By Joseph Luster
The twisted World War II-themed Wolfenstein 3D came screaming back to life last year when developer MachineGames teamed up with Bethesda Softworks to release Wolfenstein: The New Order. It was one of those releases that ended up being way more than anyone bargained or hoped for, offering up a bombastic campaign and eschewing superfluous multiplayer in favor of making certain the single-player fully delivered. While many developers desperately attempt to shoehorn multiplayer in to help boost sales—or perhaps offer the illusion of longevity regardless of quality—MachineGames’ gamble paid off, and The New Order ended up garnering plenty of praise and landing in more than a few “Best of 2014” spots.
Despite the success of The New Order, it was still a pleasant surprise when a trailer suddenly trumpeted out the announcement of Wolfenstein: The Old Blood. Rather than being a full-fledged sequel, The Old Blood serves as an expansion to the series and a prequel to the events of The New Order. The single-player campaign once again stars the burly William “B.J.” Blazkowicz as he attempts to find the location of a Nazi compound, setting us up for another potentially thrilling first-person action-adventure.
Parallel Narratives Steeped in World War II
Wolfenstein: The Old Blood takes place in 1946 and features two interconnected stories with their own unique objectives. First up is Rudi Jäger and the Den of Wolves, in which B.J.—played by Brian Bloom, who reprises his role and has provided voices for plenty of other war games, including Call of Duty: World at War and, more recently, Call of Duty: Ghosts—is tasked with breaking into the infamous Castle Wolfenstein to steal coordinates to General Wilhelm “Deathshead” Strasse’s compound. After that mission, The Dark Secrets of Helga von Schabbs finds B.J. traveling to Wulfburg, where he runs into a Nazi archaeologist in the middle of uncovering artifacts that threaten to release a “dark and ancient power.”
Yep, we’re firmly in the realm of nefarious Nazi experiments and other foreboding explorations of the dark arts, which is precisely where we want to be when it comes to the Wolfenstein franchise. Gameplay will be familiar to anyone who played Wolfenstein: The New Order, as MachineGames is sticking close to the first-person action established in the last outing. In addition to the standard run-and-gun combat and the occasional bit of stealth, there’s a cover system that can assist players in either situation. Thus the big thing here is, of course, new weapons and upgrades. The Old Blood will have a variety of new weapons that didn’t make their way into the previous game, and it should be interesting to see what kind of over-the-top, upgradeable combinations the developers end up creating.
A Brilliant Stand-Alone Addition to the Series
Perhaps the best feature of Wolfenstein: The Old Blood is the fact that you needn’t have played The New Order to enjoy it. MachineGames made it a prequel in the first place so newcomers wouldn’t feel like they were missing out on anything, so get ready for some more intense action regardless of whether or not you passed on it the first time around. Still, you should give Wolfenstein: The New Order a spin if you fall into the “missed it category”; it’s a doozy.