The main draw of Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus (which is out this Friday) might be killing Nazis (a classic videogame goal that has somehow become incredibly and disgustingly relevant these days), but there’s far more to look forward to than the mere mass murder of racist fascists. The developers at MachineGames have created some of the most vibrant and lived in environments in videogames, between the last Wolfenstein game and their work at Starbreeze Studios last decade. The alternate history introduced in 2014’s Wolfenstein: The New Order brought with it an intricate hypothesis of what America might have looked and felt like in 1960 if the Nazis had conquered it during World War II, and that commitment to detail seems likely to resurface in The New Colossus, if the photographs below are any indication. This gallery includes several pieces of concept art from The New Colossus, with notes from Art Director Axel Torvenius. They show how much effort went into designing this world and trying to make it cohere with not just the last game but the clashing cultures of Nazi Germany and mid-century America and the larger implications of the game’s story. Read on to learn more from Torvenius, and click any of the images below to open a larger version for closer inspection.
“In the latest Wolfenstein game, we take the player to a lot of different Nazi environments. One of the rather exotic locations is the secret compound of Area 52, located deep under the city of Roswell. Being part of a vast subterranean system of train tunnels and research facilities, this compound holds a lot of secret Nazi technology and experimental equipment. This is an early concept of a great hall.”
“The Ausmerzer is the great sky ship we refer to as a flying fortress. This beast is commanded by General Engel and there are several occasions throughout the game the player gets to familiarize themselves with this airship. This concept is over one of the command areas known as the Odin security control room. When we developed concept art for Wolfenstein II that dealt with technology, a lot of inspiration came from early computers and existing technology from the 1950s and ‘60s”.
In the resistance hideout, the submarine called Eva’s Hammer, there are many rooms to explore. One of the central ones is the Klub Kreisau, which serves as a common area where you can chill in the bar, play pool, or just talk to resistance members and find out more about the world. This area is in what used to be a giant torpedo silo, but is now completely refurbished into a cozy and chill area.
“This concept shows a Supersoldaten pod transportation area. A giant mechanical arm is deploying capsules with Supersoldaten inside of them, down the center of the hatch, where they get transported to different areas inside the Ausmerzer or deployed on the ground far below.”
“The submarine which is the base for the resistance and the hub for the player has a vast amount of different rooms in it. Many of them are allocated for the main characters. This room in particular is for BJ and Anya. The room they got handed was a former nuclear waste disposal hatch. A lot of time has been spent on trying to give each room its own flavor and identity, to make each area as interesting as possible.”
“A section of the game takes part in a nuclear wasteland, in the ruins of what was once Manhattan. Nuked by the Nazis, it is now a vast desert of bent and twisted metal structures and molten concrete silhouettes. This is the reveal shot concept for that environment.”
“In this game we have a surreal mix. The classic American dream of blue sky and diners, classic American cars and girls walking down the street smiling. But there is something off with this environment. Nazi jetfighters are roaring in the sky overhead, a Nazi parade in the distance and those girls are walking down the street hand in hand with German Officers. Designing a fictional America run by the Nazis has given us some very surreal moments in this game.”
“This is an early piece of concept art we developed showing the flying air fortress Ausmerzer, attacking the giant submarine that has been taken over by the resistance.”
“Throughout the game the player will encounter many enemies but also make a lot of new friends. In the ghetto that was once New Orleans, B.J. is teaming up with a colorful man named Horton. This is the concept showing the area where Horton and his crew have their hideout and, so just happens to be, their own distillery, in an abandoned bank building.”
“The Nazis have perverted many landmarks across America. One of them being the Lincoln Memorial. Turned into a perverse scene for their gruesome actions, the Lincoln Memorial now stands for something completely different. This is a concept showing the enormous brutalist buildings raised around it and the re-built monument itself.”
“Throughout the Manhattan map the player will see several horrid examples of what the once lively Manhattan used to be. This is a concept of a blown-out hotel.”
“The city of New Orleans has been turned into a giant prison and ghetto. An enormous wall has been built around most of the city and everyone inside is left to rot. When the player gets here, there is also a large-scale attack by the Nazis, following orders of exterminating the last people still left alive in there. This is a concept of the reveal shot from when exiting the great wall.”
“One of the main characters we get to see a lot more of in this game is Set. This time around he has his own high-tech lab where he is constantly working on a lot of experimental gear and weapons.”
“A rather eccentric character we encounter is Super Spesh. He is running the classic diner in Roswell, and just so happens to be part of the resistance. In the basement underneath his diner, he has set up his own information centre. Super Spesh is a conspiracy theorist so is convinced about a lot of things, and uses up a lot of tinfoil! This concept was a challenge and great fun to develop.”