REVIEW – Blazkowicz is back! Well sort of, rather than playing as the famed Terror-Billy, in Youngblood the developers at MachineGames are putting the players in the role of the daughters. The game is a sequel in terms of the storyline within the Wolfenstein reboot as it takes twenty years after The New Colossus, but there will still be a mainline game down the line called Wolfenstein 3.
As a spin-off, Youngblood is an experimental title, with new ideas, and new ways of killing nazis in 2019. Plus there is also CO-OP and anyone can jump in for some friendly nazi killing around Paris.
Neu-Paris is bloody
The story takes place in 1980, twenty years after New Colossus, and while Hitler is dead the Nazi war machine still roars. While America is free from them, most of the world is still under Nazi rule, and unfortunately, B.J. Blazkowicz is now also missing without a trace. His daughters Jessica and Sophia Blazkowicz decide to go and find their father. Their investigation leads them to Neu-Paris where after meeting up with the local resistance they are told that their father went to find Lab-X. In order to do this, the girls have to get the information from three Nazi bases.
The main story is padded out by sidequests, and by the levelling system, which feels pointless. As the enemies auto-level, and even if you gain damage % with the guns, the enemies will still be bullet sponges. Enemies themselves have levels, and different armour types, which allow some tactical gameplay, as some guns are more effective than others. The weapons, however, are the same from The New Colossus, and no new weapons. There is only one skill, but you only get that near the endgame. Which is a shame as I would have expected the 1980s tech to evolve from the Nazi Regime, or even from the USA, there are a few new enemies, but because of the bullet sponge, it is not fun to fight them. Even the existing enemies that used to be easy to take care of now take a lot of time.
The game is divided into four districts within Paris, plus there is an intromission which takes place on a giant zeppelin. However, the missions themselves are just generic, and fit into the usual collect items, save civilians, or defeat a giant enemy bullet sponge robot. The locations initially felt varied, but that is quickly killed off as it boils down to Paris streets, underground tunnels, and the Brother bases. There is a lot of hidden secrets, collectable items, and lore items that can be collected throughout the game, but I wish the gameplay loop was better and did not feel like a chore to play Youngblood.
Progression has been simplified compared to the old games. Rather than unlocking skills with certain actions, you just simply have to collect coins to unlock them. Killing nazis with the weapons will raise their mastery, and add further additional damage percentage. There is also weapon customization, where you can choose from different types of parts for guns. Some make them more accurate, others give higher damage to headshots and so on. Also, it feels like that no matter how stealthy you are, and kill the local commanders, if you go loud an alarm is raised regardless which is a bit disappointing, as it will swarm the street with enemies. The enemies now also have clearer weak point markers, compared to the old games, so the player will have an easier time identifying weak spots, but even then the bullet sponge hurts the game.
The messy streets of Paris
The graphics of Youngblood are fine, it does not show too much of an evolution in visual fidelity, and effects. It is not bad, just more of the same. The design of the enemies are also pretty much the same, except with a few exceptions such as the final boss, and a few mini-bosses. The music is great and gives a lot of fun moments, considering its the 1980s, and Synth music is all the rage with the nazis.
Feedback from guns and explosions are okay, but some of the guns lack punch compared to DICE games, or even DOOM games. The streets of Paris are littered with debris, and wrecks as the resistance have been putting up a fight against the Nazis, and it shows in the presentation of the city, but it is also static with no friendly NPCs fighting, or any large scale destructibility to provide a bigger sense of the atmosphere.
Next time on Wolfenstein
All in all the story of Youngblood is good, and the interaction between the sisters is great, but the actual gameplay itself is just simply average, with a lot of baffling decisions that makes playing the game a frustrating experience.
+ Still a visceral game
+ Customization of guns, and skills
+ Great Story…
– Repetitive missions
– Bullet sponge enemies
– Pointless levelling system
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Genre: First-person shooter
Release date: July 26, 2019