Yesterday Bethesda put out a simple Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus ad with an easy-to-follow declaration: Make America Nazi-Free Again. It's a blunt ad that went about as well as you would imagine in 2017, with debates springing up on social media and Reddit regarding the depressingly controversial ad.
Wolfenstein 2 is Machine Games' follow-up to Wolfenstein: The New Order. Like the previous Wolfenstein game, and every Wolfenstein game before it, the goal of Wolfenstein 2 is to take down the Nazis by any means necessary. We previewed it recently and found it to be a wonderfully creative—and cathartic—experience. Even if Machine Games and Bethesda likes to remind everyone that when development of Wolfenstein 2 began, there was no way they could predict the relevance the game would go onto have with real-world events in 2017.
It's what makes the ad so refreshing to see Wolfenstein 2 finally lean into the eerie similarities it has within its own fictional Nazi America, and our actual America where neo-Nazis marched on Charlottesville, Virginia earlier this year. Triple-A video games typically tend to avoid bold statements, but like Bethesda's VP of PR Pete Hines told GamesIndustry.biz today, "It's disturbing that Wolfenstein can be considered a controversial political statement."
The ad is already gaining traction on social media and sites like Reddit. One thread discussing the ad on r/PCGaming was already shut down, but another thread on r/Games, one of Reddit's most popular video games related subreddits, is already close to 2,000 comments. I won't link it here because digging through it is a maddening experience, but you can find it near the top of r/Games. Likewise, Twitter users have captured the frustratingly common sample of internet-goers who typically come out on behalf of Nazis—Nazi sympathizers if you will—in a series of tweets.
imagine seeing the words "no more nazis" and reacting like this pic.twitter.com/5L9b8CPm3s— Vylash #TeamKICK (@MiraVylash) October 6, 2017
As Wolfenstein 2 prepares for its October 28 launch we will hopefully have more ads that highlight the game's proud tradition of anti-Nazism. As Hines says, "Wolfenstein has been a decidedly anti-Nazi series since the first release more than 20 years ago. We aren't going to shy away from what the game is about. We don't feel it's a reach for us to say Nazis are bad and un-American, and we're not worried about being on the right side of history here."
Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus comes out on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on October 28, and on the Nintendo Switch sometime in 2018.