Last year saw the release of Wolfenstein: The New Order, one of my personal games of the year. It had everything I would want from a Wolfenstein game: intense firefights, loads of nazis, and a diverse lineup of locations. However, there was one thing it lacked. Castle Wolfenstein itself. Thankfully, part one of Wolfenstein: The Old Blood rectifies that with B.J. Blazkowitz infiltrating the castle once more on a quest to find the location of general Deathshead's compound, which soon leads to him tangling with a crazed jail warden and a master of the occult.
The first moments of Wolfenstein: The Old Blood have you sneak into Castle Wolfenstein under the guise of Nazi officers, before quickly getting your hands on a pistol and going to town on enemies with machine guns and a double-barreled shotgun. Sadly, this is quite deceptive as shortly after, you will be spending thirty minutes or so with nothing but a pipe, sneaking around super soldiers attached to cables and silently taking out dogs. However, once you get your hands on a proper weapon again, it's literally a matter of minutes until you get your hands on a rocket launcher pistol, all is forgiven.
And once you actually get to the shooting? It's quite fun, honestly! Core gameplay mechanics haven't changed from Wolfenstein: The New Order, so expect lots of breaking crates for ammo and dual wielding assault rifles. However, Wolfenstein: The Old Blood changes things up by introducing new weapons like a bolt action rifle, and the real star of the show, the pipe. The pipe is used for many things, including stabbing, climbing, opening grates and doors, and even breaking down walls. Its clear that this is the DLC's main gimmick, and the game makes good use of it.
While Wolfenstein: The Old Blood does railroad you into a stealth section early on in the game, nearly every other encounter involving commander enemies lets you go in either stealth or guns blazing. However, on the higher difficulty levels, stealth is really recommended as some of the enemies that get called in when you're spotted can be just overwhelming.
Wolfenstein: The Old Blood is surprisingly varied in terms of locations. Although it's true about a third of it takes place inside Castle Wolfenstein itself, areas are different enough to keep me hooked. B.J. guns through catacombs, a library, a burning town, and more in this standalone expansion pack, all with some amazing set pieces sprinkled throughout. There was one particular moment involving cable cars that not only got my blood pumping, but gave me some serious Return to Castle Wolfenstein nostalgia.
You fight your normal selection of Nazis with guns and super soldiers for the first half of the game, but around the second half you'll start to encounter the undead. The undead will more often than not just charge at you and knock off a good portion of your health if you aren't quick. While they do add some variety to the game, they're not nearly as unique or fun to fight as the other human enemies.
Something to note is Wolfenstein: The Old Blood's punishing difficulty, which is a lot worse than the base game. Enemies can absolutely slaughter you in close range, and it doesn't help that there's a new enemy type that just soaks up damage. Combine this with the zombies having an attack that can shave off roughly twenty health points, and you got yourself a recipe for one tough game.
Something that may be disappointing to fans of Wolfenstein: The New Order's story is that it really takes a backseat in Wolfenstein: The Old Blood to all the action. Cutscenes are short, and there are only a few or so instances in the game where you're not actively going around killing Nazis or moving to the next Nazi to kill. However, when there is story it's quite good, and I was really invested in all of the characters.
Overall, Wolfenstein: The Old Blood is a strong game that scratches the first person shooting itch I've been having since 2015 began. Although things take a dip when the zombies are involved, the encounters with Nazis are entertaining enough to more than make up for it. If you're a fan of shooting games, I can recommend this in a heartbeat.
Update: Corrected 'DLC' to 'Standalone expansion pack'
A bloody romp through Castle Wolfenstein and beyond that falters near the end, but is still worth the price of admission.