Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus
B.J. Blazkowicz is back at it again
Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus sends players to Nazi-controlled America on a mission to recruit the boldest resistance leaders left. The game is the direct sequel to the 2014 hit Wolfenstein: The New Order and continues its story.
Players fight the Nazis in iconic locations such as small-town Roswell, New Mexico, the flooded streets of New Orleans, and a post-nuclear Manhattan.
The game picks up where Wolfenstein: The New Order left off. Aside from the continuation of the story, the game features several new additions, including upgradeable weapons, larger explorable environments, a new game hub to explore and separate weapon selection wheels that are supposed to make it easier to mix and match different weapons.
Gameplay is almost an exact copy of Wolfenstein: The New Order and this is perfectly fine because it just works so well. Shooting your way through a level is really fun, especially when you dual-wield large weapons.
The introduction of the new separate weapon selection wheels for both hands was expected to open the way for more customization. In practice, the separate selection wheels are very counterintuitive and extremely frustrating to use during gunfights.
I can't help but feel that the weapon selection wheels work better on consoles than they do on the PC simply because console controllers feature less buttons so selection wheels are required. On the PC version you'll want to completely ignore these in favor of the typical number keys on your keyboard.
The PC version supports controllers, but due to the fast-paced nature of the game this is not recommended. I frequently died using the Steam Controller because you sometimes only have a split second to aim and shoot. Fast-paced shooters simply don't translate well to controllers - and this is perfectly fine as Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus is the type of game you will want to play with a keyboard and mouse.
The game features several upgradeable weapons, including the expected Pistole, Sturmgewehr, Maschinenpistole, Laserkraftwerk, Dieselkraftwerk and Lasergewehr. Weapon upgrades give you access to several new features, including silencers, extended ammo magazines, damage multipliers and scopes.
The concept of weapon upgrades is sound, but there aren't that many upgrades to choose from and using them is not as game-changing as I would have liked them to be. The only upgrade that really stood out was the silencer because unlocking it allows for more stealth gameplay.
The game lacks some visual indicators that allow you to confirm kills. This would have been particularly helpful to stay undetected during stealth gameplay because some enemies take several shots to kill and not killing them will result in commanders triggering the alarm.
The game will typically provide you with at least 12 to 14 hours of gameplay depending on the difficulty setting. You can get an additional 8 to 10 hours out of it if you complete all the side-missions.
A secret "Riverside" side-mission is unlocked once all war map side-missions are completed. In the secret side-mission you get to kill the final Übercommander boss.
The beginning of the game starts really strong by giving players a summary of the events of Wolfenstein: The New Order and picks up right where the previous game left off. This helps new players understand the plot.
What I don't like about the opening scenes is that it includes two very peculiar scenes that feature Blazkowicz's father Rip. Both scenes are completely irrelevant to the rest of the game and only seem to be included for the shock factor, presumably in hopes of generating outrage online.
In the first scene Rip Blazkowicz uses racial slurs when he discusses B.J.'s friendship with a person of color after which the player must defend Blazkowicz's mother Zofia by attacking Rip with an object. In the second scene Rip forces Zofia to shoot a dog.
The second scene is experienced through the eyes of Zofia and players are essentially forced to pull the trigger to advance the story. One could argue that including both scenes helped create a backstory by depicting Blazkowicz's father as an evil character, but overall both scenes added nothing of value.
Even though the beginning is so strong, the story eventually glides into a rather uneventful search for remaining American resistance fighters.
In practice, this means that B.J. visits several iconic locations as he eventually teams up with several new characters towards the end of each chapter. From this perspective it felt very similar to the shooter game Left 4 Dead where you make your way through a level to trigger a cinematic at the end.
This part of the game is also the most underwhelming. The rendition of Nazi-occupied America is interesting, but these chapters added nothing of value to the franchise except for introducing a few new characters.
About half way through Adolf also makes his first appearance considering he was completely out of the picture in Wolfenstein: The New Order. This new rendition of him works extremely well and his writing and voice-overs were superb although his actual screen time was still rather short.
The game's ending is quite lackluster and uneventful. The game spends several chapters working towards the finding and killing of general Engel, but the actual killing scene was so short and average that it simply isn't worth the anticipation the game builds up.
The game's ending cutscene right after it also doesn't help because players get to see a dull revolution broadcast followed by the credits roll.
The revolution broadcast itself seems to be the set up for the next game where the player could end up join the resistance's fight to drive Nazi's out of America, but I certainly don't consider it to be a cliffhanger simply because of how disappointed I was when I realized this was the game's ending.
If anything, the ending made the game feel short because there seems to be a lot of missed opportunities.
More specifically, I would have liked to see the take-over of Engel's Ausmerzer ship lead to the discovery of new technologies that would turn the tide for the resistance. The game could have had several additional chapters where players would get familiarized with these new technologies.
The recruited resistance fighters you spent several chapters finding also don't ever appear by your side and only ever make brief appearances during cutscenes in Eva's Hammer.
You also gain access to one of two weapons depending on the timeline you select: Laserkraftwerk for Fergus and Dieselkraftwerk for Wyatt. The Laserkraftwerk weapon seems to be the more spectacular choice.
Personally, I consider Wyatt's timeline to be far less interesting because of his different personality. However, discovering the differences between both timelines is still fun and justifies playing through the game a second time.
By far the biggest missed opportunity here is that the game doesn't feature a chapter selection screen. If you start a new timeline all savegames are removed and you'll have no choice but to play through until the end again.
All of the environments are incredibly detailed and the usage of the game's updated lighting effects make them aesthetically pleasing.
However, I still prefer the typical close quarters stealth environments over the more open Nazi-occupied renditions of iconic American locations such as New Orleans and Roswell. From this perspective I consider the locations to be more of a marketing gimmick than truly relevant locations you would want to visit as a player.
Just like in Wolfenstein: The New Order players make their way to space and this time the destination is not the moon but planet Venus.
Visiting Nazi-occupied planet Venus sounds interesting on paper, but its environments were actually not that elaborate. This is because most of the chapter takes place in-doors and the base itself has surprisingly few windows to look through. It certainly didn't give me the same feeling I got when I first set foot on the moon in Wolfenstein: The New Order.
In terms of graphics the game features all the settings I expect from a PC version, including a field of view slider that sits at a default value of 90. Setting the slider to the 100 value made a huge difference.
Subtitle options are included and enabling it is something I would recommend. Subtitles don't always match the German voice-overs of general Engel and Sigrun, but this is hardly noticeable if you can't understand German.
The game has received updated graphics when compared to Wolfenstein: The New Order. However, most of these updates are only really noticeable during gunfights or when exploring dark environments.
However, the biggest issue here is that the game doesn't properly support the Steam Overlay and NVIDIA Shadowplay. Even after the recent patch that re-enabled the Steam Overlay I still had issues activating it and I experienced frequent crashes when using it.
The game's Steam Store user review section is also filled with players who complain about frame rate issues and frequent crashes. I presume this is related to running the game on Windows 10 because the only issues I experienced are those outlined above.
The soundtrack is quite good, but some chapters feature tracks that don't always fit your playstyle. This is especially noticeable when you prefer to use stealth to your advantage instead of coming in with all guns blazing.
Most of the tracks set the mood quite well, with the mysterious suspension tracks (one, two, three) being the highlight, while some of them feature way too much digital noise. The digital noise can be compared to the digital fart noises you typically hear when playing recent Battlefield games.
Generally speaking, the tracks used in the first few chapters are absolutely superb and the tracks used in later chapters are leaning towards being average.
As you play through the storyline you will collect Enigma Codes that can be decrypted by visiting the Engima Machine in the game hub.
Decrypting codes is done by lining up a series of patterns. Once decrypted, you will be able to track down commanders on the war map. You can revisit the location by selecting it and you can then proceed to assassinate them.
Being able to revisit locations is a welcomed addition, but it also gets old quite fast. It helps that some of these missions allow you to revisit locations by starting at the end of a level and working your way back to the start.
What I don't like about the assassination missions is that it doesn't save your progress as you make your way through the level. This results in having to start all the way from the beginning again when you die.
Assassination missions also don't seem to be cancelable. The only way to exit these missions is by loading a previous savegame. If both of your autosaves are overwritten you basically have no choice but to select an older savegame or continue playing until the end.
The game is a good sequel to Wolfenstein: The New Order, but its American setting is not as fitting as the setting featured in the previous game. Wolfenstein games simply feel and play better when you lurk through castle corridors instead of dealing with its prevalent over-the-top "alien technology" setting that is slowly starting to resemble that of Bethesda's other shooter game Doom.
That being said, the game does provide the iconic fast-paced shooting experience the franchise is known for. The game also does a better job at delivering a good combination of both serious and funny cutscenes, but the overall story is simply not as good as Wolfenstein: The New Order.
The main attraction of Wolfenstein games has always been blasting your way through legions of advanced Nazi soldiers, cyborgs, and über soldiers with an arsenal of weapons - and from that perspective Wolfenstein: The New Colossus certainly delivers.
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