"Is this how a hero looks like? A crippled wretch of a man peeing into a tube? Everyone will see what a useless joke you are."
Minutes into Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus, Nazi grandma Frau Engel has already won. She's mocking BJ Blazkowicz—literally doubled over, laughing at him—on the top deck of your resistance submarine. She's found and captured you, along with most of your friends, who are unconscious.
She's taunting BJ because his body's broken: after being in a(nother) coma for five months, his legs don't work. You begin the game in this state: at low HP, with one machine pistol to play with (borrowed from a dead ally), strapped into a wheelchair inside a submarine.
It's a setup that instantly disadvantages you. It's also a nice echo to The New Order, where BJ sees years of his life time melt away as he's trapped in a vegetative state after the failed assault on General Deathshead's laboratory that begins the game. The New Colossus takes this a step further by putting BJ in a wheelchair, making his struggle something the player has to physically encounter and cope with themselves.
But surprisingly, movement within the wheelchair is smooth as hell on mouse and keyboard. You move in little bursts as BJ's left arm pumps the wheel, gripping the gun in his right hand, or setting the pistol in his lap when he's out of combat for a bit. The horizontal movement is almost effortless; you don't move like a little tank. I only had minor difficulty trying to peek laterally in and out of cover to return fire with an enemy, and that felt in-line with the situation BJ was in.
This whole control scheme is a small wonder, and I hope it lasts beyond these opening 10 minutes. Your view is slightly lowered, putting you at gut-level with the enemies. There's a sequence with conveyor belts. And there are at least two or three different stealth kill animations in the wheelchair. The first time, I rolled up behind a masked Nazi and spun him around, pistol-whipped him in the stomach, and crunched his head against the armrest of my wheelchair. The next time, I pulled a guard's head against the barrel of my pistol point-blank.
In another taste of The New Colossus' dark humor, I watched pairs of Nazis get zapped to mush as they stumbled into microwave fields scattered around the submarine. These defensive fields seemed to be set up by your resistance allies, and as you prowl the sub in your chair you can toggle them on and off to access little loot closets and lure patrolling Nazis to their deaths.
I want Wolfenstein to continue to be weird (something its trailer seemed to indicate), and I also don't want that weirdness to be compartmentalized in cutscenes, but integrated across the missions and setting. I only got a brief glimpse at E3 (the machine pistol was the only weapon I found in this early chapter), but it's refreshing to see physical expressions of that weirdness at the beginning of the game.
Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus (opens in new tab) will be out October 27. For more from E3 2017, check out our master list of every game shown or announced, and all the news from the week.