In a recent interview with Gamespot, creative director of Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, Jens Matthies, talked about how the sequel was shaped in comparison to the first. There were a lot of expectations to be met when The New Order turned out to be one of the best games in 2014, so Jens–also the creative director of The New Order–and his team were tasked with not just making a sequel that was “eh”, but one that could stand on its own as a brilliant game.
The Story of The New Colossus
In light of making a sequel that could creatively stand out in comparison to its predecessor, Jens and his team found that a Nazi-occupied America would work best to get their message across. The thing is… the structure of this story is “strangely topical,” as Jens put it in his interview. The fact that the game has crossed the boundary separating “fiction” and “non-fiction” doesn’t make MachineGames–the developer–feel good. There’s even been an outcry online about the similarities. But the studio didn’t know the state of current affairs would be the way they are back when they first started developing the game, after all. Matthies goes on to say that “That’s the way it is, I guess.” Trying to determine how a certain story will fit into an ever-changing world is almost impossible. All one can do is write what they set out to write and hope for the best.
As Jens put it in his interview, he and his team wrote The New Order already knowing that they wanted to make a trilogy. So they set up the story with a bunch of little ideas and made note of them. When making The New Colossus, they would look back at their notes and see which ones would best fit the story arc they had planned out. He stated: “As a creative person you always want to do something more awesome than the last thing you did. You don’t want to go backward.
” They may have gone backward to make the game, but the finished product is sounding like it will keep the franchise moving in a forward direction.
In their interview, Jens also revealed how the mechanics in the sequel would differ from The New Order. One of the biggest challenges for the studio was changing up to a new engine. Because The New Order was made during the transition phase of consoles (Xbox 360 –> Xbox One), the game didn’t really get to take advantage of the full benefits the next-gen consoles had to offer. But, now that they’ve had time to learn the ways of the next-gen engine, Jens says that “in terms of the visuals and how our faces can express things, everything the sound design, the technology is way, way, way more advanced.”
Id Tech 6, the engine in which The New Colossus was developed on, allows the developers–MachineGames–to issue a huge upgrade in regards to the visuals and audio aspects of the game. As to why MachineGames won’t dial the craziness that makes Wolfenstein such an awesome game back… Well, the answer was quite simple for Jens:
“Never. That’s what Wolfenstein is to us–it’s that complete rejection of any kind of self-censorship or putting boundaries on your creative freedom. For Wolfenstein to feel like Wolfenstein, it has to be just totally over the top and it has to be whatever you think is cool and right for the game. And if you start trying to put some filter on it, it just won’t feel right.”
The Nintendo Switch Experience
When talking about The New Colossus coming to the Nintendo Switch in 2018, Jens maintained that “it doesn’t really matter what kind of platform you’re on, it’s still the same game.” The Switch wouldn’t have gobbled the game up if it wasn’t capable of doing so. The fact that players will be able to experience everything that’ll make The New Colossus an (assuming it’s going to be a great game) amazing game on a portable device just goes to show how far technology has come since the Gameboy was released.
When asked on how what the experience would feel like on the Switch, Jens told Gamespot that he thought Doom would be a good reference point, “Because it’s the same engine. It will be whatever Doom is capable of, that is what Wolfenstein is capable of.” Doom is a beautiful looking game, for those of you who have seen gameplay or have played it, you know what I mean. The Nintendo Switch having these capabilities is not just great for The New Colossus, but for the console’s future as well.
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus will be more than just a game, it’ll be a surreal experience mirroring events that are happening around the world right now. It’ll be action-packed, but it’ll also make you think. Any game that can integrate a lot of guns, blood, and strange looking Nazi war-machines with a solid story has a place in video games history. Matthies has confidence in MachineGames’ final product, so it’s safe to say that we should too. The New Colossus, published by Bethesda, releases on October 27 (yeah, 16 days!) for the PC, Xbox One, and PS4. The Nintendo Switch will get a release in 2018.
For the full breakdown of the interview with Jens Matthies, check out the GameSpot article written by Eddie Makuch.