I have been writing for a little over two years now, and throughout that time my thoughts on any of the games I have written about may have changed. When thinking about the reviews I have made and the ones I regret the most or would like to change the most, one champion comes to mind. Not only did I give this game a pretty high score, I also put it on my top ten games of 2017 list. The game in question is Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus, and now I wonder why I thought so highly of the game.
I know it is unorthodox to be contradicting something I wrote awhile back, but I would rather put out my current opinions on the game instead of saying that the older ones are true. When writing my review, I was only thinking about the game I played. After some time thinking about the game, the reboot series, and the series as a whole though, I now can’t help but think of just how wrong I was. Because of that, I wanted to write something about it to put my mind at ease.
Before I get into it, I want to say one thing: I don’t think this is a bad game. This isn’t about saying this game is utter garbage or anything like that. I also don’t think it is as good as I said it was either though, and that is what I want to discuss. So, let’s get right into it.
The biggest thing I talk about in my review is how I think the story elements are better than the gameplay elements. I said that the plot that plays out, the characters, and the locations are better overall than the gameplay because that had bad post-ending content, repetitive gameplay, and some weapon issues. Looking at it now though, I think there are a lot of issues with my statement, the biggest one being about the story.
When it came to the story elements, I talked about how I thought the characters felt real and had chemistry, the locations made a believable Nazi America, and diving back into Blazkowicz’s past made him a more believable character. While I did find some of the characters to be fun, I also think some of the characters are rather toxic. My opinions on the characters ultimately lead to how political the game is and how much of a drag it is because of its politics, but I think even in a vacuum some of the characters just aren’t as good. Diving back into the main character’s past now feels unnecessary because it slows down the gameplay and isn’t really needed as a motivational tool on why Blazkowicz fights. The only motivation I need to fight Nazis are the bullets shooting at my face, not some flashback that takes up too much time and feels like an excuse to inject more politics than anything else. I still think the locations are cool, but I also don’t think that they are as important to the story telling as the characters are. I still stand by some of the things I said like the voice acting being really good while the ending isn’t; but overall, I feel that I over hyped the story in my head, which leads me to my next point.
Wolfenstein is a shooter game. Just like Doom, Wolfenstein got rebooted with The New Order, and its blend of old and new mechanics made a fresh and enjoyable experience. There is a story there, but the primary focus of The New Order is gameplay. So why did I primarily talk about the story in my review and start off with story elements with this blog? If this game had the gameplay focus in mind like the last game did, then I wouldn’t really think this would be worth writing about. Instead, Wolfenstein 2 is a game that focuses on storytelling, cutscenes, and even non-action gameplay segments. It ultimately doesn’t matter how good or bad the story is; the fact of the matter is that they focus way too much on story elements, which left gameplay in the dust. It would be like if the upcoming Doom Eternal spent sixty percent of your time with the game in a cutscene or a walking segment telling you about the politics of a demon takeover or how abuse your father is. I don’t know what was going through my head as to why I thought the story being better than the gameplay is a good thing, but I can certainly take a guess as to why the focus is on the story.
To say it is a guess isn’t accurate. I would say it’s more of a damn near certainty as to why this game focused on story: politics. Wolfenstein 2 wants to spend your time and take your money to push a political agenda. I won’t get into what those agendas are because I don’t want to derail this blog, but to say that this game has an agenda is an understatement. Look, I’m not here to discuss about whether or not the political themes are correct. I’m not here to tell you about my political beliefs either. What I am here to say is that Wolf 2 trying to be incredibly political ruined the game. Games can certainly be political if they want to, and even this game could’ve done some subtle politics well; but the fact of the matter is that they went out of their way to push politics into the story, leaving behind the thing that matters. I don’t care about your political beliefs, just like you shouldn’t care about mine; but I feel that their effort to push politics, not the politics itself, made the experience all the worse.
It is kind of sad to be talking about gameplay this late into the blog considering the game I am talking about should be gameplay-focused, but here we are. I would say a lot of what I about gameplay still holds up. Dual-wielding is fun, the boss fights were meh, the post-ending content sucks, and more. The issues I now see with the gameplay are ones I missed earlier, and I think they are pretty game-breaking. The biggest issue with the gameplay is how difficult the game is. You die pretty easily in this game, and you even spend the first half of the game with only half-health. The first reboot game emphasized run-and-gun action, which made dual-wielding viable. This game, on the other hand, made me want to hunker down because of how easy it is to die. It’s a real loss of identity for the game, and it even makes dual-wielding feel worthless. What doesn’t help with that is the lack of enemy variety in the second game compared to the first one. All they had to really do was offer more of the same and they would’ve been fine, but instead they downgrade the experience for reasons I can’t even think of.
Having a retrospective on a game can be a good thing. It can also be a bad, and Wolfenstein 2 is a case of that. It throws away what makes the first game great and instead spends your time on a soapbox telling you a politically charged story that constantly gets in the way of you shooting dudes with cutscenes and slow gameplay moments. While I think there are some good aspects to the game, I also feel that there are a lot of bad aspects to the game too. I don’t think this game is horrible, but I also don’t think it is great or even good. I think it is an okay game that is a showcase on how not to follow up on a sequel, and I hope they don’t go in the same direction with next few games.