Wolfenstein II Builds Upon The Bloody, Frantic Action Of Its Predecessor

During E3, fellow first-person shooter fanatic Matt Bertz got to play through the first 20 minutes of Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus. He dug its zany action, calling the slice of gameplay "one of the most memorable and meticulously crafted demos of E3."

We recently got hands-on with an hour of new content from the next entry in the Wolfenstein series, playing through a level in Roswell, New Mexico that has hero BJ Blazkowicz infiltrating a Nazi base filled with secret weaponry and the top brass to blow it sky high with a portable nuke. The level opens with BJ, in disguise as a firefighter, exploring Roswell. The town, like the rest of the country, has been taken over by the Nazis and there are signs of that everywhere. Propaganda featuring the face of the antagonist of the game, the evil Frau Engel, can be spotted on walls and in the stores of sellers. Nazi guards accost citizens, telling them to learn their German, and rub shoulders with members of the Ku Klux Klan. All in all: a very terrifying vision of the world.

After that segment, I spent the rest of the demo infiltrating the base itself, fighting off Nazi soldiers, robots, and dogs to plant the nuke. This slice of gameplay gave me a pretty good idea of what to expect from The New Colossus come October.

Here are the big takeaways.

Expect To Die. A Lot.
The New Order was already a difficult game. The New Colossus turns everything up to 11 by offering more enemy variety, including super fast robots capable of dodging your attacks, and making BJ more fragile. You could have theoretically played through much of both The New Order and The Old Blood as a tank, blasting everything in your path and picking up health and ammo. In The New Colossus, you'll have to be crafty, strafing and sticking to cover, luring enemies to their death.

You Have More Powerful Weapons At Your Disposal
Your arsenal this go round boasts many of the favorites from the previous game, with the pistol, shotgun, assault rifle, and LaserKraftWerk all returning. However, you can also upgrade every weapon by finding weapon kits littered around every level, which lets you tailor your weapons to your playstyle. For example, you can stick a silencer on your pistol if you're more into infiltration or load it with powerful magnum rounds if you're more prone to going loud off the bat. You're also able to dual wield weapons of different types together, like a pistol in one hand and a shotgun in the other, for even sillier, bloody levels of violence.

The World-Building Is Strong
The introduction of Roswell, letting us explore the city, was surprisingly (for a first-person shooter) big and focused on non-violent exploration. I tailed Nazis and talked to drunken, depressed, scab-covered patriots hiding in alleyways. The beautiful but disturbing propaganda lining the walls and signs of the town were also effective, selling this disturbing vision of America.

The Balance Between Splatterfest And Somber Storytelling Remains
The New Order was a game where, in one sequence, Nazis would be getting atomized and sprayed across the wall in bloody chunks and, in another, you'd have a heartfelt scene between lovers trying to find intimacy in a world filled with hate. From what we saw of both The Roswell section and the prologue wheelchair level, MachineGame still seems to be going after that strange but alluring combo. When I wasn't slamming hatchets into my enemies' faces, I was listening to people cower beneath the terror of the new regime or consulting spiritual texts to find a moment's peace in The New Colossus' violent world.

There's Quite A Bit Of Ambition Here
Both The New Order and The Old Blood were compact games, both in narrative and level design. The New Order was a seemingly simple story about a man trying to take back the world from evil while its levels were essentially a series of corridors. The New Colossus feels bigger on both fronts, with a new cast of characters joining BJ in his journey to take on the Nazis. Both the Roswell sequence and the Area 52 level also felt larger and more arena-like than anything we've seen in The New Order. I enjoyed while I played, but I'm also concerned whether or not The New Colossus might end up trading the unexpected level of nuance and emotional storytelling that made The New Order so special for the sake of scope. We'll find out in October.

For more on Wolfenstein II, be sure to check out our playthrough of the Roswell level and 20 details we noticed from our time with the game.

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