Wolfenstein (series)

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Wolfenstein series logo, derived from The New Order logo.jpg
Genres First-person shooter, Stealth
Developers Muse Software
id Software
Gray Matter Interactive
Raven Software
Publishers Muse Software
Apogee Software
FormGen Corporation
(2001–2003, 2009)
Bethesda Softworks
Platforms MS-DOS
Microsoft Windows
Mac OS
Amiga 1200
AmigaOS 4
Apple IIGS
Acorn Archimedes
NEC PC-9801
Game Boy Advance
Windows Mobile
PlayStation 3
PlayStation 4
Xbox 360
Xbox One
Platform of origin Apple II
First release Castle Wolfenstein
Latest release Wolfenstein: The Old Blood
5 May 2015

Wolfenstein is a series of predominantly first-person shooter video games, originally developed by Muse Software.[1] The third game in the franchise, Wolfenstein 3D, was developed by id Software, and is widely regarded to have helped popularize the first-person shooter genre. In 2001, the series was rebooted with Return to Castle Wolfenstein, developed by Gray Matter Interactive. This was followed by Raven Software's Wolfenstein in 2009. After Bethesda Softworks acquired id Software, MachineGames, a newly founded Bethesda subsidiary, released Wolfenstein: The New Order in 2014 and a standalone expansion Wolfenstein: The Old Blood in 2015.

The majority of the games follow protagonist William "B.J." Blazkowicz, and his fights against the Nazi powers. The New Order is set in an alternate history in which the Axis Powers won the Second World War.


The first-person view of the player character, atop a destroyed bridge, shooting a Nazi with his machine gun.
The series focuses on the antagonism of the Third Reich. The violent killing of Nazis in the series has been met with controversy.

Castle Wolfenstein is a 2D adventure game released in 1981 for the Apple II, written by Silas Warner. One of the pioneers of the stealth game genre, it is a game of avoiding detection and managing limited resources while trying to escape from a Nazi stronghold. Combat was allowed, but bullets were precious, and non-violent options were often safer, such as pulling a gun on a guard and frisking him while his hands were raised. A sequel, Beyond Castle Wolfenstein, was published in 1984.[1]

Wolfenstein 3D, released in 1992, is a re-imagining of the Castle Wolfenstein scenario in first person with an emphasis on direct combat. Stealth and non-violent options are not present. Silas Warner, the designer of the original Apple II games, was not involved in the development. Wolfenstein 3D is important for popularizing the first person shooter and inventing many of the tropes that became standard in the genre.


Timeline of release years
1981 Castle Wolfenstein
1984 Beyond Castle Wolfenstein
1992 Wolfenstein 3D
Spear of Destiny
2001 Return to Castle Wolfenstein
2003 Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory
2008 Wolfenstein RPG
2009 Wolfenstein
2014 Wolfenstein: The New Order
2015 Wolfenstein: The Old Blood
Aggregate review scores
As of May 25, 2015.
Game GameRankings Metacritic
Wolfenstein 3D (3DO) 82%[2]
(GBA) 60%[3]
(iOS) 77%[4]
(PS3) 77%[5]
(SNES) 58%[6]
(X360) 63%[7]
(GBA) 57[8]
(PS3) 77[9]
(X360) 66[10]
Return to Castle Wolfenstein (PC) 87%[11]
(PS2) 70%[12]
(Xbox) 85%[13]
(PC) 88[14]
(PS2) 66[15]
(Xbox) 84[16]
Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory (PC) 88%[17] (PC) 90[18]
Wolfenstein RPG (iOS) 87%[19] -
Wolfenstein (PC) 74%[20]
(PS3) 73%[21]
(X360) 74%[22]
(PC) 74[23]
(PS3) 71[24]
(X360) 72[25]
Wolfenstein: The New Order (PC) 84%[26]
(PS3) 78%[27]
(PS4) 81%[28]
(XONE) 82%[29]
(PC) 81[30]
(PS4) 79[31]
(XONE) 79[32]
Wolfenstein: The Old Blood (PC) 78%[33]
(PS4) 78%[34]
(XONE) 80%[35]
(PC) 76[36]
(PS4) 77[37]
(XONE) 76[38]

Castle Wolfenstein (1981)

Main article: Castle Wolfenstein

There is no particular storyline in this game, but mission objectives operated chronologically and accomplished using stealth, and occasionally armed combat to disable enemies. Set in World War II Nazi Germany, the protagonist is an unnamed American operative who escaped custody and has to steal war plans constructed by the Nazis against the Allied powers.

Created by Silas Warner, who left a legacy behind the production of the material, and inspired a set of sequels that employ a different genre yet containing the same ideology inside. The game is developed and published by Muse Software, and released in 1981 on multiple platforms.

Beyond Castle Wolfenstein (1984)

A sequel to Castle Wolfenstein, and likewise containing no scripted storyline but missions succeeding one after another. It is set in World War II during Adolf Hitler's rule as Chancellor of Germany. The objective of the game is to traverse all the levels of the secret Berlin bunker where the Führer is holding secret meetings with his senior staff. The player must retrieve a bomb that the operatives have placed inside the bunker and place it outside the door of the room where Hitler is holding his meeting, a scenario bearing a passing resemblance to the July 20 Plot.

Like its predecessor, the game is a combination of action-adventure and stealth-based side-scroller, developed and published by Muse Software, and released in 1984. After the death of the original designer of the program, the widow of Silas Warner has released a ported version of the game, as well as its reconstructed source code in his honour in 2004.

Wolfenstein 3D (1992)

Main article: Wolfenstein 3D

After the Nazis apprehend an American spy, BJ Blazkowicz, who was sent to sabotage the enemy's regime and foil their schemes, they imprison him under the grounds of Castle Wolfenstein. Finding a way to incapacitate a prison guard, BJ manages to arm himself with a stolen Luger handgun and advance through the walls of the territory, on his way to accomplish his mission by uncovering the truth behind 'Operation Eisenfaust' and destroy it.

The game is noted for popularizing the first-person shooter genre, released in 1992, developed by id Software and published by Apogee Software.

Spear of Destiny (1992)

Set before the events of Wolfenstein 3D, the player assumes the role of BJ Blazkowicz, who is set to reclaim the Spear of Destiny from the Nazis after it was stolen from Versailles. The spear itself, as spoken by legends, bears powerful effects in its own, and whoever took a hold of it, turns into an unbeatable being.

Like its predecessor, the game is developed by id Software, but published by FormGen Corporation instead, and was released in 1992.

Return to Castle Wolfenstein (2001)

Two operatives of an allied espionage agency, BJ Blazkowicz and Agent One are captured by the Nazis and imprisoned in Castle Wolfenstein during their attempt to investigate rumours surrounding one of Heinrich Himmler's personal projects, the SS Paranormal Division. Agent One is killed during the interrogation, while Blazkowicz escapes custody, fighting his way out of the castle. As the challenge is still afoot, Blazkowicz discovers that the Nazis are constructing a plan called 'Operation Resurrection', which oversees resurrecting the dead as well as dealing with supernatural elements, using them for their own advantage to win World War II against the Allied power.

A reboot and a remake of the series that took off in 1992, developed by Gray Matter Interactive and published by Activision, and released in 2001 on Microsoft Windows, as well as arriving on consoles two years later.

Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory (2003)

Originally planned to be released as an expansion pack to Return to Castle Wolfenstein, the game has no storyline or single player campaign mode. Instead, it has an expanded edition of the previous game's multiplayer. It was developed by Splash Damage and published by Activision. A commercial follow-up, called Enemy Territory: Quake Wars was released in 2007 by the same group.

Wolfenstein RPG (2008)

Main article: Wolfenstein RPG

In yet another mission to investigate the Paranormal Division of the Axis military, BJ Blazkowicz is captured and held prisoner in The Tower. Once again, he escapes the clutches of the enemy forces, and sets himself to stop them and their operation that involve supernatural activities once and for all, infiltrating Castle Wolfenstein to continue his escapade deep inside. It's up to BJ to defeat the evil and save the world.

It was never stated that this one title is part of any canon but its very own, more likely a spin-off that combines countless elements from previous entries, mostly Wolfenstein 3D, as well as having a character from another franchise, Commander Keen play a major part in the plot, not to mention, having one of the villains from the Doom series, as the final boss to beat. Compared to the other installments, Wolfenstein RPG employs lighter tone to the atmosphere of the game, never directly referencing the Nazis nor featuring swastikas, replacing them with comic reliefs. It's developed by Fountainhead Entertainment, and published by EA Mobile in 2008, with John Carmack, one of the key people to the original first-person shooter game in the series, reprising his role as the sole programmer.

Wolfenstein (2009)

An agent for the fictional 'Office of Secret Actions', BJ Blazkowicz, discovers an unnatural medallion containing supernatural powers while on a mission on a German battleship. Learning of the fact that Nazis have begun for digging deep into crystal mines in order to obtain more of the very same medallion Blazkowicz explored, the OSA immediately sends their operative to the fictional town of Isenstadt, which the Nazis have taken complete control of in order to excavate rare Nachtsonne crystals necessary to access the "Black Sun" dimension. As BJ progresses through his assignment, things start to become stranger slowly in the town.

It is co-developed by Raven Software and Endrant Studios, published by id Software, distributed by Activision Blizzard and released in 2009 on three major platforms.

Wolfenstein: The New Order (2014)

This installment is a soft reboot of franchise and builds an entirely new chronology, set in an alternate universe where the Axis powers win World War II. In 1946, as the Nazis expand their regime all over the world, OSA agent BJ Blazkowicz is sent to assassinate the notorious evil mastermind, General Deathshead, a familiar face from the previous encounters, as part of a last all-out effort by Allied airborne and commando forces. The mission is a failure and, after the entire unit is slaughtered by the Nazi forces, Blazkowicz barely escapes the compound, sustaining a critical head injury which renders him unconscious and subsequently puts him in a coma.

In 1960, fourteen years later, BJ finds himself settled in an asylum, unaware of the events that took place during his coma, and about to be executed by the Nazis who have ordered the asylum to be liquidated. Awakened into full strength, Blazkowicz fights his way out of the building, escaping with a wounded nurse, Anya. Heavily irritated by the revelation of the enemy winning the war, BJ operates within the shadows to locate The Resistance and help them fight the Nazis, dismantling them and ultimately crippling their dominance around the world.

After Activision handed over the publishing rights to Bethesda Softworks, development on the game began in 2010 by MachineGames, and it released four years later on multiple platforms, including next generation consoles.

Wolfenstein: The Old Blood (2015)

A prequel to The New Order, set in the same chronology, it deals with BJ Blazkowicz and Richard Wesley, also known as Agent One, who are sent to infiltrate Castle Wolfenstein and obtain a top secret folder that contains the whereabouts of General Deathshead. The mission goes awry as they are discovered by the Nazi troopers and are captured. During brutal interrogation, Agent One is killed, but Blazkowicz manages to evade the Nazi forces and escape the castle.

With the aid of Kessler, the leader of a local resistance group, he discovers that the folder is held by Helga von Schabbs, a Nazi neurologist who has just arrived in the village of Wulfburg. Evidence begins to emerge of supernatural activities taking place under the command of von Schabbs, who is conducting an archaeological excavation in an attempt to find a hidden underground vault containing occult knowledge previously possessed by German King Otto I.

The game is a loose remake of Return to Castle Wolfenstein, with heavy resemblances noticed within the storylines of the two games, as well as the existence of various characters as homages to the ones from the older title. Developed by MachineGames and published by Bethesda Softworks, the game serves as a stand-alone expansion pack to Wolfenstein: The New Order, and was released in 2015.


At Bethesda Softworks' E3 2016 briefing a mock cmd.exe screen flashed on-screen showing a rundown of some of the Bethesda releases since the 90s. This included games in the Wolfenstein series, such as Wolfenstein 3D, The New Order, and The Old Blood. It also shows an unknown property called "The New Colossus," with a release date listed as only **-**-**.[39] This has led to some speculation that the next game in the Wolfenstein series may be subtitled The New Colossus. Voice actors from The New Order, Brian Bloom and Alicja Bachleda-Curuś, have also hinted at a new game in the series in various interviews.[40][41]

Related games

  • Commander Keen (1990) - William Joseph "Billy Blaze" Blazkowicz II (Commander Keen) is the grandson of William "B.J." Blazkowicz.
  • Doom II: Hell on Earth (1994) - Level 31 (Wolfenstein) of Doom II is based on the first level of Wolfenstein 3D, and Level 32 (Grosse) is a Wolfenstein-based level mixed with elements of Doom.
  • Super 3D Noah's Ark (1994) - Wolfenstein 3D with modified graphics and sounds.
  • Rise of the Triad: Dark War (1995) - Was originally going to be a sequel to Wolfenstein 3D called Rise of the Triad: Wolfenstein 3D II.
  • Wolfenstein 1-D (2011) - A demake of Wolfenstein 3D


In an announcement made at the 2012 American Film Market (AFM), producer Samuel Hadida and Panorama Media said they have tapped Roger Avary to write and direct Castle Wolfenstein.[42]


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  42. ^ Vejvoda, Jim (November 1, 2012). "Castle Wolfenstein Movie Announced". IGN. Retrieved June 7, 2014. 
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