Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is almost here. The much-anticipated sequel to 2014’s The New Order from MachineGames and published by Bethesda launches on October 27 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. A Nintendo Switch version is coming in 2018.
GameSpot recently had the chance to speak to creative director Jens Matthies in Sydney. In our conversation, Matthies–who was also the creative director for The New Order–spoke about how the success of the first game shaped the studio’s vision for the sequel. That’s not something he really thinks about, because looking at it through that lens can “f**k you up creatively,” Matthies told us.
“As a creative person, you always want to do something more awesome than the last thing you did. You don’t want to go backwards,” he explained.
Also in our interview, Matthies spoke about how Wolfenstein II’s story–which is about a Nazi-occupied America–is “strangely topical.” It’s not something that the studio feels very good about, and that level of unfortunate relevance is not something the studio anticipated, Matthies explained.
We edited and condensed our interview with Matthies and broke it into key topics. He also spoke about feedback from the first game, what the game’s use of the id Tech 6 engine allows the studio to do, what fans can expect from the Nintendo Switch version, and more. Scroll down to see highlights from our conversation.
On Pressure To Deliver
“I think if you do look at it that way too much it will f**k you up creatively. Already when we were making the first one we were thinking about a trilogy. So we knew what kinds of seeds we wanted to plant in the first game that we could cash in in the second game. And we knew where the broader story arc would continue. As you make the game, you get ideas. So we make notes of all of those ideas that are right for the next game but not this one. Then when it comes time to make the next one you go through all the notes. As a creative person you always want to do something more awesome than the last thing you did. You don’t want to go backwards.”
On How Wolfenstein 2’s Story Is “Strangely Topical”
“That was definitely not something we anticipated. We started writing the script in 2014 right after we released the first one. Somehow things have gotten strangely topical. Which of course is not something we anticipated or feel especially good about. That’s the way it is, I guess.”
“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.”
On Feedback From The First Game
“A big one was switching to a new engine because the first one was made in the transition from the previous generation to the new generation of consoles. So that was really important to us, to get a real engine upgrade. So in terms of the visuals and how our faces can express things, everything the sound design, the technology is way, way, way more advanced. This of course is a big learning curve too but something we felt was really important to make it a true next-gen game.”
On Xbox One X And PS4 Pro Support
“I’m not so attuned to those plans. But for sure, those are support and the engine can take advantage of that extra power.”
On What Id Tech 6 Allows MachineGames To Do
“Everything on the audio/visual front has a very big upgrade. The whole sound engine is new, it’s everything from the AI–we rebuilt everything. So everything is much more capable.”
On Why MachineGames Won’t Dial Anything Back
“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.”
On The Nintendo Switch Version
“We just want to give as many people as possible the opportunity to play the game. So any platform that can run the game, we want to be on. And it seems intriguing to me to have it portable and all that stuff. But the experience itself, it doesn’t really matter what kind of platform you’re on, it’s still the same game.”
On The Experience You Can Expect From Wolfenstein 2 For Switch
“I think a good reference point would be Doom. Because it’s the same engine. It will be whatever Doom is capable of, that is what Wolfenstein is capable of.”
On Why Wolfenstein 2 Doesn’t Have Multiplayer
“Whenever we start a project we analyse it from every angle. So we definitely talked about it. But we feel like we make the best games when the whole team is focused on the same thing. Otherwise you start competing for resources and we don’t feel that’s the best way to make a game for us because we like everybody to be super focused on one purpose. So we decided to go single-player only.”
“We definitely talked about it.” — Matthies on multiplayer for The New Colossus
On Wolfenstein 2’s Music
“It’s huge. And for this game, because of the dramatic scope of it, we have two composers–Mick Gordon (Doom) and a Danish composer, Martin Stig Andersen (Limbo). Mick is leaning a little bit more to the Resistance themes and Martin is more on the Nazi side of things. And having those two guys working together and kind of trying to outdo each other–it’s been amazing. They are amazing collaborators and they are very, very good at spotting what a scene needs. And I don’t just mean a cutscene but also a gameplay moment. Any kind of moment that you want to heighten a feeling for the player; they are very good at spotting those. They are masters at that craft. That’s been amazing.”
On A Wolfenstein For Mobile Devices
“Oh yeah, we think about everything, all the time–we just don’t have the time to do it. So, who knows what happens in the future, but it’s not something we’re looking at at the moment.”
On The PC Version Of Wolfenstein II
“We have uncapped frame rates. We are huge PC players, too, and I think all of id’s games have a very strong PC DNA in them. So it’s very important for us to make sure the PC version of the game feels as solid as any console version. And [PC] is also our primary testing platform. I am confident that PC players will be very happy with the PC version.”
On A Potential Wolfenstein Movie
“I don’t know. I would love to make one. But no one asked me to yet.”