When Wolfenstein: New Order released in 2014, it was how a remake should be done.  It retained much of the no nonsense, first-person action that held the series in such iconic status all those years ago, but still managed to bring it into the modern era with awesome gameplay, visuals and a gripping story from start to finish.  In my initial review, I said that if Quentin Tarantino was to create a videogame, then Wolfenstein: New Order would be the result.  Then we had its spin-off with The Old Blood, which was a true zombie-fuelled throwback in 2015, and then in 2016, we had a proper sequel in Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus.  A game that arguably wasn’t as good as the first, but a fun game none the less and was a worthy sequel to this fantastically revitalised series.

So here we are with not a direct sequel, but another spin-off.  Prior to its release, being a Wolfenstein fan, the concept of Wolfenstein: Youngblood, set in the 1980’s seemed great.  Despite not playing as famed protagonist BJ Blazkowicz, we would instead play as his two twin daughters, Jessica and Sophia, who are on the search for their famous father, who had mysteriously gone missing and their search leads them to Paris, a city still overrun by the Nazi regime.  Interestingly taking advantage of having two new protagonists in Jess and Soph, the entire campaign of Youngblood is playable in two-player co-op, if you wish.

Visually, despite some framerate jitters during some cut-scenes, Youngblood does look great and with it being co-developed by Arkane Studios (who has worked alongside MachineGames), the team that brought us the Dishonored series, you can certainly see and feel their influence in the level design, with the amount of freedom that you have for each area.  There are many ways in which you can approach a level, you can go on ground all guns blazing, find some remote back-alley or stalk the rooftops in the hope of being undetected.  You could easily play each mission several times over and have a totally different approach and route with each.  Since the 2014 release, Wolfenstein has always tried to encourage the player to use stealth, however, the stealth in this series has never been that great, especially with the dumb AI, and Youngblood seems to be no exception.

Now of course, a more skilled player could go through undetected, but given that the stealth is nowhere near to the standard of Dishonored, it was never long until I was detected by an eagle-eyed Nazi and my stealth approach quickly went out of the window, with every enemy knowing my exact location.  I did restart some checkpoints, but it gets to a point where you think “sod it”, I might as well gun everyone down as soon as the mission starts, because it won’t be long until I get spotted anyway.  There were also times when I walked out of the underground metro station (you start point for most levels) and they’d be an enemy just standing there, almost like they were waiting for me to pop out, despite doing nothing to alert them of my presence, and low and behold, stealth was already thrown out of the window before I even had a chance to do anything.  Thankfully however, just like the previous games, the shooting in Youngblood feels fantastic and it’s still just as satisfying gunning down those Nazi’s, as in previous games.

However, as good as some of the level design and shooting is, after a few hours of playtime, Youngblood starts to feel a little repetitive.  This is due to the fact that centred from your Catacombs HUB; you will travel to many of the locations in Paris, over and over, whether it is main missions or via side-missions that you’ll pick-up from NPC’s.  Don’t get me wrong, many of the areas are wonderfully designed, but there are only so many times you can tread on old ground.  Compare this to the main Wolfenstein entries, as when you finish a mission/chapter, in the vast majority of cases, you’ll then move on to a totally new area never to return.  This repetitiveness is highlighted even more with respawning enemies.  Now I get that enemies will respawn with new missions, but there were plenty of times when I would do simple things such as walk through a doorway, then realised that I wanted to loot downed enemies for ammo, only to find that they have all respawned, despite me only leaving that area a matter of seconds ago.

When Wolfenstein: Youngblood launched, there were some other petty issues, which have now thankfully been fixed with a recent update.  Prior to this update, you weren’t able to do something such as simply pausing the game in a private lobby when playing singleplayer, and some of the enemies were serious bullet-sponges, and it had a really bad checkpoint system that would throw you back to the beginning of the mission after being beaten by the boss.  It’s mad to think that before this update, you couldn’t pause the game in singleplayer, but at least these petty issues have now been fixed, which makes the game a little more enjoyable and a little less tedious.

I must also give credit to Bethesda’s decision to include the Buddy Pass in Deluxe Edition version of Wolfenstein: Youngblood.  I’m not one to mention other editions other than the standard in reviews, but mentioning the Deluxe Edition here is most certainly of interest, because if you have this edition, you can invite a friend to play the entire game in co-op for free.  It’s worth noting that your friend can only play the campaign with you when invited, and they can’t play it without you, but the none the less it’s a great way to experience co-op without your friend having to buy an additional copy of the game, for as little as £5 more than the cost of the standard edition.

Of course, when playing co-op, you’ll have to decide who gets to play as Soph and Jess, and I know personalities are subjective, but I love them both, as their humour had me laughing aloud on numerous occasions, something that not many videogames have done.  But I can see how this twin duo might grind on the nerves of other people.  Another issue that might very well grind on the nerves of some are micro-transactions and Youngblood has them in abundance.  In the game you have the Gold currency, which is purchased by real-world money.  The Gold currency is used to by some character skins and unfortunately temporary boosts to increase player stats during gameplay.  Then there is the Silver currency, which is all earned in-game and can be used to purchase skins, as well as character and weapon upgrades.  There are some top-tier skins available, but those can only be purchased with the in-game Silver and not the Gold currency, which I suppose is at least something.

In conclusion, Wolfenstein: New Order and The New Colossus reminded me of something perhaps influenced from the likes of Quentin Tarantino, however, Wolfenstein: Youngblood reminds me of that follow-up movie that no one asked for, with a new director that poorly attempts to live-off and replicate the great work done by its predecessors.  Don’t get me wrong, Youngblood has some decent moments, but ultimately, as hard as it tries, it falls way short of the high standards that came before and after an hour or two passes, it sadly becomes a chore to play, which is a sad state for this iconic series to find itself in.  As touched upon, Bethesda has released a patch to fix some of the more technical issues of Wolfenstein: Youngblood, but is it all is too little, too late?  Either way, if you’re a big fan of the series, you may have already bought this title by now, but if not, then it might be worth waiting for the sales to hit to pick-up that Deluxe Edition with the Buddy Pass.



Author

Richard Lee Breslin
Richard Lee Breslin

Gamimg has been my life for 30+ years and will always be my passion. I have a BDes Hons Games Development and Digital Media, and I hope to one day turn my passion for gaming and writing into a living. My favourite gaming series are Resi Evil, Metal Gear Solid, Silent Hill, Assassin's Creed, Uncharted and The Last of Us. I collect gaming merchandise, comics and movies. I love football (namely Aston Villa) and WWE. I can also often be found wondering the outskirts of Raccoon City. Follow me on Twitter @Solidus5nake and you can check out my Patreon here: https://www.patreon.com/solidus5nake