‘Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus’ Is Bleak, Brave and Utterly Captivating

Tom Regan

After hours spent gleefully mowing down enemies in a first person shooter, sometimes, it’s hard not to feel a little bit guilty. While video games are obviously fictional pieces of entertainment, some shooters require you to gun down everyone from nervous cops to part time security guards  unlucky enough to work for the wrong company.

Unfortunately for us at FANDOM, the more immersive games get, the more nagging that guilt becomes. Thankfully though, there’s one shooter where we feel far less bothered about the gargantuan digital bodycount we leave in our wake – Bethesda’s Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus.

Put in the boots of all-American soldier BJ Blazkowicz, players awaken from a World War II-induced coma only to discover that the Nazis have won the war. With Axis forces slowly taking over the world and spreading their bigotry with extreme and violent prejudice, Wolfenstein tasks players with leading the Allied rebellion – and we’re all to happy to oblige. Here, enemies aren’t just your standard Nazis – Hitlers alternative future goons are armed to the teeth and clad in terrifying mechanical-looking armor. Wholeheartedly embracing its dark subject matter, 2015’s Wolfenstein: The New Order sees players vastly outnumbered but never outgunned, pushing gamers into a desperate and violent struggle against evil.

In a nut shell, the last game was the ultimate power fantasy – it gave you a worthy cause and a handful of guns and then let you mow down countless evil-doers as a bonafide super soldier. Needless to say – we absolutely loved it. It was with some surprise then, that seconds after sitting down with an E3 Wolfenstein II: The New Order preview, the game immediately did something that most shooters never dare to – it made us feel completely vulnerable.

Picking up exactly where The New Order left off, our hero once again wakes up disorientated, bloody and confused. With gunfire echoing around nearby corridors and explosions rocking the Allies’ stolen submarine, a soldier who’s clearly relieved to see us offers BJ his gun. It’s then that we realize something is terribly wrong. As our hero leans forward to grab the machine gun pistol before him a surge of pain immobilizes BJ, sending him crumpling into a heap on his bed. With BJ (or Billy as his mum calls him) completely unable to move his legs, the increasingly nervous soldier quickly pushes him a wheelchair – and our hero crawls into action.

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus preview

With our companion running off into the distance, we’re left nervously roll ourselves into the gun-filled corridor. As you’d expect, playing a character in a wheelchair feels completely different to your average shooter. With the left arm used to roll BJ at all times, he can only grip lightweight weapons in his right hand, leaving him clutching a small machine pistol rather than the beastly two handed assault rifles of old. If that wasn’t bad enough, BJ’s health consistently drops, with the serious wounds our hero has sustained causing the soldier to bleed uncontrollably.

Unsurprisingly, this makes combat in Wolfenstein II an incredibly tense affair, as in BJ’s current state every bullet that he takes could be his last. With our hero groaning in pain, the only to get BJ to move at any really speed is to put down the gun and push his chair with both hands – leaving him completely defenseless.

When faced with a slew of guards, players are forced to decide whether to stick to their guns and risk death or wheel their way to cover. Thankfully, most of the guards don’t seem to be expecting our hero, allowing us to roll over to unsuspecting Nazis and use a couple of clean shots to put them out of their misery.

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus preview

With various paths blocked, our hero largely has to use the sub’s plethora of ramps or find other creative ways to get to his objective. Yes, ramps. Luckily for BJ, he seems to have found himself on one of the most wheelchair-accessible submachines ever created.

Still, our wounded hero isn’t always quite so lucky. In a wonderfully inspired section, players must guide BJ up a conveyor belt as they attempt to reach the sub’s control room. Unfortunately, just as we roll onto the convenient shortcut we quickly realize that we’re heading into a trap. As we spy the glint of  Nazi helmet behind the conveyor,  we duck in our chair just in time to avoid a soaring bullet. Before we have time to fill him with lead, the  smirking soldier suddenly reverses the direction of the conveyor belt, sending us hurtling back the way we came.

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus preview

Without wanting to spoil anything, the demo culminates in some pretty violent scenes involving the last game’s skin-crawling Nazi general, Frau Engel. It’s all brilliantly nasty stuff and seeing BJ and his crew suffer time and time again hammers home just how immense the Allies’ struggle is, keeping us completely invested in (and constantly worried about) the game’s surprisingly likeable characters.

Is Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus going to be good?

Based on what we’ve played so far, Bethesda’s latest looks to take the brilliant gameplay of the last Wolfenstein game and crank the tension up to almost insufferable levels. For those looking for a dark and captivating single player shooter – Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus looks to offer gamers a brilliantly bleak adventure.

Tom Regan
Having written for everyone from Trusted Reviews to The Guardian, Tom is a London based writer who can't stop talking about games. Now he's joined the team at FANDOM as gaming editor, we have to constantly remind ourselves that he's not actually Ed Sheeran.
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