The RPS Advent Calendar, Dec 1st

RPS-calendar-1st

AND SO IT BEGINS

The first window of the Advent Calendar has opened. There’s an almighty ruckus within…

It’s Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus!

Alec: A first-person shooter with heart. And also with the sort of bug-eyed mania that means seeing even a single moment of the game out of context paints it as bellowing, hyper-violent incoherence that’s trying to say and do far too much at once. Which is a totally fair cop, but the thing about Wolf II is that, if you’re with it from the start, almost every splurge of splenetic nonsense makes sense, has connections to events and people and most of all to its star BJ’s internal monologue, which itself is equal parts impossibly true grit and glum self-doubt. BJ grounds the mania, makes it all work when, in almost any other game, it simply would not.

BJ Blazkowicz, the original FPS lunkhead, now the vanishingly rare heart and soul of the 21st century action game – whoulda thunk it?

Given the insane discounting of Wolf 2 not long after launch, my guess is it’s not sold too well, and we know what not selling too well means both for franchises and experiments. If Wolf 2 ends up being a full stop on a certain style of single player action games, it is, at least, a very fine and heartfelt one.

Adam: The New Order, MachineGames’ first trip to Wolfentown, is a better shooter than the sequel. I replayed it right before I dug into The New Colossus and two things stuck out – it’s massive, and it’s amazing at sneaking, stabbing and shooting. The first time I played, I was so astonished that it not only had a story but that it had characters that I cared about that I don’t think I noticed quite how good it was at everything else.

Wolfenstein 2 is a damn fine shooter as well, but sometimes I found myself waiting for the action to finish so I could get back to the story. The fact that I can write that sentence, sincerely, about a Wolfenstein game still seems weird. It probably always will. But that’s fine because Wolfenstein is a weird game. It’s silly, frightening, romantic, hilarious, exhilarating, wonderful and ugly. As Alec says, Blazkowicz is at the heart of it again, wounded and weary, a man burdened by his own myth. He’s a hero, but he’s sometimes a reluctant protagonist, preferring to listen and follow than to lead.

Thankfully, he has a supporting cast more than ready and able to lead. They’re the real stars here, showing the cruelty and nobility and anger and hatred and fear that are so often missing in depictions of war. Nobility gets flushed down the toilet, brothers in arms are jostled aside to make place for their sisters, and there’s a manic glee alongside the terror and pain.

I think it’ll find its place in history as one of the great singleplayer first-person shooters, and I’m fairly sure it’ll be the game I always think of when I cast my mind back to the things I played in 2017. That’s because it didn’t just capture the zeitgeist, it performed an act of extraordinary rendition on the zeitgeist, spirited it away to parts unknown, and ripped its shrieking soul out so that it could plaster it, garish and loud, onto a screen. Whether you think the game (and its marketing) performed a crude hijacking of political concerns or delivered a cathartic and triumphant smackdown (or blew a gigantic raspberry), I’d love to hear what you think.

For me, Wolfenstein 2 worked. As a story, as a (anti-)rebel yell and as a beautifully crafted game that goes to some very ugly places. I look forward to going wherever MachineGames take me next.

Head back to the calendar to open the door to another of 2017’s best games.

65 Comments

  1. LennyLeonardo says:

    Some of the story beats in this game were so unexpected that I couldn’t help but laugh out loud. So fun.

    • AmeliaBaxter says:

      I’m making 85 dollar an hour working from home. I was shocked when my neighbour told me she was averaging $120 but I see how it works now. I feel so much freedom now that I’m my own boss. This is what I do… Click Here & Start Work

  2. Premium User Badge

    subdog says:

    New Colossus will forever be remembered as the game that showed the “I don’t like politics in my games” sentiment as the last refuge of secret (and overt) bigots that it truly always has been.

    • Vandelay says:

      Oh totally. The marketing was kind of silly (for what seems to be a very silly game), but it somehow being controversial to say “fuck Nazis” is both sad and a shocking situation for the world to be in.

      • Someoldguy says:

        Publisher makes a cheap dig at Trump supporters by using a Trump campaign slogan to advertise the game, hinting that Trump supporters are Nazis.

        Twittersphere predictably goes into meltdown. Lots of publicity.

        Publisher rubs their hands in glee.

        I bet they’ll be hoping to have a similar opportunity next time.

        • Unclepauly says:

          Lol! Also to the op, good job painting with that broad brush. I don’t want politics in my games (guess I’m a bigot haha). I don’t want them from either side of politics. The only time I will give it a pass is when it’s a neutral stance or looking from the outside in. I have complete respect for anybody willing to not take sides in the most silly freaking sideshow spectacle of modern times. Just be a human for cheese steaks

          • AngoraFish says:

            Not taking sides is just taking sides with the status quo. Nobody gets to be a neutral in this game.

          • battles_atlas says:

            Amen Angora. Too many people don’t get that their normal is political too. What they actually mean is “I don’t want my assumptions challenged”.

          • MacTheGeek says:

            If your game has Nazis in it, then your game has politics in it. The American Socialist White People’s Party is all about acquiring and using political power to achieve its ends.

        • gwop_the_derailer says:

          … hinting that Trump supporters are Nazis.

          They are some very fine people, these Trump supporters.

        • TheBetterStory says:

          The publisher said, “Make America Nazi-free again.” That’s it. It could just as easily have come out of the mouth of a Trump supporter talking about the game, assuming they didn’t like Nazis. And I’m perfectly happy to believe *most people do not like Nazis.*

          Honestly, I think they appropriated Trump’s phrase because it’s such a popular meme at this point. Then Twitter blew up, and the disbelieving developers had to repeat a few times that yes, the game is about killing Nazis, and no, that premise was not supposed to be subversive, political or new in any way.

    • Synesthesia says:

      Yes. Yes! I had a ton of fun playing this. Also annoying fucking literal nazis. What the hell is going on.

    • Freud says:

      It’s more pulp villainy than politics though.

      • TychoCelchuuu says:

        Which makes it even more blatant that the people saying “no politics in my games” are really just saying “I’m a bigot, and if a game does not cater to me by leaving out everyone except straight white men, I will get mad.”

    • Stillquest says:

      All right, I’ll bite though I probably shouldn’t: I haven’t played New Colossus, but I generally hold to the “I don’t like politics in my games” sentiment. I’m curious to hear how that makes me into a bigot, secret or otherwise.

      • Imbecile says:

        I dont think it does particularly, though I think the ops reasoning is as follows.

        Political comment is just as valid in games as it is in other media like books or films. To exclude it is to undersell the medium.

        Stating that you dont want political comment in games, is not quite the same as staying neutral, though both are essentially supporting the status quo (though no political comment in games is a stronger statement than neutrality imo)

        As a result the assumption is that because you are supporting the status quo, you are in agreement with the current state of US politics, which many view as…very right wing.

        I think the generalisation is probably true, but it may not apply to you specifically.

        I guess the secret reference is that because you are not saying “I support trump”, but are saying “no politics in games”, you are not overtly saying the former, though you secretly think it. In theory.

        • Cederic says:

          Keeping current politics out of games has nothing to do with accepting the status quo, supporting a foreign government (e.g. the US) or indeed anything other than expecting a computer game to be a fun escape from real life.

          Anybody accusing someone of being a trump supporter for wanting politics kept out of their games is an idiot.

          • bonuswavepilot says:

            I think the point is that there is not such thing as ‘keeping politics out’ of a game. Politics is just power-relationships between groups of people. Any game is the result of people making it, and nobody has an objective viewpoint, so you always end up with things being portrayed in the way that the studio folks think the world works. If you don’t see any politics, it’s because your viewpoint (and politics) are similar to theirs.

      • Random Integer says:

        Because the “no politics in my games/movies/whatever” is a nonsense statement which itself is deeply political. Everything is political. Every game, movie, book, artwork, anything you can think of. Its all political because its made by people and people are inherently political. You can’t not be.

        The problem is that people don’t see their own beliefs and moral frameworks as being political. Politics is something done by the talking heads on TV or crazy folks on twitter. But their own (often entirely unexamined) beliefs and assumptions about how the world works? Thats not politics thats just natural, common sense, just the way things are. So when media raises issues that challenge those assumptions they get uncomfortable. They complain that media should be apolitical or neutral but what they really mean is that media should agree with their politics. Not challenge them. Not ask questions.

        • TheBetterStory says:

          Or to put the point differently, choosing to exclude something from a story can be as political as choosing to include it. For instance, if you have a game set in a prison, and most of that prison population is portrayed as white, you’re choosing to ignore disproportionate incarceration by race. It’s political even if you’re *avoiding* talking about the problem.

      • wonkavision says:

        If you don’t support Marxism, you’re supporting the Repressive State Apparatus. This is literally what college students are taught.

        SOURCE: ENG 491 Literary Theory, AKA How to be a Marxist Feminist Queer

        • bonuswavepilot says:

          Which institution?

          As a former lit student myself, this sounds like absolute cobblers.

          • wonkavision says:

            I’m sure it varies from prof to prof. Saying “this is what Marxists think” is different from “this is how you should see the world.”

            Random Integer’s comment sums up the worldview pretty well.

  3. Vandelay says:

    It is a shame that seemingly interesting, unique and imaginative single player game doesn’t appear to be selling well. I’m part of the problem though, being one of the people that wants the game but hasn’t bought it yet. Even the heavy discounts have come at a time when I have already spent on other things, so haven’t gone for it. I’m sure that I will be getting it during Christmas deals.

    It does make me wonder if there is room for studios to make smaller budget games and releasing them at a lower price point. £20 for a solid 10 hour single player shooter sounds a great deal to take a punt on, whereas £40 for 10 hours really only feels justifiable for something that you really know you will love.

    Either way, it sounded as if this was the best of the big November releases. It is a shame that it is likely the one that sold the least too.

    • Horg says:

      I feel the same way, loved TNO but holding out for a sale as 10 hours does not feel like enough game for the full price.

      • Flopdong says:

        It took me about 14 hrs to finish the campaign, and there are easily another 6-7 hours of Oberkommando side-missions, plus horde-mode style challenge rooms. Personally I think I got my moneys worth out of paying full price.

      • Excors says:

        I had the opposite problem. By the time I got around to buying it, it was in the Steam sale for £20; and getting such an entertaining high-quality less-than-month-old game for £20 felt like basically theft, so I had to buy the more expensive Deluxe version to satisfy my conscience.

    • Eightball says:

      Thanks for letting the Nazis win, quisling.

    • Premium User Badge

      subdog says:

      Re: Low sales-

      This has been a recurring story with all of Bethesda’s FPS properties this year. Just like with Prey and Dishonored 2, I think it’s falling victim to sky-high expectations of a publisher that is trying to push mid-market games (and iterative sequels, no less) as industry topping blockbusters.

      • Premium User Badge

        Risingson says:

        Danda, who comments here often, was mentioning in twitter that lately no GOTY game is selling well. Which is telling much, and much of it scary.

        • Danda says:

          Exactly. We just got some of the BEST GAMES EVER MADE but not a lot of people bought them. How can that be possible?! I’m starting to think that people now choose to get “married” to a single game and just play it every day, be it PUBG, GTA Online or whatever. Instead of getting the latest AAA game, well, you log in everyday to play the same arena shooter with your friends, you spend some money in microtransactions to get some nice clothes for your favorite character and that becomes your life. You’ll never admit that you are wasting your time and money in a daily grind until you force yourself to quit at some point. For me, products like Destiny 2 are definitely not a game, but an addiction.

          I don’t feel guilty for this state of affairs because I bought all of these great games like Dishonored 2, Prey 2 or Deus Ex 4. They are my type of game, and I see in these comments that I’m not the only one who feels that way, that a lot of people enjoyed the new Wolfenstein as much as I did, but we are becoming a minority. This starts to feel like that time when adventure games died off because they stopped being “mainstream” or something. To hell with that: the new Wolfenstein games are the best FPS games ever made, and they will be remembered that way in the future.

          Unless you don’t want a great story, good characters or heart in your games, of course. In that case, you’ll probably think that DOOM is a much better game.

      • Vandelay says:

        Yep, true. Prey and Dishonoured underperformed too. Both are also great games.

        Question is, if they lowered expectations and didn’t invest as much into the games would they be as great as they are? The amount of work that has to go into them, such as the wonderfully realised space station of Prey or the beautiful art of Dishonoured, is probably not possible if they cut the budget down and released them as cheaper games.

        Would be nice to get these sort of games more regularly though.

      • BooleanBob says:

        I suspect that these games lacked the marketing budgets to achieve a level of saturation that would allow them to compete with the games-as-service monetisation vehicles that the big industry players really began to double down on this year. Might be bollocks though

    • Kamestos says:

      Recently I bought Shadow of War, AssOranges and Wolf 2.
      Wolf2 is the only one I have zero regret paying full price.

      The only thing I would like is the ability to do the second timeline without redoing all the challenges and collectibles. Maybe a patch or a New Game +.

    • Nolenthar says:

      Prey, Dishonored 2, Doom, Wolfenstein Thé New Colossus… Those 4 games have been my favourites of the year (I’ve played Doom and D2 late) yet I have no regrets of buying them all half price. Bethesda, by messing up with their review policy have been sending the wrong signal and as an individual I have responded with a signal of my own. It was not difficult given I have way more games than time, and that nowadays there is not a single player game that is better at launch than 6 months after.

    • napoleonic says:

      I think it’s partly the economy, especially here in Brexit Britain. I know there are games I’d love to get but there’s so little work around that I am having to hold off while I grind out some replay value on my existing games, and even, shock horror, make a small dent in my backlog.

    • Premium User Badge

      Mungrul says:

      I’d buy these interesting single player games if they weren’t published by Bethesda.

      My last Bethesda game was Dishonored 2. I didn’t even buy the DLC. Some may see it as cutting off my nose to spite my face, but I just can’t support anything Bethesda do. They’re nasty, litigious shitbags who strong-arm developers in to giving up their IP and try to warp history so that they appear to have written the code that made old games possible and great.

    • April March says:

      I’m pretty sure that people like you, who have bought the game and not played it, are not the problem. The problem are people who haven’t bought it!

      NO I HAVEN’T EVEN BOUGHT THE FIRST ONE STOP STARING AT ME

  4. Vacuity729 says:

    Let’s say I have no particular interest in FPSes. Not hate them mind, just, don’t much care. I played Bioshock to completion (but felt done with it a good while before it actually finished), played Far Cry 3 to completion (but again felt done with it a good while before it actually finished), and those are pretty much the only FPS games I’ve played in years.

    Is this game worth me trying, really? Is the previous game better worth trying than this one? It’s money that I could instead spend on something like Sengoku Jidai: Shadow of the Shogun, Decisive Campaigns: Barbarossa or one of the many other Title: Pointless Subtitle strategy games I’m sure I’ll appreciate.

    Sorry, but neither Alec nor Adam really do anything to persuade me why I would want to play this other than telling me it’s one of the best games of 2017, and it has a great story.

    • Travistech says:

      I’m a big fan of the game, so here’s what I can tell you. It’s a reasonably short game, tightly crafted, the story balances being uproariously funny with being earnestly heartfelt, the combat unfolds mostly by your own choices and weapon upgrade selection, and there’s a good chunk of spare combat missions with no real weight on the story that you can completely skip. It’s a follow-up to a somewhat longer game that is also tightly crafted, but is more of a bombastic affair with phenomenal setpieces. The second game repeats a lot of the beats of the first, but both are worthy titles, and I suspect that if you do choose to play both, whichever one you play first will be your preferred title of the two. It is worth mentioning that Wolf 2 opts for a freeform weapon upgrade system, where you find a kit and then pick an upgrade for one of your currently available weapons, and Wolf 1 has preset points where you find an attachment or upgrade for an existing weapon as part of your normal progression, so there’s less of a focus on secret-hunting to maximize your damage output. Mechanically, it veers closer to Bioshock than FC3 in terms of exploration and levels, but you’re always moving forward in some way in Wolf 2, which I find helps stave off the boredom that hampered your enjoyment of Bioshock, and it’s a far cry from FarCry’s exhaustive open world.

    • Premium User Badge

      Grizzly says:

      I would say that, if you haven’t played either of them, The New Order is worth trying over The New Colossus. In part because of the obvious financial benefits, but I do think that it is the better game of the two. The New Colossus is a very solid sequel, but it has that inherent sequel problem of being better on paper but not as inventive. If you want to play just the one, play The New Order.

      The New Wolfenstein is not simply a good game becuase of it’s story: It’s also a phenomal first person shooter, carrying the torch of games like Half Life 2, but feeling like there has been 10 years of advancement in that genre rather then the formualic Call of Duty sequels that were actually on offer. That makes it interesting beyond it’s usual “It’s a shooter” pedigree, and yeah, I personally found it far more fun to play and to experience then either Bioshock or Far Cry 3. The shooting arenas are often started with you in stealth, but unlike Deus Ex or Dishonored you are not expected to spare lives, giving you a lot of free reign over how you clear the section. All the guns have their own alt-fire modes and you can dual wield those same guns, so you have a variety of configurations to take on your enemies with when the shooting starts. On the narrative front, the game often employs some rather brilliant cutscening (with cinematography that plays ode to Tarantino but also makes use of some of the unique things you can do with 3D rendering and being unbound by the physical limitations of the camera) and it tells it story with a lot of heart. Also, you have a chance of encountering Jimi Hendrix :P

      If you play TNO and don’t enjoy it, chances are you won’t enjoy any AAA shooter coming out this next decade. IMO it’s simply worth it to splash some euros on it, pop your head out, and see what the FPS genre is up to these days.

      • Premium User Badge

        Grizzly says:

        The short version is that it is one of the best examples of the genre and if you won’t enjoy this then chances are you won’t enjoy any one of them :P – but if you normally don’t play shooters it might just be worth to play The New Order to see what the genre has been up to in your absence.

      • E_FD says:

        “If you play TNO and don’t enjoy it, chances are you won’t enjoy any AAA shooter coming out this next decade.”

        I’d strongly disagree with this premise, precisely because I played the recent Doom, loved it, decided to get Wolfenstein TNO because Doom had put me in the mood for reinventions of classic ID FPSs, and was disappointed by what a dissimilar approach it took.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      Play it. You might be pleasantly surprised. But if not, at least you’ve tried something different. Having said that, you’re better off starting with the first one.

    • TychoCelchuuu says:

      If you don’t have much interests in FPS games then you probably won’t be interested in this (an FPS game). If you enjoyed Far Cry 3 for a while before getting bored, you might like this game, because it is shorter than Far Cry 3, and thus you might enjoy it the whole time without getting bored. Basically all these games have going for them are the shooting, the world building, and the narrative, all of which are excellent. If those don’t interest you, stay away.

    • Vacuity729 says:

      I did find enjoyment in Bioshock’s worldbuilding, and Far Cry 3’s action, both up to a point. As I said; it’s not that I actively dislike FPS games, they just generally don’t have anything like the appeal that other styles of games tend to have.

      Thank you for the feedback and suggestions, all. I guess I’ll pick up the prior game on the Steam winter sale and try it out; if it really doesn’t do anything for me then I haven’t lost much. If it turns out to be fun, then… probably by the time I’m done with it I won’t care to play another FPS for another year or two.

  5. Premium User Badge

    basilisk says:

    I personally adored TNO and consider it the best story-driven FPS ever made, and while TNC is very good, I think it’s definitely weaker.

    The gunplay is strangely worse (the alt-fire modes are curiously boring compared to TNO), the vast majority of the game is very poorly lit and so there’s a lot of shooting dark shapes in the dark and the story… let’s just say that the moment, while magnificent in its own way, is so far out there that I lost the emotional connection with what’s happening; the stakes are just gone.

    Also, I rather don’t like how they’re clearly expecting to make a third game and so there’s a lot of plot threads they don’t bother to tie up here, unlike the very self-contained TNO.

    Finally, the übercommander system is just crap. And there aren’t enough Enigma codes so you have to farm them, which is very silly. As an incentive to revisit the levels, TNO did this better by letting me simply replay the levels; this system is strange and, with the exception of the film set level, rather lacklustre.

    Still, it’s marvellous. Just not as marvellous as the first one, but I’ll be devastated if they don’t make a third.

  6. Ghostwise says:

    FWIW the latest DOOM apparently sold like gangbusters, yet rebates also came charging in faster than an cacodaemon with dysentery.

    • napoleonic says:

      Yeah I get the feeling that ZeniMax has changed its approach to sales and is more willing to sell discounted base games sooner, the better to drive buzz and DLC sales.

    • Nova says:

      Not nearly as fast as with TNC. It was 50 % reduced on Steam not even a month after release. I’m not when I have last seen that if at all.

  7. and its man says:

    Boooo, obvious! That could have been Bucket Detective !

  8. H. Vetinari says:

    AND SO IT BEGINS

    may [insert Diety of your own choice] have mercy upon on your soul.

  9. Hunchback says:

    Sadly, the extremely annoying stealth mechanics (that i are somewhat FORCED to use in some places) managed to piss me off to a point that i just abandoned the game.

    Had a great feeling to it, otherwise, and i really cared about the heroes… :/

  10. Servicemaster says:

    Let’s not sugar coat this: There are a MASSIVE number of neonazi gamers who have negatively reviewed this game out of spite for daring to talk shit about anything resembling the ideals or lack thereof of Donald J. Trump. Or in y’alls case, Nigel and Brexit.

    Subreddits like KotakuInAction and The_Donald very clearly exhibit reasons to hate Wolf 2 as “antifa propaganda” and we shouldn’t ignore them as that’s exactly how they have so much power now. If I’ve learned anything from BJ, we have to quickly and efficiently shoot them in their goddamn heads.

    • Cederic says:

      I’m sorry but your comments lack credibility. I just took a look at the negative Steam reviews on launch and they’re primarily covering three things
      – too short
      – boring
      – so bugged it wont actually run

      Only one of them even touched on politics, and that one discounted using them as a factor in giving a negative review.

      Clearly fewer neo nazis than you feared. Although, out of curiousity, what term would you use for someone that wants to shoot people in the head for expressing a political opinion?

      • Danda says:

        I’m sorry but your comments reveal naivety. I’ve dealt with right wing reviewers and they are very smart about hiding what they are.

        I’ve played the game too and it’s definitely not “too short”. It isn’t boring either, and I didn’t have any technical issues. It’s actually one of the best games I’ve ever played.

        My only complaint about The New Colossus is that at some point they let you choose three upgrades at some point and it doesn’t really make a difference. If feels half-baked. But it’s really an awesome game, probably an all-time highlight in the FPS genre.

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  12. Vasily R says:

    I still haven’t played this yet. I think I’m going to play the previous game first.

  13. grrrz says:

    Just finished it, good thing there’s a new gen of high quality triple A games (with the very good dishonored 2, those are the only big games that I bought this year, hope there will be more). Anyway it’s good but does not equal the first opus. The writing is still top notch, and it balances very well over-the-top cliches, satire, heartfelt moments, toilet humour, and political comment (the game is definitely very aware of the political moment, and offer nothing less than catharsis; even if you could theorically choose to ignore it). It is a bit on a short side, and it borrows a lot from the first opus. Also the stealth is sometimes not well thought out (though it’s better than what I’ve red, I managed to finished the game without raising one alarm, with the help of my good friends F5/F9). The all in action is sometimes too much (how many bullets do those giant robots take?), but fun too. maybe a bit much corridors, and a bit much of “there’s a large switch at the center of the room that I need to activate,geez I really hope it won’t trigger an alarm and hundreds of nazis will not come pouring in!”

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