Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus Hands-On Preview – Go Go Gadget, Stilts!
Bethesda managed to surprise a large portion of the Nintendo Switch audience when they announced Doom and Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus will be making their way to the console. If either of the two previews I've been to are anything to go by, The New Colossus is a game that Nintendo fans should keep an eye on. The first preview saw B.J fight his way out of a Nazi U-Boat in nothing but a wheelchair. This time around, we were dropped a bit further into the game where we had the opportunity to check out New Orleans under Nazi rule.
Following a brief meeting with the returning members of the Kreisau Circle, B.J is assigned to locate and recruit Horton who currently serves as the leader of the New Orleans-based resistance group. I was dropped on the top of the towering, heavily guarded wall that quarantines New Orleans and from there, I had to make my way towards the American Bank in order to find Horton.
Yet again, I was greeted by the stellar graphics that I mentioned in my first Wolfenstein II preview. New Orleans has been transformed into a burnt-out shell of disrepair. Snaking through it while trying to avoid the Nazi guards left me torn between wanting to gun down every enemy I saw, and hanging around to admire the environment. The New Colossus environments are incredibly detailed, making the overall experience feel cinematic and fluid. This is all thanks to the id Tech 6 engine, which gives MachineGames the freedom to create significantly bigger maps and populate them with more enemies. In hindsight, I only ran through a few streets in New Orleans as well as a few sizable buildings, however, the city felt realistically large. As expected, there were plenty of Nazi soldiers greeting me at every turn too.
Along with the full arsenal of weapons and upgrades that The New Colossus offers, I was also able to test out one of B.J’s special abilities. Similarly to how you would use the GLOO Cannon in Prey (2017) to reach open vents and ceiling pipes, B.J is able to activate his extendable legs in order to reach high places. This encourages players to revise how they approach the environment in this section of the game. Observant players that notice open windows and vacant ledges will be able to use the extendable legs to access rooms and potential shortcuts. Often, they will also be rewarded for their efforts with additional health packs or ammo. However, there were parts of the demo where the extendable legs were necessary to progress, most notably where B.J had to slide into a control box to power up a crane that would lift him to the next room. Gaining a height advantage over enemies will give players more options when engaging in combat.
As I already mentioned, The New Colossus offers far larger maps than we’ve ever seen in a Wolfenstein game before, so combining the extendable legs with a stealthy approach will certainly make players feel as though they have more control over the situation. Whether you’re jumping onto metal crates, into open windows or over certain fences, the extendable legs make B.J feel more mobile and, consequently, more powerful against his enemies.
After engaging in a firefight with more Nazis and a couple of heavily armored foes in a blazing street, I finally made it to the American Bank where I found Horton. The next section consisted of a reasonably lengthy cutscene in which B.J becomes more acquainted with Horton and his team. After proving himself to Horton, B.J’s next objective was to act as a distraction while Horton and his team made their way to the harbor.
Unleashed into the streets of New Orleans on the back of a Panzerhund, B.J then has to burn his way through the remaining Nazis. This was an interesting yet welcome change in pace as it slowed the gameplay right down and made B.J feel invincible. Spewing out fire as the Panzerhund marched through small hordes of enemies was a satisfying feeling after having fought my way to the American Bank and it gave me another chance to appreciate the detailing in the scenery.
From what I’ve seen of the game so far, it seems as though MachineGames are aiming to frequently change up the gameplay in The New Colossus. Near the opening of the game, we experienced wheelchair combat along with the electrical traps, and customised dual-wielding has also proved to positively change how players will deal with enemies in the sequel. In the most recent preview build, we’ve now seen B.J’s extendable legs and have traversed the streets of New Orleans aback a Panzerhund. At this rate, I’m hoping that MachineGames have a few more interesting mechanics for us to look forward to in the remainder of the game.
I’m impressed with MachineGames’ delicate balance of cutscenes and action in the builds I’ve seen so far. While some of the cutscenes have been long, they have yet to feel boring or unnecessary. Similarly, while still relatively linear, any sections where I’ve controlled B.J have been action-packed and fun to play through. I’m now eagerly awaiting The New Colossus’ release which, thankfully, is now just under a month away. Keep an eye out for our review to see how the final version of Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus shapes up in coming weeks.
If you’ve read through both of my Wolfenstein II: New Colossus previews and are still hungry for more Wolfenstein II content, be sure to also check our freshly published interview with Arcade Berg, Senior Games Designer from MachineGames.
We've also got exclusive new gameplay footage from the preview build. You can find it below.