When Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus released it was praised for its technical and visual achievements. MachineGames and Bethesda managed to deliver a visually impressive title with tight mechanics. All that resulted in a beautiful game that played incredibly well. Since we had already witnessed what MachineGames was capable of doing, expectations were high for Wolfenstein: Youngblood. The newest entry in the Wolfenstein series was announced to be co-op focused spin-off that had the daughters of the infamous B.J. Blazkowicz, a.k.a. Terror-Billy as protagonists. Did the apples fell close to the tree? Or are the Blazkowicz sisters far from their dad’s legacy?
The Blazcowicz siblings and their adventure
The story of both Jessica and Sophia is a pretty straightforward one. For starters, the game takes place twenty years after the events of The New Colossus. B.J. is missing after he mysteriously leaves his house for what appears to be a mission. The twin sisters learn about him being missing thanks to a conversation they eavesdrop between their mother and Grace Walker, now the director of the FBI. As they learn this, they almost immediately discover leads of their father’s whereabouts thanks to Abby, Grace’s daughter. And so, Jess, Sophi, and Abby embark in their quest to find Terror-Billy a.k.a. Dad.
The story, as you can already take from the previous paragraph, is pretty different from what you are used in a Wolfenstein game. It is less grim, with some plot events even close to being borderline fantastic or way too lucky to be true. Yes, Wolfenstein is a work of fiction, but, it has always had a serious tone and pace. Wolfenstein: Youngblood strips that almost entirely and delivers an entertaining, fresh story with dark humor undertones.
The story is predictable, and some plot twists are pretty evident from the very beginning. Even with that into account, the new narrative approach is not bad at all. Yes, the sisters can be annoying and infantile sometimes, yet, they have some pretty funny moments that give you another perspective of the Wolfenstein universe.
A whole new world for Wolfenstein
Wolfenstein: Youngblood refreshed not only narrative games but also the entire mission scheme and world structure. The game is linear for the introduction portion of the game. After that, the sisters can approach side-quests and main missions as they see fit. You have the freedom to visit several areas of a Nazi ruled Neu-Paris. Each area has a primary objective, and you decide what area you want to try to clear out first or what sidequest you want to tackle from an area that serves as the main hub. From the beginning, the game allows you to double-jump, and the speedy, action-fueled combat Wolfenstein is famous for can be thoroughly enjoyed here.
You no longer have just the narrow and grayish tunnels and train wagons that were predominant in Wolfenstein: The New Colossus. There are plenty of open areas to explore, colorful streets and a lot more space to be creative with the arsenal you unlock during the game. This freedom and verticality make Wolfenstein: Youngblood entertaining and addictive. It is not perfect, and in some instances, gameplay from The New Colossus feels a little more polished. But even with some minor details like randomly being knocked to the ground by an explosive that seems too far to affect you, the MachineGames and Arkane Studios did a fantastic job at keeping the game speedy and engaging.
Addictive grind to level up
For Wolfenstein: Youngblood, a level-up system and skill tree system was implemented. Every kill and mission completed amass experience that will allow you to level up and gain skill points. The skill tree is pretty straightforward with only three categories and a few perks in each. Youngblood keeps it simple yet entertaining. Even though the system is not even close to what you will see in an actual RPG game, its perks are useful and allow you to tackle the game in a variety of gameplay styles. You can decide to max out perks to play more stealthily or max out the defense and crush perks to become a walking behemoth. As well, you will find silver coins to upgrade your weapons. This system follows the same line as the perk mechanic, being easy to understand and giving each weapon more uniqueness and power.
The leveling system makes it fun to revisit areas and gain experience to unlock new perks. In addition to that, the game dramatically changes depending on the difficulty setting you are playing on. If you amp the difficulty level, you can expect enemies to spawn more frequently and in more significant quantities. From my experience after gearing up the difficulty, I found certain enemy types appearing in sections there were not present before. These changes give Wolfenstein: Youngblood a lot of replayability, especially if you want to play with a friend.
Co-op in Youngblood is excellent. Matchmaking needs some work though, as sometimes you might matchmake with someone who is almost beating the game and you will end up spoiling a lot of the story due to this. If you play with a friend though, it is a blast! I played most of the campaign alone and then replayed it with a friend. It added a lot of fun to the experience. Everything you do with your friend also unlocks and saves on your own save file. This save feature means that you won’t have to be repeating missions to get trophies and collectibles.
Each sister also has a “pep signal.” You can use this ability every certain amount of time, and with a single taunt pose, you can recharge shield or health points for you and your friend. This ability can only be used within a certain radius of your friend, so you have to keep close to survive. These mechanics force cooperation to survive. During gameplay, I experienced a few instances in which the screen froze for a couple of seconds. This tech issue was nothing too repetitive and did not affect gameplay overall.
The game does real honor to its name. The young blood of this to twins add a lot of new possibilities for the world of Wolfenstein. If you take Wolfenstein: Youngblood with the expectations of having the same experience you had with The New Colossus, you might walk out disappointed. But, if you take it as a new angle on the story and characters we already love, it will undoubtedly be an enjoyable ride.
The Blazkowicz sisters might not be everyone’s cup of tea, and yes, they can be childish and annoying with their cliched one-liners. Still, there’s a lot of fun and memorable moments to be experienced through the campaign. Playing this game online with a friend is a blast! Its co-op features and design bring a lot of freshness to the regular Wolfenstein formula. If you have a sense of humor and love the snappy gameplay and action that Wolfenstein is famous for, you are in for a treat with Wolfenstein: Youngblood.