- Game: Wolfenstein: Youngblood
- Console: PS4, Xbox One (reviewed), Nintendo Switch, PC
- Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
- Developers: MachineGames, Arkane Studios
A Wolfenstein: Youngblood review code was provided by the publisher.
MachineGames’ revival of the Wolfenstein franchise has been fascinating, to say the least. 2014’s The New Order added to the prestige of the first-person shooter OG by presenting a powerfully moving narrative, a cast of characters worth caring about, and intense gunfights. The New Colossus, MachineGames’ 2017 follow-up, improved upon every aspect of its predecessor and pushed the engrossing tale to an even crazier plateau. Fans are most certainly looking forward to witnessing the conclusion of William “B.J.” Blazkowicz’s crusade against the Nazi regime. Before we arrive at that explosive conclusion, MachineGames wants to send everyone on an exciting detour with a friend. That brand new side mission is Wolfenstein: Youngblood, a fun experiment that’s equal parts awesome and frustrating.
Wolfenstein: Youngblood presents a familiar premise while also offering up a few surprising deviations from the series’ long-running formula. One area where this spinoff changes things up is its storytelling. The opening moments of Youngblood revisit the cinematic stylings of the last two games, but the rest of the game doesn’t offer up a whole lot of interesting story beats. It’s a bit of a letdown to see that the attention to detail involving the plot of the previous two Wolfenstein entries isn’t fully adopted here. The more humorous moments of Youngblood are a nice change of pace from the blood and guts dispersed throughout the campaign. It would have been a lot cooler to see more powerfully moving and zany scenes play out, however.
B.J. Blazkowicz actually isn’t in the spotlight this time around – his two twin daughters Jess and Soph Blazkowicz take up the mantle of Nazi killers and resistance members. Alongside their tech genius ally, they head out to Nazi-occupied “Neu-Paris” on a mission to discover their lost father’s whereabouts. Unlike the last two games, you won’t go on this mission alone. Youngblood gives you the option of relying on an AI partner or an online buddy for some blood-gushing firefights. This major change to the formula works surprisingly well – your AI-controlled partner is shockingly reliable and can get you out of a bad spot in no time. The co-op experience is even better when you have a human player aiding your efforts. Youngblood’s style of first-person shooter gameplay is the perfect match for this blood and guts filled co-op excursion.
Taking down the opposition is done in a different manner as well – you can tackle each main and side mission in a non-linear fashion. Youngblood feels similar to The Division in a way due to its approach to progression. You accept missions from resistance members, then move out to assorted hub areas in order to see them out to completion. This method largely works for the most part, but it definitely has its issues. Returning to the same areas in a repeated fashion can get a little tiresome, plus the constantly recycled side endeavors that pop up while you’re out on the field quickly become a nuisance. Planting a bomb inside a car for the umpteenth time gets real old, real fast. Thankfully, the main missions offer up some fun situations that play out in climactic fashion. You’ll quickly find yourself saying “one more mission” just so you can locate new secrets and unlock new areas with your mission sensitive arsenal and hidden numerical codes.
Youngblood’s biggest mechanical switch-up is most evident in the way you improve your chosen twin sister. An RPG-like leveling system has been implemented into this experience, which is a lot better than you’d think. Enemies now have levels and life bars attached to them, which means you’ll need to make use of the right weapons and abilities in order to wipe them out. Your character constantly levels up and gets access to unlockable skills and skins. The game’s currency system is pretty generous, so you’ll regularly find yourself adding new abilities to your character’s growing repertoire. The addition of an active emote that offers a quick boost to you and your ally is one of the cooler adjustments made to the standout gunplay.
While the RPG-lite mechanics stand out in a few positive ways, there are a few problems that prevent it from being labeled a full triumph. Having to purchase a weapon skin for a firearm even though you previously unlocked it for another one is silly, plus the presence of microtransactions is unnecessary. Youngblood gives players the option to use premium currency and purchase timed-boosts that give you and your co-op buddy an extra kick. But the game’s rewarding leveling system and a healthy serving of stat- and weapon-boosting coins make the game’s microtransactions completely worthless. Youngblood’s running and gunning work just fine without forced paid mechanics, so here’s hoping the next Wolfenstein moves away from such an unneeded mechanic.
Wolfenstein: Youngblood Takeaways
As a side project, Wolfenstein: Youngblood comes off better than expected. It retains the top-notch gunplay, standout humor, and wonderfully designed stages of the rebooted entries in the series. The way it incorporates light RPG mechanics and a non-linear approach to stage progression are also commendable. However, Youngblood’s lack of a moving tale and less prominent cinematic touch is disappointing. Plus the game’s constantly repeating side missions and non-endearing microtransactions are also a sore spot. Even still, Youngblood’s fun factor and co-op gameplay make it a worthwhile summer blockbuster experience.
Our Wolfenstein: Youngblood Review Score: 8 out of 10