MachineGames took command the Wolfenstein IP with 2014’s Wolfenstein: The New Order. A year later, a stand alone spin-off, Wolfenstein: The Old Blood, was released. These games were met with positive reception for their gameplay and combat, with the former making it on OnlySP’s top 50 games list. With Wolfenstein: Youngblood, the developer is following a similar pattern to 2017’s Wolfenstein: The New Colossus by building on gameplay and combat that is uniquely Wolfenstein.
The environment felt similar to its predecessors as the game takes place 19 years after The New Colossus. However, instead of the series’s usual protagonist BJ Blazkowicz, the player controls either of his twin daughters, Sophia and Jessica, as they search for their father. A slightly lighter tone stood out in the banter between the twins during a brief cinematic before jumping into the demo.
The gameplay is more Wolfenstein as the gunplay has not changed, which is fine as the series has already established great gunplay mechanics. Killing enemies at a frenzied pace, swapping weapons within the inventory, or picking up enemies’ guns remained as fun as ever. While not as fast-paced as Bethesda’s other FPS franchise DOOM, the speed in Youngblood keeps players focused on the action taking place around them. The player has little time to evaluate and create a plan once spotted by enemies, instead being forced to use whatever is at their disposal to clear the area.
The combat is also tied with leveling in the game. Killing more enemies nets more XP, which is required to invest in the skill tree. The different branches—Mind, Muscle, and Power—are geared towards different playstyles. Each branch is accessible by Sophia and Jessica in addition to their special abilities, Crush and Cloak, which are not tied specifically to either character. The demo started early in the game, so did not grant an opportunity to try any of the skills since the amount of XP needed to level up was not gained until the end . That said, the XP requirements seemed like a grind since the best way to gain XP is to kill every enemy instead of taking a more stealthy approach.
While the gameplay and combat felt fun, the constant push for co-op can detract from an amazing game. The demo took place early in the game and was difficult to complete while playing on normal difficulty. Having an A.I. partner may make things more difficult for those without a friend to play with. Despite not having enough information about how the A.I. companion will play, the core gameplay for Youngblood can be enough to keep solo players hooked on what the game has to offer.
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