Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus’ season pass content unlocked earlier this week, giving us access to the first of four episodic adventures that shift us away from B.J. Blazkowicz’s traumatic tale toward something lighter. “Lighter” is admittedly relative when it comes to these pulpy, alternative-WWII scenarios where you’re still killing Nazis, of course. But The Freedom Chronicles is set to be a series of joyously comic book-style adventures, if its premiere, “Episode Zero,” is anything to go by.
Episode Zero functions as a prologue to the larger season pass storyline, which will consist of three more distinct stories. Each will star an original character unseen in The New Colossus’ campaign. There’s Gunslinger Joe, an African-American quarterback with super strength and speed; Jessica Valiant, a.k.a. Agent Silent Death, who’s a badass with an eye patch and an unbelievable ability to crouch and crawl through tight spaces; and Captain Gerald Wilkins, who is best described as “B.J. Blazkowicz if he were a classic American Hero, but also had stilt legs.”
The Freedom Chronicles’ stars are all sort of like superheroes, with some kind of engrossing origin story that contextualizes both their desires to blast through Nazis and their one special power that helps them do so. Developer MachineGames puts a finer point on the graphic novel comparison by introducing each (very brief) segment of Episode Zero with some stellar illustration work. In essence, these stories are diversions from B.J. and the rest of the resistance’s reality.
What that amounts to is a lot of fun for us, the player who’s suffered alongside B.J. and the crew as they’ve gone through hell. Gunslinger Joe’s section lets us charge through a nicely designed area and ram right into those damned Germans. Gerald Wilkins’ part also benefits from some unique level design that makes good use out of his extendable height; they’re both fun little tricks that just look and feel a lot different than the traditional FPS stylings of Wolfenstein 2.
Best of all is Agent Silent Death’s section. What she’s getting up to is essentially MachineGames’ take on the stealth genre — again, a marked change from the rest of Wolfenstein 2. Both playing as another awesome woman in a game that’s full of them and using completely unique abilities is The Freedom Chronicles’ most exciting addition. Silent Death picks off her enemies with expertly thrown knives, soundlessly striking foes from across a room. If that doesn’t work out, she can always crawl under an incredibly low table and hide out ... until some Nazi dog comes at her ... and she knifes it in the legs. (Quietly, of course.)
Praising the deviations of the DLC isn’t to suggest that Wolfenstein 2’s standard gameplay isn’t worth raving about, of course. We certainly did in our review of the base game. But for the game to then try on three different hats and wear them all really, really well is an encouraging sign for the rest of the expansion pack. The season pass costs $24.99, with the next episodes rolling out in the coming weeks.