Have You Played… Wolfenstein: The Old Blood?

Seeing as Steam reviews are not entirely fairly arguing that the recent Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus is too perfunctory a sequel, let’s look back to a time when that really did happen. The Old Blood, a game that straddled the line between sequel and expansion pack to the excellent Wolfenstein: The New Order, was the very model of going through the motions. Paradoxically, it was also an attempt to give fans exactly what they wanted.

Which is to say, going back to OG Wolfenstein’s straightforward, period Nazi’n’demon shooting, as opposed to TNO’s post-war setting and exploration of its beefcake hero’s trauma and existential crisis. That ‘old’ in the title was no coincidence – this was a gift-wrapped offering to Wolf 3D and Return To Castle Wolfenstein veterans.

I wonder how I’d have written our Wolfenstein: The Old Blood review if it had come about before The New Order. “Perfectly adequate latter-day Wolfenstein followed by really properly good new Wolfenstein” seems like a more natural flow in a way, and spares the disappointment inherent in “holy crap really good new Wolfenstein followed by eh, it’s fine I guess Wolfenstein.”

There will be people who skipped both games at the time who have now done just that, I imagine, and I envy them the surprise and delight they’d experience when moving from Old Blood’s shallow but serviceable heroics onto New Order’s crackpot brilliance, unpredictable escalations (and occasional tone-deafness).

As it is, for me, The Old Blood falls into that general morass of noughties Wolfenstein games that I can’t entirely tell apart – I do almost remember it as coming before the New Order/New Colossus double-whammy. And perhaps that is best.


  1. int says:

    I’ll be frank: a castle is important to me in Wolf.

    • maninahat says:

      What are you, the pun usher?

      • AliciaHarvey says:

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    • Flopdong says:

      I gotta agree, I really appreciated The Old Blood. I love the new games, but the throwback to classic Wolfenstein was great. I agree that it wasn’t particularly revolutionary, but that also wasn’t the point. It was still a well crafted shooter with a decently enjoyable story. Solid 8/10 in my book

  2. Lord_Mordja says:

    TOB might not have had the narrative chops of TNO/TNC, but (extended, early stealth sequence aside) I definitely think it had the best gameplay of any of new Wolfensteins. In fact, I was very disappointed that Colossus threw out a lot of the good changes TOB made, but then again a lot of Colossus was disappointing in general.

  3. Premium User Badge

    subdog says:

    I’ve really tried to get into it, but the first hour is some of the most tedious forced stealth I’ve ever played, with no real payoff to make it feel worthwhile.

    TNO had plenty of stealth, but generally you could improvise and blast your way out when things went bad. TOB says nein and gives you a single linear path through idiotic sentries invulnerable to everything except for the most tedious stealth kill process imaginable. And then you get to repeat the process a half-dozen times in identical brown corridors.

    I’m sure it gets better, but I can’t imagine a worse way to start a game.

    • doodler says:

      This was the worst. I booted up the game after having it sit in my backlog for ever because I just wanted to blast Nazis real quick. After having to hide from them for 30 minutes to do basically scripted stealth sequences from the 90s I gave up and haven’t gone back.

    • Infernal Pope says:

      “I’m sure it gets better, but I can’t imagine a worse way to start a game.”

      You must not have played MGSV.

  4. Premium User Badge

    Risingson says:

    I play it from time to time. It either gets me and grabs me or pulls me off violently. It goes from fun to boring really fast and back. Visually is wonderful, though.

    EDIT: btw guys, please add the have you played tag to Entomorph

  5. RichUncleSkeleton says:

    TOB has one big thing going for it over TNC: it came out before the new Doom. TNC just feels ho-hum compared to the insane speed and balletic violence of Doom. I really can’t go back.

  6. Freud says:

    I haven’t. I felt all Wolfensteined out after The New Order. They’re fun games but have very limited gameplay.

  7. Zenicetus says:

    I played it to almost the point where it shifts gears halfway through to the zombie stuff, which I’ve read is where it gets better. But it was just too much on-rails forced stealth and uninteresting settings up to that point. I couldn’t finish it.

    I’m stuck partway through New Colossus too, because the linear levels and repetitive combat is reminding me more of Old Blood than New Order. For me, this studio hit a high point with New Order. Now it’s just interesting cut scenes spaced apart by tired corridor shooting and recycled gameplay mechanics.

    • duns4t says:

      I’m one of those who feels the game improves dramatically with the zombies/occult later on, but unfortunately I think that was only the last third of the game. There were some frustrating design choices marring the first 2/3rds.

      Having made all of TOB like the last third could have resulted in a game every bit as good as TNO (which was great!). Personally, I love occult/twisted expansions/themes of regular games – Borderlands 1 & 2 had a lot of issues, but the Halloween-themed DLCs were some of my favorite pieces.

    • Daymare says:

      There are some great set pieces in TNC. My favorite for combat is the level in nuked NYC, which I think is also the most open. However there’re some “BioShock Infinite’s Columbia before the violence”-ish levels that I absolutely adore throughout TNC. And I still think putting you in a friggin wheelchair was such an interesting choice for the genre.

      I felt TNO had somewhat more open levels all in all, but maybe I remember incorrectly. Either way, all three new Wolfensteins are really good in slightly different ways.

  8. Plake says:

    I didn’t like TNO and i still love TOB! And indeed, it was a new version of RTCW, much better than Wolfenstein from the early 2000…!

  9. Carra says:

    I don’t play many shooters but from time to time I enjoy playing a single player shooter. Wolfenstein is pretty good at that. It’s an enjoyable game and makes me wish they make more purely single player games.

  10. gummybearsliveonthemoon says:

    Do I? I’ve been playing it for the last week. I wanted to replay Old Blood and New Order before New Colossus.

    I think the new Wolfensteins are some of the best single player games I’ve played in a decade.

  11. Eater Of Cheese says:

    The new Wolf games are incredibly good. This piece was phoned in harder than BJ himself hammering the receiver into a Nazi’s skull.

  12. Premium User Badge

    DuncUK says:

    On the subject of Wolfenstein, I find it funny how we talk about TOB as an arguably forgettable addition ot the franchise when nobody at all seems to remember Wolfenstein (2009) – has it also fallen into that “general morass of noughties Wolfenstein games that I can’t entirely tell apart”?

    link to en.wikipedia.org

    I’m not really sure why I remember it since I never played it. Arguably another timely choice for a HYP?

    • Zenicetus says:

      I vaguely remember that game. Something about magic powers? I only got partway through it because my PC at the time could barely run it, and was prone to massive FPS drops in the scenes with lots of enemies so I gave up.

      I don’t remember what I saw of it being very impressive. It felt generic and cartoonish, and not in a good way, like New Order’s over-the-top bits.

      • Premium User Badge

        DuncUK says:

        Apparently when Bethesda bought the rights to Wolfenstein they decided to remove it from sale, despite keeping the ID originals and RTCW available. It’s not available on Steam any more, so the game is not just forgotten but is now somewhat suppressed too.

        • N'Al says:

          I like it. Solid shooter the way Raven makes solid shooters, i.e. good 7/10.

  13. Papageno says:

    I’ve played a bit of this, but it seems to suffer from sudden incredible difficulty spikes. Does it support quick/manual saves (I don’t think it does), at least?