B.J. Blazkowicz really just can’t catch a break. After being sidelined during the Nazi insurgency after the second World War due to a coma, the timeless Wolfenstein hero finds himself yet again relegated to a bed at the beginning of the upcoming sequel, The New Colossus. Wolfenstein under the guidance of MachineGames has been about recreating a classic with modern sensibilities, but their discontent with simply recreating a classic is essentially what made The New Order a captivating. And the lessons learnt there are already being well applied to this sequel.
The New Order is notorious for its ridiculously bad opening, which lacks any of the character or excitement of the game it acts as a prelude for. Sampling the same sort of segment for The New Colossus at E3, I can’t really say the same. The sequel takes place around five months after the events of The new Order – picking up from the ambiguous ending that left the hero of the revolution in a precariously dangerous situation. Unsurprisingly he’s survived, but The New Colossus is making it clear from the get-go just how much of an impact it’s had on B.J.
The New Order was primarily about gunning down countless Nazis with brutally violent stealth kills, dual-wielding machine guns and a blitz fast pace. Nothing could be more different in the opening moments of its sequel though. battered and bruised from his injuries, Blazkowicz has yet again been bed ridden and induced in a coma (the poor guy really struggles to avoid these). his body is frail and weak, forcing him to use a wheelchair to get around after waking up. Of course, the Nazis invading the medical facility he’s at don’t really care about that, and so you as a player can’t either.
Having this traditionally super-human character forced to wheel himself around creates a fascinating dichotomy for the opening moments of The New Colossus. B.J. rest an assault rifle between his legs as he uses both hands to navigate forward, making aiming and shooting a delayed and lethargic experience. Movement is similarly restricted in a contextual manner too. A moment soon after the opening had me entering a room with a ladder in clear focus, pinging the immediate reflex to climb it. Without legs strong enough to stand on, this becomes an impossibility – nearly unheard of in a first-person shooter.
These sorts of restrictions are peppered smartly throughout the prologue, making me re-think how to approach both traversal and combat scenarios with my handicap. One instance had B.J.. riding a conveyor belt to a new floor, only to have his enemies reverse the direction of the belt and force him into a trap. Another had me using massive spinning gears to deftly wheel my way upwards without getting crushed, forcing me to think about how my movement was so crucially impacted by my new form of movement.
It didn’t make B.J. any less capable of downing some Nazis though. Stealth kills still form a pillar of gameplay here and smashing some skulls into the side rails of my chair soon became second nature. Shooting in The New Colossus feels just as tight as it did in the New Order – a feat considering the team shifted the game entirely to a new engine. Its static health system, that forces you to be more aware of health packs around you is ever present too, and the frail state in which B.J, finds himself in only heightened the tension in more chaotic firefights.
The short demo ended with B.J. in no real better position, but it does set up the events for the rest of this second in a potential trilogy with the same twisted sense of morality The new order so immaculately presented. There’s just so much strength in The New Colossus’ opening that was absent from the first game, and I can only hope that Machine Games really follows through with its macabre tone and clever designs throughout the campaign later this year.
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Last Updated: June 15, 2017