I didn’t think I’d be playing, much less reviewing a twenty-year-old game here in 2021, but these are strange times. Return to Castle Wolfenstein came out in 2001 to critical acclaim, and now prolific modder Simon Brown, AKA Dr. Beef, AKA Hero to all Quest players who love old games, has brought it to the Oculus Quest. This actually came out back in August, but with Dr. Beef’s Quest version of Doom 3 just around the corner, I thought it was a perfect time to revisit this old classic.
Now if you want to dive into this throwback nazi-killing gem on the Quest, you’ll need three things: A Quest 1 or 2, an original copy of Return to Castle Wolfenstein, and the ability to navigate Side Quest. I’m assuming you have a Quest, and if you don’t have a copy of the original game, it’s five bucks on Steam and I’d recommend you buy it there. As far as Side Quest goes, I know what you’re thinking: I’m no computer hacking Mr. Robot here, and I have no interest in “side loading” games onto my Quest. Fair enough, but I can assure you, it is extremely easy and literally takes no more than 3 or 4 minutes to set up. If I can do it, anybody can. Trust me. You’ll find the very simple directions on how to get the game running on your Quest at the Return to Castle Wolfenstein Quest page on Side Quest.
And did I mention the Quest port was free? That’s right, you can play the entire game wirelessly from inside your Oculus Quest for the low price of nothing if you already own the original game. If not, it’ll set you back five whole dollars.
Return to Castle Wolfenstein has a million reviews online, so I’m not going to go too deep into a review of the original game other than to say that this excellent Quest version delivers the entire eight to ten-hour campaign, with full 6 degrees of freedom, two-handed weapon handling, full locomotion, smooth turning, left-hand mode, and more. So pretty much everything you’d want from a brand new Quest release. Plus for those who need a little extra comfort, they have somehow managed to add teleport and click turning.
I did have trouble figuring out the controls, but a quick look at the directions from Dr. Beef’s Return to Castle Wolfenstein website cleared this up. You can cycle through the weapons you manage to find by pressing up or down on the left thumbstick, but you can also quick-select some items by utilizing a backpack feature. It’s not as smooth as using the backpack in native VR games like The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners, but it works pretty well. And the fact that they could add this and more to a 20-year-old game blows my mind.
All of the classic WW2 era weapons are available here, including the MP40, the Garande, a few sniper rifles, and more. I was worried that using two hands to control the weapons and aiming down the sights would be wonky considering the original game didn’t need to account for this, but it works great (despite not being able to see your hands) and the iron sights are deadly accurate. Well, except for the MP40, which is totally normal. Using that weapon has always been like shooting with your eyes closed. Physically throwing grenades or using a stabbing motion with a knife isn’t unique for new VR games, but doing these things in a game two decades old honestly feels a bit like black magic.
This is actually my first time in Castle Wolfenstein, and it has been an absolute joy. The campaign has definitely stood the test of time, although I’m not sure I would have felt the same if it wasn’t in VR. If you’ve already played through the flat version, then it honestly might be even more impressive to be inside a world you had only previously experienced flat. Either way, for five dollars or less, you owe it to yourself to step inside this twenty-year-old world to blast these monsters, both human and inhuman, back to hell.
Return to Castle Wolfenstein Quest Review
Overall - Very Good - 7.5/10
Sure, Return to Castle Wolfenstein looks a bit dated, but that makes little difference when you’re inside the headset. It’s got a full campaign with levels that make sense, a bunch of cool weapons to fire at a bunch of iconic enemies. Seriously, this is everything that made the original great, but in VR. What’s not to love?
- It’s Return to Castle Wolfenstein in VR
- Dr. Beef’s mod is a great way to play the game again or for the first time
- It’s a free mod that is super easy to install
- Not having hands is weird
- The multiplayer isn’t available
- You need to set up Side Quest to play it
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