|This is a /v/ related article, which we tolerate because it's relevant and/or popular on /tg/... or we just can't be bothered to delete it.|
Wolfenstein isn't, technically, the oldest FPS videogame series in the world, but it's damn close to it. Created in 1981, this game series is the big brother of the more famous Doom franchise, and revolves around the exploits of ass-kicking American commando William "B.J." Blazkowicz as he battles against the threat of the Nazis.
The history of Wolfenstein begins with Castle Wolfenstein, released in 1981 by Muse Software on the Apple II, Atari 8-bit and Commodore 64. In it, you take the role of a nameless American POW who has been held prisoner in the titular fortress; escaping with the aid of a loaded pistol smuggled to you by a dying cellmate, you seek to evade or murder the Nazi guards, find the secret plans for Operation Rheingold, and escape the fortress with them. Unlike its 3d cousins, 8-bit Wolfenstein was the granddaddy of the stealth-based game; going in guns blazing would get you killed in short order. It was followed by a sequel in 1984, Beyond Castle Wolfenstein, where you seek to plant a bomb with which to assassinate Hitler.
The Wolfenstein game that everybody remembers was the brainchild of Id Software, and came out in 1992. A precursor in many ways, mostly technical, to the later Doom, Wolfenstein 3D was essentially a reimagination of Muse Software's Wolfenstein duology. As William "B.J." Blazkowicz, you're a prisoner in the Nazi stronghold of Castle Wolfenstein. Escaping with luck and the aid of a knife, you fight your way out of the fortress, killing Nazis and stealing loot and valuable secret documents as you go. Expansion packs were promptly released, telling a chronological story; first there was Operation: Eisenfaust, in which a post-Wolfenstein B.J. is sent after a mad Nazi scientist creating horrible cyborg mutants as super soldiers. This was then followed by the canonical end of the game - Die, Fuhrer, Die! - in which B.J. tracks down and kills Hitler, despite the latter being outfitted with a giant exo-suit carrying four miniguns.
With the success of Wolfenstein 3d, ID Software hurried to cash in by retexturing files and creating Spear of Destiny, a set of prequel level packs that tell B.J.'s pre-Wolfenstein story, as the agent who recovers the Spear of Destiny.
Although the initial levels of Wolfenstein 3d are best remembered, the mutant and mecha-Hitler caught in the gamer's consciousness, creating an association of the game with the infamous mad science and occult experiments of the Nazis.
These came to fruition with Return to Castle Wolfenstein, an official sequel to Wolfenstein 3D (with some handwaving) that came out in 2001. In this game, B.J. returns to Castle Wolfenstein (no shit), and becomes embroiled in thwarting the activities of both Wilhelm "Deathshead" Strasse, a mad scientist creating cyborg mutant super-soldiers, and the SS Paranormal Division, which is reanimating the dead and seeking to awaken a vengeful undead lich-king. Needless to say, old B.J. is having none of that; he destroys the lab where Deathshead is creating all his monsters and super-weapons, kills as many heads of the Paranormal Division as he can find, and slays their undead champion.
After this, Wolfenstein went dormant for another eight years. In 2009, we received a new game, called, simply, Wolfenstein. In this game, canonically a sequel to the 2001 game, Deathshead has discovered a way to reach the mysterious Black Sun Dimension and draw upon its otherworldly energies. With this power, this "Veil Energy", he is able to create incredibly advanced weapons, as well as recruiting alien monsters and even using the mysterious energies of this other-world to reanimate the dead. Yet again, ol' Billy Blazkowicz has to step into the breach and kick some Nazi heads in, this time with the aid of a band of German anti-Nazi resistance fighters. This was, without a doubt, the most overtly dieselpunk of any Wolfenstein game to this point, putting the super-Nazi science and ghostapo elements of Return to shame.
In 2014, Wolfenstein 2009's sequel came out, in the form of Wolfenstein: The New Order. It is the year 1946... and America is losing the war, courtesy of yet another wave of new super-technology being produced by Deathshead. B.J. takes part in a massive operation to storm Deathshead's fortress and destroy his machines... but fails. Paralyzed by shrapnel in the brainpan, he spends 14 years in a hospital before miraculously regaining the ability to walk - just in time, as Nazis come to kill everybody in the hospital. Now in a world in which Nazis rule everything, B.J hooks up with a band of freedom fighters, seeking to unlock the keys to Deathshead's technology before carrying out a daring mission to assassinate the arch-scientist. Like its predecessor, TNO is full-blown, hard-core dieselpunk, with killer robots, cyborg dogs, cyber-mutant super soldiers, tank-sized robot dogs, and giant mecha.
The very next year, Wolfenstein: The Old Blood was released; this prequel to TNO revolves around B.J going to Castle Wolfenstein in order to retrieve the information needed to locate Deathshead's Compound, from the prologue of The New Order. Things get out of control when the Nazis accidentally release an ancient zombifying gas and a hideous flesh-golem like giant monster buried under the town, but ol' Billy soon puts things to rights.
A sequel to The New Order, in which B.J goes to a Ku-Klux-Klan-controlled America to fight the Nazis on his home turf, is planned for late 2017. Called Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, it's already earned attention in that it will be the first Wolfenstein game ever where B.J willl not be the sole protagonist. A DLC pack called the Freedom Chronicles will feature three new sub-stories, focusing on three different freedom fighters and their respective missions around the US:
- Episode Zero: A prologue that introduces the protagonists.
- The Adventures of Gunslinger Joe: Focuses on former quarterback Joseph Stallion as he deals with Nazis in Chicago and all the way to space.
- The Diaries of Agent Silent Death: Focuses on ex-OSS assassin Jessica Valiant as she infiltrates Nazi bunkers in California.
- The Amazing Deeds of Captain Wilkins: Focuses on Captain Gerald Wilkins as he dismantles a Nazi operation in Alaska.
An upcoming sequel, Wolfenstein: Youngblood, follows BJ's twin daughters fighting through Nazi controlled Paris. The game will feature co-op.
You may be wondering what the hell relevance this game could possibly have to /tg/. Well, for starters, this is seriously old-school vid-gaming fun, so, like Doom, it's one of those franchises that /tg/ is willing to accept and talk about.
More importantly, this series is the shit if you want to run a Weird Wars game set in World War 2 - Gurps, D20 Modern, Savage Worlds, your own system, there's a hell of a lot of characters and scenarios to plunder here.
Hells, even if you just want some inspiration for grade-A dieselpunk, the 2000s games are great stuff to plunder from or just soak up the aesthetic.