Just another Wolfenstein game… Or more?
I’ve been so hyped for Wolfenstein Youngblood, that I even went against everything I value and preordered it. The story trailer that blasted Carpenter Brut’s “Turbo Killer” as the Terror Twins killed Nazi’s got me so pumped, I probably didn’t sleep that night when it debuted.
I got my copy of the Deluxe Edition for $32 (Thanks Amazon!) on the 27th, and I started to play it shortly after. And overall I’m pretty content. The game is fun, exciting, and has a few new mechanics that change the gameplay, but ultimately it’s still just another Wolfenstein game.
Mission objectives progress the story, all while blasting Nazi’s in the face. What more could you really ask for? I paid $32 for the Deluxe Edition (Thanks, Amazon!) and I certainly feel like I got my money’s worth. Is it the best Wolfenstein game? Not really. So let’s go into the good and bad of it.
The main storyline of the game is that Terror Billy has gone missing. He left the country weeks prior without telling anyone, and his daughter stumbled across BJ’s secret hideout in the house, where they find clues leading them to Paris. The story if very simple and straight to the point with the main theme being “Your dad goes missing, you gotta find him, and help liberate Paris from Nazi scumbags”. If I’m being honest, I didn’t buy this game for some immersive and rich story. If I wanted something like that, I’d just replay Persona 5. However, I want to point out that for the game the story to me was just right. It gave me enough reasons to care in between the, at times, monotonous Nazi slaying.
The main complaint I keep hearing from other gamers and even some major review sites is that the story wasn’t all that great. To me, that’s just like complaining the story in a DOOM game wasn’t deep. And sure, you can look at New Order and Colossus where they attempted to expand the story and grow BJ as a character, but even reviews then were saying the same thing that the story just wasn’t good enough. So while the story may take a back seat in order to kill some Nazi’s in Wolfenstein Youngblood, I’m pretty okay with that.
Gameplay and Mechanics
The gameplay itself feels fast, smooth and responsive, with the mechanics feeling simple in the best way possible. I never felt like I was in a situation where I couldn’t just keep pumping lead into my opponents until they were dead, so I really never had to slow down my playstyle to take it easy on any missions. Some may consider this a bad thing, as the gameplay could become boring or redundant. However, the pacing felt just right for me.
The game also included a new leveling system. As you completed missions, killed Nazi’s and uncovered things, your character would level up and gain tokens which could be used to unlock new skills. As you leveled up, the enemies would also level up. This did feel a bit pointless though, because as you level up you’re also upgrading your weapons, mastering them, and gaining new abilities that turn you into the ultimate Nazi killing machine. So outside of mini-bosses or main boss fights, none of the enemies really felt all that challenging. But for the casual gamer, you could easily muscle through waves of baddies without having to think too hard.
Buddy Pass aka Multiplayer
The multiplayer aspect is fun. Period.
I’ve been enjoying the game with my friends and the fact that I got the Deluxe Edition for $32 that includes the Buddy Pass makes it even more worthwhile. For a little more, I can play with any of my friends who don’t own their own copy of the game. What makes it even better is the fact that the Buddy Pass isn’t tied to a certain account, so it can be used by anyone of your friends, at any time. I honestly wish more games would offer something like this because gaming with friends can, and does, get expensive.
Don’t really want to go far down the “What Bethesda should have done with Fallout 76” rant, but the Buddy Pass is certainly one of those things that would have interested me more in the online, multiplayer game and I would totally be down to see other games move with this model in the future.
The Terror Twins are adorkable. They’re goofy, loveable, and total badasses. They are exactly what I would imagine the daughters of BJ Blazkowicz to be, yet there is a moment early in the game that really sold me on them. *SPOILERS* At the start of the game they’re about to kill their first Nazi, and you can visibly see how nervous they are. They try to act tough but as soon as they attempt it, things go a little wrong. They end up killing the dude right after, but Soph ends up puking mid-celebration from a combination of excitement, nerves, and fear. Even though they were BJ’s daughters and raised to be tough as nails and kill Nazi’s, they were still human. They weren’t some invincible killing machines without feelings or emotions, and it really just created this relatability with them.
The only thing that really didn’t vibe with me was the constant one-liners, but it’s not something that other games haven’t done in the past so I feel like I can give them a pass here.
I’ve heard the complaint, but I guess I don’t get it all that much. Wolfenstein Youngblood retails at $30 which to me is a great deal for a AAA title in 2019. Inside the game, there are microtransactions in the form of skins for your characters and guns. And don’t take this as me trying to defend microtransactions. I think they’re the bane of gaming. It’s worth noting that most of the skins in-game can be bought by collecting silver you find throughout the game. There are a couple of skins that can only be unlocked with “Premium Currency”, but since it’s mostly a single-player game it really doesn’t matter all too much because let’s be honest… Who are you going to show it off to?
The Garvey Effect
As you progress through the game, you start getting radio comms from Abby telling you to do this or that, and all I could think about was the line “Another Settlement needs your help” from Preston Garvey in Fallout. While I did like most of the missions in the game, I found those missions to be similar in nature to Fallout 4’s Garvey missions. Some would argue that is the worst part of Fallout 4, but again, not here to rant about my issues with the Fallout franchise.
It’s worth noting that a lot of these missions do give off a decent amount of XP or silver, so they’re certainly worth checking out from time to time. But every time I hear Abby on the comms, I can’t help but get this sinking feeling and just want to scream “UGH WHAT NOW”. On the other hand, many of the quests felt a lot like filler and didn’t really add anything to the storyline other than expanding the total playtime of the game.
Generally, many games will have a start point and a finish point, and the storyline and gameplay works fairly straight forward with little deviation. In some cases, you may have a few side quests to take on that help out the NPCs or just better prepare you with XP and new items or skills to take on the next level or section of the game. In Wolfenstein Youngblood, a lot of the side quests seem to be backtracking – especially if you want to complete all the side missions for the French Resistance. You’ll have to go to Detention Center 4 to grab an item for someone, you’ll have to go to Victory Lane to kill someone, you’ll bomb a factory in between but to get there you have to go through Little Berlin. A lot of them just don’t really make sense, especially taking you through specific parts of the world you’ve already visited and should be moving on from. But for a $30 game, I’m not going to nitpick it all too much.
Most of the supporting cast in this game was really forgettable when compared to Abby and the Terror Twins. However, those two are good enough to make up for what falls short in the character development department. I do wish that there was a little more to everyone else other than being quest givers, but at the same time, I’m playing this game to kill some Nazi’s, not get attached to secondary characters who won’t be relevant in future Wolfenstein games.
While I understand how networking works in terms of online gameplay, I don’t believe this issue to be relating to my Internet connection given the widespread reports of it. When playing online, I would often encounter audio dropping in and out. I really only noticed it when I was playing online, so it’s possible it could be a bug or issue strictly with Co-Op mode, but it was pretty distracting when you were trying to get into things. When I was playing by myself, I’d switch to offline gameplay because bad audio would ruin the immersive experience. Allegedly restarting the game would fix the issue, but it would come back again the next time you wanted to play and it felt extremely bothersome to have to log in twice each time you wanted to play to resolve the issue. Which brings me to the next complaint I have…
The first time I restarted the game, I found out about the horrible checkpoints the game has. I was in one of the strongholds and had to restart because the audio issue was totally throwing me off. Upon logging in, I was at the very beginning of that level, way outside of the enemy stronghold with minimal amounts of ammo. It’s like dying in an RPG but remembering the last time you saved was 15-30 minutes ago and you have to fight your way through all of those enemies once again just to be where you should be. Nothing makes you want to put a game down faster than having to replay an entire level that you just went through. I personally haven’t died often, but I was always afraid of dying after that and having to replay certain parts of the game again. What a buzzkill.
While the enemies level as you level, that doesn’t mean they get any smarter or harder to kill. I was expecting that as I leveled, the enemies would start throwing different strategies at me. But outside a few new enemy types, nothing really changed. A lot of the time I could sit there and take the hits and maybe just move left or right periodically, but it was nothing an up-close shotgun to the face couldn’t fix for me. The same for the AI of your sister. There were times where she would just sit there, not moving or attacking, and there were plenty of times I would try to sneak up on an enemy only for her to walk right up and invite them to tea! Ok, not literally but you get the idea.
I’ll try to keep spoilers to a minimum, but what was a pretty shocking twist is that the game really didn’t have a main big baddie for all of this drama to lead up to. There is a lot of talk about a German Commander named Brandt, but you never get any real interaction with him until the last hour of the game. This is the biggest problem I have with Wolfenstein Youngblood, especially when you compare it to villains like Frau Ingel and Deathshead of New Order / Colossus. The game fell super short when it came to Brandt. And sure, you get to see how much of an asshole he really is in the last hour of gameplay but it really isn’t the same as the build-up to that confrontation is totally missing.
One of the main complaints I’ve heard about the game is that it’s a lot like a looter shooter, but I just don’t see it. When I think of Looter Shooters, I think of Destiny and Borderlands, where I have to keep going back to certain places in order to kill the same boss over and over, in hopes that they drop X gear that only they have. Sure, there is a lot of backtracking in Youngblood, but it’s definitely doesn’t drive home the grind like a game as Borderlands does.
Overall, you do get some bang for your buck by picking up Wolfenstein Youngblood at the $30 price point. It certainly is a good way to kill some time, and some Nazi’s, whether you’re a fan of the Wolfenstein franchise or not. If I had to put a number to it, I’d rate it a 6 or 7 out of 10.