Taking a step away from a franchise’s formula can be healthy to ensure nothing in the future gets too stale for fans. In this case, the collaboration between Machine Games and Dishonored creators Arkane ended up being the wrong choice. Youngblood has plenty of great ideas that are not compatible with Wolfenstein’s DNA.
Taking place in the 80s, Soph and Jess, twin daughters of series protagonist B.J., go off to Nazi-infested Paris with their friend Abbey in hopes to find their missing father. The girls discover the current plans of the Fourth Reich and take action to stop it. This story happens to be one of the only redeeming qualities as it sets up the future of this world.
The coop experience is the only way to go on this one. Selecting either sister only makes a cosmetic and starting weapon difference, other than that it does not matter. While it is built for two friends, or random people, to join together to kill Nazis, the servers prevent a consistent playthrough. My friend disconnected continuously randomly or had his game freeze. Thankfully my end was steady with a glorious 100+ FPS.
When playing you can pep signal your sister, giving the AI/player a boost. Like the upgrades, use coins to purchase new signs. Each one has a life-saving purpose, making it one of the few additions that feels welcome.
Double trouble for Nazis is good and bad. If your companion is down, a revive or sacrificing a shared-life brings them back. Shared-lives allow for a freebee to avoid death and continue the fight. Losing all of the extra lives and dying leads to a major setback in a mission as checkpoints are almost nonexistent.
A disconnect for a cooperative experience comes from not picking up loot for both players. I find a chest with money, and my friend needs to open it too, or he misses out. I understand separately collecting certain items like ammo if one needs it and the other does not, but at times it felt frustrating as one person gained things the other missed.
Playing with an AI sister will be painful, trust me as I had to finish by myself. The intelligence is low as its response time to enemies or me needing a revive is erratic. At times, it helped me right away while other dangerous situations my robot of a twin felt like standing in the middle of gunfire enjoying the sun. The slightly redeeming quality is that she can teleport to you, which is also inconsistent.
Missions given need to be transported to and from with metro maps. The fast traveling system is required to get from one activity to another, making this experience loading screen hell. If enemies are nearby -even though they cannot reach you- leads to the inability to get to the destination. This system needed to be more streamlined to avoid unnecessary loading screens and walking around a map to find the fast travel station.
Actions are random side activities that pop up from Abbey notifying about something happening in the area. These are overly repetitive and lack of reward. Just the press of a button or kill a few Nazis then it is over.
The RPG system of leveling up is a mixed bag. On the one hand, the skill trees and upgrades to weapons using experience (for skill tree) or coins (money for weapons) is empowering and meaningful. The other hand, the enemies feel to overpowered if they are a higher level, forcing upon side missions and activities rather than moving forward with the narrative.
Enemies have a variety of weakness depending on the ammo your gun uses. The idea gives extra strategy, yet feels offputting in a Wolfenstein game. It gets in the way of the flow of combat as I frantically switch weapons for certain foes. Some tougher Nazis and robots, especially bosses, are sponges soaking in damage without a care in the world.
Despite the annoying to kill Nazis, it is a blast using the variety of weapons. Machine Games manages to continue its excellent combat even if it is fumbled by the new mechanics.
Exploration for collectibles and supplies is worth the time spent. Finding gear certainly helps during the fight. Collectibles can be fun like some concept art or discovering documents or audio logs to flesh out the lore of this world can be fascinating.
Music lacks substance, especially when the 80s has so much to offer. The styled disco tunes play lightly and add nothing during the action.
Microtransactions are in this narrative-driven game, for some reason. If you wish to not complete daily/weekly challenges, that are weirdly placed, or kill Nazis while completing other objectives, then using real money can earn gold to upgrade. I can let it slide as I felt it was never necessary to spend extra cash for a cosmetic item or to better my power of slaughtering racists.
Superb gunplay, eccentric characters, and an exciting story remain strong; however, Youngblood adds a lot of new elements take away from its core traits. The gameplay loop has always been repetitive for the series, but this manages to spoil it with halfbaked ideas. Not a terrible game, especially for $29.99 (US) price, but not worth the money, so go play the previous three titles and ignore this weird cooperative spin-off.
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