Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus review

Credit: Bethesda
Credit: Bethesda /

Wolfenstein II builds on its predecessor’s success with great storytelling and fluid shooting. Unfortunately, a few missteps prevent a perfect score.

Developer: MachineGames
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Platforms: PS4 (version reviewed) Xbox One, PC
Release Date: October 27, 2017

When starting a new FPS, there are a few things you expect. Great gunplay, spades of gore, and a certain amount of difficulty. In most cases, you don’t anticipate emotion or great storytelling, but Wolfenstein fans will know better.

For the uninitiated, Wolfenstein takes place in an alternate history where the Nazis won the war by use of advanced technology. Citizens now live under their rule in an oppressive regime, but a rebel group known as the Kreisau Circle opposes them. The brawn of that group is American spy B.J. Blazkowicz, and despite his rough edges, it’s in him that the most emotion will be found.

It’s an interesting concept and one that developer MachineGames is fully devoted to. Its announcement of a single-player only experience raised some eyebrows, and many are wondering whether it paid off.

It did. The New Colossus takes the series’ storytelling to new heights, kicking off with highly disturbing moments and that level of emotion the whole way through. Not for a second was my immersion broken by poor voice acting or dialogue, the script executed almost perfectly.

Alongside it, the characterization of B.J. and his supporting cast continues. Like the previous game, we jump between the past and present, this time delving into B.J.’s painful childhood. In breaths between the action, his internal monologue still rings, lamenting his crippled state after the injuries sustained.

wolfenstein II BJ
Credit: Bethesda /

Critics praised characters in The New Order, and it will only continue with this title. We see the return of some favorites, including the psychopathic Irene Engel and Matt Hass, who like Hodor, can only speak his name. It would have been to easy just to leave it there, but instead there are several new and nuanced character appearances.

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Essentially, it’s hard to fault the game’s storytelling, and my only wish is for it to be longer. A determined player can rush through the main story content in around eleven hours, but admittedly that’s not the way the game is supposed to be played.

Like the previous title, Wolfenstein II rewards exploration, providing players with upgrade parts, which can be used to improve weapons. You’ll also find several types of collectibles along the way, in the form of star cards, tapes, notes, concept art, and more. It all helps add to the story and its span. Length also varies dramatically based on difficulty, and I highly encourage you to test yourself. The hardest level can more than double your gameplay time, and will require far more planning and expertise.

Whatever your choice, there’s no denying that Wolfenstein II is a lot of fun. The shooting mechanics are still stellar, hatchet kills are fluidly animated and satisfying, and new weapons and enemy types are intensely fun and challenging.

Credit: Bethesda
Credit: Bethesda /

That said, there are minor issues I have to raise, and one is the game’s ‘lean’ mechanic. It’s there to assist with large groups of enemies when cover is necessary, but still feels somewhat clunky with a controller.

Wolfenstein II is easily one of the best shooters of this generation

Holding L1 and the left analog stick while trying to aim with the right and hold L2 to scope just isn’t intuitive. I found myself ignoring the mechanic entirely and favoring a more run-and-gun playstyle, which may be what the developer intended.

In fact, the game’s stealth mechanics seem to encourage this too. They’re far more difficult and don’t seem as powerful as in the previous game. New, heavy enemy types create a nice amount of challenge, but the inability to one-shot them will always result in confrontations. Enemies are also quicker to notice you, and it’s hard to stop alarms quickly.

It all pushes the player to neutralize threats as quickly as possible, but the UI makes that difficult at times. Switching weapons using the weapon wheel is very cumbersome and doesn’t slow time, which can easily get you killed.

Visually, The New Colossus also excels, and though it doesn’t reach the sharpness of DOOM on the PS4, great art direction makes up for it. Outdoor scenes are beautiful, and indoor ones are dramatically lit and well-designed.

Wolfenstein II interior
Credit: Bethesda /

But despite this beauty, I did find myself struggling to navigate the game’s labyrinths of bunkers and military complexes. The layout of your home ship is even confusing, and I found myself having to backtrack several times because I’d gone in the wrong direction. I believe this is intentional to prompt exploration, but it doesn’t make it less frustrating.

Thankfully, those minor niggles tend to fade into the background as you get more experienced with the game. You’ll quickly learn which way to point the sticks to change weapons, will begin to understand repeating elements in level design, and will get better at taking out the right enemies quickly.

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In the heat of the moment, it’s hard to beat the feeling of Wolfenstein II. Mick Gordon’s soundtrack blares high energy tones as you blast your way through enemies. Cutscenes are brilliantly directed, and the combination of darkness and humor is more on-point than ever. Wolfenstein II is easily one of the best shooters of this generation, and I have no doubt that MachineGames will perfect the formula the third time around.

9. Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is easily one of the best shooters in recent times, improving on the previous installment and showing surprising humanity for a Nazi-killing gore fest.. MachineGames. . Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus

A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.