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Wolfenstein: The Old Blood - Everything You Need to Know

Once more unto the breach, dear Führer. Wolfenstein: The Old Blood returns first-person-shooter fans to the iconic Castle Wolfenstein, where they'll embark on a Nazi-blasting adventure that serves as a prequel to last year's blockbuster hit Wolfenstein: The New Order.

The Old Blood retains the mix of stealth and guns-blazing combat that made The New Order one of our favorites among last year's games, while introducing new mechanics, story elements and, most importantly, a sawed-off shotgun. In order to get you as prepared as possible for B.J. Blazkowicz's latest journey, we spoke to Machine Games' Senior Game Designer Arcade Berg, who helped us break down everything you need to know about one of this summer's most anticipated shooters.

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What Is Wolfenstein: The Old Blood?

Wolfenstein: The Old Blood is a World War II-flavored first-person shooter that serves as a standalone prequel to 2014's Wolfenstein: The New Order. It's available digitally for $20 on PS4, Xbox One and Steam.

What's the Story of the Game?

In last year's The New Order, the Nazis won World War II and turned the entire globe into a bleak, harrowing dictatorship. The Old Blood brings you back to that fateful war, putting you back in the shoes of series star B.J. Blazkowicz as he takes on the Nazi hordes in an alternate-history version of 1946 Germany.

The first half of the game tasks you with infiltrating Castle Wolfenstein and trying to snag the coordinates to the compound of General Deathshead, the franchise big bad who served as the main boss of The New Order.

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The second half of The Old Blood promises a callback to the more occult elements found in games such as 2001's Return to Castle Wolfenstein. You'll eventually find yourself up against a crazed Nazi archaeologist who's dead set on awakening evil powers, and, well … that simply can't end on a good note.

The Old Blood spans eight chapters in total, and will end right where The New Order began.

Why a Prequel?

According to Berg, The Old Blood's prequel narrative is designed to both flesh out The New Order's backstory and provide a welcoming entry point for first-time players.

"There was more story left to tell," said Berg. "We wanted to answer things like, 'How did we get to where we are?'"

Berg notes that while players can easily begin with The Old Blood and transition seamlessly into The New Order, there are plenty of foreshadowing moments in the prequel for those who played last year's game.

What's New, Gameplay-Wise?

"In short, almost all of it!" said Berg. "Your whole weapon arsenal is new with an updated assault rifle, heavier shotguns, a precision rifle and even a rocket-firing handgun."

We can't wait to test the latter. Blazkowicz will also make frequent use of his trusty new pipe, which is essential to both combat and traversal.

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"The pipe is an extraordinarily brutal tool when used correctly," said Berg. "It's also used for progression, like climbing walls, prying open doors and more."

The Old Blood will retain The New Order's perk system, which offered players different rewards based on how stealthily, or aggressively, they played. Berg noted that the game's maps have been increased in size to provide even more ways to tackle a room full of Nazis. 

Do I Need Wolfenstein: The New Order to Play The Old Blood?

Nope! The Old Blood is completely standalone, meaning you can dive into it regardless of whether or not you own The New Order.

"We want everyone to be able to play it, both new fans and old," said Berg. "Given the scope of the narrative, the additions to gameplay and the volume of new content … it just made sense to have it stand on its own two legs."

There's no special in-game bonus for The Old Blood if you have previously played The New Order, but Berg promises plenty of story references aimed at veteran players. 

Is There Multiplayer in The Old Blood?

No. Like The New Order, The Old Blood is a dedicated single-player experience.

Is The Old Blood a Digital-Only Release?

The Old Blood is digital-only in the states, though players in Europe can pick up a boxed version of the game on May 15, while fans in Australia and New Zealand can get a physical copy on May 14.

Mike Andronico is an associate editor at Tom's Guide. Follow Mike @MikeAndronico and on Google+. Follow us @TomsGuide, on Facebook and on Google+