I want to preface this entire review with a tiny bit of a spoiler, but it’s an important one that I wasn’t warned about coming into this game and that I haven’t seen be warned about. There’s a huge trigger warning for animal death right at the start of the game. It was massively upsetting to me, although it was a brief moment, and it was an over the top way of setting up a villain of the piece and getting you to hate someone.
And I think ‘over the top’ is definitely Wolfenstein II‘s modus operandi. Though apart from that singular moment, it’s definitely not a bad thing. It gives this game a hell of a lot of personality that’s missing from modern FPS games. So let’s jump in and take a look at what the game is about, and why you should play it if you’ve ever dreamed of punching Nazi’s in the face, but with a hatchet.
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus picks up directly after the first game. And if you think that isn’t possible, please keep in mind this is BJ Blazkowicz. He cares very little about ‘possible’ and more about ‘what is the most efficient way to eliminate every single Nazi’.
The Nazi’s haven’t been stopped and now it’s the 60’s. They’ve infiltrated America through nuclear weapons and now have complete control of the country. Americans are being forced to learn German because English is about to be outlawed, the Ku Klux Klan is walking around in full garb, swastikas are everywhere and, naturally, BJ is absolutely pissed about this development. Though there are plenty of Americans who are equally pissed and who you will meet and recruit to your cause.
Similar to the first game, characters and setting are a huge strong point here. Every main character feels unique, and even other NPC’s you’ll see around your home base have conversations and lives you’ll stumble upon as you go, if you’re willing to hang around and listen. And the game absolutely makes it a rewarding experience to explore. I think a large part of my gameplay is just me taking my time looking around BJ’s base of operations, admiring all the small details in the characters rooms, listening to their dialogue and snooping around for the unlockable concept art.
There’s also a few other areas where you’ll be able to wander around uninhibited and just enjoy the environment that has been so painstakingly and beautifully created for you. The level of detail is absolutely amazing. Although the main levels themselves aren’t too bad either, whether it be the desolate wasteland of what was once New York, or the technologically advanced inside of a Nazi stronghold. Details are placed everywhere to make the environments feel real and reward the player for taking a good look around.
Of course, the gameplay itself is no slouch, either. It takes the hectic dual wielding from the previous two games and brings it back in full force. You can dual wield sniper rifles, if your heart desires. Which mine did, just because I could. The levels usually present you with two options, you can either run and gun your way through or you can take your time and sneak around, picking everyone off one by one like some kind of Nazi killing Batman.
Stealth seems to be the option that’s encouraged, as every level has various shortcuts and winding paths to take that make it a lot of fun to sneak up on enemies and take them out, either with a silenced pistol or the brutal, violent and fun hatchet, which replaces your knife. Stealth is also important in needing to quickly and quietly take out the commanders, who will immediately call for backup as soon as BJ is spotted. Though regardless of difficulty level, every enemy seems to be very, very good and noticing exactly where BJ is at any given time and raising the alarm, making stealth more difficult than previous entries in the serious, but more rewarding in turn.
The other option is to go in guns blazing, wrecking everything and anyone in your path while dual wielding whatever weapon takes your fancy. You can even mix and match, in case you ever wanted a grenade launcher with a sub-machine gun. Which I did. Because I couldn’t do the stealth so I figured I might as well have fun. It’s also possible to take heavy weapons from larger enemies, which will come in handy given most of them are one hit kills to smaller enemies, and make it far easier to take on hoards of larger enemies which you’ll no doubt encounter. Though these, unfortunately, you can’t dual wield.
The only real issue I found with the gameplay, besides stealth being a lot more difficult, was that you’re given lower health (for plot related reasons) in the beginning of the game, and there’s no real feedback for when BJ is shot. Meaning I died quite a bit because I didn’t realize I was being shot at in the first place. There are also a few glitches, but these are being constantly addressed by the patches and aren’t something I’ve encountered personally, besides a crash on startup issue that was my fault for not having updated my drivers, so this isn’t something I can comment on.
This is easily the best entry in the Wolfenstein franchise so far though, through world building and Nazi shooting, I couldn’t help but want more given that it’s a little short. Hopefully the coming DLC will fix that, but as it stands currently, it’s absolutely a must play and easily in my list of possible GOTY’s.