There’s no doubt that Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus is a political game. It’s going to be tackling some pretty heavy themes, despite being an over-the-top action shooter. Nazis are some bad business. The conflicts between Nazis and those of a different race came up in the demo we played, so we asked Jens Matthies, creative director on Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus, how the team go about balancing absurdity and serious themes.
“We take what we're doing extremely seriously, which is interesting in a game like this, it's also incredibly over the top and crazy at many points, right? But we love that kind of fusion between things that are decidedly not real and things that are incredibly real, and we think that sort of breaking point between those values is extremely interesting to explore.
“There's a level of this that is our own creative process, where we think about what's right for the game, and what makes the best possible game, and we don't censor ourselves in that process. That doesn't mean that we're casual about it, we think a lot about it, and we think about what is right for the game. But once we've done that, then people can have their opinions about it, and that's fine. That's not really up to us, all that we can do is control what the game is.”
They relish the contrast between the Nazi ideology, a threat taken from real-world history, and the game’s absurdity, its “crazy” action, and unrealistic set pieces. Being able to take those moments and then build a serious story around them is key.
We did also have to ask about the political bent of the game - Matthies says that “the game will always be political in a way, but it's not a commentary on current events.” He told us that the team felt it would be wrong to “cartoonify” the Nazi ideology shown, and wouldn’t be right for the game.
With regards to the intent of the game, Matthies has some high hopes: he considers games to be the team's "art form."
“I think it's all about what the game is about, and what the creative goals are, but to us this is our art form. We spend so much time making the game, thinking about everything that's in the game, and so we wanted to be kind of a timeless work of art, in a way? So, that's what we're going for, but that doesn't mean that's the creative goal for every game, I'm sure there's room for any type of game.”