When one thinks of Frau Engel – the dastardly villain who is doggedly hunting BJ Blazkowicz across the Nazi-occupied United States in Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus – words like “freedom” and “liberating” aren’t usually the first ones to come to mind. She is, after all, one of the top-ranking officers in a Nazi regime that’s overtaken the world in the game’s alt-reality setting. But for Creative Director Jens Matthies, that’s precisely one of the defining characteristics of this otherwise evil antagonist.
“Her character really cuts to the core of a fascist or Nazi ideology,” Matthies says. “If you are able succeed in that environment and rise up the ranks, you attain a very liberating personal freedom at the expense of others. You’re able to dominate and basically be on this constant power trip.”
Matthies is talking specifically about BJ’s initial meeting with Frau Engel in MachineGames’ first release (Wolfenstein: The New Order, 2014). In that tense scene, Frau Engel – clearly flush with her own power – plays a deadly but decadent game, treating BJ like a trivial plaything to be batted about then discarded at whim. “That’s what that scene was about,” Matthies says. “It shows what the incentives are for the people who were fully supportive of the Nazi ideals.”
Of course, Frau Engel eventually gets her comeuppance. (Note: Minor spoilers from first game ahead.) Under Frau Engel’s watch, BJ escapes a prison camp – and Engel is severely injured in the process. And toward the end of the game, Frau Engel has to watch – powerless – as BJ kills her young lover Bubi. It’d be enough for a lesser villain to slink away, defeated and shamed. But for Frau Engel, this only hardened her resolve.
“I thought it would be a powerful moment, having her crawl toward you with that totally broken, disfigured visage, coupled with her vow of vengeance,” Matthies says. “If you’re the queen of the realm, and then that gets challenged, of course you want to reclaim your crown. That propels a lot of her personal vendetta against the Resistance, but BJ Blazkowicz in particular.”