The Wolfenstein games have always been very much in line with what Lt. Aldo Raine says in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds, “We in the killin’ Nazi business and cousin business is a-boomin’. From the start with Muse Software’s 81’ Castle Wolfenstein, the game has always made it absolutely, positively clear that Nazi’s are bad and they need to be killed. Wolfenstein: Youngblood takes that same Nazi killin’ formula and tweaks the game with a couple of new features while keeping the popular basics in place.
Occurring twenty years after the events of Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, we are introduced to B.J. Blazkowicz daughters, Sophia and Jessica. When B.J. goes missing Jess and Soph team up with Grace Walker’s daughter, Abby, to find their dear ole dad in Axis occupied Neu Paris and maybe kill a Nazi or two along the way.
Jess and Soph are a fiery and dorky duo. With a completely authentic resemblance to sibling nature and best friends. I was immediately taken with them. From their fist bumps to their dancing and love of spy novels, these two are immediate classic franchise characters.
Upon arrival in Neu Paris the sisters are tasked by French resistance ally, Juju to infiltrate three security locations known as Brothers 1-3 in order to gain access to Lab X.
It is up to you as to which order to take your missions and side missions. These are all broken up into different hubs of the city which are connected by fast travel metro. Each location acts as a mini open world area where you are free to explore and take conflict or possible conflict as you see fit. Do things the quiet way using your powered armor’s cloaking function, or go at it and kill everything in sight. It is totally your choice. I found myself switching between stealth and going loud in order to keep things interesting. If you, like myself chooses to do all the side missions on top of your primary ones, you are going to be seeing the same areas a lot and changing up your approach goes a long way to keeping the gameplay fresh.
At the start of the game, you are prompted to choose which sister to play as. The choice between Jess and Soph is primarily cosmetic outside of the weapon that you start the game with. Other than that, they have the same abilities. It would have been a major plus for replayability if each sister came with an entirely unique set of abilities along the lines of the characters from Dishonored 2 but sadly it is not the case.
Youngblood keeps the same FPS energy of its previous three entries, and relies on kinetic and adrenaline packed combat. And boy does it has a ton of that. It also adds in a new feature that requires you to select the right weapon for the job, on the fly. Some enemies combat you with with an armor set that is only meltable with a select weapon in your arsenal. This lends to more heated battles and adds to the already brutally fast combat.
The biggest change up comes in the form of a lite RPG system. This extends to leveling up your mind, muscle and powers. Each category breaks down into its respective tree and allows you to level up health, armor, cloaking systems, etc… While this is totally outside the norm for Wolfenstein fans, for me it didn’t take anything away from the game, but wasn’t particularly rewarding either. The new mechanic doesn’t feel entirely fleshed out, there are a couple of perks that make the game easier, but it feels like a little more could have been explored in this area.
Weapons are now fully customizable as well. Each upgrade adding either headshot damage, more power or a quicker rate of fire. These perks can be attached to barrel, receiver, magazine and so on. Playing around with different combinations of these can yield very different results in battle. As I mentioned before each weapon in your arsenal has a different effect on varying enemies. Switching weapons mid-fight is a must for tactical advantage.
Wolfenstein: Youngblood also comes with some cool in-game collectibles including 3-D glasses that showcase different 3-D builds from the Wolfenstein world as well as 80’s inspired VHS box art and German new wave cassettes. I’m totally down with this approach to collectibles. Give me something I would want to collect in real life. I’m an avid VHS collector and a fan of 3-D films, so these are totally my jam.
Controls are tight and are up for the task of taking on a ton of Nazi’s. If you have played previous Wolfenstein entries, not much has changed in the way of gameplay.
B.J.’s adventures in The New Colossus are a lot more of a pulpy grindhouse approach in comparison with what Youngblood offers. Not half as brutal or crude, this one sticks to the sibling playfulness, heart and some well executed comedy beats. Of course, there is still a bunch of gore and viscera in the mix but not as big of the level of narrative and function that The New Colossus had.
This is a very co-op focused game and is best played with a buddy. There is an option to play solo, and that places your sister into the control of Ai, and while that is a good enough time, the magic is in the grinding it out with a friend. The co-op is presented and executed with ease, it’s as simple as inviting a friend with very little in the way of hiccups and glitches. If your friend has to leave the match suddenly the AI takes over instead of bumping you from your match.
The deluxe edition of Wolfenstein: Youngblood comes with a ‘buddy pass’ to play with a friend who doesn’t own the game. It’s a rad feature that allows a buddy to play along with you through the entire game without them having to pay single cent. The cons of course are that they are not saving progression and do not earn achievements. Still it’s a cool feature that I wish more co-op games would implement.
There is never going to be a time that I don’t want the fantastic frenzy of Wolfenstein’s gameplay. Add cool characters like Jess and Soph in the mix and and we have something I’ll double down on. Grab a friend, split the price of the deluxe edition and have a blast, blasting Nazi’s.
Wolfenstein: Youngblood is out now on PC, PS4, Nintendo Swtich and Xbox One.