The rebooted Wolfenstein series has more than proven itself over the past three entries and serve as some of the most fun shooters currently available on any platform. The seemingly endless adventures of series protagonist, B.J. Blazkowicz, has provided countless hours of equal parts zany Nazi killing and sombre war-time narratives. But Wolfenstein: Youngblood looks to shake up the formula by not only being the first game to offer co-op, but also by moving the narrative about 20 years into the future, long after the events of The New Colossus.
Perhaps even more unique to Youngblood is that B.J. isn’t the protagonist at all, and he’s gone missing. The game casts players as his two daughters on a mission to find where he’s gone, and whether you like the two ladies depends largely on your tolerance of cringe. I found them funny and likeable enough, and with the game taking a fairly comical tone, their goofy antics serve as an amusing tonal balance after slaughtering thousands of Nazis. There’s nothing particularly exciting going on with the story here, but lovable supporting characters and the setting of Neu-Paris more than make up for the simplicity of the core narrative.
Youngblood is easily a 15 hour game with plenty of side-missions and collectibles to keep you busy. While much of the game takes place in only a handful of open-ended levels, each one feels distinct enough to warrant the frequent backtracking. Levels are usually very vertical in nature to fit a lot of content within them, and like games such as Dark Souls or Zelda, they typically feature cool shortcuts that unlock as you navigate through the sometimes maze-like interiors. This excellent use of space allows the developers to keep you in a level for a long time while continuously doling out new portions to explore.
The buttery smooth gunplay we all know and love makes a return here with a few notable additions. The sisters are packing some pretty nifty suits that allow for double jumping, temporary cloaking, and some other unique moves that give you options for tackling enemy threats. The simple perk system does a fine job of meeting the RPG-lite criteria we’ve all seen before, giving you some options for things like increased health, new moves, or even an ability to see the game’s nearly 200 collectibles on your map. Meanwhile, the ability to customize your weapons with a suite of manufacturer upgrades allows for each player to build their guns up to meet their playstyle. Whether you value damage, versatility, or extended ammo mags, there’s a manufacturer for everyone. Buying all of the upgrades from a specific manufacturer will give you additional perks, so if you want to focus on dealing raw damage, you can snag all of those upgrades and know you’re ready to blow through some Nazis.
Youngblood is clearly designed for co-op, with plenty of doors that require you both to be there to open, and a lot of two-lane interior areas obviously designed for cooperative flanking. Additionally, you can use the game’s Pep system to send each other temporary health or armor boosts on a cooldown, leading to some last second saves in tough situations. Working together to take down massive enemies isn’t anything new, but it’s all very well done here. The game even allows you both to play on different difficulty settings without influencing one another’s experience.
While things are usually perfectly enjoyable solo as well, the companion AI sometimes lags behind at random times, especially when you’re waiting at a door that requires you both to open. Luckily, it fares better in dire situations, as I never had to wait long for my sister to rush over and pick me up when I’d gone down for the count. Thanks to a nifty shared lives feature, you can even bleed out and still get a chance to come back in up to three times. There are plenty of crates to replenish those three lives and keep you cheating death, so even when the difficulty spikes, you’ve always got a little bit of leeway.
The most irritating aspect of solo play, however, is that your companion often steals kills you’re trying to farm for weapon leveling. Considering weapons require and asinine amount of kills to reach max level, it really sucks to waste all of your bullets on an enemy just for your sister to get the last shot and effectively halt your leveling progress. It’s already tough enough to sit through farming hundreds and hundreds of kills – something clearly designed to force you to grind.
And grinding you’ll do. Even after doing every side-mission in the game and reaching level 55, I had only maxed out two guns and was still missing plenty of character upgrades. But this is part of Youngblood’s design philosophy – with daily and weekly quests to complete, the developers are seeking to make the game a long-term title on your play list without really offering meaningful reasons for doing so. Perhaps adding in more narrative missions or simply making these daily and weekly quests more substantial than “Go here, kill this” could’ve elevated Youngblood into the same category as something like The Division or Destiny. But after the credits roll and all of the side-missions have been wrapped up, there’s no long term goals or upcoming additions to make grinding worth it all.
Thankfully, unless you’re a trophy hunter, you won’t find much reason to grind thousands of kills to max everything out anyways. I had seen everything there was to see by the time I wrapped up the main story and a few remaining side-missions, and I felt satisfied knowing I’d maxed out the few guns that actually mattered to me. I was able to remove Youngblood from my console having fully completed a finely-tuned $30 experience with the polish and length of a $60 game – and that’s worth celebrating.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Wolfenstein: Youngblood Review
Gameplay - 8/10
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 8/10
Replay Value - 8/10
User Review( votes)
Wolfenstein: Youngblood looks to shake up the formula by not only being the first game to offer co-op, but also by moving the narrative about 20 years into the future, long after the events of The New Colossus.