may not be in the finished version). First, whenever my weapon ran out of ammo, Blazkowicz didn’t automatically switch to one that did. This was especially irritating when I was using one of those big lasers, since it took even more time to drop it and switch to another weapon.
I also noticed that there was no option in Wolfenstein II The New Colossus to turn the music down or off. Though in talking to one of the devs later, he said that he thought there would be in the finished game. He also made of a note of my aforementioned running out of ammo complaint, so that might be fixed as well.
But these are mere minor annoyances. For the most part, Wolfenstein II The New Colossus is shaping up to be as engaging, exciting, and ridiculously over-the-top fun as its predecessors. Especially given how it has the same great controls, which are as fluid as, well, the controls in every 2017 first-person shooter should be. I guess we’ll know for sure when Wolfenstein II The New Colossus comes out October 27th.