Wolfenstein has been enjoying its time in the sun this current generation. Wolfenstein is an historic franchise, and with Wolfenstein: The New Order and Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, this franchise has cemented its relevance. Wolfenstein: Youngblood, in similar vein to standalone DLC Wolfenstein: The Old Blood, is a spin-off, of sorts, from the main story. Youngblood takes place 19 years after the events of Wolfenstein II – focusing on B.J.’s twin daughters, Jess and Soph, as the newest members of the Global Resistance against the Nazis. Their father has gone missing, and the terror twins go to Paris, France in search of him.
Youngblood’s biggest departure from the mainline series is the from-the-ground-up focus on co-op play. Cooperative gameplay is the bread and butter here, with the sisters teaming up together for some good ol’ Nazi-killing action. Two-player online co-op is available throughout the entire campaign. Plenty of games nowadays feature online co-op play, but few are built from the ground up to have such an emphasis on it. In fact, the best way to experience Youngblood is with a buddy.
Thankfully, the deluxe edition of Wolfenstein: Youngblood comes with a Buddy Pass. The Buddy Pass allows you to invite your online friends to play Wolfenstein: Youngblood with you without them needing to have purchased the game themselves. The buddy you team up with can experience the entirety of Wolfenstein: Youngblood by your side without ever having to pay a penny of their own money. The Buddy Pass has simple requirements; all your buddy will need to have is a Bethesda.net account. Your buddy will then need to download a smaller sized version of the game. From here, you host a game and invite your buddy to join in. I have tested this feature and can attest to how flawlessly it works. Since Youngblood is best experienced cooperatively, this is a very innovative and welcome feature. The only downside here is the lack of offline couch co-op.
If you decide to play solo, then this is also entirely possible. In solo play, the sister you’re not playing as will be controlled by AI. You will not be able to strategise nearly as much as in full co-op play, but the AI is good enough to not fumble around. The AI-controlled sister will help with healing and will mimic your style – following you into an all guns blazing approach or a stealthy approach.
To start with the good news, Wolfenstein: Youngblood nails the gameplay element. That same Nazi-killing fun is still present, and the added RPG elements add some much-needed depth. One of the biggest improvements comes from the map design. Semi-open levels with much more verticality than previous entries into the Wolfenstein series elevates Youngblood to more than just a spin-off. The varied Paris levels vary uniquely in design and aesthetics, which helps every level feel like a new experience.
For the price point, there is a lot of content here. The RRP comes in at pretty much half the price of the AAA releases, and yet Youngblood still feels packed full of content. Completing the campaign, doing all the side missions, and finding all collectibles can take your playtime to 24 hours plus, which certainly is a lot of value for money. You can listen to the stories of the Resistance members you encounter, read all the documents and soak up the lore of this alternate history.
Wolfenstein: Youngblood still kicks ass when it comes to the raw gameplay mechanics. New skills, such as the invisibility cloaking skill, introduce new tactics. Killing Nazis is still as satisfying as in all the previous titles. Having said that, I often found myself getting frustrated in Youngblood when the game was unnecessarily difficult. Sometimes you find yourself in battles with higher level enemies, and this can get frustrating.
One issue that becomes obviously apparent is the cheesy script. The sisters sometimes find themselves bantering, and when the script gets it right, there is clear chemistry there. However, a lot of the time the dialogue falls flat and worse yet is downright cringe-worthy. I can understand what they were going for, but it feels almost oxymoronic to the Wolfenstein series.
Annoyingly, the AI can sometimes also prove to be frustrating. The fact you cannot give commands is particularly annoying because it often leaves the AI to make some bad decisions. Your sister can sometimes go running into danger in gung-ho attitude – thus requiring you to put yourself in the line of fire to revive her. Co-op play with a human player is definitely how I recommend experiencing Youngblood because it will be a more frustrating experience playing solo. Graphically, Wolfenstein: Youngblood looks amazing. Graphics are of a high quality, and the aesthetic really comes to life. This is one of the best-looking Wolfenstein games thus far. Technically, there are options to adjust dynamic resolution, which is a welcome feature, especially on consoles.
All in All, Wolfenstein: Youngblood is not Wolfenstein 3, and if you go in expecting that, you will be disappointed. I think of Wolfenstein: Youngblood to be in a similar vein to Far Cry: New Dawn. It’s essentially Wolfenstein 2.5. The best way to experience Youngblood is certainly with the co-op mode, and thankfully, the inclusion of the Battle Pass makes that a lot more accessible.
Developer: MachineGames, Arkane Studio
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks LLC
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC, Switch
Release Date: 26th July 2019