When one talks about the greatest first-person shooter franchises, it's only a matter of time before Wolfenstein comes into the picture. A long-running series that puts players in the shoes of B.J. Blazkowicz as he tears through waves of Nazis in a whole host of different settings, Wolfenstein is a legendary franchise that has still remained fairly active to this day.

Related: Wolfenstein: The New Order - Best Chapters, Ranked

The history of the Wolfenstein series is a long and enlightening one, with the franchise actually starting out with a completely different concept and direction before rebranding itself to become the Nazi-killing first-person shooter that we all know and love. For players who want to know more about the rich and illustrious history of Wolfenstein, here's a look at each game in the Wolfenstein series in the order of their release.

12 Castle Wolfenstein (1981)

Castle Wolfenstein

It's honestly hard to believe that the much-beloved Wolfenstein series that most people consider to be the grandfather of FPS gaming... started out as a top-down action-adventure game!

Castle Wolfenstein is a fascinating look into the early origins of the Wolfenstein series, where players take on the role of an unnamed Allied POW who is tasked with stealing the secret Nazi war plans in Castle Wolfenstein.

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11 Beyond Castle Wolfenstein (1984)

Beyond Castle Wolfenstein

Beyond Castle Wolfenstein is pretty much an extension of the first game, with players tasked to roam around another procedurally generated area — this time in the form of the Berlin Bunker — as they try to obtain a bomb and plant it outside the room where Hitler is conducting a meeting.

Beyond Castle Wolfenstein did feature a number of gameplay improvements that promoted stealth gameplay, featuring gameplay innovations that allowed players to hide bodies and stealth-kill soldiers with a dagger.

10 Wolfenstein 3D (1992)

Wolfenstein 3D shooting bad guys

The legendary Wolfenstein 3D set the stage for a genre that would become one of the most popular categories in gaming history, full to the brim with some of the most iconic stages and enemies in gaming history.

Roaming through Castle Wolfenstein as the iconic B.J. Blazkowicz — the first appearance of this character in the series — and laying waste to the Nazis that captured him is still a power trip that won't really get old anytime soon.

9 Return To Castle Wolfenstein (2001)

Return to Castle Wolfenstein

An old-school 3D FPS that any fan of classic PC shooters should definitely check out, Return to Castle Wolfenstein was a bold step for the series that tried to take the game in a new direction.

Related: Wolfenstein: The New Order - Tips For The Deathshead Final Boss Fight

Stepping into the familiar shoes of B.J. Blazkowicz and mowing down waves upon waves of Nazis was still entertaining, but now the game actually gave a proper excuse for B.J. to kill these Germans with a plot that was surprisingly decent and engrossing.

8 Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory (2003)

Wolfenstein Enemy Territory

Initially planned as an expansion pack for Return to Castle Wolfenstein, Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory was instead converted into a free-to-play multiplayer first-person shooter that turned into a rather forgettable chapter in the Wolfenstein series.

There's nothing really notable to mention when it comes to Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory — the game featured no story or single-player mode whatsoever, with its multiplayer being the only draw for players to download the game.

7 Wolfenstein RPG (2008)

Wolfenstein RPG

The idea of one of the most beloved fast-paced shooters turning into an RPG title is something that could've been an absolute disaster, but props should be given to id Software for making this idea a reality... and a pretty entertaining one at that.

Just like Doom RPG, Wolfenstein RPG was an excellent reimagining of the franchise that had a greater emphasis on humor and story — a combination that proved to be rather successful for the game in many ways.

6 Wolfenstein (2009)

Wolfenstein (2009)

Regardless of how surprisingly good the Wolfenstein RPG might've been, there was no denying the fact that long-time fans of the series wanted their favorite FPS franchise to feature more games that catered to this genre — something that was accomplished with the release of Wolfenstein in 2009.

Serving as a loose sequel to Return To Castle Wolfenstein, Wolfenstein was a fairly competent shooter... but didn't really achieve anything groundbreaking and ended up being a commercial failure. This sent the franchise into a downward spiral that was finally stopped with the release of the next title.

5 Wolfenstein: The New Order (2014)

Wolfenstein The New Order - The Nazi Won

A new and fresh chapter in the Wolfenstein series that pulled no punched when it came to treating the narrative with as much care and precision as the gunplay itself, Wolfenstein: The New Order was a fantastic return to form for the series... and B.J. Blazkowicz himself.

Related: Wolfenstein: The New Order - The Best Weapons

Set in an alternate history where the Nazis won World War II, The New Order sees players become part of the Resistance as they fight against General Deathshead and help liberate America from the oppressive rule of the Nazis.

4 Wolfenstein: The Old Blood (2015)

Wolfenstein The Old Blood

Given the massive success of The New Order, it was only a given that MachineGames would build upon this excellent foundation and allow players to experience the modern gameplay of Wolfenstein once again.

This is exactly what Wolfenstein: The Old Blood set out to achieve. A prequel to the events of The New Order, The Old Blood is a fitting addition to the modern legacy of Wolfenstein... although one has to admit that the game does end up feeling like an elaborate expansion pack to The New Order at times as opposed to its own thing.

3 Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus (2017)

The New Colossus artwork

Players who wanted a fitting sequel to Wolfenstein: The New Order would have to wait three more years until the launch of Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus — a new chapter in Blazkowicz's tale as he continued to fight against Nazi oppression and liberate America from this Aryan tyranny.

Everything was bigger and better in The New Colossus, with everything from the story to the gunplay receiving a significant overhaul as the player still accomplished the same-old task of mowing down Nazis throughout a whole host of levels.

2 Wolfenstein: Youngblood (2019)

A cutscene in Wolfenstein Youngblood

Given the excellent quality of The New Colossus, fans expected the next chapter in the modern Wolfenstein series to be just as good, if not better. However, Wolfenstein: Youngblood ended up taking the series in a direction that was derided by many.

While Blazkowicz was an intriguing character in his own right, his daughters did not connect with players nearly as well. Along with this, the RPG mechanics coupled with shallow co-op gameplay turned Wolfenstein: Youngblood into an absolute chore to get through at times.

1 Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot (2019)

Wolfenstein Cyberpilot

Wolfenstein's attempt to try out VR gameplay did not turn out to be the success that some of its earlier FPS titles were, with Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot being an abysmally short and unpleasant playing experience.

While it might understandably be challenging to integrate VR into modern games, Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot ends up implementing this gameplay as an on-the-rails shooter, which strays from the elements that made Wolfenstein what it was.

Next: Things You Need To Know Before Playing Wolfenstein: The New Order

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