Wolfenstein: Youngblood seemed like a weird direction for the series when it was first announced at E3 2018. A few decades ago, the series was hailed as one of the original FPS games alongside DOOM and Quake, but it has now shifted to being a more story-driven experience with lengthy single-player campaigns that make you feel the grit and gore first-hand.
The game takes place 19 years after the events of the previous game, Wolfenstein: The New Colossus, in which you play as one of BJ Blazkowicz’s two daughters: Jess and Soph. Things kick off shortly after BJ disappears, prompting a good old-fashioned rescue mission.
Surprisingly, the first 10 minutes or so of my roughly 45-minute long preview session was all a cutscene. While technically not entirely required, you’re really gonna’ want to have played the last two games to follow what’s going on here.
You’re introduced to the characters as they’re training with their father, learning how to hunt, fight, and shoot for survival. This is a very dark and dangerous world, and it’s the only life these young women have ever known, so seeing some real humanity behind the characters before it turns into a Nazi murdering simulator was nice to see.
I’m still not sure I like either daughter very much, though. I can’t remember which one is which since they’re twins with different hair colors and frankly sound almost identical. The blonde is first seen hitting a punching bag to train while the dark-haired one is hunting with BJ. They bicker and tease each other like siblings, fostering a real sense of camaraderie, but at times, the tongue-in-cheek humor felt a bit over-the-top.
Since I’m not sure exactly how the story picks up from the last one just yet, it’s hard to nail down the setting exactly, but it seems like some areas of the world are still under Nazi control while others have been liberated. The sisters are being trained as Nazi-killing machines, which does imply at least a large faction of Nazis are still out there doing Nazi things.
The Blazkowicz Sisters
In the last two Wolfenstein games, BJ was a mostly silent and extremely stoic, serious hero that clashed directly with the game’s often bombastic tone. It resulted in some almost accidental comedy through pure contrast, but now that the main characters share that same attitude and literally giggle about things going on, I found it a bit distracting. That being said, had I been playing with a friend I knew rather than another random journalist, I may have had more fun with it.
Luckily, the gameplay more than makes up for it. It’s much faster than I expected with liberal sprint uses, a double jump, wall jumps, and a really nifty slide that made zipping under cover extremely fluid.
Since I only played as one of the sisters, I could be wrong here, but I didn’t really notice a big difference between the two. I’m also not sure how it will play as a single-player game, but I’d imagine your sister will just be an AI-controlled companion in that case since the entire game and story are heavily focused on the duo traveling together.
There was a great variety of weapons on display from shotguns and pistols to SMGs and assault rifles. They all felt great and had different recoil patterns to get used to.
One thing I really appreciated is that Wolfenstein: Youngblood seems to be a good bit more challenging than the previous two games. Rather than just mowing through enemies as you run from the start of a mission to the end, we actually had to strategize about how to approach areas that were full of enemies. Lots of armored goons showed up as road blocks, and we often needed to split up to divide and conquer.
There was a lot of variety in the types of weapons that enemies used, such as the massive flame attacks from the big guys and the medium-sized shotgun guards. The boss fight at the end of the first mission we tried required a few tries before we were actually able to take him down. Mobility was key since he could easily take one of us out in a matter of seconds.
The freedom of movement was a huge part of the gameplay, and it makes for quite the spectacle. Double-jumping through the air, climbing up onto platforms, sliding across the floor, and switching weapons on the fly was really intense and felt almost like a Respawn shooter moreso than it did a Wolfenstein game.
I’m still not sure how Wolfenstein: Youngblood will translate for single-player gamers, but it was a blast in co-op. If you’ve got a buddy to play it with, this looks like a great option for Nazi killing fun.
Wolfenstein: Youngblood releases very soon, next month, on July 26 for PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Switch.
For more E3 coverage, check the links below:
- Square Enix Showcase Recap
- Nintendo E3 Direct Recap
- Ubisoft Showcase Recap
- PC Gaming Show Highlights
- Microsoft Showcase Recap
- Bethesda Showcase Recap
- More E3 2019 Coverage