Discussing the elephant in the room.
Discussing a game where Nazis invade America is a little strange when there’s a new Nazi threat looming in the real-world America. Speaking with Jens Matthies, Creative Director of Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, it was hard to ignore the elephant in the room.
“It’s stranger than fiction,” Matthies said of the situation. “When we started on The New Order [MachineGames’ first Wolfenstein title], we knew that we were going to take the subject matter of Nazis seriously. Of course, that sounds weird saying in a game like Wolfenstein, where everything is sort of over the top and insane.
“But we really didn’t want to cartoonify the Nazis or Nazi ideology, and I think if you start taking that aspect of the game seriously, then you are by definition making a political statement of some kind. So that’s something we embraced, and we’ve always done that, but this game or the one before it, it’s not like we’re doing a commentary on current events or anything. We want the game to exist on its own merits, and we think that we are doing something that is very strong, creatively.”
Matthies statement echoes that of Bethesda’s Pete Hines.
“Wolfenstein has been a decidedly anti-Nazi series since the first release more than 20 years ago,” Hines said earlier in the week, adding, “none of us expected that the game would be seen as a comment on current issues, but here we are.”
Matthies told Stevivor that Wolfenstein is more than just Nazis in America.
“We always have a theme for each game in terms of the narrative,” he said. “In The New Order, the theme was dogma and what it means; the dogmatic sort of philosophy of life, and the consequences of that. And that theme reads through all of the characters and all of the character arcs in the game and the story as a whole.
“For this game, our theme was catharsis. That’s like the thing we write at the top of the whiteboard when we started brainstorming. So, that’s something that flows very deeply throughout this game, is the idea of catharsis. I think when you play the game you will get a very strong sense of that.”