The moment Wolfenstein: The Old Blood grabbed me was during the second section I played through. For preview purposes I was only allowed to play 60-minutes of content, and that was split into a few different areas at different points in the game. Obviously, for spoiler reasons what I payed was largely gameplay-focused and left a lot of the story untouched, which was fine with me, and it was within the decaying walls of a Nazi castle stronghold that MachineGames’ design cadence reared its head and forced me to smile.
It was the sense that my lungs and nose were filled with thick dust as I moved through fake walkways between crumbling walls and discarded passageways, that reminded me of the brilliance of their original outing, and reassured me that what we’re getting with The Old Blood isn’t just a couple of hours of cutting-room floor content, but strongly designed and well-thought out expansion gameplay -- complete with an equally dark and gritty story in the same vein as what we got with Wolfenstein proper.
The sense of scale here is as grand as the first adventure, and a lot of attention to detail has gone into this add-on. You get eight chapters with The Old Blood, which is half the number of the first game, but means the budget price is just right considering the gameplay meat awaiting you. New weapons and enemy types, alongside new maps and locations will keep the prequel feeling fresh and new, with the same combat flow and brutality this series reimagining brought to the fore last year.
The actual game is split into two parts that ultimately work to set up the events of the first game. By the time you finish The Old Blood, the intro to Wolfenstein: The New Order is just two-odd hours away, apparently. The little story I was privy to, did introduce at least one new MachineGames-styled character in the tall and intimidating Rudi jȁger -- a twisted and maniacal prison warden straight out of a classic Bond movie, if Bond could be rated R18+. The game’s visual storytelling is back in full force here, and there’s a very big emphasis on the occult and the archaeology/history-obsessed side of the Nazis in The Old Blood. I wanted to explore every nook and cranny and oggle every piece of peripheral decoration it had me so hooked, but with just an hour to play, my fingers were itchy and action was waiting.
The design emphasis of large areas with various entry points and the ability to stealth your way in remains here, while the commander system also returns, leaving you with the option to take them out quietly before they can sound an alarm, or to go in guns blazing to take on the waves of support ready to ambush you. BJ also has a new weapon/device by way of a simple pipe that he both uses for some of the nastiest melee kills/stealth takedowns ever, and for climbing certain walls and surfaces. How much the climbing will come into play remains to be seen, but hopefully it's not a simple, superfluous system designed to make you think you're actually doing something different, and contains an exploration and tactical use beyond the brutal takedowns its capable of.
There are also other new weapons in the game, including new long-range bolt-action rifles and my personal favourite, a rocket-firing handgun called the Kampfpistole. There’s also a new shotgun that fires very quickly with devastating effect up close and personal. Of course these are just what I was privy to, there’s a solid chance there’s plenty more where that came from, by way of new ways to kill Nazis.
There’s also a whole new set of perks specific to The Old Blood, as well as myriad secrets and secret rooms. I also came across a Cacodemon plushie, so there’s a very good chance the whole package is going to come with a lot of Easter Eggs (maybe a new Doom dreamscape in place of the Wolf3D one in the original).
It’s only a short time away, but with just 60-minutes of gameplay under my belt, the content here is as solid as the original in expansive, exciting ways. Nothing feels rehashed or rushed, and at roughly less than half price of a full release (with a solid eight chapters), Wolfenstein: The Old Blood is seeping with value. It maintains the same standard set by last year’s release and adds enough new to warrant a serious look in, and we haven’t even delved into the game’s prequel story yet.
Wolfenstein: The Old Blood is a standalone prequel release to Wolfenstein: The New Order and will be landing on PC, PS4 and Xbox One May 5th.