But the game’s timing and story were established long before current events, Bethesda says.
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus’ marketing is intentionally tying into real-world events, Bethesda confirmed in a new interview. But developer MachineGames decided on the game’s story long ago and did not intend the game to offer any specific social commentary on recent events.
Bethesda’s Pete Hines spoke with Rolling Stone’s Glixel about Wolfenstein II’s recent marketing, which includes use of phrases like “There is only one side” and a take on the Nazi-punching meme that gained particular prominence earlier this year.
“We weren’t going to hide from the fact our game is about killing Nazis and freeing the US from their rule, and if we can reference current events as part of talking about the game, so be it,” Hines told Glixel.
Among those current events, Hines referenced Charlottesville, Virginia, where protestors earlier this year against the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue used chants evoking Nazi rallying cries. The city also saw neo-Nazi groups and other right-wing protestors gathering and marching in August days after during the Unite the Right rally, some of whom used Nazi chants and symbols.
“When you have an opportunity to take a public stand against Nazis emerging in America, that’s an opportunity that shouldn’t be passed up,” Hines said of the marketing decision.
And while the game’s marketing may openly be influenced by current events, the game’s plot is not meant to offer direct commentary on them.
“The release date for the game was set in stone months prior to its E3 unveiling, and even further removed from the events of Charlottesville,” Hines said. “The game and its content were well along the path to completion.”
Saying the new take on Wolfenstein’s story, themes, and characters were “set in motion many years ago,” Hines explained the game is “not written to be a commentary on current events, because no one – at MachineGames or at Bethesda – could predict what would happen.”
Hines also confirmed MachineGames won’t be aiming to integrate any direct commentary in updates or DLC and that, even without that commentary, the game and its marketing are of apiece with the same core message.
“Nazis are bad, and in Wolf II you get to kick their asses and it’s fun. There are actual Nazis marching openly on the streets of The United States of America in 2017. BJ would not be OK with that – we are not ok with that — and the marketing reflects that attitude,” Hines said.
Wolfenstein 2 will be released on October 27 for PC, Xbox One, and PS4, with a Switch version set for an early 2018 release. IGN previously took a look at the Wolfenstein franchise and pop culture’s history with Nazis.
Jonathon Dornbush is an Associate Editor with IGN. Find him on Twitter @jmdornbush.