REVIEW: Wolfenstein: Youngblood
In the recent Wolfenstein titles, we’ve taken control of B.J Blazkowicz as he blasts his way across Nazi occupied Europe and America. With the newest edition, Wolfenstein: Youngblood, B.J. has been replaced by his twin daughters, Soph and Jess, who are cleaning the city of Paris of its own fascist infestation. Thanks to this new duo dynamic, Wolfenstein: Youngblood is the first game in the series to allow co-op play (or semi-competent AI powered co-op if you want to play solo). Does the introduction of this new gameplay mechanic work in such and iconic single player title? Read on to find out in our review of Wolfenstein: Youngblood.
Not only has Arkane Studios and MachineGames added a new co-op mechanic, now, with its larger ‘open-world’ maps, Wolfenstein: Youngblood has some RPG mechanics included as well. Now, don’t go thinking you’re getting GTA or The Witcher sized open worlds, they’re more ‘large districts’ than anything but you will be able to explore different, more secluded areas of Paris in your playthrough. It’s with this exploration that you can complete side quests, albeit with a small bit of backtracking. We’ve seen titles like Metro Exodus introduce the same open-plan level design, allowing for exploration, and we’re happy to see it introduced into Youngblood too.
With the RPG elements, again, these are pretty light implementations, almost like a proof of concept for future Wolfenstein titles, but what’s on offer here is engaging and adds some diversity to the gunplay. As you go around killing Nazis, you’ll level up and earn ability points and coins. Using the points will help you upgrade either of the twins (which ever one you chose to play as) and the coins allow you to upgrade your weapons.
All of this leveling up and upgrading is nice and dandy but, understandably, it wouldn’t make much of a challenging title if your enemies didn’t level up as well. As you progress up through the ranks, your Nazi opponents slowly become stronger and stronger too but, don’t worry, they don’t turn into bullet sponges and the gunplay is still fast and frenetic.
Thankfully, even though your enemies will get larger and harder to kill, you’ll come across even bigger weapons, be it grenade launchers or giant lazerguns, to take these suckers down. One additional feature which adds even more to the damage your attacks can inflict is the ‘Rally’ ability which adds various benefits, including extra damage, if you really need so extra firepower to take the giant robot Nazis down.
Visually, Wolfenstein: Youngblood is striking and immediately recognizable as a Wolfenstein title. The id Tech 6 engine is a seriously impressive beast and the use of volumetric light, smoke and dust particles and high polygon count on even the most mundane of environment details, this game really pops off the screen. We reviewed Wolfenstein: Youngblood on an Xbox One X and 4K TV and everything looked pin sharp. We do wish Arkane Studios and MachineGames added HDR support but the lighting and colour reproduction still looked pretty good without it.
Even with all these nice additions, Wolfenstein: Youngblood is very similar to its modern silbings, which isn’t a bad thing. What you’re getting is a story-driven single player game with the option to be played in co-op and an ‘RPG Lite’ gaming mechanic. There’s some nice character development moments between the two sisters as you make your way through each level and the cutscenes are kept to a minimum. The overall tone is lighter than previous titles which suits the ‘coming of age’ feel to the whole thing.
Overall, Wolfenstein: Youngblood is a refreshing yet familiar evolution for Wolfenstein franchise and the new gaming mechanics are well handled while never feeling shoehorned in. Having just finished up the main storyline, we can’t wait to see what Wolfenstein III brings to the table.