The eight minute long reveal trailer for Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus was one of the coolest things to grace any stage during the E3 conferences. It's been teased by Bethesda for a while, and, if the opening 40 minutes are anything to go by, The New Colossus is setting itself up for success by giving B.J. enemies you can really, really hate.

To be fair, B.J. Blazkowicz has always been up against Nazis, so there's never been that much moral complexity. Deathshead, the big bad from Wolfenstein: The New Order, was undoubtedly a suppurating boil of a human being, forcing B.J. to choose which of his men will be subject to a vivisection, but his cruelty was more scientific and detached in nature. Deathshead wasn't even around for a lot of the game, you just saw, and fought through, the results of his assholery.

In The New Colossus, the enemy is much more personal. Wolfenstein II starts off in the immediate aftermath of The New Order, after Deathshead took himself, and almost B.J., out with a grenade. Blazko survived, was rescued, and has spent several months in a coma on a Resistance submarine. And he wakes up to Frau Engel.

Wolfenstein 2 screenshots

The opening of Wolfenstein II makes sure you know exactly where Engel stands, which is with her shoe on your throat and an axe in your mate's head. Where you see other games exploring how even the bad guys have some moral complexity, that they had a hard childhood, that they have relatable hobbies, and that they love their family, we are shown that Engels is a villain you can really focus your hate on without any guilt, or needing to know her side of the story.

Deathshead was almost motivated almost by curiosity, but Engel is pure poisonous vengeance. B.J. killed her lover in the last game, so hunting him down constitutes both business and pleasure, and her behaviour shows how personal her acts of nastiness are. You see Engel yelling at her daughter because of her weight, threatening to whip her, and revealing she's invaded her privacy and read her diary. They're small acts of unflinching cruelty that don't need to be shown, but by that very fact make it clear how unnecessarily sadistic Engels is. It's easy to hate her in a very visceral way.

Wolfenstein 2 screenshots

In the first level of Wolfenstein II, B.J. is weak. He can't walk, his muscles have atrophied, and he has to fight his way through a submarine full of Nazi soldiers at half health. He can't use stairs because he's in a wheelchair and it turns out submarines have terrible accessibility. You feel like a rat in a trap, trying to find your way through metal corridors that all look the same, and definitely aren't big enough for a normal sized person, let alone a giant blonde marine-type built like a brick shithouse, in defiance of the 'secret' part of secret agent.

This is how Engels finds you. And it's the perfect set-up for the rest of the game. The hero is weakened, at his lowest ebb, and the villain is triumphant, strong, her ship looming over the submarine in a physical representation of everyone's starting positions on the board. You really want to win this, because that bitch needs to be taken down, she needs to have that whip snatched out of her hand because the idea of her being allowed to carry on without consequence is just a giant unfairness. And you, B.J. Blazkowizc, can be the delivery system for justice. You just need to escape the submarine and get your guns back first...

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