I know it's only been like two weeks since launch or whatever, but Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus is back anyways. Ever since launch, its "vault" has had a timer slapped on it. Slowly counting down, ticking away to November 7th. Today, it unlocked to reveal two particular things: a collection of ten combat challenge maps, and a teaser episode of its upcoming three-episode DLC series: The Freedom Chronicles.
Playing "Episode Zero" of the Season Pass, I'm surprised the teaser isn't wholly free. The episode's available both for players who pre-ordered the game or bought the Season Pass. It's only about an hour long—though I'm sure players can power through it way faster when not idling in every area to hear Nazis complain about one of the three new characters like I did. The DLC episode bounces between three resistance fighters' perspectives from all across the United States, introducing their pulpy tales in the context of a "book" called The Freedom Chronicles. Later in the Season Pass, each character gets their own standalone episode.
Refreshingly, none of them are BJ Blazkowicz, the broad-shouldered hero from all past Wolfenstein games. Instead, they're three new recruits to the cause he's also fighting for: there's Gunslinger Joe, a former quarterback crashing through walls in the ruins of Nazi-occupied Chicago; then there's Agent Silent Death, an assassin with a stealthy flair for creeping through small vents in California; and last there's Captain Wilkins, a renowned US Army hero embarking on a mission in Alaska.
Most of the characters don't feel too different from BJ Blazkowicz. Just as BJ gets an extra ability about midway through the game, each fighter has an ability similar to one of the extra tools at BJ's toolset. Gunslinger Joe (or Joseph Stallion) can bust through walls, like BJ's Ram Shackles contraption. Captain Wilkins (or General Gerald Wilkins) has his own Battle Walker-like stilts he can summon in a moment. Agent Silent Death (or Jessica Valiant) can squeeze into small vents, like BJ can with his Constrictor Harness. Only Agent Silent Death has a perk that BJ could only dream of: fitting in tight spaces doesn't slowly deplete her health, like the harness does for BJ. Also when she's spotted, time slows down for an instant, giving her an extra second or so to drive a knife quietly into a Nazi.
Of all three of the new characters to play as, Agent Silent Death was by far my favorite. During Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus proper, I'd opt for a stealth approach only in taking out commanders so they couldn't sound an alarm, and afterwards would pop up, dual guns at the ready. Agent Silent Death's playstyle discourages that approach. She's quiet, calculated, she needs to be stealthy. It's why of all the Nazis I eavesdropped on while hiding around a corner during Episode Zero, she was the one who seemed to instill the most fear into the Nazis. (Like good ol' Blazkowicz.)
In terms of locales, Agent Silent Death's section was also the most visually interesting, seeing her infiltrate what seemed to be a film studio. Outside of dreary Nazi bases, the film studio shows the propaganda-inclined side of the Nazis: the lavish food ready for devouring, the unsettling Swastikas plastered on crimson banners around the rooms. Agent Silent Death's setting showed the Nazis in their comfort zone; Nazis surrounded by pristine wealth, giving them the air of superiority. Little did they know, Agent Silent Death was ready in a vent to slice their Achilles Heels away.
The other two have duller chapters, but it's still more Wolfenstein 2, so it's not the worst thing in the world. Joseph Stallion breaks into a Panzerhund storage facility, before climbing aboard one of the fire breathing hounds to set everything in sight aflame, just as in a chapter from the Wolfenstein 2 campaign proper. In Captain Wilkins' segment, armed with a handy sniper rifle, he snipes his way into a Nazi facility and destroys something integral to their arsenal.
Together, the three resistance fighters are tethered by one sole cause: at getting back at the Nazis. In that sense, they don't feel too far off from BJ Blazkowicz and his ragtag team of resistance fighters who are also in America. Even as they lie across the country from each other, they're all united by that single, powerful belief of fighting back. It's also exciting to see the world of Wolfenstein 2 through others' eyes for a change, even if they mostly play like Blazkowicz.
As for Episode Zero in particular, unless you pre-ordered the game or already have the Season Pass (which costs $24.99), I'd recommend waiting until one of the three full episodes for the DLC is out to see how they shape up. Episode Zero is solid for what it is, that is being a teaser of what's to come, but it's also very brief and a hard test to see how the actual individual chapters will be in the coming year. At the very least, it's just another excuse to kill some Nazis.
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