The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games, academia and life dare to converge

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus First Impressions

“I believe that political correctness can be a form of linguistic fascism, and it sends shivers down the spine of my generation who went to war against fascism.” –P.D. James

After destroying Genera Wilhelm Strasse’s headquarters during the events of Wolfenstein: The New Order, William “B.J.” Blazkowicz is rescued and falls into a coma. He is returned to Eva’s Hammer, but awakens to find the vessel under attack from General Engel, who has engaged in a personal vendetta against Blazkowicz since The New Order. Crippled and unable to walk, Blazkowicz fights his way through Eva’s Hammer on a wheelchair to regroup with Anya, who is expecting twins. He reveals his plan to surrender to Engel, and is taken aboard the Ausmerzer, Engel’s airship along with Wyatt and Caroline. Caroline is executed, but before Engel can kill Wyatt, Engel’s daughter, Sigrun, stops her, buying Wyatt enough time to kill two guards and pass Caroline’s powered armour to him. Blazkowicz fights his way through the Ausmerzer and disables the electromagnetic clamps holding Eva’s Hammer in place, before returning to the U-boat, where he finds a group of Nazi soldiers holding out in a hitherto unexplored part of the submarine. They are transmitting a signal, explaining how Engel has found them so easily, and Blazkowicz disables this transmitter before joining up with the others to mourn Caroline’s death. This is how far I’ve gotten into The New Colossus‘ campaign after two hours: the decision to purchase the game on launch day rather than waiting for a sale was not an easy one, motivated the fact that I have a reasonable grasp on what my schedule this month looks like. With two hours of the game under my belt, the price of admissions has proven to be well worth it: I’ve heard that the campaign spans fifteen hours when played through at a brisk pace, and this is to say nothing of the assassination and side missions.

From a technical perspective, The New Colossus is an impressive game. Powered by the Id 6 Engine, which drives last year’s DOOM, shooting and movement feel more fluid than they did in The New Order. While not as smooth as DOOM, The New Colossus has so far been a thrill to play. The new dual-wielding system combines the whacky ability of being able to fire two heavy weapons simultaneously akin to GoldenEye 64‘s system with Halo 2‘s capability for mixing and matching weapons to dual-wield to improve weapons diversity. So far, I’ve only got the Maschinenpistole, Sturmgewehr and pistol, plus the Dieselkraftwerk, a compact grenade launcher, but it’s been fun to mix and match weapons, even if nothing is quite comparable to the raw firepower offered by a pair of Sturmgewehr rifles. The wheelchair sequence in The New Colossus‘ first mission was also an innovative one, forcing players to make use of the environment in order to navigate and also appreciate the amount of freedom available in just being able to walk. The visuals in The New Colossus have also been improved from its predecessor: there are more details in the environments, textures look sharper and lighting is more intricate. In spite of this, I’ve had no trouble running the game at 60 FPS at 1080p – my rig is four-and-a-half years old now, but The New Colossus is buttery-smooth in the frame-rate department, running the game on Über settings without too much of a struggle.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • With this The New Colossus post, I’ve got 888 posts, and in my last post about Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Remastered, I remarked that I would go back through the game and get all of the intel items before the ten year anniversary for Call of Duty 4‘s release passed. I ended up succeeding in my endeavours, although on closer inspection, I realised that there was not much more I had to add to my thoughts on this particular title. So, at the ten year anniversary of Call of Duty 4‘s release, I will be going through the first hour of The New Colossus instead. Call of Duty: World War II also released yesterday, and while the campaign looks quite nice, I do not think I’ll be playing it in the foreseeable future.

  • I’ve seen footage of The New Colossus‘ opening moments during the E3 demo, which sees Blazkowicz start the mission in a wheelchair. Eva’s Hammer is evidently not designed to be wheelchair accessible, but Blazkowicz improvises to the best of his ability. He picks up the MP61 Machinepistole, a submachine gun, from a resistance fighter when Nazi soldiers begin boarding the U-Boat, and fulfills a role similar to that of Halo 2‘s submachine gun, with a high firing rate and low bullet damage.

  • The New Colossus allows players to really appreciate the freedom conferred by being able to walk around normally. Ordinary constructs like stairs suddenly become obstacles, and a part of the first mission is really just getting used to the shooting again. Like its predecessor, The New Colossus lacks hitmarkers and instead, counts on highly visible indicators of a successful hit on enemies, who will stagger or outright collapse when shot. Conversely, it’s actually quite tricky to tell when Blazkowicz is taking damage, and consequently, I’ve died more often than I cared to count because I wasn’t aware of how much damage I was taking.

  • Players have explored Eva’s Hammer previously in The New Order, when the goal was to capture the submarine. In the time that has passed, the submarine has evidently become a base of operations for Kreisau Circle. As Blazkowicz, players explore hitherto unknown areas of the submarine, hinting at just how large the U-Boat really is. Eva’s Hammer is inspired by Nazi Germany’s Type IX U-boat. There are four variations, with the having had a maximum length of 87.58 meters and a height of 10.2 meters. By comparison, the Ohio-class submarines are 170 meters in length and a height of 10.8 meters, while the Soviet Akula (NATO name “Typhoon”) was 175 meters in length and 12 meters high.

  • The dimensions of Eva’s Hammer is likely much greater than even those of the Typhoon-class, considering the amount of space there is to explore within the submarine. One of the things about Wolfenstein II and the games that Bethesda has published in recent memory is the fact that they seem to be caught in the middle of petty squabbles from folks on the internet who seem to have nothing but leisure time on their hands. With DOOM, some ignorant knaves claimed that “this level of extreme violence shouldn’t be considered normal”, although fortunately, negative social media impressions did little to dampen DOOM‘s success.

  • The New Colossus, on the other hand, has been counted to be a “politically correct” game for its portrayal of diverse groups unifying to challenge Nazi rule in an alternate history. Groups who have been attempting to force developers to inject political correctness and social justice messages into games have been around for a few years, and while some feel that games are on the decline for this, I’ve long found that the operative word here is “attempt”: gaming will only die when the options for exploring fantastical, fictional worlds dwindle and the only titles left on the market lack good mechanics in favour of pushing agendas.

  • The bottom line for The New Colossus is simple enough: if I can go around, smoothly explore a map and light up whatever is downrange of my crosshairs, that’s good enough for me, and this generally holds true for other games that I play. So far, the game plays very well, so even if there are messages in the game, at the minimum, they’re not affecting the gameplay. Thus, I won’t trouble the blog with this particular topic any further, and return discussion to The New Colossus; at this point, I’ve been captured by General Engel, saw Caroline executed and capitalised on Sigrun betraying General Engel to save Blazkowicz, as well as Wyatt. I’ve also got Caroline’s powered armour, which allows Blazkowicz to move freely again, and my first action is to dual-wield the MP61s.

  • In The New Order, melee weapons were restricted to knives. The Old Blood introduced the pipe, a clever tool that could be combined to form a single weapon, pulled apart and dual-wielded for quick strikes. On top of this, the pipes could be used to scale some walls and also open hatches. The New Colossus introduces the hatchet, which makes for some interesting kills, but lacks the utility of the pipe from The Old Blood. Superbly useful for silent kills, the hatchets are the best way of eliminating enemy commanders from a distance.

  • Like its predecessors, enemy commanders will call for reinforcements if a firefight breaks out, and neutralising them will prevent them from doing thus. Commanders are almost always found in groups of two, and in The New Colossus, they drop enigma codes that can be used towards unlocking missions for the assassination mini-game. In The New Order, enigma codes were scattered throughout the levels and could be used to unlock cheats for the game. I don’t think I ever collected everything in The New Order.

  • One of the joys of The New Order was seeing a fictionalised depiction of Nazi technology and architecture. The second mission is set on General Engel’s Ausmerzer, a large fortress capable of flight by means of three large repulsors. One mechanic in The New Colossus is the fact that Blazkowicz spends most of the game at fifty health, forcing players to keep an eye out for armour. It’s a slight change of pace from other games, adding another nuance to the New Colossus that make things interesting.

  • The assault rifle in The New Colossus is known as the Stermgewehr, and while it’s supposed to be a straight upgrade from the assault rifle of The New Order, it has a smaller magazine and lower firing rate. In its base form, the weapon is only slightly better than the Machinepistole – while capable of dealing more damage, its recoil is similar to the assault rifle of The Old BloodThe New Colossus seems to dissuade methodical, tactical play, as I’ve found that going loud seems much easier when I’m dual-wielding the assault rifles.

  • Killing Supersoldaten in The New Colossus will allow Blazkowicz to pick up heavy weapons: the Lasergewehr is a directed energy weapon that can outright vapourise unarmoured targets, and it’s an absolute blast to use. Capable of melting through and vapourising steel sheets, the weapon is also useful for opening metal crates. There are plenty of charge stations on board the Ausmerzer, allowing me to utilise the Lasergewehr liberally.

  • A straight upgrade from The New Order‘s MG60, the Lasergewehr is a beastly weapon that also has a firing sound rivalling the seismic charges and thermal imploders of Star Wars. Supersoldaten are now powerful enough to dual-wield these weapons, and they can tear through Blazkowicz very quickly. Unlike the Supersoldaten of earlier games, the ones in The New Colossus are equipped with a rocket pack that allow them to cover great distances quickly; they will use this ability to knock Blazkowicz down.

  • Because I picked the Wyatt timeline, I ended up getting the Dieselkraftwerk: the Fergus timeline will yield the Laserkraftwerk. Fueled by diesel, this incendiary weapon is new to the Wolfenstein game and acts as a delay-grenade launcher with the option of launching projectiles that detonate on impact. I’ve heard that the Laserkraftwerk is easier to use, and did not know that the choice between Wyatt and Fergus would alter the signature weapon Blazkowicz accesses. I ultimately chose Wyatt because I chose to save Wyatt in The New Order, after watching a Fergus playthrough and so, I wished to see the other timeline.

  • One of the most glorious features of The New Colossus is the ability to dual-wield any weapon that can be held in Blazkowicz’s inventory, meaning that the Stermgewehr can be used simultaneously with the Dieselkraftwerk to provide over-the-top firepower. Although dual-wielding is a fantastic way to bring a large amount of damage to bear against enemies, it comes with the disadvantage of requiring a longer reload once Blazkowicz runs out of ammunition.

  • While the schematics might have shown section F as a mere laundry room, it turns out there’s an entire section of Ava’s Hammer that remains unexplored and home to Nazi soldiers holding out. The conditions leave them in a woebegone state, but they’re still hostile to Blazkowicz. The cavernous machinery and hallways really give a sense of how large Ava’s Hammer is, and finding the signal altering General Engle to the Kreisau Circle’s whereabouts is a nontrivial task.

  • When I started The New Colossus last week, the weather had still been very much autumn-like, but on Wednesday, a slow-moving system moved over the area, bringing with it at least fifteen centimeters of snow and an additional ten projected. It’s feeling a lot like winter now, and on Thursday, I decided to swing by the local bookstore after work to pick up the final manga volume of The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan, which I’d been following since 2013. The drive was ardous, and remained so yesterday morning; in response, I left for work a full hour earlier than usual. Things had not improved by evening: roads were very much icy when we went out for dinner at the Café HK; the windchill and snow made dinner (a Japanese-style curry tonkatsu) especially delicious.

  • The roads are still treacherous today and will likely remain so for another day or two while the city clears and sands the roads. This means a quieter day spent at home in lieu of my usual weight-lifting, and this will give me some downtime to read through The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan. I will be doing my first-ever manga review once I finish, and discuss what about this particular manga worked well for me. It’s been a four year journey since that day when I picked up the first volume at a bookstore downtown: back in 2014, only four volumes had been available for purchase. There will be more on this later – this isNew Colossus post, and not a Nagato Yuki-chan post, after all.

  • After sweeping through the bowels of Ava’s Hammer, I finally reached the room with the broadcasting equipment and incinerated it. What followed was a fierce firefight: while I’d been keeping the Dieselkraftwerk’s ammunition in reserve so I could break through any passageways, now seemed as good of a time as any to unload with the weapon’s payload. Against numerous targets, using the weapon’s alternate fire mode turns it into a highly effective grenade launcher that can blow away even Supersoldaten on short order.

  • Once the broadcasting station is destroyed, the Kreisau Circle is finally afforded some peace, and this mission comes to an end. After two hours, I am convinced that The New Colossus was worth the price of admissions, and with unconfirmed news that Star Wars Battlefront II might be discounted close to The Last Jedi‘s theatrical première, it seems that going through The New Colossus in November will allow me to focus fully on Battlefront II come December should it go on sale. I’m also wondering if it will be worthwhile to buy Tom Clancy’s The Division during the Steam Winter sale for the single player aspects. There will be more posts this month on The New Colossus as I advance in the game, along with a handful of anime-related talks before I delve into Yūki Yūna is a Hero: Hero Chapter, which will begin airing on November 17.

The New Colossus was originally the name of a poem by Emma Lazarus, intended to raise money to construct the Statue of Liberty’s pedestal. Inscribed at the base of the statue on a metal plaque, The New Colossus is a poem that was aimed at inspiring hope, welcoming people arriving in America – during this time, immigrants arriving in the United States likely would have been sailing from Europe, and New York would have been their first destination. This is where Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus takes its name from, being about the hope that has forsaken the alternate-history America within the game, and in classic Wolfenstein manner, this hope is embodied in a Blazkowicz’s crusade to liberate the United States from Nazi rule. The setting in the United States, rather than in Europe, offers a unique perspective on what a United States where Hitler had won might look like; the fight is taken much closer to home. Overall, The New Colossus has a satisfying shooting system, and combat is visceral, as its predecessors before it: having removed any doubt that my system can handle The New Colossus, I greatly look forwards to seeing what awaits me in the Wolfenstein sequel, especially with respect to the part where I get to explore the different locations of the game and make use of the new weapons to, as Bethesda puts it, Make America Nazi-free Again.

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