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Lifewire / Kelsey Simon
Fun fighting mechanics
Horrible characters and dialogue
Wolfenstein: Youngblood is a first-person shooter that tried hard to do something different, and while the shooting controls are smooth and the fighting fun, writing, and other game mechanics leave much to be desired.
Wolfenstein: Youngblood is a new take on a classic first-person shooter from the 90s. Here, you get all the Nazi-killing action you want, with the addition of co-op gameplay. Its smooth shooting mechanics are fun, but its poor writing and repetitive gameplay make it fall flat. We played Wolfenstein: Youngblood on the PC, and took a closer look at these features, gameplay, and graphics to see if it’s worth spending your money.
Wolfenstein: Youngblood takes place after Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus. It follows the story of B.J. Blazkowicz after America has been liberated from the Nazis. He’s created a home in Texas, had twin daughters, and this is where Youngblood starts: Texas in 1979.
Jess and Soph come across as two ten-year-old boys, not two eighteen-year-old women.
In this beginning scene, we get a sense of a desolate world, and two strong-willed and smart girls raised to survive. Jess (one of the twins) is handling a sniper rifle while her dad instructs her, and Soph is moving through boxing drills with her mother. The over-the-top and obnoxious behavior of the two girls doesn’t shine through until the next cut scene, which takes place in Nazi-controlled Europe one year later. Here the girls are alone, searching for their father, wearing power-suits and told to kill Nazis. They’ll cheer about how that’s exactly what they’re born to do, and you have to watch the cringe-worthy banter between them.
Generally, the writing in Youngblood is extremely lacking. The premise of two sisters working together to find their father, who they believe has been taken by Nazis, is an interesting plot. Unfortunately, Bethesda really missed the mark with the two characters' dialogue and friendship. They say a lot of loud quips that fall flat and jokes that are eye-roll worthy. Jess and Soph come across as two ten-year-old boys, not two eighteen-year-old women. Everything about them misses the mark.
In this beginning scene, we get a sense of a desolate world, and two strong-willed and smart girls raised to survive.
Overall, the poor writing with the characters detracted so much from the game, that we had a hard time enjoying it at all. So much of this newest title in the Wolfenstein series is built on the originality of the twins, meaning that when they fall flat, so does the entire premise of the game.
Youngblood is built for single-player or co-op gameplay. You can play with a friend, and together, you can fight Nazis, or you can play with an AI that will help get you up when you’re down, and can sometimes act as a distraction while you flank. A leveling system is in place too, letting you acquire skill points that you can apply to unlock more health and armor or different abilities.
Youngblood didn’t spend enough time developing the characters, and the game comes riddled with bad jokes, annoying banter, and poorly written dialogue.
These abilities include a rushing slam, the ability to go invisible for a short period of time, and a one-shot takedown. The stealth and takedowns feel like the way to go, as being stealthy in this game has its advantages. If you’re caught, an alarm will sound, and reinforcements will arrive, making the fight harder. We found this mechanic fairly annoying considering the number of enemies on each map, and the lack of map design to aid in stealth gameplay, thankfully the fun shooting makes up for it.
Overall, the gunplay feels solid. Bullets connect well, aim is easy, and enemies come in a range of difficulties. Some will wear helmets that stop you from getting one-shot headshots, and others wear full power-suits that make them bullet sponges. You’ll even come across mechanical giant dogs and zippy robots. However, while there is a range in enemies, 75 percent of what you fight will be the same Nazi soldier, maybe in slightly different garb, or with more armor. You’ll kill this type of enemy over and over again until they all blur together into a giant fascist blob.
However, while there is a range in enemies, 75 percent of what you fight will be the same Nazi soldier, maybe in slightly different garb, or with more armor.
The grind is real as you attempt to level and gain abilities. You’ll have to hunt through the map to try to find the silver coins scattered here and there, because these coins will be helpful in upgrading guns, getting boosters, or picking out new suit skins. You’ll also be able to gather cassette tapes and 3-D glasses, but these items seem to only be achievement-oriented.
Unfortunately, Youngblood seems to have been an attempt at making the game more like other popular action-adventure shooters by adding in a leveling system and material gathering, but Bethesda might have been better off keeping things simple. While the controls in the game are smooth, the gameplay itself feels fairly boring, as the lack of variety combined with the grind grows tedious.
Youngblood takes a unique approach to its graphics, embracing the 1980s setting, even if it’s a Nazi-controlled version of the past. The menu screen is dark with red text, and the game is littered with retro references. We liked how it matched up well with the steam-punk vibe of Nazi-controlled Europe as well. The settings you pass through are dark and ominous, and the Nazi propaganda is over-the-top, as it should be. Snapshots of far off city horizons look good from the sky, and the giant eagle statues look well textured. We didn’t have much to critique with regards to the graphics, which stand up well against newer releases.
The game is reasonably priced at $30, about half the price of most new games. But that’s the catch with Youngblood. It’s cheaper, but the quality of the game isn’t up to snuff. The poorly written characters combined with the repetitive nature of the gameplay was enough to put us off. However, if one did have a friend that was also interested in playing, Youngblood has a deal where if you buy the deluxe edition at $40, you will get a Buddy Pass for the game you can send to your friend. This will allow your friend to play the game for no extra charge as long as they’re playing with you. This is probably the only situation where we’d feel the game might be worth the cost.
Far Cry New Dawn is one game worth looking into as an alternative to Youngblood. It has a beautiful setting, and the gameplay is more fun, lacking all the obnoxious banter. It’s also co-op, but shares similar stealth and takedown mechanics to Youngblood.
You might also want to consider Borderlands 3. This is another game focused on shooting and with co-op gameplay, but instead of playing with just one friend, you can play with three. The graphics in Borderlands are distinct, but the awkward humor is similar, with a larger enemy variety.
Obnoxious characters take away from the rest.
Wolfenstein: Youngblood is a game that attempted to do something different, offering players a co-op gaming experience while telling the story of twin sisters on the search for their father. However, Youngblood didn’t spend enough time developing the characters, and the game comes riddled with bad jokes, annoying banter, and poorly written dialogue. The controls are smooth, and the shooting can be fun, but these positives just aren’t enough for us to recommend it.