Wolfenstein II's Freedom Chronicles DLC Is A Dud
Wolfenstein II's DLC seemed promising when it was announced: three episodes, each centered around a new character, fighting against the Nazi regime in America. Getting away from B.J. Blazkowicz's story was a fresh idea and, to be fair, the first episode, starring a former quarterback utterly destroying nazi scum, was pretty great. Unfortunately, as a single package there's no way around it: The Freedom Chronicles blow. The series just wrapped up with the final episode, The Deeds of Captain Wilkins, and instead of telling you blow-by-blow why that DLC is bummer, I think it's more worthwhile to tell you why you should probably steer clear of the whole DLC package if you're looking for more of Wolfenstein II's fantastic campaign.
Most Episodes Waste Their Storytelling Potential
As I mentioned earlier, The Adventures Of Gunslinger Joe is rad, and offers another perspective into Wolfenstein's harrowing world. Where B.J. is white and can often pass as one of the Nazis' own, Joe faces brutal discrimination at every turn, obstacles that he overcomes with ease. However, the latest two episodes, The Diaries Of Silent Death and The Amazing Deeds Of Captain Wilkins, are poorly written. Not only do they lack the character-driven drama of MachineGames' main Wolfenstein titles, but they're also poor homages to the pulp novels of the '50s and '60s, with eye-roll worthy puns and cardboard-character personalities.
Every Episode's Structure Is The Same
Every episode follows the same structure: starting with a setting that wasn't in The New Order or The New Colossus (with Joe taking place in Chicago, Death in Sacramento, and Wilkins in Alaska) and then followed by a finale that takes place in a sci-fi or industrial setting, like on the moon or in a tricked-out submarine.
Every Enviornment Is Recycled
One of the Freedom Chronicles' biggest features is that it supposedly takes players to new environments that weren't featured in Wolfenstein II. While the DLC technically does this, there are a huge number of assets that have been repurposed and show up in said environments. For example, Sacramento looks a lot like Roswell in Wolfenstein II due to similar map layouts and familiar-looking objects, like newsstands. You might technically be going to new places in the DLC, but none of it feels new.
None Of The Combat Encounters Are Designed Well
Perhaps the biggest sticking point for me is that none of the levels I fought nazis in felt meticulously laid out and considered in the way that all of Wolfenstein II's maps had. In fact, most of The Freedom Chronicles' levels (especially The Amazing Deeds) felt like rooms where enemies just rushed at me and were easy to dispatch, as opposed to interesting levels that made it worthwhile to learn layouts and memorize where weapons were in order to replay them over and over again.
No New Gadgets For You To Play With
Instead of adding new gadgets and weapons for you to slash and blow away Nazis (outside of a literal tin can), The Freedom Chronicles repurposes the same old killing animations from Wolfenstein II and then assigns each character one of the contraptions that B.J. gets in the main game. This results in the Freedom Chronicles feeling heavily recycled as opposed to granting players new items (like The Old Blood did) to play around with.
As someone who loved Wolfenstein and thinks the world that MachineGames has crafted out of id Software's classic series deserves to be expanded, I think it's safe to say Freedom Chronicles is not the expansion the series deserves.
For more on Wolfenstein II, be sure to check out our review of the game here.