Wolfenstein series has seen a resurgence this generation made by Machine Games. There were two mainline Wolfenstein games released up to now and the concept of a spin-off, which takes the spotlight away from the series direct, B.J. Blazkowicz sounds interesting in the beginning. It’s when you and the game play that the recognition sets in, along with the impressions turns negative.
There are many issues with Wolfenstion Youngblood I faced throughout my experience of enjoying with the but the gameplay was. What was not enjoyable was the way that it was artificially locked behind an system until you place some time in 33, you could not enjoy a number of the open-ended battle. This all tied which were optional however still questioned their existence at the match itself.
So as a co-op game, the developer opted to craft the narrative around this angle instead of assigning random partner for co-op. This time, there are two leads with Jess or Soph Blazkowicz. They are the daughters of B.J. Blazkowicz who teaches them the tools of the trade as seen in the opening cutscene. It is not until he is mysteriously disappeared that the daughters set out to seek their father and get him back on their own.
The issue with these two leads is that they feel practically interchangeable. They don’t have memorable dialogue or defining personality traits and are entirely forgettable. The story might not be exciting but the lack of an interesting protagonist makes it harder to sit through or care for details. The mission design was another issue that I had with the game where after the initial tutorial and first boss encounter, the game’s quality takes a nosedive as it shifts to a more hub-based open world.
To give the developer some credit, the level design is quite open and the world feels connected in a way where you are urged to explore and discover some of the secrets like collectibles or upgrades, but it is still held back by a confusing UI, mission design, and a narrative that struggles to hold your attention for too long. Co-op might have made the design worse but it is the only thing that also makes it fun. If you have a human partner, you will also avoid the errors that the computer AI continues to make through every combat encounter, often failing to help you in time of need.
The snappy and fast-paced first-person shooting is as enjoyable as in the past Wolfenstein games. Weapons feel like they pack a punch, offer sufficient recoil, and have many upgrades that you can utilize to customize their properties. The appearance of the characters is unfortunately tied to a system that is a mix of in-game currency and some microtransactions. You can also use in-game currency to purchase various “boosters” that let you get more ammo or health pickups. This is in case you are finding the combat difficult, which isn’t the case on the normal difficulty.
Wolfenstein Youngblood does suffer from awkward difficulty spikes thanks to a confusing world layout. Often, I was frustrated on where to go in the game itself since there wasn’t a proper map to show you the location or target, and you were just stuck following the directions on the minimap. In some of the accessible areas, this can lead to the player wandering into a high-level encounter and getting instantly killed.
There is a level up system but it feels like the main use is just to show you a level. Skill upgrades are locked behind specific levels and you gain some enhanced stats with each level up but their impact never feels like it matters in the game itself. The normal difficulty isn’t that hard if you stick to the main missions that can be taken from the hub, however, if you wander around to high-level areas and attempt some of the harder missions, it can be difficult even on the easiest difficulty setting.
Wolfenstein Youngblood is, unfortunately, a game that suffers from many design-related issues. It is clear that the focus on co-op ruins the pacing of the game, and the story itself is hardly interesting with a lack of memorable characters or events. You are just forced to sit through non-stop shooting with two boring protagonists who tend to repeat a lot of their one-liners.
Despite its flaws, there is some redemption in the form of the first-person shooting that is snappy and fast. The technical performance of the game itself is quite good with a smooth 60 FPS target that is mostly achieved on the PS4 Pro. The game is not exactly a looker, and it is mostly due to the reused assets, but the visuals fit in well with the intended art style. The story could have been better along with the mission and gameplay design, but the focus on co-op taking the center stage could be the main fault here.