The centerpiece of Bethesda’s slate of games at this year’s E3 is MachineGames Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus. The team brought along a playable, 30-minute demo, which we were able to devour behind closed doors on the show floor.
The game has the same brutal gunplay as the original, but don’t expect to start kicking butts right off the bat. That’s because our hero, BJ Blazkowicz, is in a bad way.
What follows includes spoilers for the opening level of Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus.
The demo begins with Blazkowicz still recovering from the wounds he received at the end of Wolfenstein: The New Order. He’s been asleep for a long time, and the scars on his chest make it look like Resistance doctors had a hard time even finding all the right pieces to stitch together. His kidneys are failing and, looking around at his body, you can even see the bag of his catheter poking out from underneath his hospital gown.
But just as Blazkowicz wakes up, the Nazis launch their assault.
To escape, I had to fight my way out of a massive submarine in a wheelchair. Movement was painfully slow. Blazkowicz groaned as he hauled his chair up and over bulkheads and down corridors. I was able to get a burst of speed, but to do so I had to lower my weapon and leave myself defenseless.
The Nazis had taken strategic locations all over the ship, and the only way out was straight through them. It was clear that the level I played was still in development. There was only a single gun to use, and it was a painfully weak machine pistol at that. Many of the puzzles were also unnecessarily opaque, especially those that involved using the sub’s machinery to lift Blazkowicz’s wheelchair up and over obstacles.
The hardest part was the fact that Blazkowicz was slowly bleeding out the entire time. I was only able to heal myself permanently to about 40 percent health. While I found tons of health packs all around, as soon as my counter went over 40 percent it would begin to fall. To get through certain spots I had to buff myself heavily, and then roll madly into combat.
Combat was fierce, even with just a pistol. I forgot just how many rounds it takes to kill a Nazi in this world, and I went through just about all the ammunition that I could find.
Narratively, the game takes a dark turn early on. Frau Engel makes an appearance, and this time she’s brought along her daughter, who she constantly berates over her appearance. The demo ended with Engel forcing her to lop the head off a prisoner, Resistance leader Caroline Becker, to prove her mettle.
But then the demo abruptly ended. What I can say is that when I left him, BJ Blazkowicz was still in that wheelchair. I absolutely think that fan theories about his head being swapped to a different body are true. Just how much MachineGames plays with that in the new game is anyone’s guess.
Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus is coming to PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One Oct. 27.