Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus Preview: Down on the Big Easy

Multiple facets of American life have changed with the inception of the New Order. Nazis have infused their philosophy into all aspects of American culture, assimilating it entirely and making it their own. Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus continues to show the full extent of their reach, as B.J. Blazkowicz keeps up the fight in hopes of expanding the ragtag Resistance fighters.

The Nazi regime has spread to New Orleans, where the German army has left the region a shell of its former self. It's become a wasteland, with infantry and fire-breathing Panzerhunds patrolling the streets. But even here, there is a resistance. It's one that Blazkowicz hopes to reach. Shacknews recently had a chance to jump into the Big Easy and get a look at some of Wolfenstein II's new mechanics.

When I last played through the New Colossus at E3 2017, Blazkowicz was left a crippled (yet fully capable) soldier. In this New Orleans playthrough, he's fully mobile again, thanks to some mechanical boosters. These include:

  • Battle Walker: These are a set of stilts that allow Blazkowicz to reach higher areas. It's also helpful for reaching objectives located behind walls. They can even provide cover behind larger vehicles and buildings.
  • Ram Shackles: Ever read X-Men comics and want to be the Juggernaut? The Ram Shackles allow Blazkowicz to be an unstoppable force, plowing through breakable walls to reach new areas. In a pinch, he can also plow straight through enemies, basically killing soldiers by violently running through them.
  • Constrictor Harness: Stealth players can use these to squeeze through tight spaces. Blazkowicz can fit through small crevices inside walls or even underwater pipes to move about undetected.

Speaking of stealth, that's probably the best path to take in New Colossus, because it took me a mere few seconds to remember that Wolfenstein revels in its old-school style. That means no regenerating health, enemies that are tough to kill (especially the Panzerhunds), and a neverending parade of foes that keep coming if Nazi officers set off an alarm. New Colossus is a game that rewards players for approaching missions smartly and brutally punishes those that think they can charge into a fight with guns blazing.

I actually spent most of my playthrough running away from enemy soldiers, but that did give me a chance to try out some of the aforementioned gadgets. The Battle Walker helped me ditch a group of baddies that were giving chase. The Ram Shackles let me escape enemy fire by smashing into a nearby building and taking cover. There was also something satisfying about barreling straight into a foe and completely disintegrating him on contact.

After the gameplay sequence, it was time to meet Horton, a New Orleans preacher that studied the teachings of Karl Marx. The spirited debate between Blazkowicz and Horton over wars and why they're fought was intense to witness. It was Horton slamming the U.S. government for sending people to die to line their own pockets, while Blazkowicz shot back that Horton's side was more interested in domestic issues while the Nazi menace gathered at their doorstep. It's a segment worth watching more than once, as Bethesda sets up both men to be uneasy allies with a common foe.

One major item to note about the New Colossus timeline is that it still hinges on a critical choice made during the events of the New Order: Did General Deathshead kill Fergus or Wyatt at the start of the original game? The choice determines the player's special weapon over the course of the campaign. Saving Wyatt offers up the Dieselkraftwerk, which fires off small, sticky canisters filled with Nazi diesel. The canisters can stick to walls and be set off remotely. Saving Fergus will give players the Laserkraftwerk, which fires off lasers that can be used against heavy armor and mechanical foes. All of that would seem to imply that New Colossus would somehow need to read a player's New Order save file to function, but that's actually not the case. Bethesda reps noted that there will be a different way to determine which of Blazkowicz's compatriots was murdered in the original game, though no details were offered on how exactly that would work.

Whatever path Blazkowicz undertakes, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus looks like it'll offer a satisfyingly high challenge. The new abilities are nice additions that don't away from the core element of old-school shooting. It'll be interesting to see what else Bethesda and MachineGames can add, in terms of story twists and surprises, that can help this latest chapter hold up to the high standard set by Wolfenstein: The New Order. For now, get ready to take the fight to the Nazis again, as Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus arrives on October 27 on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

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