Wolfenstein is one of the longest running first person shooter franchises there is. It first released in a time when actually getting a first person camera position to work in a video game was a marvel of technology and programming. For most people, including myself, the franchise really hit hard with the release of Return to Castle Wolfenstein. The single player was a lot of fun, but the multiplayer was where the game was at it’s best. Even to this day, enemy territory is a popular multiplayer shooter. The franchise has been revived multiple times over the years and one thing that is missing from the latest iteration is multiplayer. What happened to Wolfenstein multiplayer game modes?
Multiplayer gaming started to go in a very bad direction around 2005 and continued this route for a few years. That’s not to say that there werent good multiplayer games, but the problem we saw is that every developer was bolting on a half assed, garbage multiplayer game modes to their games. 90% of the games that supported multiplayer had dead lobbies and the games never worked properly. One of the worst games for this was actually Wolfenstein, but this was an odd case. I played the multiplayer for Wolfenstein on the Playstation 3 and as a concept it was perfect, it was more of what we had seen in the past. Coop, goal based multiplayer where teams would work together to rob a bank or something like this. The problem is that the thing was barely functional. In fact, I played 1 multiplayer game and immediately got ranked up to level 50 (the max level). After this, I tried my best to enjoy it, but there were nothing but bugs, lag and things not working in general. The experience was pure garbage and it was a fine example of how developers abused online multiplayer game modes during this generation.
After having several spoiled experiences with online multiplayer games, I began to fall under the mindset that if a game doesn’t need a multiplayer game mode, then it shouldn’t have one (looking at you Bioshock 2). Games should also not have multiplayer if the developer doesn’t have the resources to correctly implement it. We always heard the classic line “developing multiplayer has not taken away from the single player experience”. I think everyone knows this is bullshit. If you need to use resources to develop multiplayer then they are resources that are not there for the single player, but lets not go ranting down that road. Wolfenstein was a game that fell into the latter, it works for multiplayer, but the developers clearly didn’t have the resources to build it, which was a massive shame.
Multiplayer and Wolfenstein are perfect matches. Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory (the sequel to Return to Castle Wolfenstein), which was a free, multiplayer only game released after its cancellation is still an incredibly popular online game. It has been maintained and improved with various user generated maps and addons over the years. I spent quite a lot of time playing this game, I can remember some seriously crazy maps. It was a major let down for me and I’m sure many others when the multiplayer for the 2009 release of Wolfenstein was such a piece of crap.
Wolfenstein was revamped by MachineGames in 2014 with the release of Wolfenstein: The New Order. For someone, who wasn’t expecting much, this game was epic! They have somehow managed to take a classic game, stay incredibly true to the source content, yet they have brought it into the modern age with an incredibly high level of polish. This has been enough to launch Wolfenstein back into the tier of AAA franchises that everyone keeps their eye on regardless on whether they like WW2 shooters. Even though the game was brilliant, there was one thing missing..multiplayer!
Wolfenstein is a game that has established itself as a major franchise for online multiplayer, it would be like a Call of Duty game releasing without multiplayer. At the same time, there is part of me that is happy about this. As I mentioned, I hated the way multiplayer gaming went in the late 2000s. Wolfenstein from 2009 caused a major blow to the reputation of this franchise. If you are going to do something, do it right. MachineGames games clearly made a clever decision that they could not produce a high quality AAA game that had a high tier, lenghtly story AND multiplayer. Thankfully, they cut multiplayer and didn’t cut quality, like many developers do. I have great admiration for MachineGames and the work they have done for the Wolfenstein franchise, but I still think Wolfenstein multiplayer needs to be revisited.
I would happily pay for a Wolfenstein game that was multiplayer only. If it means that I will be getting a top notch multiplayer experience, with no bugs, glitches and cut corners. If a development studio, could take the engine and assets generated by MachineGames for the new Wolfenstein games, they would have a fantastic foundation to start with. If an entire studio could focus on making a kick ass multiplayer experience for Wolfenstein, it could turn out being one of the best things to hit multiplayer gaming since Modern Warfare. For the moment at least, the future of Wolfenstein seems to be single player only, but who knows where things might go. The franchise is now breathing strong and it looks like there is still a hell of a lot of life left in it.For now, I would much rather a good single player game instead of a broken one, but who knows where things might go, multiplayer and Wolfenstein might not be completely dead and buried.
To close things off, here is some footage of Enemy Territorys multiplayer game mode to bring back the Nostalgia.