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Classic FPS game Return to Castle Wolfenstein is suddenly even better

One of the best FPS games to ever grace PC, the superlative Return to Castle Wolfenstein is now even better via a huge unofficial remaster.

Return to Castle Wolfenstein remaster mod: A hero from classic FPS game Return to Castle Wolfenstein

2001 was an unusual year for FPS games. Corridor shooters of the kind pioneered by Doom, Quake, and the original Half-Life seemed to leave vogue, and instead it was Halo, its larger-scale battlefields, and its heightened sense of ‘realism’ that came to define the genre. Between these two epochs – the freewheeling ‘90s and the more serious ‘00s – lies Return to Castle Wolfenstein. Imaginative but grounded, fast-paced but punishing, one of the best FPS games on PC is now even better thanks to a transformative unofficial remaster mod.

Return to Castle Wolfenstein combines the best of two FPS game decades. Its arsenal, enemy designs, and warsploitation aesthetic are ripped directly from the early years of Silas Warner and id Software. Its level designs and difficulty curve however are more typical of the turn of the century. In the same way Halo, especially with levels like Assault on the Control Room, drops you into a quasi open map and lets you find your own way through, RTCW takes place throughout multipathed towns and villages and rolling European countryside.

You’re not limited to two weapons and the tone is firmly tongue in cheek – this isn’t the kind of ‘reality’ that you’d find in Halo and later CoD and Gears of War. But if you try to run and gun like Doomguy you’ll be dead in seconds. This is what makes Return to Castle Wolfenstein unique, how it elegantly marries two seemingly opposing FPS design sensibilities. And now, it’s suddenly better than ever.

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‘RealRTCW’ is basically a giant, unofficial remaster. High-quality textures and character models, new difficulty levels, an overhauled HUD and UI, and rebalanced AI are just some of the features in this gigantic fan project – and the latest version, 5.0, has just been released. Key weapon models have been completely remade, reloading animations have been similarly transformed, and there’s a new checkpoint system so you don’t have to keep hitting quicksave.

Some of the key maps, including the first boss fight against Olaric, have been redesigned and there’s even a new hub world akin to Deus Ex’s UNATCO headquarters. Here you can test new guns, talk to NPCs, collect sidequests and secrets, and even customize your loadout for your next mission.

And there’s still more. RealRTCW introduces new gameplay mutators that let you adjust central mechanics. In the base game, you regain HP by collecting first-aid kits. In RealRTCW, if you want, you can activate a gradual health regeneration system similar to the likes of modern Call of Duty.

Return to Castle Wolfenstein remaster mod: A man being questioned in classic PC FPS game RTCW

There’s also a modifier for realistic movement that will gradually lower your speed and decrease your jumping height depending on exertion and stamina. Combine that with the new realistic ballistics option, which adjusts the range and effective power of every gun (pistol rounds will dip over medium distances; rifle bullets go much further than shots from your MP40) and you’ve got the most brutal, real-feeling version of RTCW yet. If you want to try the mod for yourself, you can get it right here.

Otherwise, enjoy some more nostalgia with the best old games, or get some of the other best WW2 games available on PC.

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