Time passes by everyone, even if it’s BJ Blazkowicz. But there is no problem since his twin daughters are ready to pick up the witness and continue riddling Nazis. Of course, it is not the only thing that changes. As you will see in Wolfenstein Youngblood’s analysis, the saga has greatly changed its course on this occasion.
We may have built a video game industry that does not allow experimentation. When each delivery has to offer optimal results in order to keep the franchise in good health, there is no time for changes or innovations, however great and creative they may sound on paper. This gives rise to a complex dichotomy, in which we demand originality, but also some continues in our favorite saga. And I think some companies have found the right pretext by experimenting with these, let’s call them expansions. Uncharted did it with The Lost Legacy, flirting slightly with the open world and non-linear goals. Bethesda herself radically changed Mooncrash’s proposal making Prey a roguelike. Now with Wolfenstein Youngblood, MachineGames looks at the difficult world of the looter shooter, but, as we will see, more for its structure than for its progression and looting.
Now I understand the words of Jerk Gustaffson when he expressed his fears that some of Youngblood’s mechanics may not convince players. Progressing in this game is a less curious experience. Used to face this saga for what it is, a Wolfenstein, a linear game; upon arrival at the catacombs of Paris found a completely different experience. I had to change my mind and stop facing everything like the crazy shooter I had played so far because things were not working. When I began to understand that the first linear mission gave rise to a kind of “hub” of objectives and locations to return to fulfill orders, leveling up, improving weapons and entering “raids”, I realized that I was more before a Destiny type experience with the control of a Wolfenstein. In the same way that Apex Legends has the core of Titanfall, but it is not a Titanfall, but a Battle Royale, Youngblood wants to become independent from the trunk saga, like a teenager rebelling against his parents.
When I understood its structure, at least, I was able to better organize my games and not go to certain death in prohibitive zones for my level. Wolfenstein Youngblood does not make it easy, and that is that the design of its maps and its way of guiding you through the objectives of the game is really difficult to understand at first. As if he wanted to hide his true identity, his diary does not divide the missions into main and secondary. It took me a bit to understand that the three raids I proposed were not classic raids, but the main path of the story, while the navigation points through the mapping do not help at all when exploring the different levels of the game.
I know that this structure must be difficult to understand (and explain) this paper. Just as difficult is the video game itself. Let’s say Wolfenstein has 6 main levels. The previous deliveries would have ordered them one by one. Here, however, the first of all open paths to the next four. Once we have completed the main objectives we can access the end. Along the way, we can do secondary activities or repeat phrases with a higher level of difficulty.
Wolfenstein Youngblood, ideas lab
This is where the dichotomy of which I spoke at the beginning comes. When turning gender, Youngblood does not end up being a good Wolfenstein, nor a great shooter with progression and levels with depth. If you are looking for the new Blazkowicz family adventure, what you will see here may disappoint you, since Youngblood’s story is at least anecdotal. Just with the introduction and two cinematic sequences in the final part, the whole plot of the game is told that it does not delve into the main narrative branch of its two previous installments. Yes, we know the twin daughters of BJ and they try to give them personality, but all the opportunities to talk with the members of the base or the huge amount of cinematic sequences of the other games are simply not there. Not even what is said is intended to be relevant, since, as an experiment it is, it will not be played by all fans.
If it catches your attention because you are fond of Destiny, Borderlands or The Division games, you will not find something here that really fascinates you, since Youngblood is just a miniature universe that does not have so many options for progression, complexity or number of missions of The above-mentioned games. It is at an intermediate point. A proposal reduced in scale that wants to take advantage of the good gunplay of the series to do something different. Therefore, we see that the Blazkowicz twins are able to level up, get new skills and spend some coins to unlock weapon upgrades. As we move forward, the classic machine guns and shotguns will add the most forceful, such as asLaserkraftwerk or the Dieselkraftwerk. Getting new skills and these better weapons will open blocked roads, almost as if it were a Metroidvania.
By not following the structure of a conventional shooter, Youngblood has changed the way to end every Nazi that gets in the way. There will be areas that we cannot access due to not having the appropriate level, but in turn, there is self-leveling, so all locations seek to offer the player a challenge. More important is to understand the enemies, and many of them will have not only life but armor. There are two types, for two kinds of ammunition and we will have to use the right weapon or we will have a bad time. A way to vary the weapon player, although at some point it can become a real nuisance, depending on the ammunition you have, if you play alone or accompanied and, above all, for how long it takes the animation at the time of changing weapons.
Does not follow the structure of a conventional shooter
Even accepting that this Wolfenstein Youngblood seeks a less linear progression, which embraces the repetition of levels and areas in which to level up your twin, I think that he fails to fulfill the true essence that engages in these games. Mainly because there are few reasons to want to progress, even more with the endgame and the main campaign ended. Once you find all the weapons, these will not be replaced by other higher-level, nor can you improve them without limits. Every object you find, even in the most closed and inaccessible rooms, is consumable. What hooks of these games is that there is always a more powerful weapon, a better armor or a unique ability to get to access the toughest phases, but here, having no new equipment and self-leveling,
Now, I think there is a huge difference in playing this Youngblood alone or in a cooperative. If you go through this campaign accompanied by artificial intelligence, all the strategic intentions that MachineGames seeks are partly lost along the way. The way to deal with the armor of the enemies is more interesting when you can coordinate with a friend and that each one deals with a certain type of armor, while with AI there is no way to know what your partner is doing. This is more flagrant in the advanced parts of the game, where it is very important to use a bait player before a tough enemy so that the other is able to find his back and hit at the weak point.
Playing with a friend, leveling enemies is hard to understand. The levels of the host are maintained, but your partner’s statistics, whether high or low, are coupled to it. Even so, I have noticed that the enemy damage and even the amount of opponents are more challenging when you play cooperatively than alone, creating on the way a more interesting dynamic that prevents you from moving forward as fast as you would … well, in the other Wolfenstein.
Perhaps the most important of this cooperative dynamic is the use of limited lives. Up to a maximum of three shares are those that we can obtain at the same time. If one of the two twins falls, it can always be rescued by the other without the need to spend this precious resource, but if the two fall or you decide to revive by your own means, you will lose one. This mechanic can be completely irrelevant when you are on generic missions, however, within a raid, it means repeating it from the beginning, without checkpoints that are worth it. And when this happens sometimes because AI is involved in helping you or entering a dangerous area, it can be very punishing. I have had to repeat some raid from the beginning being before the final boss for having spent all these lives. So be very careful with your accountant.
Wolfenstein Youngblood is, therefore, an experiment.
In short, it is hard to explain and it is hard to understand Wolfenstein Youngblood. Fans of this franchise will feel divided, between those who have enjoyed the experiment and those who would have preferred something more similar to what the first game did with The Old Blood or with The New Colossus DLCs. Its visual design also gives one of lime and another of sand. We have seen open scenarios that I have no doubt that has been designed from paper to the three-dimensional model by Arkane Studios because the hand of the creators of Dishonored is noticed, while other rooms (for example the sewers and underground bases) are lost in the excessive repetition of the surfaces and materials. The game on PC ( system requirements ), yes, it is still a fluid and achieved experience as we have used the id Tech 6 engine, while the slight melodies we hear in our passage through Paris are inspired by the incipient electronic instruments of the 80s. The dubbing in Spanish continues in its thirteen, determined to imitate the tones of the original rather than interpret and locate, losing much depth in the most comic or violent moments, while the original manages to give the twins some personality, identical in appearance but different in their tastes, manias, and humor.
Wolfenstein Youngblood is, therefore, an experiment.
I applaud the intention more than the result. Something that MachineGames probably would never have dared to do in the main franchise and that serves more than anything to test the terrain of the likes and desires of the player. It is more than likely that, given the gender similarities between Doom and Wolfenstein herself, Bethesda is looking to differentiate them, although I don’t know if it’s the right way. Wolfenstein has been characterized by this last resurrection in offering direct action and a long history and with many cinematics and little of it we have found here. Doom, in fact, has more room for maneuver thanks to a more labyrinthine level design that takes advantage of backtracking, skills, and enhancers, as Eternal Doom seems to be demonstrating. But I don’t know if Youngblood is the way. Not everything has to be a progression of levels, open structures, and endgames. There are sensations that are only achieved when, simply, you cross narrow, linear corridors and Nazi dismemberments along the way. BJ Blazkowicz said in The New Colossus that “a hand ax and a Nazi play a lot.” They also give a lot of videogames. Sometimes you don’t need more.
Wolfenstein Youngblood is an experiment. One that flirts with non-linear structures, progressions by levels and endgame. There is no doubt that it is still more shooter than looter, although neither that it has been fixed and much in what this genre is doing and getting. To do this, he gets rid of the narrative load and misses it. Also of the purity of killing Nazis without having to look at levels and statistics. In cooperation with a friend, it is fun and I would say more challenging. However, there is no doubt that it is a completely different way of seeing Wolfenstein. Maybe more modern, but different.
- The gunplay is still as fun as ever
- Some open scenarios are very well designed. It shows Arkane’s hand
- In cooperation with a friend, it is fun and challenging.
- The design is confusing. It’s hard to understand map navigation and missions
- The structure is more open, but repetitive and with few incentives to return to the same areas
- Notorious absence of history. Just some kinematics in a little relevant script
- The progression does not encourage playing and replacing levels. Player rewards are lacking for the time spent on it