During Bethesda’s E3 2018 conference, Machinegames showed off a brief, stylized trailer for the follow up to the fantastic Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus. The trailer showcased the daughters of B.J. Blazkowicz taking on Nazis in Paris during the 1980s. After various trailers, walkthroughs and what feels like a quiet marketing campaign, Wolfenstein: Youngblood is finally here.  As a fan of the series, I have some mixed feelings about the latest entry. Part of this is due to its incorporation of a semi-open world, co-op structure that feels more like Destiny. But at the same time, Youngblood has some interesting ideas going for it that make it exciting

Sisters In Arms

Youngblood takes place nearly two decades after the events of The New Colossus, where most of the world has been liberated from the Nazi regime. After fighting the Nazi’s for most of his life, Blazkowicz finally settles down in America and raises two daughters Jessica and Sophie. All is well until one day Blazkowicz vanishes in thin air, forcing the two daughters to track him down. The story takes the two daughters to New-Paris to fight the Nazi’s, and find their father. Narratively speaking, it is a very straightforward game which is a shame since one of the best parts of the Wolfenstein reboots has been the story-line, or at least, the way it is presented.

Post-Nazi killing juice box.

The New Order and The New Colossus were never feats of storytelling, but the presentation in the form of dialogue, music, and performances were exemplary. Youngblood does have some great moments, but it never quite holds up to the former games. The same can be said for the teen-Blazkowicz’s who are the stars of the game. Sophie and Jessica are a bit fun, sometimes charming but most of the time just “okay”. In terms of performances, the same can be said for the supporting cast which never quite matches with the predecessors cast of characters. The previous games were oozing with style and attitude, while Youngblood is a small drop.

Listening in on the FBI, just teen things.

When In Paris

While the story whimpers a bit, the world certainly does not. For Youngblood, Machinegames brought on the help of the masters of level design, Arkane Studios. The moment you enter New Paris for the first time, you can easily mistake it for Karnaca from Dishonoured 2. That’s not to say it feels exactly like it, but more so the level of quality and depth that the world has in comparison to the previous entries.

Dunwall, is that you?

The world of Youngblood is also a semi-open world that allows players to explore New Paris and to re-visit previous areas at their discretion. While I loved exploring the open-world and its many alleyways, street cafe’s and Nazi checkpoints, the world at points did feel dead. I can understand not having civilians roaming around the streets while trying to kill Nazi’s from an ethical point, I just wish the world felt a bit more lived-in than just the soldiers roaming the streets.

Use the metro to get around the world.

Killin Nazi’s

If there is -one thing that has translated over from the previous games, it has to be the moment-to-moment gun-play that makes Wolfenstein an exciting series. Youngblood sure plays like a Wolfenstein, with an array of fantastic weapons and fluid movement. A notable addition to this game is the light RPG elements that have been added in. At first, it does feel a bit jarring and took me quite some time to get used to it. But it never really impeded my time playing it: for those who have played Arkane games like Dishonoured or Prey will feel right at home.

Still not used to “leveling up” in a Wolfenstein game.

What I can get used to: these large, detailed levels.

Something that did disappoint me, was the lack of enemy variety. Since this game is a pseudo RPG, harder enemies were simply shown by a higher-level number rather than any sort of visual difference. The enemies that are there are great, albeit a tad bit dumb: most combat scenarios were fun but a bit easy especially with another human player backing you up. When you’re not running around with a friend, the A.I. that takes over the other sister is serviceable. This may not seem like much praise, but compared to the horrid A.I. companions seen in other games, serviceable is actually a good thing.

A Tale Of Two Developers

As I mentioned earlier, Arkane Studios jumped into the Wolfenstein universe with Youngblood which I feel may have led to some imbalances in the game’s identity. Machinegames and Arkane are two fantastic developers who make vastly different games: to bring them together has had some mixed results. I did enjoy the open-world nature of New Paris but I absolutely hated having a hub world to simply pick up missions. The catacombs of Paris is an interesting place in real life, but in Youngblood, it felt pointless and broke the immersion of exploring Paris.

The Paris catacombs: good for travel, awful hub area.

The missions in Youngblood are also a mixed bag, with the side-missions feeling tacked on. While exploring the world, you can select any of the missions available in your journal but each are level gated which makes sense if this game was a loot-shooter. But for a narrative shooter, it felt jarring. It’s important to note that leveling up is not that difficult at all, but level-gating in a game like this feels like a linear path forced into an open-world structure. Youngblood also features raids, which is a high-level mission you can do at a certain level to Liberate the districts of New Paris. Yes, a raid, like in Destiny but with two-players.

Youngbloods mission list, featuring…raids?

Youngblood

Youngblood is an interesting experiment: a game that combines elements from two very different developers, into a bizarre package.  A co-op system that allows for fun drop-in-drop-out, a loot-shooter-like RPG (without the loot) with fantastic level design. The game is nowhere near perfect, and some may even call it a misstep or bad. Personally, it was a fun experience that I would return to with a friend if they wanted to run around the world of New Paris. If such a hybrid game is planned for the future, I do hope the developers learn from the mistakes made in this game and try to carve out an identity that blends well together.

The next-generation of Nazi hunters.

P.S. For a game that is NOT a full-priced game (I got it for $30 CAD from Greenman Gaming) I feel like I got my money’s worth.

Wolfenstein: Youngblood Review
The Good
  • Fantastic level design
  • Combat feels as good as ever
  • Interesting ideas...
The Bad
  • ...But not all the ideas worked
  • Cut and dry story
  • The game has an identity crisis
6.5Overall Score
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)
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About The Author

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Robin Ghosh (a.k.a. SpectreRobin) is a Sr. Staff Writer at GAW. He is a published writer, photographer, videographer and budding filmmaker and is currently the content director of TABOOZAPP. Having recently finished his masters in media production at Ryerson University, he is gearing up to take his career to the next level (ha, gaming pun). Robin is in love with role-playing games, sim-shooters like Deus Ex and Prey and has a soft spot for survival games like DayZ. He will play anything with a good story and a compelling world to explore. That being said no matter what year it is, he will probably at some point have a craving to play Skyrim again for the 3rd time..4th? Who knows, he really....really likes Skyrim.