Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus picks up directly after the events of The New Order with Nazi-killing hero B.J. Blazkowicz scarred and broken. In the opening of the game, which I was able to play at E3 2017, we see Blazkowicz waking up after five months in a coma only to find that Nazis are attacking the naval ship that he has been recovering in. With his legs unable to operate due to injuries sustained at the end of the last game, Blazkowicz falls out of bed and crawls his way to a nearby wheelchair. After rolling to a close-by dead soldier, B.J. picks up a gun and cocks it back, ready to fight. This is how Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus begins; one hand pushing a wheelchair, and the other blowing away Nazis.
What I find so rewarding about this opening is that MachineGames has wasted no time in getting players right into the action. One of the biggest complaints from both fans and critics with The New Order was that the beginning hour or so of the game was quite slow. In The New Colossus, you are firing off shots within mere moments.
It’s easy to mention the novelty of playing through the opening of The New Colossus in a wheelchair, but it’s a completely different thing to actually play it for yourself. Killing enemies while scooting along in a chair is equal parts hilarious and fun. I found myself chuckling intermittently not because anything funny was said or shown, but mainly because I couldn’t believe what I was playing. Plus, this wheelchair scenario might be one of the more unique things I have seen in a Wolfenstein game when compared to the entirety of both The New Order and The Old Blood. If The New Colossus is this unique with the situations that it puts you in from the opening level, then I can’t wait to see where else it will take us.
One of my favorite mechanics that I quickly noticed in this demo was that Blazkowicz’s health would continue to drop to 50 — half of your normal health of 100 — due to him being in a weakened condition. Anytime that I would pick up a health pack, if it eclipsed the 50 HP mark, it would immediately begin to drop. This made getting through the opening areas rather difficult, but rightfully so. While most other games might like to walk players easily through the opening area, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus immediately introduces you to the challenge of staying alive.
While getting through some of the areas can be a bit tough, you do get a bit of help in the way of traps. Throughout this opening level, Blazkowicz can activate radioactive microwave traps within hallways that will blow up Nazis upon walking through it. The best part is that most of the time when enemies activate these traps, they did “Nazi” it coming (I’m sorry). If you activate a trap in a hallway or other narrow area, you can then begin to fire your gun and alert enemies on the other end of the hall to your presence. They then begin to sprint in the direction that they heard the noise, run through the microwave, and BOOM: you have an exploded Nazi decorating the walls. This is both an entertaining way to kill enemies and also a useful one.
In addition to traps, you can once again use stealth in The New Colossus to make encounters a bit easier on yourself. Now I’m sure you’re wondering, “How does stealth gameplay work while in a wheelchair?” Well, that’s a great question. In the game though, Blazkowicz makes it look easy. If you sneak up behind enemies, B.J. would utilize the arm of his wheelchair and beat the heads of Nazis into it. Maybe not the most subtle way to get things done, but hey: it’s silent.
After getting through the initial areas of the game, you’ll finally be greeted by some familiar faces — both friends and foes — from the previous game in the series. A few cutscenes will play and the player learns that Anya, the love interest from The New Order, is pregnant and carrying twins. The reunion by Blazkowicz and Anya is cut short however as Irene Engel soon arrives onboard your ship and gives “Terror Billy” an ultimatum.
I won’t give away any spoilers as to what happens, but at the end of my play session, the story was left on a perfect cliffhanger moment that led to me saying an audible “awww man” under my breath. What’s worse is that I have a good idea of what was about to happen before my screen cut to black, which makes it all the more disheartening that I wasn’t able to play through the next section of the game.
In my short time with Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, I was left hungry for so much more. While I wasn’t originally expecting the game to release this year, I can’t express how happy I am that it will indeed be out on October 27. I truly believe that the opening of The New Colossus is one of the highlights of the entire series so far which makes me eager to see how the remainder of the game will turn out.