I know the Wolfenstein series has been along since before most of us were even born. Still, Wolfenstein Youngblood utilizes some new mechanics with the same original core gameplay. I definitely got a lot of old Army of Two vibes because of the co-op in this game. I think this was mainly due to the fact that the two protagonists were siblings and had the same kind of synergy. Here are my thoughts about the game itself:
Story and Setting
The game is set a decade or two after the events of the original 1992 Wolfenstein 3D. OG protagonist B.J Blazkowicz has now settled down with his wife and raised a pair of twins. These are Jessica and Sophia Blazkowicz, the protagonists of our story. As daughters of the famous man who gunned down Hitler, the two consider themselves bred to kill Nazis.
This is why when B.J goes mysteriously missing, they take it upon themselves to track him down. This puts them in a journey along with Grace Walker’s(head of the FBI) daughter to Paris. Paris is currently mounting a resistance against the Nazi forces advancing on them while B.J has supposedly gone there on his own mission.
Jessica and Sophia are equipped with power suits and on a mission to find their father. The dead Nazis left in their wake are just a bit of collateral damage. I did like the way their transformative process was represented. It was sort of like two teenagers trying drugs for the first time. Except in this case, the drug was killing their very first Nazi. After that, as you can imagine, things just escalated.
I did think due to the intro that the two would be different in gameplay. This is because Jessica was shown hunting with her father while Sophia was shown sparring under her mother’s supervision. It led me to believe maybe Sophia’s more brawl focused while Jessica’s a rifleman. However, it was only exposition to establish the characters. it doesn’t really matter which twin you pick, both work the same way.
The gameplay is like previous Wolfenstein games except for a few unique points. For starters, you’re not alone. Unlike the predecessor games where B.J is a one man army, now you have a sister on the battlefield. After picking either one, the other is either controlled by AI or a friend/player you matchmake with online. The game then plays as I said before, kind of like an Army of Two game.
You both share lives. Meaning even one of you dying will count as a life loss. Wolfenstein and Doom are today’s pioneers of retro games in modern times so you’ll see a lot of classical features. This includes finding power ups on the ground or having a life system. It’s so retro that losing all your lives will mean restarting the whole level. Since the game emphasizes teamwork, even one of you dying can lead to a full restart.
Between the two of you, you can either heal up by picking up aid kits or regenerating each other’s health. This is done through a positive reinforcement mechanic that works like the inspire ability in a lot of RPGs. A quick thumbs up to your twin sister could save her life so keep that in mind. There’s also a revive mechanic to keep each other in the game, bleeding out will lead to you losing a life but getting up on the spot.
The gunplay is fun in the game. I never expect bad gunplay from the Doom or Wolfenstein games. They are the founding fathers of the FPS genre after all. The recoil, balistics and feel of shooing a gun overall are done very nicely. The sound design for them is good as well although I feel like a lot of the guns sound the same. The shotgun, the rifle and the pistol I used had the same type of bang.
You have a few loadout options when you start off that determine your playstyle. The options were very limited though, I used a cloaking device with a hatchet for a stealthy approach. Each combat situation operates on the same precedent that a New Order had established. You can either go in guns blazing or stealthily take out every foe. Going in loud obviously means you’ll attract reinforcements. You can also play strategically by taking out the important figurehead in each group, such as the unit commander.
Occasionally you’ll come across different ranks of enemies. They can range from regular cannon fodder grunts to super soldiers with flamethrowers. In any scenario, the environment plays a major part in combat. Since you’re both in super suits, the game grants a lot of mobility. Gaining terrain advantage like having the high ground can make a fight easier. You can also find environmental tools to your disposal such as a mounted machine gun to turn on your enemies.
The cover system was something I wasn’t too decisive on. At times it felt really smooth when you took cover against a corner of a wall. Often I felt like the mechanic was way too sensitive though. A tiny turn to the left would make your character crouch back down against the cover and fire into the debris. I lost count of how many bullets I wasted that way.
The boss fights at the end of the level can sometimes have a unique way to be finished off. I won’t spoil who or why, but the endings of each fight definitely pushed the vibes of being in a movie at times. I did enjoy that mechanic.
Overall, good gunplay, fun mobility, interesting duo dynamic and okayish cover system. The enemy AI is volatile at times. One occasion they won’t notice you shoot the person next to them. On another occasion you could stab a Nazi ten feet away from another but you’ll still get caught. I’m not sure how often stealth REALLY was an option, though I was probably just bad at it.
The game was pretty well optimized on my PC. I was using a GTX 1060 with an I5 7600 processor and was easily able to run the game at a stable 60 FPS on the high settings. The visuals weren’t exactly breath taking at any point. It’s about what you’d expect from a war torn Europe in the 70s. The graphics were still good for a modern first person shooter. Just that they weren’t really memorable as some experiences that I’ve had in the past.
Overall, Wolfenstein Youngblood is definitely worth a buy if you’ve got a buddy to play with. If not, it’s still a fun little continuation of the Wolfenstein Saga. The ending was definitely a setup to continue the storyline later on. Let’s see how that goes.