After releasing their first title, Commander Keen, the game that put id Sofware on the map in 1992 was Wolfenstein 3D. It’s the first first-person shooter I ever played and like its spiritual successor Doom, helped define the genre, rightfully earning its title as the “grandfather of 3D shooters.”
As id Software moved on to to develop multiple Doom and Quake games, and most recently, Rage, the franchise that started it all was seemingly pushed to the back of their library, returning in 2001 with Return to Castle Wolfenstein, which like its predecessor, received positive reviews. Ignoring the free multiplayer spinoff and mobile titles, Raven Software developed another Wolfenstein game for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 in 2009, published by Activision, but it was only met with average reviews and went largely under the radar. And that was it. Until now…
The Wolfenstein series, celebrating its 20th anniversary last year, was often met with controversy for its inclusion of Nazi symbols, settings and music, but may have a new game on the way. With id Software acquired by ZeniMax in 2009 and Raven having developed that last series installment, id Software will not be directly involved with future Wolfenstein games and instead are developing Doom 4.
ZeniMax may have MachineGames working on a new Wolfenstein instead. MachineGames is a Swedish developer staffed by the founders of Starbreeze Studios (Syndicate). That is, according to the resume of composer and sound designer Julian Beeston where he listed Wolfenstein as a 2013 title, until editing it. Thanks to Google cache, we have the original entry:
The November 11th press release encompasses the mysteriously empty official site for MachineGames and reads:
Established in 2009 by the founding members of Starbreeze Studios, the creative team behind the award-winning title,The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher’s Bay (Metacritic score: 90) and the highly-regarded game, The Darkness, MachineGames is working on an unannounced project for ZeniMax publishing subsidiary, Bethesda Softworks, that is being built on id Software’s revolutionary id Tech® 5 engine technology
Adding further credence to the obvious, ZeniMax acquired the Wolfenstein domain from Activision last summer. So piece this together. We’ve emailed ZeniMax for comment.
The id Tech 5 engine was used with Rage, a title that served better as a tech demo than an actual game, so it makes sense that Bethesda and ZeniMax have MachineGames using id’s latest and greatest for the next Wolfenstein. With this news, we can not only expect epic visuals and animation thanks to the engine, but knowing the track record of the development team, a highly realized first-person experience where everything from falling down to arm movements for melee attacks and opening doors will be fully animated as if the player actually is the in-game Nazi hunter.
It’s too bad Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds wasn’t coming out this holiday to get fans in the mood. The last Wolfenstein game went full-on sci-fi. Should the next game embrace a more gritty and realistic WWII experience or go colorful and crazy like Raven’s 2009 entry? Play the original Wolfenstein for free through your browser on the official Wolfenstein site.
Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes.