Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus was announced at the end of Bethesda’s E3 2017 press conference, and it was one of the best games we’ve seen this year. B.J. Blazkowicz is back, and he must now defend the United States of America against total fascism implemented by its Nazi occupiers, including the sadistic Frau Engel. Here is everything we know about the game so far.
What’s the story?
2014’s Wolfenstein: The New Order painted a bleak picture of the 1960s. In an alternate timeline where the Nazis were able to win World War II, the Third Reich would eventually conquer Europe and began stamping out pockets of resistance. After dealing with the Germans and killing several of their most important officers in Europe, hero B.J. Blazkowicz suffered a debilitating injury — one that we thought was fatal.
As it turns out, Blazkowicz is alive, though he’s now covered in scars. At the game’s outset, he’s bound to a wheelchair and must use creative means to make his way around without assistance, such as using conveyor belts. This doesn’t stop him from blowing the heads off Nazis, however. He’s teamed back up with some of his resistance pals to push the Nazis out of the United States — they’re led by Frau Engel, a villain from the original game who suffered a brutal jaw injury, though modern medicine appears to have fixed it.
B.J.’s partner Anya, pregnant with twins, is still getting in on the Nazi-slaying, and we also see a brief glimpse of The New Order‘s Max Hass in the trailer, as well. At the very end of the game’s announcement trailer, we also see familiar face Wyatt, but a choice made in the previous game means that he won’t be present in all players’ campaigns. MachineGames is giving returning Nazi-slayers the chance to make their previous choice “canon” right from the beginning. A similar choice will be present in The New Colossus, though it will affect your available weapons more than it will the narrative. One choice will give B.J. the LaserKraftWerk found in The New Order, while the other will give him an explosive cannon, instead.
In addition to Anya, Wyatt/Fergus, Max, and Frau Engel, a number of The New Order characters also make their return in The New Colossus. Jewish scientist Set Roth is back aboard the crew’s stolen U-Boat ship, using his Da’at Yichud technology to wage war against the Nazis, as is Caroline Becker. Becker actually first appeared in Raven’s 2009 Wolfenstein game and can only walk with the use of a special armored suit — a suit that B.J. must make use of to walk again.
An early gameplay demonstration also introduced us to Frau Engel’s daughter, Sigurn. Overweight and the subject of her mother’s taunting and scorn, Sigurn actually has a conscience, and isn’t interested in conquering the world with the Nazis. Game Informer reported that she’ll eventually join forces with B.J. and company, hopefully to put an end to her mother’s terrifying mission once and for all.
Kill every Nazi you see
The Wolfenstein series is, like Inglourious Basterds’ Lieutenant Aldo Raine, about just one thing: Killing Nazis. There are a variety of creative ways you can go about wiping the monsters from existence. In the trailer, we see Blazkowicz mount a robotic, flame-spitting dog, which he uses to set the fascists ablaze. He also fires a grenade launcher, blowing them to pieces, and an electricity cannon that disintegrates them. Players will be able to experiment with different weapon combinations this time around. The New Order allowed for dual-wielding of nearly ever weapon, but two different guns could not be equipped together. That changes in The New Colossus — if you want to wield an assault rifle in one hand and a shotgun in the other, you totally can. We also see Anya make creative use of knives to stab a Nazi several times, and if The New Colossus is anything like the previous game, stealth will be a totally viable way to take enemies out. Throwing knives can be especially handy at silencing targets before they spot you.
A hatchet has also been introduced to dismember Nazis in gloriously violent ways, which should also help to limit the ammunition you’re forced to expend. A new enemy, which is essentially the Nazi version of a Terminator, will likely force you to use all the resources and equipment you have at your disposal. B.J., at least early on, also appears to have very little health. While it capped at 100 in The New Order and could be extended beyond that temporarily, it’s limited to 50 at first in New Colossus. You can still “overcharge” BJ’s health, giving him more than maximum health that burns off over time.
G.I. Joe? Try Elite Hans
The New Colossus is available in a collector’s edition that is among the most creative we’ve seen in a long time. For $100, the game comes in a ’60s-inspired cardboard box and includes a poster, steelbook, and a retro action-figure of Blazkowicz as part of the Elite Hans series’ “Enemy Edition” line. B.J. also comes with an assortment of extra weapons as well as two jackets.
To instill pride for the new Nazi regime into Americans, the Germans have released a number of propaganda videos. The first of these, “Liesel,” a take on the 1950s show Lassie, can also be seen in the game’s announcement trailer. It paints the Nazis’ robotic dogs are friends capable of helping average citizens, albeit with a little bit of a short fuse.
“Transition Day,” when all Americans will be forced to speak German instead of their native language, looms on the horizon. To prepare for this, the Nazis produced a game show called German or Else, which pits two Americans each other as they attempt to translate important words. A video clip of the show reveals what happens if one loses the game: a mandatory four-week trip to a “re-education” camp. If the camp she is sent to is anything like the labor camp B.J. visited in The New Order, there’s a good chance that she doesn’t return at all.
“Remember: only 173 days left of English,” the host says. “Make sure you are prepared.”
Many of the best moments in Wolfenstein: The New Order were quiet, tension-filled conversations that could devolve into all-out carnage at any moments, and it appears that The New Colossus will continue this. In the “Strawberry Milkshake” trailer, an extended scene first shown off at E3, Blazkowicz enters a diner and hears a mother and son speaking together, initially in English, before switching to German.
“The Fürher is a great author and painter,” the boy says. Clearly Hitler needs his art skills to be reaffirmed.
A radio in B.J.’s ear reminds him that “Speshie” knows he will be attacking the Nazi’s Oberkommando, but not that he’s doing so with a nuclear bomb. An officer then enters the diner and asks to see B.J.’s ID as he orders a milkshake. The bomb sits just a few feet away from him on the counter, but before the Milkshake Nazi (that’s literally what he’s called in the game’s credits) can ask B.J. any more questions, he realizes who he is. We hear a gunshot, and the screen cuts away.
As we’ve seen with the way Frau Engel treats her overweight daugter, Sigurn, the Nazis take the physical fitness of their youth quite seriously. In a clip from a show styled like Leave it to Beaver, a boy named Ronnie is caught by his brother with a chocolate bar. After reciting a creed about “honor” and exercising self-control, his brother tells him that he’ll still have to inform the health ministry of his actions.
Available for $25, the Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus season pass will contain three downloadable episodes. The first, The Adventures of Gunslinger Joe, follows former football star Joseph Stallion in Chicago and space, while The Diaries of Agent Silent Death is a stealth-focused episode starring former OSS agent Jessica Valiant. The third episode, The Amazing Deeds of Captain Wilkins, takes soldier Gerald Wilkins to Alaska “to dismantle Operation Black Sun.” This appears to be a direct link to 2009’s game, which included more supernatural elements.
PC requirements and features
Bethesda revealed the PC requirements and recommended specs for The New Colossus prior to launch, and they’re nothing to scoff at. To run the game at its highest settings, you’re going to need a beast of a machine, as it’s much more taxing on hardware than 2014’s The New Order.
The minimum requirements for Wolfenstein include an Intel Core i7-3770 CPU or an AMD FX-8350, while Bethesda recommends at least an Intel Core i7-4770 or AMD FX-9370.
On the GPU side, you’ll need at least a 4GB card, such as an Nvidia GTX 770 or AMD Radeon R9 290, but Bethesda recommends a GTX 1060 or Radeon 470, instead. And though the game is playable with 8GB of RAM, it’s recommended that you have 16GB. The game also takes up 55GB of storage space, which is slightly more than the console versions.
The hefty requirements come with their benefits, however. On PC, the game will support an uncapped frame rate, 4K resolution, four different aspect rations including 21:9, multiple anti-aliasing options, and three different colorblind modes. There are also visual options for motion blur, chromatic aberration, depth of field, resolution scaling, direction occlusion, and both light and shadow.
When can we play it?
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus will be available for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC October 27. Anyone who pre-orders the game or purchases the season pass will receive an extra mission, The Freedom Chronicles: Episode Zero, which follows Joseph Stallion, Jessica Valiant and Gerald Wilkins, all of whom are featured in their own DLC episodes in the season pass.
The game will also come to Nintendo Switch in 2018. No footage has been shown of this version yet, nor is it clear if it will have special Switch features.
Update: Added section on PC requirements and special settings options.