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Wolfenstein 2 The New Colossus review: Intelligent, funny and brutal

If you seek pedigree from your first-person shooters, you can’t beat Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus. Its bloodline can be traced back to the first ever proper FPS: 1992’s Wolfenstein 3D. And in the process, it offers a mightily impressive illustration…

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Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus—Like playing a B-movie with robot Nazis

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Video captured/edited by Mark Walton.

In Wolfenstein: The New Order[5], which tells the story of an alternate history where the Nazis win the Second World War, veteran William “B.J.” Blazkowicz awakens from a coma to find the Nazis have acquired the technology to build giant killer robots powered by the brains of fallen soldiers.

In an effort to stop the Nazis, B.J. infiltrates a Nazi research facility, stealing its flagship nuclear submarine only to find that the codes to operate it are hidden on the Moon. Naturally, Blazkowicz proceeds to the Moon, before returning to Earth to fight the robotic reincarnation of a former soldier.

As stories go, The New Order‘s—even for a video game—is wonderfully ludicrous. But that raises a question for the sequel. When you’ve already battled giant killer robots and travelled to the Moon, just where do you go from there? The answer, in Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus[6], is travelling to the most ridiculous, confusing, and downright terrifying place on earth: the good ol’ US of A.

As Bethesda’s bombastic E3 trailer showed, The New Colossus isn’t one for subtlety. Waking up fresh from his latest coma, Blazkowicz—now bound to a wheelchair—wastes no time in picking up a pistol and wheeling his way through the cramped corridors of another Nazi facility, shooting everything he comes across. Less than five minutes in, he’s reunited with Set Roth, a German Jewish scientist who has rigged up a microwave-powered defence grid that, with an amusing lack of nuance, turns anyone that crosses it into a sloppy pile of blood and guts.

Roth explains, “your body is broken…your kidneys are failing.” Which is why, in a twisted form of video game logic, Blazkowicz spends much of the game unable to maintain a health bar above 50 percent, relying instead on scraps of armour and temporary health boosts in order to protect himself from bullets and stay alive. While it’s doubtful The New Colossus will serve as an enduring example of complex video game narratives along the lines of The Last of Us, it’s filled with compelling characters, from Blazkowicz himself, to the Nazi hordes that believe themselves to be on the right side of history, despite their obvious crimes.

Most compelling of all in the short demo, if only for her cartoonish villainy, is Frau Engel, a Nazi lieutenant with the shortest of tempers and an overweight daughter named Sigrun. That she would bully Sigrun for her weight is hardly surprising, but there’s something about having the two characters argue about a slice of cake while the camera sits at the most Dutch of all Dutch angles that’s wonderfully mundane, yet totally overblown—a moment later thrown into stark relief as Engel threatens to behead a member of the resistance with an axe.

For all the bluster of The New Colossus‘ opening, a later mission a few hours into the game is more subdued. The resistance, a cliched ragtag band of mismatched misfits, sends Blazkowicz into Roswell, New Mexico, home to a secret stash of anti-gravity tech and the Oberkommando, the heart of Nazi command. Dressed as a fireman and armed with a nuclear bomb disguised as a fire extinguisher, you’re tasked with finding Papa Joe’s diner amongst the now Nazi-occupied Roswell inhabitants.

  • Wolfenstein II includes US locales like Roswell, New Mexico.
  • It also includes killer Nazi robots.
  • And brutal melee kills.
  • And this robot dog/dinosaur thing.
  • Frau Engel is a terrifying villain.
  • Running on id Tech 5, this is a very pretty game.

There are some humorous, if obvious parallels drawn between the Nazi occupation and the darker side of the American dream, not least in an early encounter with a pair of hapless Ku Klux Klan members that have failed to learn their German properly. It’s an impressive moment of world-building, made all the more impactful as you discover the citizens of Roswell have (on the surface at least) embraced their new Nazi overlords. One inhabitant even goes as far as to make a pass at a Nazi captain, unfazed by the parade of Swastikas marching past in the distance.

There’s the usual array of paper paraphernalia to pick up along the way, which help flesh out the months between Blazkowicz being blown up and waking from his coma, but it’s the characters that really sell The New Colossus. Sure, Blazkowicz’s encounter with a Nazi commander inside Papa Joe’s diner is an obvious nod to the now legendary (and frequently copied) performance of Christoph Waltz in Inglourious Basterds (heck, they’ve even got him drinking a milkshake), but the tension is real, and the resultant mess inevitable.

So too is Super Spesh a nod to the X-Files’ Lone Gunmen and every erratic whackjob with a penchant for conspiracy theories and tin foil hats. While Blazkowicz has the unenviable job of telling Super Spesh that no, it’s not “space aliens” that have buried an armoury of unidentified technology in the middle of the desert, Super Spesh also turns out to be Blazkowicz’s way into the Oberkommando inside Area 52, via a maze of disused mine shafts.

When he emerges, Blazkowicz finally gets to do some shooting. The shooting is, like in The New Order, wonderfully brutal. The guns, bastardisations of classic WWII hardware, have a ferocious pop and kick to them. Paired with the new ability to dual-wield weapons of varying types, taking down the hugely OP troops, robots, and tanked-up supersoldiers of the Third Reich is very satisfying indeed.

Like Doom, each enemy in the The New Colossus has its own way of attacking, from duck-and-cover humanoids, to fast-moving radicalised robots. They all have their weaknesses too: the robots, for example, are hard to catch with bullets, but once you do they’re pitifully weak. To help you along there are upgrades you can apply to weapons, which add extra damage via nails or increased stealth via suppressors. The latter is especially useful to stop soldiers raising the alarm and drawing you into a firefight you can’t possibly win.

Like The New Order, The New Colossus pulls no punches when it comes to difficulty. While there’s still some balancing to be done, this is not a game where you can simply run and gun and hope to make it out alive, unless you’re a particularly sharp shooter of course. Blazkowicz’s low health bar—along with the fact that, like shooters of old, armour and health don’t regenerate, but instead must be lifted from crates—makes it even more challenging.

The New Colossus isn’t a smart game—at least not in the traditional sense. But it is subversive, taking classic video game and B-movie tropes and tarting them up with a firmly tongue-in-cheek Nazi-bashing narrative. In that sense, bar the Nazis, it shares much with Prey[7], another Bethesda number that riffed on classic sci-fi movies and games. Prey didn’t quite turn out to be the smash that its opening hour hinted at, but I’ve higher hopes for The New Colossus. It’s already one hell of a ride.

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is due for release on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC on October 27. All footage featured in the video preview was captured by Ars on a gaming PC.

This post originated on Ars Technica UK[8]


  1. ^ 10 posters participating, including story author. (arstechnica.com)
  2. ^ Official website (www.supergiantgames.com)
  3. ^ Amazon UK Pre-Order (www.amazon.co.uk)
  4. ^ Amazon US Pre-Order (www.amazon.com)
  5. ^ Wolfenstein: The New Order (arstechnica.com)
  6. ^ Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus (arstechnica.co.uk)
  7. ^ Prey (arstechnica.co.uk)
  8. ^ Ars Technica UK (arstechnica.co.uk)

Everything we know about ‘Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus’

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus was announced at the end of Bethesda’s E3 2017 press conference[1], and it was one of the best games we’ve seen from a publisher this year[2]. B.J. Blazkowicz is back, and he must now defend the United States of America against total fascism implemented by its Nazi occupiers, including the sadistic Frau Engel. Here is everything we know about the game so far.

What’s the story?

2014’s Wolfenstein: The New Order painted a bleak picture of the 1960s. In an alternate timeline where the Nazis were able to win World War II, the Third Reich would eventually conquer Europe and began stamping out pockets of resistance. After dealing the Germans and killing several of their most important officers in Europe, hero B.J. Blazkowicz suffered a debilitating injury — one that we thought was fatal.

As it turns out, Blazkowicz is alive, though he’s now covered in scars. At the game’s outset, he’s bound to a wheelchair and must use creative means to make his way around without assistance, such as using conveyor belts. This doesn’t stop him from blowing the heads off Nazis, however. He’s teamed back up with some of his resistance pals to push the Nazis out of the United States — they’re led by Frau Engel, a villain from the original game who suffered a brutal jaw injury, though modern medicine appears to have fixed it.

B.J.’s partner Anya, pregnant with twins, is still getting in on the Nazi-slaying, and we also see a brief glimpse of The New Order‘s Max Hass in the trailer, as well. At the very end of the game’s announcement trailer, we also see familiar face Wyatt, but a choice made in the previous game means that he won’t be present in all players’ campaigns. MachineGames is giving returning Nazi-slayers the chance to make their previous choice[3] “canon” right from the beginning. A similar choice will be present in The New Colossus, though it will affect your available weapons more than it will the narrative. One choice will give B.J. the LaserKraftWerk found in The New Order, while the other will give him an explosive cannon, instead.

Kill every Nazi you see

The Wolfenstein series, much like Inglourious Basterds’ Lieutenant Aldo Raine, is about just one thing: Killing Nazis[4]. Luckily, there are a variety of creative ways you can go about wiping the monsters from existence. In the trailer, we see Blazkowicz mount a robotic, flame-spitting dog, which he uses to set the fascists ablaze. He also fires a grenade launcher, blowing them to pieces, and an electricity cannon that disintegrates them.

We also see Anya make creative use of knives to stab a Nazi several times, and if The New Colossus is anything like the previous game, stealth will be a totally viable way to take enemies out. Throwing knives can be especially handy at silencing targets before they spot you.

Players will be able to experiment with different weapon combinations this time around. The New Order allowed for dual-wielding of nearly ever weapon, but two different guns[5] could not be equipped together. That changes in The New Colossus — if you want to wield an assault rifle in one hand and a shotgun in the other, you totally can.

A hatchet has also been introduced to dismember Nazis in gloriously violent ways, which should also help to limit the ammunition you’re forced to expend. A new enemy, which is essentially the Nazi version of a Terminator, will likely force you to use all the resources and equipment you have at your disposal.

G.I. Joe? Try Elite Hans

The New Colossus is available in a collector’s edition[6] that is among the most creative we’ve seen in a long time. For $100, the game comes in a ’60s-inspired cardboard box and includes a poster, steelbook, and a retro action-figure of Blazkowicz as part of the Elite Hans series’ “Enemy Edition” line. B.J. also comes with an assortment of extra weapons as well as two jackets.

Propaganda (trailers)

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To instill pride for the new Nazi regime into Americans, the Germans have released a number of propaganda videos. The first of these, “Liesel,” a take on the 1950s show Lassie, can also be seen in the game’s announcement trailer. It paints the Nazis’ robotic dogs are friends capable of helping average citizens, albeit with a little bit of a short fuse.

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“Transition day,” when all Americans will be forced to speak German instead of their native language, looms on the horizon. To prepare for this, the Nazis produced a game show called German or Else, which pits two Americans each other as they attempt to translate important words. A video clip of the show reveals what happens if one loses the game: a mandatory four-week trip to a “re-education” camp. If the camp she is sent to is anything like the labor camp B.J. visited in The New Order, there’s a good chance that she doesn’t return at all.

“Remember: only 173 days left of English,” the host says. “Make sure you are prepared.”

When can we play it?

Wolfenstein: The New Colossus will be available for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC October 27.


  1. ^ Bethesda’s E3 2017 press conference (www.digitaltrends.com)
  2. ^ this year (www.digitaltrends.com)
  3. ^ previous choice (www.youtube.com)
  4. ^ Killing Nazis (www.youtube.com)
  5. ^ two different guns (bethesda.net)
  6. ^ collector’s edition (www.digitaltrends.com)

‘Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus’: Our first take

Even after all these years, Bethesda isn’t resting on its laurels when it comes to the Wolfenstein series. The opening minutes of Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus are clever, original, and well put-together, but whether they portend a fun game remains to be seen.

Wheelchair bound

Here’s something you might not have seen before. Protagonist B.J. Blazcowicz is unable to walk during the first mission, having just awakened from five months in a coma. Players will have to navigate the resistance submarine in a wheelchair, machine pistol nestled in their lap. The wheelchair mechanic works brilliantly, lurching forward as B.J.’s arms give it a shove, slowing down when he aims, and bucking and heaving as he rolls over barriers between rooms.

Though we only got a chance to try out the machine pistol, it was a satisfying choice, with good hip fire and quick snap to aim down the sights. The main goal of any weapon in Wolfenstein is about killing Nazis, and there are plenty of them to gun down as you bomb down ramps, turn over giant gears, and drop over ledges on your wheelchair. The only downside to the tight quarters of the starting mission is that there aren’t many options for approaching each conflict. In larger areas, you might be able to sneak around, but at least in this part of the game, it’s mostly run and gun.

There was only one type of enemy, and they went down with a few shots each, which felt a little light. We only died a few times, and it was due to not correctly interpreting environmental puzzles. It’s hard to believe that will be the case in the final game, and with difficult properly balanced, where enemies will pack a bit more of a punch. Your health doesn’t recharge, and without a lot of visual cues, it can be hard to remember you’re actually low on health when it does happen.

Tonal shifts

Bethesda spends a lot of time making the Nazis feel as evil as possible. Every time one of them acts in any way besides shooting you, they’re doing something completely dastardly. It’s just one part of what makes the story feel disconnected from the gameplay. Cutscenes are beautiful, with high detail levels, fancy depth of field effects, and well-planned-out color schemes. There’s even dark background humor and throwaway jokes to distract from your grim situation.

Back in the game, faces aren’t expressive at all, details don’t stand out anymore, and the filters fade away, revealing a more realistic aesthetic. It becomes gritty and focused, although there are plenty of ways to get distracted, even in the small intro level. There’s an appeal to both sides of what Wolfenstein: The New Colossus is trying to achieve, but it would be nice if Bethesda stuck with one.


For gamers holding out for a new Fallout or Elder Scrolls title, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus may feel like a bit of a disappointment. We suggest they try their hand at killing some Nazis. Even newcomers to the series will find a shooter that’s already well thought out and polished months before its release. There’s clearly some work to be done finding its true voice, but the trailer’s inclusion of an acid trip and a fire-breathing robot you can ride are probably steps in the right direction. We’ll find out if Bethesda can follow through when Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus drops on October 27.

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus Compared To

‘Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus’ gets an awesome collector’s edition

Why it matters to you

The Wolfenstein II collector’s edition — which includes a GI Joe-like action figure — is so cool that one of our writers may have already purchased it.

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus[1] was easily the standout game at Bethesda’s E3 press conference this year. B.J. Blazkowicz and his ragtag gang of Nazi-killing soldiers are back and the fight has shifted to the United States. The Germans seemed to have revved up their propaganda machine since The New Order, as evidenced by the game’s awesome collector’s edition.

Launching alongside the game for $100, the collector’s edition[2] features a 12-inch action figure of Blazkowicz, complete with an alternate jacket, six guns, and a hatchet. He’s displayed in a red cardboard box that resembles the design of classic action figures in the 1960s, and the front of the box calls him “Terror Billy: the cold-blood terrorist.” The Nazi company that “produced” the figure is “Elite Hans.” It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what that’s parodying.

The collector’s edition also comes with a small “Blitzmensch” poster that you probably shouldn’t display on a wall anyone will see, as well as a steelbook case with the villainous Frau Engel on the front — unlike the special edition for The New Order, the game is included here.

Wolfenstein: The New Colossus looks like it will feature more of the insane action MachineGames delivered in The New Order, all while B.J. waxes poetic about the human psyche and how many Nazi throats he can slice in a day. A few other returning characters were shown in the game’s announcement trailer, as well, including his partner Anya — now pregnant with twins but still capable of killing Nazis — and the brain-damaged, lovable hero Max Hass. Frau Engel, whose jaw was ripped off near the end of The New Order, appears to have quite the plastic surgeon, as her face shows almost no signs of damage in the trailer.

Wolfenstein: The New Colossus launches on October 27 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC — the same day as Assassin’s Creed Origins. For more information on Bethesda’s full E3 lineup, check out our roundup here[3].


  1. ^ Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus (www.digitaltrends.com)
  2. ^ collector’s edition (store.bethsoft.com)
  3. ^ our roundup here (www.digitaltrends.com)
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