Of all Machine Games’ achievements with Wolfenstein: The New Order, perhaps the most remarkable was turning meathead cipher William ‘B.J.’ Blazkowicz into a relatable character. As a beefy conglomeration of pixels in Wolfenstein 3D, he was useful only as box art and somewhere to suspend weapons. But in The New Order, he gained depth, humour, and pathos. Oh, and more guns.
We went hands-on with the sequel’s power suit and Nazi-popping laser gun, too. Read our impressions of Wolfenstein II here.
Our chiselled hero returns in Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, along with an expanded cast of similarly charismatic characters. But while B.J. has certainly grown as a person, he still ticks every box on the stereotypical videogame protagonist checklist: white, male, muscular, and astonishingly violent. What, then, is B.J.’s central appeal?
“I don’t know… It’s B.J. Who doesn’t like B.J. Blazkowicz?” creative director Jens Matthies laughs when we put the question to him. We press him for a deeper analysis.
“How we approach the character is that, on a fundamental level, he is emotionally fearless,” Matthies explains. “He isn’t a person who needs any sort of armour emotionally or psychologically. I mean, of course he needs it literally, because he’s getting shot at by Nazis [laughs]. But in that sense he is very emotionally mature. He’s kind of this zen master of being in the circumstances that he’s in, which are incredibly dark.”
That emotional openness leads naturally to an affinity between the player and B.J., according to Matthies. “When you hear his inner thoughts, and when you interact with him in whatever way you do, he doesn’t need to put on a facade. You are very intimate with him, and he is able to be really intimate even though he’s not the world’s greatest philosopher. But whatever he has is there for you, and it’s accessible. I guess honesty is what it…