Wolfenstein: Youngblood (PlayStation 4) Review

By Albert Lichi 10.08.2019 2

Review for Wolfenstein: Youngblood on PlayStation 4

When Wolfenstein: The New Order revitalized the grandfather of all first-person shooters in 2014, it was hailed for its nuanced story and character development; compounded with some unbelievable gunplay and fast action. This reboot had everything going for it, and was followed up by 2016's Wolfenstein: The Old Blood; a lower priced and budgeted prequel that still managed to compete with full priced AAA titles. By the time the true sequel Wolfenstein: The New Colossus came around in 2017, the series began to undergo some changes, and some would say for the worse. Wolfenstein: Youngblood is like The Old Blood in that it is a side-story where the developers experiment. Do Arkane and Machine Games succeed with their collaboration? Or should Youngblood be buried away like a Nazi experiment?

Wolfenstein: The New Order and The Old Blood are certifiable first-person shooter masterpieces of this generation that belong in everyone's library. The first game had an excellent balance of action and intermittent stealth that actually worked. The story and character writing was a notch above most, and suddenly B.J. Blazkowicz was a deep and nuanced protagonist. His harrowing internal monologues added a ton of flavour to the journey, as well as insight into his soul. The Old Blood was more of what people had hoped for but strictly set in the World War II setting where the atmosphere took on a more pulpy adventure vibe. The gameplay became more like a Half-Life 2-esque seamless campaign instead of the action divided up into stops at a regular hub. It was The New Colossus where things took a turn into a questionable direction and Wolfenstein: Youngblood takes a lot from it and only compounds on its worst qualities.

Screenshot for Wolfenstein: Youngblood on PlayStation 4

What exactly went wrong with The New Colossus that managed to worsen in Youngblood? The best way to describe the inconsistent tone is that it is as if the writers of the story have no moral compass what so ever. In the original, a poignant moment is when the heroes make a realization that they have effectively become the terrorists in a world where the Nazis have won the war and their government is the status quo. It was something to think about, and puts history into question of who the victors are and how everything the world knows today was determined by the winners of the war.

In Youngblood, the heroes are depicted as blood thirsty psychos who want to kill anyone who is a Nazi. The problem with this is the writers want to have their cake and eat it too, because they go out of their way to depict sympathetic Nazis at the same time. With the exception of maybe The Old Blood, every single entry in this reboot has had a character who was a former Nazi, or will contain letters written by Nazis that are addressed to their families. Youngblood is not the kind of game to try to attempt this kind of story with any nuance or grace at all, because the protagonists are so gleefully prepared to brutally murder any German who might have a Nazi label on them. At the very start the junior Blazkowicz sisters double team some bumbling Nazi who was not even armed, and was listening to a portable music player. His skull is blown to pieces and he never knew it, which leads to the scene of these girls hee-hawing it up while puking. This is the same series where in the previous game, the most likeable and sympathetic character was an overweight female Nazi officer. The tone deafness and warped sense of morality makes it impossible to get invested in anything story-related.

Screenshot for Wolfenstein: Youngblood on PlayStation 4

With Arkane co-developing with Machine Games, expect non-linear map design full of secret passages and alternate routes. The exploration in Youngblood is the strongest it has ever been in the entire franchise. The fact that the game targets 60 FPS while displaying such a highly dense world that is packed with all manner of points of interest, and does all this with two players active, is something the technicians should be proud of. Previous entries had a very linear approach to level design; essentially funnelling B.J to where he needed to go from set-piece to set-piece. This time the Blazkowicz sisters have a much grander playground to blow up, and while it may not be as vertical as the locales seen in Dishonored 2, for something so focused on co-op action there is nothing else quite like 1980 Nazi France. The only problem is when engaging an enemy that is an arbitrary high level.

Screenshot for Wolfenstein: Youngblood on PlayStation 4

Youngblood has the most tacked-on RPG mechanics since 2018's God of War. Any of the refinements and improvements that were made to the already smooth and responsive gunplay has been completely negated by the fact that there is now a levelling system that gates out a player regardless of their skill level. Yes it is true - no matter how many shotgun blasts to the head Soph nails on an elite armoured Nazi, he will never die because she is not tall enough to go on this ride. Spikes in difficulty is not exactly something new to this rebooted Wolfenstein series, but with Youngblood it gets taken to new heights because of this levelling system and how broken it is. Stealth is now less viable than ever, since nobody is willing to Solid Snake their way through these massive stages with a friend, and the AI controlled partner in single-player mode will always default to going full John Rambo. As if all of this was not bad enough, Youngblood is rotten with microtransactions.

Youngblood's levels are festooned with silver coins to collect which can be spent on weapon part upgrades or on a couple of skins. Sadly, users will also require these coins and the premium currency that must be bought with real money in order to unlock a vast majority of the more fun skins like B.J.'s pipe from The Old Blood. This is a story-driven, eight to ten hour campaign - this is not like Division 2 where there was a nigh endless amount of missions to do. This is not the place for this kind of model at all, and even worse; the premium currency is literally Nazi gold. This is so utterly tasteless and repugnant that it is hilarious. The team who decided on this could not have chosen a more inappropriate currency for their farcical alternate Nazi history. This used to be a series with some class and dignity, now it is just insulting to those who are related to holocaust survivors.

Screenshot for Wolfenstein: Youngblood on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

4/10
Rated 4 out of 10

Subpar

Wolfenstein: Youngblood is hurting without B.J.. While he was sort of made out to be a tool in The New Colossus, his daughters are insufferable dude-bros who only want to kill - they just so happen to use Nazis as an excuse to justify their bloodlust. There are no more soulful internal monologues, instead these girls cause tons of collateral damage, and the game acts like its cute. The gameplay is so flawed on a fundamental level that it is beyond saving and all of it is for the sake of padding. What's the point making the side-quests "optional" if they are necessary? May as well have made this a traditionally linear, first-person shooter in the first place.

Developer

MachineGames

Publisher

Bethesda Softworks

Genre

First Person Shooter

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  4/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Yeah I heard the forced SJW-type narrative was really painful in this game.  Do they think gamers are so stupid there can't be a neuanced attempt at this story? 

Dragon0085 said:
Yeah I heard the forced SJW-type narrative was really painful in this game.  Do they think gamers are so stupid there can't be a neuanced attempt at this story? 

I can abide a self righteous social justice narrative. What I cannot abide is a incoherent and contradicting story that has no moral
compass.

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