Infiltrate Castle Wolfenstein in the prequel to Wolfenstein: The New Order in the standalone DLC Wolfenstein: Old Blood.
It would seem that games are starting to follow the FarCry 3 model of releasing a standalone DLC based on a previously released game, using its engine and sometimes graphics, with Wolfenstein: Old Blood being no different. Rather than have this standalone DLC exist as an expansion, since the way New Order ends it would have to fill in a lot of holes with respect to the story, it decides to lend itself as a prequel instead. The mission that leads up to the prologue in New Order. Let us see if Wolfenstein: Old Blood is worth the 20$ USD price tag that it is toting, or if it is just another overpriced DLC money grab that will only mildly fill your gaming needs for a night. Note that this review may be shorter than the New Order review, as we are not going to be re-reviewing certain aspects that did not change between the two games as Old Blood is technically a DLC and not a new game itself.
As per the previous review, the system configuration used to review this game was an Intel i7 4930k processor, 16GB of DDR3 quad channel memory, Intel 180GB 540 Series SSD, PNY GTX 980 XLR8 Pro OC, and a Samsung 2560 x 1440p monitor. We’ll continue to list the system specifications of what we used with each game as over time we may end up upgrading a piece here or there and we’d rather not keep you in the dark when it comes to what you should expect with similar systems.
As mentioned prior, the game is running on the same engine that New Order ran on, meaning there was no real noticeable or significant graphical upgrades or differences. This led us to be able to once again chew through the game graphically speaking on our GTX 980. The game looks quite visually appealing, with it hard to tell that its graphics engine is a year old. Unfortunately the game uses up 36.4GB of storage space on our SDD, as the higher textures make this game look great requiring larger file sizes for those textures. As per New Order, we’re not sure if this was done to lower load times by having less compressed textures, meaning the graphics card does not need to spend as much time loading the textures from your SSD as it does not have to uncompress them as much. Aside from that there isn’t much more to say about the graphics as we enjoyed what we saw on the screen for the most part. It did not look like a five year old game or a game who did not have time spent on its graphics.
Not much has really changed when it comes to how Wolfenstein: Old Blood handles compared to New Order. You still have your health bar and armour bar, requiring you to pick up health packs or armour parts in order to refill it. What also returns is the requirement to actually pick up items yourself, be it health packs, ammo, or armour parts, something that we quite enjoyed in the full game and are glad to see it has made its return here.
The Perks system has been updated to reflect the nature of it being a standalone DLC along with the duration of the game itself. There are no longer multiple categories, instead just a mixture of different assortment of perks. We did enjoy some of the newer ones such as increasing the maximum amount of armour you can carry, as well as being able to overcharge your armour…though logically that one doesn’t make any sense at all. Are you just using scotch tape to tape extra pieces of armour on you and the scotch tape wears off after a certain amount of time, causing you to drop the armour as it shatters on the floor? We’re probably thinking too much into it as it is one of our many quirks you’ll come to realize we have when it comes to reading these reviews. Tiered perks are no longer around, aside from the health and armour ones, and even still you can actually read what the tiered perk requirements and benefits are unlike in New Order. Perks do make the game easier as some of the listed ones above allow you to soak up more damage (via armour) before your health is threatened. You can only ‘disable’ them if you play on a new save, so if you hope to play it on the hardest difficulty without any perks, do that on your first playthrough or chose a new save.
Unlocking say a door through hotwiring or lock picking has been removed, since BJ has not learned that from one of his New Order storyline branches. From a story standpoint this makes sense, though why they didn’t want some other mechanic we’re not sure. Instead he uses a pipe to pry open whatever he needs to, making it so that he never has to worry about something being locked if the story says he can pry it open with the pipe. The pipe he picks up near the beginning of the game has multiple uses, some will be outlined here, others down in combat. There are certain locations in the game where you can either run in guns blazing, or you can use the pipe to climb up the wall, requiring you to use the left and right buttons of the mouse in tandem to simulate what you would be doing if you yourself was climbing the wall. We were impressed by this, as it adds a new layer to the game promoting partial exploration to find that single way forward or branch off to from the main path to do a more stealth approach. We do want to warn you that only certain walls that you can climb, which the game explains to you early on, so don’t think you can scale any wall with your pipe.
The old saying ‘If it’s not broke, don’t fix it’, is something that can be said about Wolfenstein: Old Blood. We do not believe that there could have been major alterations or changes to gameplay from New Order being that it is a DLC that runs on the same game engine and world. It would require significantly more time and effort to give Old Blood a new frame compared to just painting it with some newer paint (car references). That said, the Cover System is yet again not explained to us, as per what it considers cover in order to get the perk that requires a certain amount of kills from cover in order to unlock it. You can still break random wooden boxes in order to scavenge items such as health, ammo and armour. As we are no longer in the 60s where Nazi technology has made additional leaps and bounds, there are no energy weapons whatsoever, so we’re glad they didn’t try to shoehorn that in as ‘prototype weapons’. This means there are actually less ranged weapons, though there is a perk that lets you carry the heavy machine gun so you can always have that on hand for some boss battle when you want to take them down quickly or easily.
With the introduction of the steel pipe you now have two different melee weapons depending on where you are in the game. The pipe can be assembled to be used as a baseball bat to bash in enemy skulls, or taken apart (as required to use as a climbing tool) to be used more as a dual wielded melee weapon.
The hunt for collectives still exists in the game, with some of them becoming different things such as collecting gold bars. Why gold bars, we’re not quite sure as some of them are hidden so well we’re fairly certain the Nazis wouldn’t know that these things were there. Can they be used for anything, nope, nothing at all other than being a collectable. This makes it rather ‘pointless’ to try to collect them all unless you are hoping to unlock an achievement. Gone are the health and armour upgrade collection items too. This may be due to the fact there no longer is a ‘base’ for you to perform these upgrades at, or they just didn’t feel like including it. Either way it makes it so that there is even less items to hunt for and collect. It feels like less effort was put into the collectable hunting than in New Order, which is a shame as it is something that would help bloat the playtime of this game.
There no longer is a significant difference between the two storyline branches that occurs in Wolfenstein: Old Blood compared to that of New Order. There is dialogue that each branch has, though it’s rather minor, making it seem that what New Order did with their more serious differentiating branches, not worth the effort in Old Blood to do.
We are once again playing as Captain William “B.J.” Blazkowicz, attempting to infiltrate a Nazi base/castle (ironically enough Castle Wolfenstein itself) in order to find the main laboratory for the head scientist of the Nazi warmachine, Deathhead. This is where the game ties into as a prequel to the events of New Order, as without completing this mission the events of New Order would never have happened as the Allies did not know where Deathhead’s compound was. There isn’t much in the way of story; you infiltrate, get caught, and have to escape all while hunting down the file that contains the vital information of Deathhead’s lab. Along the way you run into Nazis who are obsessed with some kind of ancient powers, resulting in you having to not only kill Nazi Zombies, but also kill some re-animated mummy that if let loose could be a major threat to the allies (unless they say bombed it from the sky, as one man is able to kill the mummy).
There is sadly not much to write home about the story, as you are whisked from one area to another, never seeing much of one location for long making us wonder why you need that much disk space for the game. It is only about 6 hours long, even shorter on easier difficulties. You heard us right, it is only a six hour game with not much plot aside from the standard Nazi killing. The inclusion of Nazi Zombies was really not something that was necessary, as it seemed the game was trying to make itself closer to those Nazi Zombie killing games we previously mentioned in another review. Sure it is fun, but plot wise it didn’t really do much, not to mention the mummy end-boss fight which was just ridiculous, as there wasn’t really a way for it to ‘escape’ where it was.
Unless you want to replay a certain section to gather collectables to unlock achievements we don’t see the point in replaying the main story a second time. The two differing storylines are so minor that you are not missing out on anything when it comes to wanting to decide between two branches. The only area we could see ourselves replying more than anything is the Nazi Zombie section, but as we stated before there is only so many Nazis you can kill by yourself before it becomes boring.
It seems the Old Blood was trying to cash in even more on the 90s Wolfenstein game nostalgia as there are countless ‘levels’ thrown in throughout the game, as if to expand the overall playtime of the game, without any benefit or noticeable benefit of beating a level does towards the main game. Something they did decide to throw in were Challenges. This is namely different sections of the game where you need to complete, preferably in the fastest amount of time on whatever difficulty you want. Then if you have friends, you can compare scores against them or the global leaderboard.
Wolfenstein: Old Blood appears to be riding on the coat tails of the major success that New Order was able to offer to the franchise. The game unfortunately is only 6 hours long, which at 20$ USD is not overly impressive in our books. Sure that may be about half as long as the main game, but they had to build everything from scratch for it, this instead is a standalone DLC building on the assets that were already put into place. We don’t want people to think this isn’t a good game, it is, but is rather short and we would only recommend buying it when it is priced at 10$ USD or even less. The only exception is if you are a fan of Challenge modes in a game, and if you are then this game can help feed that itch.
Graphics: Still a great environment to be thrown into, but suffers from the same large texture files as the main game did. You won’t be disappointed playing the game graphic wise, but you will be wanting to free up some space on that SSD before you install this bad boy.
Gameplay: Perks return, offering different and similar bonuses as offered in New Order. The introduction of overcharging armour and climbing walls with a pipe make it so that the gameplay is not just a complete rehash.
Combat: Nothing has changed really from New Order aside from the loss of energy weapons and the introduction of the steel pipe which can be used dual weapons or as a head smashing device.
Side Quests: Even less collectables than in New Order, with no rhyme or reason as to why you should be collecting some of them aside from once again achievements.
Story: A standard formula is used in this 6 hour game that takes you across multiple locations, where it could spent time in these areas to allow them to build more on the story. Unfortunately it has nothing special to write home about, having a large feel of that 2000s Wolfenstein game that came out (not the 2009 one), as we played it years ago it felt like certain story aspects were recycled from it.
Misc/Replayability: Unless you are a big fan of Challenges there is very little reason to replay this game aside from collectables towards achievements, the mini-games it offers are novel at first yet do nothing to offer a more well-rounded experience of the game or having you want to replay it. It also lacks any form of multiplayer, which is a shame as there are Nazi Zombies in the last chapter of the game.