Wolfenstein: Youngblood Review — Old Meets New

Youngblood is no New Colossus, but it offers something fresh and new, even though that alone may turn away lots of old-time fans of the series.

As the grandfather of the FPS genre, Wolfenstein has always been considered one of the best shooter series in the world. Aside from competitive multiplayer, the Wolfenstein games have always been single-player games. However, modern times dictate a different approach.

From the very beginning, Wolfenstein: Youngblood has been marketed to audiences as a kind of experiment. This time around, it's not just your typical Nazi-blaster, but a looter-shooter with a hefty handful of RPG elements.

This isn't Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus or Wolfenstein: The New Order. There's no B.J. Blazkowicz; instead, the narrative tells the story of two completely different characters, although they're irrevocably tied to the old Nazi killer.

Story and Setting

Things begin when Blazkowicz suddenly disappears in Nazi-occupied Paris. His two daughters, Jessie and Zophia, set off, as one does, to find him. After they arrive in France, the La Resistance group immediately takes the twins under their protection and even vaguely hints at the possible location of B.J., which spurns the twin sisters forward.

The game's beginning is actually quite intriguing, but then you begin to realize that story doesn't play a big role in Youngblood, and that B.J.'s daughters aren't like their father at all. They can't take anything seriously, and to them, the whole idea of war seems more like a game.

In general, the scope of the story is much smaller than the narratives found in previous Wolfenstein games, and the tone tends to lean away from the serious; much of what here seems to be here for pure entertainment this time around.

Now it's all about character progression and gathering trophies and achievements.

On the other hand, the game's visual representation is superb. Bethesda manages to believably convey the eerie aesthetics of alternative history, where the Nazis have ruled over the world for many years after the alternate WW2 we've come to know throughout the series.

Location design is extremely well done, with a lot of ways to enter and leave buildings, which is great for players who prefer to sneak up on enemies instead of running through a location guns blazing, although that's certainly still here as well. 

Gameplay Mechanics

New Enemies

Youngblood's basic mechanics have not changed much since New Colossus. Many enemies from New Colossus have returned, including ordinary soldiers, ubersoldats, snipers, robot dogs, and many others you'd expect to see in Nazi-occupied Paris.

However, some enemies have become stronger and are now protected by barriers in addition to their armor. There are two types of barriers in the game, and each requires a different approach. For example, armor-piercing weapons will do nothing to a soft barrier, but they will obliterate a hard barrier. 

Adding a small wrinkle to gameplay, you most certainly will have to change weapons more often, whether in firefights or when engaging a single enemy. 

In the 20 years between Youngblood and New Colossus, the Nazis have significantly improved their defenses, as well. One of the enhanced types of enemies in Youngblood are commanders, which are now equipped with much better weapons, and, as always, ought to be killed first. Otherwise, they will alert other soldiers.

Besides commanders you will see flying drones and new kinds of robots with high-tech weapons, which you can pick up as well. 

Compulsory Co-Op

Wolfenstein: Youngblood is the first game in the series to offer co-operative campaign play. Both sisters can be used in co-operative mode, however, they both have the same skill trees and weapons. It's a missed opportunity to flesh out both characters and give players the opportunity to synergize abilities and skills.

While a Buddy Pass code comes with the Deluxe Edition of the game at the release, making sure that players who buy the edition will have a friend to play with, playing the game in co-op is not required. Without another real-life player, the super helpful AI simply takes over. 

Predominantly concerned with keeping you alive, Youngblood's AI will revive you if you go down. It's a really cool feature, and it makes playing with AI totally worth it.

RPG Elements

Skill trees and other character progression elements have been present in the Wolfenstein series before, but not to such an extent as in Youngblood. Here, players can't contend with enemies several levels above their own. This system basically forces you to complete side missions to progress to the required level.

You can repeat the same missions over and over again to grind for a certain perk or weapon upgrade. But for many players, such a system is a nuisance, and it flies in the face the quick gameplay previous Wolfenstein games are known for.

Making matters worse, enemies also tend to respawn in the same locations, which makes the whole idea of clearing an area increasingly pointless. 

Microtransactions

It has to be mentioned that Wolfenstein: Youngblood has microtransactions and in-game currency, which can be earned by completing missions. But fortunately, MTXs don't influence important gameplay elements and are used solely for cosmetics.

Pros:

  • Gorgeous, atmospheric open world
  • Well-designed locations
  • Weapons feel more powerful
  • Feels less casual than previous games

Cons:

  • Too much grinding for character progression
  • Lack of plot development and no big story
  • Protagonists can be annoying at times

Wolfenstein: Youngblood indeed offers a somewhat fresh look at the long-running franchise. The gunplay is basically the same, but grinding and RPG elements do make the game feel slightly different from the rest of the games.

Long-time fans of the series will probably dislike Youngblood for the compulsory co-op and disappearance of B.J. Blazkowicz from the primary action. Many players may not like the RPG elements that require a good deal of grinding in a game that was marketed as the continuation of New Colossus.

An open-world design and side quests are fine, but that's not exactly what players expected from the new Wolfenstein.

If you're a Wolfenstein purist who adored the single-player aspect of the previous games, or you are attached to B.J. Blazkowicz, then chances are you might not like Youngblood.

But if you don't care about any of that, and new quirky characters with their own brand of original humor excite you, then it's definitely a shooter you need to try out.

[Note: A copy of Wolfenstein: Youngblood was provided by Bethesda Softworks for the purpose of this review.]

Our Rating
7
Youngblood is no New Colossus, but it offers something fresh and new, even though that alone may turn away lots of old-time fans of the series.
Reviewed On: PC

Correspondent

Sergey has been a freelancer in the video games industry for more than five years, writing for various publications around the world. His favorite games are MtG, Dark Souls, Diablo, and Divinity: Original Sin. Sergey doesn't own consoles because a PC is all he needs.

Published Aug. 5th 2019

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