Since the Switch launched, Nintendo has embraced FPS titles like never before. But aside from DOOM, they really haven’t released many true FPS games, so we were excited to hear that Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus would be available on Switch this summer. (The title was released on other major consoles last fall.) If you’re a Wolfenstein fan, you’ve probably already played this game on a different console, and you might be wondering if you should buy it again for Switch—but if you’re like us, you’re a newcomer to the series, and you’re just trying to figure out if this is a good game for you. Either way, let’s take a deeper look at Wolfenstein II.
Wolfenstein II opens with a substantial cutscene that provides helpful context for players unfamiliar with the events of Wolfenstein: The New Order, the previous title. (Those who played the first game probably remember the key points highlighted in this cut scene, but who doesn’t love a good recap?) Basically, our hero—William “B.J.” Blazkowicz—was seriously injured at the end of the last installment, and his body is now struggling to recover. But nothing can stop B.J. from slaying endless hordes of Nazis, right? (You’ll have to play through the story to find out!) We don’t want to reveal too much about the story in case you haven’t played through this game yet, but we’ll say that B.J. hopes to free the world from the Nazi regime, starting with the U.S.A.
We enjoyed the game’s story, and the cutscenes were immersive and cinematic. The idea of an alternative history in which the axis powers won World War II is far more terrifying than any horror scenario we can think of. (There’s a particularly disturbing cutscene featuring the Lincoln and Washington memorials in Washington, D.C.) This game’s Nazis are literally evil—which is a good thing, because this depiction is historically accurate. But we were a little confused about the sole focus on Germany in this game, since Japan and Italy were also axis powers. Wouldn’t fascist Italy and imperial Japan have a share of power in this horrific new world? Or would the Nazis have conquered them, too? Regardless, if there were ever a enemy for everyone to hate, it would be the Nazis, so we think they make an excellent foe in this FPS.
When it comes to gameplay, we like that you can change the difficulty at any time. There are five options to choose from, and since the challenge ranges from “Can I play, Daddy?” to “I am death incarnate!” (and the un-lockable “Mein leben,” German for “my life”), players of almost any skill level can play this game. However, Wolfenstein II is not for players of all ages. Its content may be the most graphic of any Switch game, and discretion is seriously advised. Although we made the game easy on ourselves by playing in the lighter difficulty modes, we had trouble gaging when we were getting shot and losing health, since we’re used to sensory cues—like a rumbling controller or a bloody screen—letting us know that we’re getting hurt. Of course, the number next to the health meter does go down when you get hit, so the game technically does provide a sensory cue. But it’s hard to pay attention to this number with everything else going on. We wish the controller would rumble a bit, or B.J. would bleed or grunt—anything to make us hyper-aware that we’re getting hurt and we need to be more careful.
We also struggled at times with certain mechanics, like picking up objects. Sometimes, we picked them up automatically by running them over, but other times, we found ourselves backtracking to manually pick up items that we had expected to pick up automatically. This isn’t a huge problem, but it can present a challenge in certain situations. On top of this, the level design can be confusing, especially in the labyrinthine submarines. A hint system guides you through the confusion to your next point of interest, but this system doesn’t work so well when you’re in an environment (like a submarine) where everything looks pretty much the same no matter which way you turn.
But these are minor annoyances at worst, and we’re satisfied with the basic gameplay. We like that stealth is always encouraged, yet rush-and-gun play is required at times. (But you don’t have to get up in the enemy’s face like you do in DOOM.) The weapon system works well, and there’s a wide variety of guns to choose from. Each gun feels unique, even though they all do basically the same thing, and we liked testing our options to discover our favorites. Weapon upgrade kits are scattered throughout the levels to enhance your weapons. With these kits, you can get armor-piercing bullets, attach a scope to a gun, and much more. On top of all this, you can dual-wield your guns, which makes things really fun when you’re up against a heavily armed enemy or a hoard of Nazis.
And we’re stunned by Wolfenstein II’s graphics; they almost looked movie-real. Sarah can sometimes be sensitive to violent films, and one major cut scene gave her that nauseated and dizzy feeling you might get after witnessing something horrific in a violent movie. (Again, use discretion when playing this game!) As with a fictional film, you’ll know that what you’re seeing isn’t real. But it will look pretty real, and for some minds, that’s real enough! Of course, we’re sure Wolfenstein II looks a bit better on the other major consoles. But do those other consoles allow play on the go like Switch does? We don’t think so! As we’ve said time and time again, you’ve got to sacrifice a bit of quality if you want to play a Switch port of a PS4/PC/Xbox One game. We barely notice the dip in quality, but we know many players are sensitive to this.
On top of its cinematic graphics, Wolfenstein II boasts a replayability factor, with bonus missions and collectible items like notes, postcards, Gold (which unlocks concept art), and Star Cards (which unlock photographs of the dev team) hidden throughout each level. The collectibles can enhance the game’s story, but we don’t think the majority of players will want to comb through the levels to find every item. We don’t necessarily want to do this, but we’re also not terribly invested in the history of the Wolfenstein saga. Die-hard fans will probably love these collectibles—but if they’ve played this title on a different console before, they might’ve collected everything on their file there, and they might not be motivated to do this again.
So is Wolfenstein II a Nintendeal? That really depends. If you’ve already played this game on a different console, the only upgrade you’re getting with the Switch version is the ability to play on the go. Is that worth the price of a new AAA title? That’s up to you. But if you’ve never played this game and you like playing FPS on Switch, we think you should give this one a shot. It’s worth the price for the experience, even if you choose not to collect all the hidden items. Just keep in mind that Wolfenstein II is quite different from DOOM, even though both titles are now the major FPS games on Switch and they both come from the same publisher. Wolfenstein II is more stealth-based, and if you’re used to aggressive FPS titles like DOOM, you’ll have to get used to the sneaky style required in this one. But if you’re up for the challenge, Wolfenstein II is ready for you!
Nick and Sarah are the ultimate gaming couple. Nick introduced Sarah to the world of Nintendo games. Nick’s favorites are platformers tough as nails, like Super Meat Boy, Celeste, and The End is Nigh. Sarah prefers titles with more exploration and simulation, like Animal Crossing, Stardew Valley, and Skyrim. But Nick and Sarah both agree that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is one of the best games of all time!