Wolfenstein: Youngblood came out recently and the internet seems to be collectively shooting this game down. This might actually be the game’s own fault, not because of the development, but because of the radical changes it made to the series, such as removing the main character s, the one-dimensional awesomeness powerhouse we all know and love. How dare you Bethesda?! How dare you…
Development and reception
But let’s be serious about it for a second. You can’t actually blame or hate a game just because it’s not your favorite character this time. So the studio decided to expand the story a bit, so what? And, they’ve added Blazkowicz’s twin daughters this time, what’s wrong with that? What can be cooler than two badass chicks in a shooting extravaganza? Well, the internet begs to differ as the game so far received mixed to average ratings. It has 6.5/10 on IGN and many YouTubers have rushed to release videos badmouthing this game. However, on PC Gamer, it scored 79/100 and Metacritic gave it around 70, depending on the platform. This is not so terrible.
Wolfenstein: Youngblood release date was on July 25, 2019, and it was developed by MachineGames and Arkane Studios, with Bethesda handling publishing of course. Now, in their rant, critics are mainly focusing their arguments on comparing this title with its predecessor, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, which came out in 2017. The game was a massive success and it enjoys critical acclaim even today. But, instead of going at it alone, this time around Machine Games studios were joined by the Arkane Studios and the game was developed for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, as well as the standard PC version. The previous title in the series also came out for all these platforms, and here perhaps lies some explanation as to why the studios went in this direction. It is perhaps tied to the game’s story, to the co-op gameplay accommodation, and to the overall trend of predominantly having male characters in video games.
The events in Wolfenstein: Youngblood are unfolding 20 years after the previous fan-favorite game, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus. The New Colossus was a culmination of all the events set up in previous titles and it was Blazkowicz wake up after a 5-month coma he went into after destroying the nuclear cannon. He finds out Anya, his love interest, carries their twins. 20 years later, this plot unfolds after Blazgowicz and Anya lived in peace, raising their two daughters in a Nazi-free society. However, voices from the past soon come calling and Blazkowicz disappears without a trace, leaving the two twin girls, Jessica and Sophia, to travel to Neu-Paris, a Nazi occupied city, to contact the French resistance and fight their own battle.
Adding the twin daughters as protagonists seems like a sound decision, if we are unbiased. You are playing as either Sophia or Jessica, but, and here’s the catch, both twin sisters need to go through the game. This means that you either play this in multiplayer co-op, or the other sister is being controlled by the AI, and here is where the first problems begin. So far, the dominating feedback is that the AI is too poor when you play single player mode. The other AI controlled sister dies all the time and doesn’t behave to the best of her ability, polluting the gaming experience for a single player. This is solved by playing it as a co-op, which is why most critics say that this game is a co-op must.
The second complaint concerns the twins and the overall opinion is that they are just not as cool as their dad. Well, of course they are not! All jokes aside, most critics agreed that their characters are too poorly written, that the sister’s mutual dialog and interaction seems too generic and that the old Wolfenstein rough-and-tough talk flavor is taken out of the game completely. However, this game seems intended to provide the co-op experience and it was its priority, with neglecting many other iconic Wolfenstein moments.
Other complaints about the game concern some in-game mechanics, like when you die, you respawn with the amount of ammo and weapons you had at that certain checkpoint, so you need to go on a grind again. Furthermore, the check points are too far apart and sometimes a boss may kill you only for you to be going through a big part of the level again, which is quite unnerving. And, since your AI controlled twin sister dies regularly, the game is sometimes impossible to handle, which completely pollutes the experience.
Wolfenstein: Youngblood represents a step down from the previous title, Wolfenstein: The New Colossus, in many things and graphics is also one of them. However, this may be due to the game’s adaptability to older consoles and for a wider audience. As a Co-Op shooter, this game is too demanding for portable devices and in order to sort the gameplay and make the whole experience smoother, the developers decided on an economic variant. If that’s the case, than this can’t really be hung on them, because they can also probably make a game none of our devices can run, so…
Wolfenstein: Youngblood took some radical, bold modes, and it is paying the price for it. However, you can’t just make the same game over and over again and call it a different name. Ultimately, you have to evolve the story and the characters, and in this respect, this game is a good idea overall. It only needs to solve some of its in-game problems, fix the AI, and perhaps rebalance some mechanics. As a Co-Op experience, this game represents a good opportunity to have fun and it is at least worth a try.