Wolfenstein 2: New Colossus is Best in Baby Mode

Machine Game’s second Wolfenstein game, The New Colossus, is in many ways a subtle departure from their first. Once again, we take on the role of B.J. Blazkowicz in an alternate timeline where the Nazis won World War 2.

The game starts when B.J. wakes up from a coma, partially recovered, on a Nazi super submarine that has been commandeered by the Resistance. Plopping his broken butt into a wheelchair, B.J. then proceeds to shuffle around the submarine killing Nazis. In this section, your movement constrained by the wheelchair, and your max health is set at 50 – half of what you would normally have. This makes B.J. very easy to kill as just a few hitscan bullets are enough to lay you out flat on your ass.

The next section is perhaps the most head-scratching premise in the game – and that is saying something. Wondering why the Nazis and the new big baddie – Frau Engel – found the submarine so easily, the crew believes there are still some Nazis hidden on board. These hidden enemies must have been relaying its location to headquarters. Mind you, the resistance has been on this boat for months at this point, and there just happens to be a huge section of the boat – section F – that they just never bothered to search. Because reasons.

Not yet fully recovered, B.J. is still chosen to be the one to eliminate these Nazis. After all, he is Terror Billy, the nightmare of every Nazi on the planet. With the help of a robot suit, B.J. proceeds to clear out the Nazis from the boat once and for all (but not really, because later on we will go back and there are still more on the boat!) Once secure, the Resistance sets forth for the United States of America. Its mission is to find other Resistance groups and start a big damn revolution.

Both games begin with B.J. in an injured state, but The New Colossus takes it further by placing you in a wheelchair and with less max health. This persists to about halfway through the game. B.J. is not an unstoppable force this time. The New Colossus does what the New Order did but takes it farther. Not only is your health bar low for most of the game, the story is even absurder, the tone oscillates between two extremes, and the game is fucking hard.

The New Order wasn’t really a stealth game, but you could sneak around and knife down Nazis and not be seen. In The New Colossus, this feels almost impossible. Enemies can now discover bodies, and react accordingly by becoming alert and setting off alarms. Yet, there is no way to hide or move a corpse. Small things like this make the stealth system feel half-assed.

The guns in your arsenal that can be upgraded to have silencers are not able to pierce armour or metal. Other guns at your disposal can and these are essential for many enemy types. This makes stealth kills really hard when there are drones and super bots patrolling an area. Shooting them with your silenced weapons is not enough to down them, so these enemies will return fire and set off the alarms. This spawns in more enemies from all corners of the map, even in areas you previously cleared.

And if you raise the suspicion of a guard, there is no point to duck behind cover and hide. Robot Nazi skeletons will come alive and run to your exact position. I finished The New Order on I AM DEATH INCARNATE difficulty and it was challenging but doable, so I thought I could do the same in New Colossus. My mistake.

Sadly, I am not death incarnate.

After struggling with a particular section for about an hour – and it was way before the infamous court house scene – I gave up and lowered the difficulty. I didn’t go all the way down, still need those achievements, and I changed my playstyle. No longer would I be the sneaky death looking to eliminate the officers first. Preferrably with a hatchet throw. It didn’t feel right anymore. It just wasn’t fun

It felt like Machine Games made a stealth option because it was expected. After all, the first Castle Wolfenstein game was a stealth game and it kind of worked in The New Order. But I think secretly they didn’t want the game to be played that way. The New Order is a more serious game that doesn’t joke a lot about its subject matter. And that was a good thing.

The New Colossus has a lot of seriousness as well, but these moments are separated by poop jokes, and silly, lighthearted character interactions. It is a game that is serious, but also lets loose, and wants to be optimistic, and a bit more batshit, than its predecessor.

It’s a game where you can dual wield guns, any guns. A triple barrel shotgun in one hand and a rocket launcher in the other. Or a machine gun in your left hand and a pistol that shoots bombs in your right hand. B.J. Blazkowicz is known as Terror Billy. Doesn’t sound like someone sneaking around vents and throwing axes at people’s backs.

Go full mayhem. I did. Start each level shootin’ and grenadin’ and who cares if the officers set off the alarms? I got enough bullets. And yes, the game is going to make fun of you for taking it easy. Like the forced stealth, that is just one more thing to ditch from the series’s past.

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