A late-game unlock in Wolfenstein II offers some of the best side missions in the genre.
Wolfenstein II The New Colossus melds ruthless violence with emotional storytelling to create a mesmerizing shooter that’s damn near impossible to put down. Just as the game approaches its climax, developer Machine Games offers a change of pace in the form of side missions. Side missions that take place in levels you’ve already beaten might sound like a cheap attempt to extend runtime, but remixed level design and time-of-day changes makes coming back for more feel fresh.
Instead of opting for score-attack or speed running campaign levels, Machine Games chose to break levels up into smaller sections called districts where Nazi commanders have fortified positions anticipating counterattacks. Your objective is always the same: Find the commander patrolling the area, kill him and retrieve the dossier in his possession.
You’ll use the enigma codes you collect from the dossiers to unlock the Kill Board side missions by applying them to a code-cracking minigame. If successful, you’ll gain intel on the Nazi commander who has retaken the district, and you have the option of going back and clearing it out once again.
Returning to areas is often delightful, and the developers over at Machine Games have done subtle tricks to make retrod ground feel new. Missions often start with a different level orientation, the time-of-day is always different and roaming enemies are less predictable. The tougher enemies introduced later in the game patrol in large numbers, so strategizing your approach is more important than ever. The Kill Board occasionally frustrates, but when you beat a district without raising the alarm, Wolfenstein is at its most empowering. Larger levels also feature the Nazi officers present in the main story. Killing them allows you to collect additional enigma codes, which gets you access to even more side missions on the Kill Board.
With every Nazi commander on the Kill Board wiped, one final enemy is added in an entirely new location not featured in the campaign. While I won’t get into the details of the side mission for the sake of spoilers, it offers a unique twist on gameplay and is one of the more tense locations in the game. It requires a bit of enigma code grinding to unlock the side mission, but it’s well worth it for the change of pace alone.
Wolfenstein II’s side content is some of the best I’ve seen in singleplayer games. It might initially seem dull to trek through districts from the campaign, but the remixed layout and aesthetics make Colossus’ side missions a blast. While you might avoid side missions in most singleplayer games, skipping Wolfenstein‘s Kill Board would mean missing some of the most challenging scenarios Machine Games has on offer.