When it comes to the Wolfenstein series, William B.J Blazcowicz is the main guy if you want some Nazis killed, but as we know from the games, he isn’t the only one with the mission in mind to overthrow the Reich. In Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus MachineGames have come up with a spin off series of levels called the Freedom Chronicles, presented as pulpy comics, in which three characters fight the Nazis in America. This week sees the release of Episode Zero and our first introduction to these new characters.
In the Freedom Chronicles each of the three characters has their own set of skills to utilise in their war against the Nazis. First up is Joseph Stallion who was a professional quarterback, but when the Nazis came knocking, they saw the colour of his skin and degraded him for being a black American, leading to him to become known as Gunslinger Joe as he hunts the Nazis. The second character is ex-British OSS spy Jessica Valiant, codenamed Agent Silent Death, who finds herself behind enemy lines and is set on sabotaging the Nazis in anyway. Finally there’s Captain Gerard Wilkins, a former US military hero whose only aim is to tear apart the Nazi operation Black Sun.
The DLC starts up with players taking on the role of Gunslinger Joe as he infiltrates a Panzerhund facility with the aim of stealing one. As you may expect such a facility is crawling with Nazis, but that’s alright for Joe. He has a special ability where he can run through weakened walls as well as obliterate anyone who gets in the way of his charge, which is credited to his footballing past. There are a few opportunities to smash through walls and Nazis, but it mostly boils down to the same kind of gameplay you’ll find in the main campaign.
Captain Gerard Wilkins, on the other hand, has a gadget that allows him to reach higher areas of a stage that would be out of reach otherwise, and again this skill can definitely be useful during his mission. Wilkins has infiltrated a Nazi base with the objective to destroy a big gun, but to do so he needs to make his way through a number of Nazi filled corridors and rooms. Just like B.J. and Joe, it’s mainly about shooting as many Nazis as possible while running through the mission.
The most interesting character of the three is Jessica Valiant. In the main campaign stealth runs were very hard to execute. With Jessica Valiant being a spy, her mission is designed to allow people to play stealthily and it is that approach that makes her mission the most fun of the three on offer. Jessica is on a mission to assassinate a propaganda film director and is in the studio hunting her target.
Again there are a number of Nazis about, but you can either choose to take them down or sneak past. Of course the option to go all guns blazing is still there, but being a spy, she is only armed with a silent pistol and such an approach would have felt like going against the spirit of Jessica’s character. Jessica has the ability to slip through small vents that link rooms and if you’re quick enough you can get through without alerting the Nazis. It isn’t easy to pull off due to how they’re patrolling as well as which units are on patrol, and there were times when the pistol had to be used.
What you might notice through all of this is that these are abilities that BJ had through the course of Wolfenstein II’s main campaign, courtesy of his da’at yichud power armour. In some ways that could be a bit disappointing, but this is also just a glimpse of what’s to come in the Freedom Chronicles and each mission lasts around 15 minutes. It does at least seem as though MachineGames are carrying their quality from the main story over to these spin off tales and we look forward to seeing how they flesh out each character more fully.