Following the events in Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, BJ Blaskowicz’ twins are now young women tasked with liberating Paris from Nazi rule and finding their father. These young bloods are spunky and quirky in their own right, but their journey doesn’t hold as much substance as those experienced in previous Wolfenstein games…
Killing Nazi’s with MachineGames fast-paced shooting remains cathartic in Wolfenstein: Youngblood, but this is only due to the polished combat and not the story. Previous Wolfenstein‘s gave off themes of despair and hope as several eccentric and badass characters joined together to survive and revolt. Every character, including NPC’s, had their own personal and macro reasons for wanting to eliminate Nazi occupation. Wolfenstein: Youngblood doesn’t have that sort of substance. This is partially due to the lack of cutscenes, minimal NPC’s, and barely fleshed out main characters. The Blaskowicz twins are nothing more than Nazi killing youngsters that throw in some cringy 80’s bro slang. Don’t get me wrong; the cutscenes are done well with some engaging dialogue and good visuals, but there were no “wow” moments as in the previous games.
Fortunately, this game is a nice marriage of MachineGames smooth, fast shooting and Arkane’s stealth and traversing mechanics. It’s clear Arkane was involved as there were a handful of times when this game felt like Dishonored— specifically when performing a stealth kill and finding a hidden entrance through a high window when traversing the map. The only issue with this is not many missions foster stealth. Speaking of stealth, you have an invincibility ability that makes stealth very easy. This came in handy when I wanted to run past the constantly respawning enemies on the map, so I could get to point B without having to fight the same 15 Nazi’s.
Wolfenstein: Youngblood is an excellent shooter and it’s especially fun when playing cooperatively with a friend. You can administer peps to your partner which are essentially health or defense buffs with cooldowns. You can also consistently revive one another, which is handy because you share up to three lives with your partner and if you or your sister die all three times, you’ll have to start from the beginning of the mission. That’s right, no checkpoint and right to the beginning of the level. Going through the level again isn’t as satisfying as let’s say a Dark Souls game, so hopefully the developers change that. No worries though, if you want to play solo, the AI will play as your twin sister and she’s somewhat useful.
Wolfenstein gunplay was always satisfying with the amount of control the player has over the gun, but what Youngblood does differently is add a handful of RPG elements. You buff your characters health, defense, collectible tracking, dodging, dual-wielding, grenade carrying capacity, peps (temporary buffs you can give and receive from your sister), abilities (invincibility/cloak and a charge push/crush), and some more. You can also upgrade your weapons and change their skins. As you level up and upgrade, you’ll be able to fight higher level enemies. Some enemies have bars that are either hollow or filled in, and those bars will need to be matched with the bars on your weapons, to demonstrate which gun is effective against that enemies shield. Yes, you can swap guns on the fly via a weapon wheel. While the RPG mechanics make gameplay more dynamic, it doesn’t do anything unique or better than existing RPG shooters. Wolfenstein gameplay was fine the way it was, but it’s still a good time.
Besides the gunplay, my favorite aspect of this game is the Dishonored-like traversing as mentioned before. What makes exploring each area fun is there’s plenty of hidden paths, open windows high above, and under water places. This game has verticality like Dishonored games, which creates a lot of room for exploration in a relatively small space. The environments don’t have much variety like a snowy or forest-filled area, but they’re very detailed. The amount of details are similar to The Division 2, where one corner of the game can be littered with random things that are cool to encounter. This is especially apparent in the catacombs hub area, which is full of many items made of skulls.
The main story is short but once you finish, there’s plenty of side quests to do, but they’re not very interesting. Instead, you’ll be given fetch quests that’ll have you fight through the same enemies in the same areas, with slightly different objectives. This makes exploration feel redundant.
There were some performance issues that can be patched. Most notably the sound cutting off, which was oddly triggered when you turn on the flashlight. This was so persistent that it took me out of the game and made it hard to listen out for enemies. It’s also unfortunate that anyone who is given access through the buddy system won’t be able to earn trophies or achievements. It’s worth noting there are microtransactions, but it seems to be only for cosmetics and there’s plenty of coins to loot in the world where spending real money isn’t a necessity.
Wolfenstein: Youngblood deviated the series to be something fans never really wanted but it’s still a fun, first person co-op game. The biggest disappointment isn’t that it added light RPG mechanics but that it didn’t have as much of a substantive story and fleshed out characters. For a $30 game with a buddy system, you’ll at the very least have a great time cooperatively blasting Nazi’s heads off. 3/5 Bibles.