Wolfenstein 3D’s 20th Birthday. Online Free To Play Version Released To Celebrate…

Wolfenstein 3D by id software, the seminal moment in PC gaming. A game burnt into the retina’s of all people near a PC at the time, has turned 20 years old.

id’s current owners Bethesda Software have joined the original development team to celebrate the occasion. Helping to foster the nostalgia they have made Wolfenstein 3D available free to play online. Currently browser only play with support for version 16 and above of Chrome, Firefox 11 and IE 9, Safari 5.

Also included for your viewing pleasure are two video’s, the first is a 25 minute interview with John Carmack, Wolfenstein 3D’s Director Commentary with an interesting perspective and history of developing the game. The second video is a catchy Wolfenstein mix down, nice work OriginalVMix.

Time to return to the original key mashing fun that was Wolfenstein 3D. Arrows move and x key shoots, z key for the extra damage of strafe fire.

Visit Wolfenstein 3D here. All of the classic aspects of the gameplay have been bought back to life, in this 100% accurate reproduction of the original. Lead the hero William B.J. Blazkowicz through the Castle, escape the Nazi headquarters. Pick-up health and ammo as you rush through corridors firing on mutant Nazi’s and those damn German Sheppard dogs.


Back in the day of DOS running on 386, 486SX or DX processors, a time when a FPU was an optional extra on your CPU, a game was released that would change the world. Or maybe it was simply the first game to come out of a new generation of game developers using the latest technology, in a fast changing industry. Wolfenstein was the first hugely popular first person shooter using a 3D engine. Selling 100,000 copies in the first year through Apogee’s shareware system, it quickly became the highest selling shareware game in history. This number though would be dwarfed by the literally millions of unpaid copies that were created as friends spread the game, it spread like wildfire. Possibly the first piece of software to go viral?

Wolfenstein, and to a greater extent Doom that followed a year after, heralded a shift away from sprites and hand drawn graphics of platformers and top down isometric games. Fully rendered 3D quickly became the dominant technology for games, now a multi-billion dollar industry.

Revolutionary at the time Wolfenstein 3D’s graphics engine the Catacomb 3D engine was originally developed by John Carmack and his team. It was generations ahead of anything else available to home computers (PC, Amiga, Atari etc). With 256 colours, texture mapping and good speed even on slower PC’s it was fundamental to Wolfenstein’s success. The game engine would go on to power many other PC games, Blake Stone, Aliens Gold and Rise of The Triad all made use of various versions of id’s early gaming engines.

Wolfenstein title screen

id realised early on that the software technology they developed for their games was itself worth as much as the game sales. The second engine developed for Doom would go on to power hundreds of games and has been ported to almost every platform.

Now Carmack and his team now produce game engines that are photo-realistic with cinematic movie like qualities. Their latest game Rage uses a million times the processing power of Wolfenstein to produce what could best be described as an interactive Hollywood blockbuster.

The march of technology continues on, momentarily stopping to remember such markers in time as Wolfenstein. Then relentlessly the drum beat resumes and continues on.

Wolfenstein began this drum beat, but is far more than that, it was fun. Hugely popular it was played on every PC, at the office or in your bedroom, everyone was playing Wolfenstein. Can you remember where you were when you first saw Wolfenstein?

Click the link, have a play, you’ll be amazed, games really were that much fun back then.

Reference: Bethesda Wolfenstein 3D Free To Play