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Wolfenstein: Youngblood

Wolfenstein: Youngblood

Machine Games has partnered up with Arkane Studios to create a co-op centred Wolfenstein. We've played it all the way through and here's our verdict.

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Wolfenstein has come a long way since MachineGames took over the reins in 2014 with Wolfenstein: New Order, and with that, the developer made a name for itself. This heightens expectations and while the latest game in the long-running Wolfenstein franchise is a spin-off, fans have been expecting something great with the Blazkowicz girls, Jessica and Sophia, taking on the Nazis in Europe, with the regime still very much alive and kicking.

Wolfenstein: Youngblood is set two decades after the events of Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, in an alternate timeline to the one we reside in, in which the last World War was won by Nazi Germany. The twins' father has gone missing in France and it's up to these badass girls to find him and to get dear old pa back to the resistance where he belongs, while at the same time helping the French fight back against the Nazis occupying the country.

The game starts off with some cutscenes showing the happy family in its entirety. Sophia and Jessie are being taught how to hunt and fight by their iconic, nazi-killing, badass parents William 'BJ' Blazkowicz and Anya Oliwa. The sense of sisterhood is clear and lovely to see, especially when just listening to the in-game dialogue between the two, because their banter is both brutal and childish, in a good way. Shortly after the starting cutscene, Soph and Jess set out on the important mission of getting their old man back to safety.

The two sisters are sent to infiltrate a Nazi zeppelin and the first mission is a great one. There is more than one way to get to your goal, and depending on what ability you pick before launching the game, you'll have different ways to approach your enemy. We, playing as Sophia, grabbed a silenced pistol, a knife, the armour pep (which is basically a prompt for replenishing the shields of both you and your co-op or AI partner). If you don't like that loadout you can also choose an automatic pistol, a bash attack and a health pep.

Wolfenstein: Youngblood

We snuck around, slitting the throats of our enemies as we moved through the zeppelin, cloaking ourselves to avoid their gaze and sticking to the shadows to avoid getting noticed. This cloaking ability is a result of the upgraded, high-tech power suits that both the sisters wear throughout the game, excluding cutscenes. If you'd rather get up close and personal, however, you can absolutely do that and we'd say that is even more satisfying, considering the melee counters are delightfully brutal and the weapon handling is incredible.

The Wolfenstein series has always been pretty straight forward, with the players only objective being to kill Nazis in a linear, solo-play environment. This time around, however, there are two of you potentially playing together. You can choose to play the game offline but if you want to take advantage of the tactical aspects of playing in co-op, you can join up with strangers or a friend online. Youngblood takes the co-op spin-off to a different direction entirely regarding gameplay by adding skill trees, daily and weekly challenges to tackle, and cosmetics for the player to unlock. Youngblood should therefore not be seen as a regular instalment in the series, because it certainly is not, and we doubt that the next main game will take on the same design. However, the game is a lot of fun in co-op, much more so than playing it solo.

It's important to note that Youngblood offers the player a so-called 'buddy pass', which works in the same way as that of A Way Out's multiplayer system, where you, if you own a Deluxe Edition copy of the game, can play through the game with a friend without them having to purchase a copy. Your friend will only need to have an active Bethesda.net account, linking his or her account to the format you are playing on and download a smaller version of the game and even though they will not get any achievements, it is still a neat deal for players wanting to check the game out before purchasing it. Progress made in the buddy version will also carry over if one decides to buy the game.

It doesn't matter which character you pick, you'll end up with the same skill tree, the same options regarding starting load-outs, as well as the same weapons and upgrades to put on those weapons. The skill tree offers three different categories: Mind, Muscle and Power. Mind offers various upgrades to your health, you're ammunition management, and your dodge abilities. Muscle offers upgrades to your armour, your ability to use heavy weaponry, your ability to use special ammunition, and gives you the ability to take down stronger enemies. Power, on the other hand, buffs your special abilities. These upgrades are granted to you as you level up and get experience points, which aren't hard to acquire.

Apart from upgrades, you can purchase cosmetics and XP boosts using in-game currency or gold bars (which we were never prompted to buy) but despite the outrage regarding microtransactions, we never felt the need to buy anything with actual money, ever.

Wolfenstein: Youngblood

That being said, the mission structure did leave us disappointed. While the game makes you assume that you'll be playing a story-heavy game with its opening cutscenes, you won't find much of that in Youngblood. We didn't experience a lot of integral story at all, in fact, and most of the missions are laid out as 'fetch quests' of a kind. The environment is set up like a semi-open world where you travel back and forth between areas you've come across, showing the fantastic level design that co-developer Arkane Studios is so well known for, however, most of your missions will put you in the same areas multiple times, with the same enemies spawning each time you enter, and the only difference is the end-goal.

Maybe you'll pick up a floppy disc to decipher, or perhaps you'll kill a higher-up Nazi, but there's really nothing else there to catch your interest. This is most likely due to the Arkane level design. The game truly focuses on the fact that you can reach your target in many ways and while that's a great addition to the game, we felt like it would have worked way better in a more linear environment since moving through the same levels multiple times got old pretty fast, especially when playing solo. The way the levels differ is merely by the strength of the enemies (they have more health and armour but that's it) and the paths you take, which is all well and fine, but it doesn't fit the Wolfenstein franchise as well as we'd hoped.

One thing that we did enjoy was the tactical aspect of using different weapons in different stages of a battle. If an enemy had a barrier, for example, we'd use our handgun or our automatic rifle to get the barrier down, and then we'd switch to our weapon of preference to finish him or her off. The ammunition used is shown in the ammo hud, so you simply have to match the ammo to the enemy you are facing. More in-keeping with the series of old, if a commander (or kommandant) is present on the battlefield, you'll want to grab him first, as he'll send more difficult enemies your way if left unchecked.

Wolfenstein: Youngblood is an interesting addition to the rebooted franchise, and if you have a friend to play with we definitely recommend that you check it out. However, if you're planning on going solo, be aware that it will get more grind-heavy towards the end and not having any company may lessen the experience. There's plenty of things to enjoy in Youngblood, though, and the Arkane level design is fantastic, even though it works best in a more focused, story-heavy environment. The weapon handling is just as good as you'd expect from a game made by Machine Games, the story is great if a little sparse, and killing Nazis feels as great as ever.

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Wolfenstein: Youngblood
Wolfenstein: Youngblood
07 Gamereactor UK
7 / 10
+
Great gameplay, good weapon-handling, brutal combat, interesting level design, good story, relationship between the characters brings good banter.
-
Repetitive missions, a lot of backtracking, the main story in itself is short, a lot of fetch quests.
overall score
is our network score. What's yours? The network score is the average of every country's score