Whether it’s id Software’s iconic rendition of Castle Wolfenstein or MachineGames' modern reinvention of the series, the Wolfenstein franchise has long been one of gaming’s most influential shooters. The series has cemented itself a defining action staple that helped forge the FPS genre as we know it today.
Its world and story have evolved dramatically over the years too. From battling “Mecha-Hitler” in the dungeons of Wolfenstein 3D to holding off hordes of zombified mutants in Return to Castle Wolfenstein, the franchise has strayed far from its humble beginnings as a World War 2 stealth-action game, veering into high-concept sci-fi and even the occult. For those wondering how each entry in the series fits together, we’ve got you covered. Below, we’ll list all of the Wolfenstein entries in chronological order, so newcomers won't miss a single piece of BJ Blazkowicz’s story.
- Muse Software Timeline
- The 3D Timeline
- Return to Castle Wolfenstein Timeline
- MachineGames Timeline
- Wolfenstein Release Order
How Many Wolfenstein Games Are There?
There are a total of 14 Wolfenstein games: 5 on home consoles, 7 on PC, 1 on VR platforms and 1 on mobile devices. There has yet to be an announcement about any more upcoming games in the series.
Wolfenstein Games in Chronological Order
Before we get started, it’s worth noting Wolfenstein is widely considered to be spread across four different timelines. Each time the series was rebooted, the continuity was changed. Although some events do cross between timelines, the stories of each iteration conflict so often that many consider them to take place in separate universes.
The only game that appears to sit outside of these timelines is Wolfenstein RPG, which released on mobile devices back in 2008. Offering a light-hearted take on BJ Blazkowicz’s adventures, this more comical reimagining of Return to Castle Wolfenstein seemingly stands on its own.
The Muse Software Timeline
Below, we’ll list all the games in the Muse Software Wolfenstein timeline. This chronicles the first two games in the series, which were top-down stealth action games developed by Muse Software. These blurbs contain mild spoilers for each game, including characters, settings, and story beats.
1. Castle Wolfenstein
The first entry in the Wolfenstein franchise, Castle Wolfenstein follows a nameless spy captured by the Nazis during the Second World War. Trapped in the dungeons of Castle Wolfenstein, they meet a dying prisoner that gives them a pistol and some grenades, providing all they need to stage a daring escape.
Castle Wolfenstein’s central premise revolves around the player amassing several key items needed to break out of the titular castle. A secondary objective was to find the Nazis’ secret battle plans, which would allow them to access higher difficulties. As the premise suggests, Castle Wolfenstein ends with the spy escaping the castle.
2. Beyond Castle Wolfenstein
Following on from the previous game, the Beyond Castle Wolfenstein plot follows the nameless spy from Castle Wolfenstein as they put together a plan to assassinate Hitler while he delivers a speech to his most trusted officers in a hidden bunker.
The spy has to track down a bomb within the bunker and use it to kill Hitler, defeating, bribing and tricking the Nazi soldiers guarding the base to complete their mission.
The 3D Timeline
Below, we’ll list all the games in id Software’s 3D timeline. This chronicles the first set of games developed by id Software after they took over the series and rebooted it as a first-person shooter. These blurbs contain mild spoilers for each game, including characters, settings, and story beats.
1. Wolfenstein 3D: Spear of Destiny
An expansion released for Wolfenstein 3D, Spear of Destiny acts as a prequel to the base game, following BJ Blazkowicz as he attempts to stop Hitler and the Nazis from acquiring the titular Spear of Destiny.
The journey takes him to Castle Nuremberg, where he’s forced to battle mutants, Nazi officers and even demons in his efforts to reclaim the spear. The story concludes with BJ escaping the castle.
2. Wolfenstein 3D: Original Encounter
A second expansion released for Wolfenstein 3D, Original Encounter’s placement on the timeline is never fully clarified, although is widely believed to fall somewhere between Spear of Destiny and Wolfenstein 3D.
The expansion chronicles Blazkowicz’s first run-in with Hitler, as well as battles against several other Wolfenstein villains, including Hans Grosse and the Death Knight.
3. Wolfenstein 3D
The first Wolfenstein game developed by id Software, Wolfenstein 3D follows BJ Blazkowicz as he continues his efforts to take down the Nazis. The story takes place over six episodes, with each seeing Blazkowicz head to a new location with a unique objective.
The first three episodes surround Blazkowicz’s efforts to escape confinement in Castle Wolfenstein, end the mysterious Operation Eisenfaust and infiltrate Hitler’s bunker to assassinate him. All three episodes take place at the end of the 3D timeline, focusing on Blazkowicz’s attempt to end the war once and for all.
The second set of episodes act as a prequel. Known as Nocturnal Missions, the episodes see Blazkowicz hunting down a high-ranking Nazi official named General Fettgesicht, who is developing powerful chemical weapons to use against the Nazis’ enemies.
The Return to Castle Wolfenstein Timeline
Below, we’ll list all the games in id Software’s Return to Castle Wolfenstein timeline. This chronicles the second set of games developed by id Software after the studio rebooted the series in the early 2000s. These blurbs contain mild spoilers for each game, including characters, settings, and story beats.
1. Return to Castle Wolfenstein
The beginning of id Software’s rebooted take on Wolfenstein, Return to Castle Wolfenstein follows BJ Blazkowicz on a journey to thwart a mysterious plan devised by a team of occult Nazi specialists known as the German SS Paranormal Division.
Along the way, Blazkowicz learns of an ancient ritual that can resurrect the dead, with the Nazis hoping to use it for their gain. To stop the plan, BJ must journey across the country, battling soldiers and monsters while exploring Castle Wolfenstein and various other Nazi-occupied locations.
During the events of the game, BJ meets a Nazi scientist known as Deathshead, who he learns is the mastermind behind many of the group’s most sinister plans. By the end of the game, Deathshead escapes BJ’s clutches and lives to fight another day, cementing himself as one of the core villains of the Wolfenstein franchise going forward.
2. Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory
Initially conceived as a multiplayer expansion to Return to Castle Wolfenstein, Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory later became a full-fledged online spin-off to the series. It sees players take on the role of an Allies or Axis soldier as they battle against each other in all-out warfare.
The game has no real story implications, although it was spawned from Return to Castle Wolfenstein and appears to take place in the same universe.
3. Wolfenstein (2009)
Set years after Return to Castle Wolfenstein, Wolfenstein (2009) sees BJ Blazkowicz undertake a new mission, this time heading to the fictional German city of Isenstadt.
After discovering a mysterious medallion with ethereal powers, Blazkowicz learns that the necklace is of grave importance to the Nazis, who have secret plans to use a rare resource known as Nachtsonne to unlock its true powers. Nachtsonne can only be mined in Isenstadt, forcing BJ to head to the town and figure out what his enemies are up to.
Along the way, the Nazis' plans grow clearer, as Blazkowicz learns about the medallion's relationship with a supernatural barrier between worlds known as The Veil. To make matters worse, he realises that General Deathshead will stop at nothing to access whatever’s beyond the Veil, causing the two to face off once more.
The MachineGames’ Timeline
Below, we’ll list all the entries in the MachineGames reboot timeline. This chronicles every game developed by MachineGames and is the current canon of the series.
It’s worth noting that the continuity of MachineGames’ Wolfenstein universe is confusing, with a lot of its lore taking bits and pieces from the other timelines leading up to this point. Initially, the reboot appears to be a continuation of the Return to Castle Wolfenstein timeline, featuring many of the same characters and direct references to events from that universe.
However, other parts of its story directly contradict that of Return to Castle Wolfenstein and Wolfenstein (2009). Considering Wolfenstein: Old Blood is a reimagining of the Return to Castle Wolfenstein storyline with several tweaks and changes, it’s widely accepted that the latest reboot takes place in a separate continuity.
These blurbs contain mild spoilers for each game, including characters, settings, and story beats.
1. Wolfenstein: The Old Blood
A standalone expansion to New Order that takes place months prior to its story, Old Blood is essentially a reimagining of the events of Return to Castle Wolfenstein. It sees BJ and his ally, Richard Wesley, infiltrate Castle Wolfenstein to learn the location of Deathshead’s compound.
Along the way, BJ stumbles into something far stranger, learning that the leader of the SS Paranormal division, Helga Von Shabbs, is hoping to infiltrate the nearby crypt of King Otto in search of a precious artefact. It’s not long before Blazkowicz is dragged into the conflict, pursuing Shabbs before she can unleash the paranormal secrets contained within the crypt to aid the Nazis’ attempts to take over the world.
The ending of the story directly sets up the events of Wolfenstein: The New Order, with BJ learning the location of Deathshead’s compound and vowing to stop him.
2. Wolfenstein: The New Order
Wolfenstein: The New Order opens with BJ Blazkowicz assaulting Deathshead’s compound during the final days of the Second World War as our hero loses dramatically after he’s captured by the sadistic Nazi scientist. Tortured and forced to watch an ally die, BJ escapes but at a heavy cost, falling into a coma after a stray piece of shrapnel collides with the back of his skull.
Fourteen years later, Blazkowicz wakes up in a Polish asylum to discover that his worst fears have come true. The Nazis won the war, took over the world and crushed any resistance that opposed them. Escaping with the help of his former nurse, Anya, BJ travels to Berlin and reunites with his former friends, vowing to bring down the Nazis and save the world.
The ensuing story sees Blazkowicz become a symbol of the resistance, taking the fight to Deathshead and his two highest-ranking officers: Frau Engel and Hans Winkle. The story ends with BJ fighting for his life after suffering life-threatening wounds while infiltrating Deathshead’s compound.
Read our review of Wolfenstein: The New Order
3. Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus
Picking up five months later, The New Colossus begins as BJ Blazkowicz wakes from another coma, finding himself on the Uboat stolen by the resistance during the explosive finale of New Order. Before he can get reacquainted with his friends, the boat is attacked by Nazis, with BJ learning that a vengeful Frau Engel has filled the void left by the now-deceased Deathshead.
After Engel kills one of his closest allies, BJ and the resistance escape with the help of Engel’s daughter, Sigrun, although our protagonist is in rough shape. Still feeling the lasting effects of his battle with Deathshead, BJ realises that he’s in a race against time, with his deteriorating body bound to eventually fail him.
This cues an adventure to stop Frau Engel, with BJ heading to New York, Texas, Washington DC and more as he attempts to build a resistance to fight back against the Nazi regime.
4. Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot
Twenty years after Wolfenstein: The New Colossus and a week before the events of Wolfenstein: Youngblood, Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot marks the franchise’s first venture into the VR space. It follows a Nazi-built combat robot called Cyberpilot, which fights for the French resistance after being reprogrammed by Maria Laurent.
The robot's abilities allow it to hack into and control other machines, meaning it can possess Panzerhunds, drones, Zitadelles and other Nazi technology. The short experience mostly sets up the events of Youngblood, diving deeper into the French resistance’s battle with the Nazis.
5. Wolfenstein: Youngblood
Set one week after Cyberpilot, Wolfenstein: Youngblood follows BJ Blazkowicz and Anya’s twin daughters: Jessica and Zofia. Taking place in the 80s after most of the world has managed to free itself from Nazi control, it follows the pair searching for their father after he disappears while on a mission in France.
The pair embark on a perilous journey, connecting with the local French resistance and helping them fight back against the Nazis. Along the way, they learn that BJ infiltrated a hidden facility known as Lab X. Hellbent on saving their father, the twins aid the resistance while attempting to track down the lab and discover BJ’s location.
Read our review of Wolfenstein: Young Blood.
How to Play the Wolfenstein Games by Release Date
- Castle Wolfenstein (1981)
- Beyond Castle Wolfenstein (1984)
- Wolfenstein 3D (1992)
- Wolfenstein 3D: Spear of Destiny (1992)
- Wolfenstein 3D: Original Encounter (1992)
- Return to Castle Wolfenstein (2001)
- Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory (2003)
- Wolfenstein RPG (2008)
- Wolfenstein (2009)
- Wolfenstein: The New Order (2014)
- Wolfenstein: The Old Blood (2016)
- Wolfenstein: The New Colossus (2017)
- Wolfenstein: Youngblood (2019)
- Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot (2019)
What’s Next for Wolfenstein?
MachineGames has yet to announce what’s next for the Wolfenstein franchise, although it seems likely that the team will eventually work on a sequel. Back in 2018, Pete Hines was very enthusiastic about a potential follow-up, telling GameCentral: “Absolutely we’re making a Wolfenstein III.”
However, things have changed slightly for the studio in the years since, with MachineGames announcing that it’s currently working on an Indiana Jones game. With New Colossus and Youngblood leaving a lot of space for a continuation of the story, it seems fans will have to hold on a little longer to see if the narrative threads are picked up in a sequel.