7 things I wish I'd known before playing Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus

As we said in our review, Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus is a great shooter and a worthy sequel, albeit a touch less fresh than The New Order. The New Colossus will feel familiar to anyone who played its predecessor. There are some new weapons and abilities, but the shooting and stealth plays the same notes, which isn't a bad thing. That said, there are a few new idiosyncrasies to Machine Games' latest Nazi killing simulator, some of which can radically alter your play style and even the stuff you encounter. With that in mind, I've put together a list of the most useful tips for BJ's return.

Warning: slight spoilers ahead. I've avoided major plot points in these tips.

Collect and decode enigma codes to unlock assassination missions 

Whenever you kill a Nazi commander—the uptight suits who sound the alarm when you're spotted—he'll drop an 'enigma code' denoted by an icon that looks like a work stub. The in-game tutorial entry for these codes will tell you to use the 'enigma machine' to decode them. You unlock this machine around the middle of the campaign (it's located near the war map). Once you do, you can use your collected enigma codes to unlock side missions about assassinating Nazi leaders. These missions are set in unique areas around the U.S., and they'll show you a different side of several characters. Suffice to say, they're good fun and worth doing.

Each missions 'costs' a certain amount of enigma codes, and there are about a dozen missions in all, so be sure to loot all the Commanders you kill. You have to play a little matching minigame (above) to unlock the missions. All you have to do is manipulate the rows of symbols so that your rows match up with the symbol you're given. If you succeed, you'll spend however many codes the mission costs. But if you run out of time and fail, you'll lose one code and have to try again. 

Even the most difficult and expensive missions are easy once you get a hang of decoding, but don't be afraid to reload your save if you fail. You don't want to waste enigma codes, after all. 

Oh, and don't feel pressured to finish all the assassination missions before the story. You can do them in the post-game, too.

Talk to crew members to unlock side missions 

You can also unlock side missions by conversing with the crew of Evas Hammer, The New Colossus' submarine hub world. Crewmates do more than quip and bicker when you walk by. Some will ask you to complete odd jobs and conversation-based side quests around the submarine itself, but others will give you missions to complete out in the world. These are more diverse than the enigma assassination missions, and some come with very good rewards, including new abilities which I won't spoil for you here. Just be sure to talk to everyone you see between story missions. Well, not everyone; a speech bubble icon will appear in front of anyone who has a mission for you. So be sure to talk to them at least.

Restock ammo between missions at the shooting range 

Speaking of breaks between story missions: do yourself a favor and visit the ammunition depot located near the shooting range before each mission. Lovable inventor Set will acquaint you with the shooting range very early on, so make a note of its location. Your ammo reserves carry over between missions, so if you're totally spent on submachine gun or rifle rounds when you finish one, you'll start the next at a disadvantage—unless you pop into the shooting range and stock up. You can refill all your magazines, grab some hatchets and charge up your laser, which is a nice cushion to have.

You need to look for weapon upgrades, they aren't handed to you  

Lots of singleplayer shooters gradually hand you new weapons and powers as you progress through the campaign, but The New Colossus is a bit more BioShocky with its upgrades. Some weapon upgrade kits are lying around in plain sight, but the vast majority of them are squirreled away in all manner of vents and crates and corners, so it really pays to investigate. Be especially wary of rooms where you stop to converse with allies, either over the radio or in cutscenes. In my experience, there's often (but obviously not always) an upgrade kit nearby. Another common tell is an odd abundance of art or story collectibles like journal entries and newspaper clippings. If you find a room filled with these things, especially if you had to go off the beaten path to get to it, double-check for weapon upgrade kits. 

Stealth-kill armored Nazis and hack robot Nazis to level useful perks 

The New Colossus emphasizes shooting and stealth pretty evenly. Personally, I find the shooting more satisfying (as evidenced by this GIF essay), but playing it stealthy and stabbing everyone has been dramatically improved by the addition of hatchets, with which you can dismember, decapitate, and otherwise use to ruin unwitting Nazis. 

But did you know you can also stealth-kill those hefty armored Nazis? Simply sneak up behind them and follow the standard stealth prompt to puncture their gas tanks. They won't notice that they're leaking (highly flammable) fuel. Depending on the nature of their death (sometimes the explosion gets them, sometimes it's the fire—it's a toss-up, really) you'll contribute to your environmental or burning kill counters, which provide useful perks. The explosion may also kill nearby Nazis, which is always nice. 

Just as usefully, you can remove robot Nazis from the equation by 'tampering' with them. It's not hacking exactly—you can't actually make them fight for you, freaking amazing as that would have been—but it's still the easiest way to take them out. Many robots will remain in standby mode until you're spotted, so if you come across any stationary robots, just mosey on over and rip out their batteries. Bam, dead Nazi robots. Tampering with robots will level another perk which rewards you with energy ammo when you successfully disable a robot. It's one of the many cool examples of perks naturally accentuating your play style, and it's especially helpful if you're fond of lasers.

Throw back enemy grenades to level another useful perk 

Maybe I'm the only one who didn't get this memo, but I honestly didn't know you could throw back enemy grenades until I was nine hours into The New Colossus. If there is a tutorial explaining this early on, I'd like to apologize for neglecting it. I'd also like to advise it to speak up, because this technique is useful. 

If an enemy grenade lands near your feet, don't panic; just look for its blinking red light, a small arrow prompt and press 'E' (or whatever your 'use' key is) to pick it up and toss it back. Not only will this keep you safe from the grenade and ideally take out some Nazis in the process, it will help you level the grenade perk in your 'tactical' perk tree, which extends the timer on enemy grenades, making them easier to dodge and throw back. 

Melee as many dudes as you can to buff your health  

There's one more easily missed perk that is definitely worth your time: the 'combat takedown' perk in the mayhem tree. At higher levels, this significantly boosts the speed of your natural health regeneration, which is a life-saver on higher difficulty modes. To level this perk, you have to kill Nazis with normal melee attacks. Critically, stealth kills and robot kills count toward different perks, so whenever you find an isolated Nazi soldier, try to get in close and give him a taste of your hatchet. This will save you ammo in the short-term and a lot of health in the long-term. 

Austin Wood
Staff writer, GamesRadar

Austin freelanced for PC Gamer, Eurogamer, IGN, Sports Illustrated, and more while finishing his journalism degree, and has been a full-time writer at PC Gamer's sister publication GamesRadar+ since 2019. They've yet to realize that his position as a staff writer is just a cover-up for his career-spanning Destiny column, and he's kept the ruse going with a focus on news, the occasional feature, and as much Genshin Impact as he can get away with.