Well, I did it. It took me literal years, but I beat Youngblood. Not because it was difficult, more because it was … boring. The game picks up in the 1980s, where you play one of BJ Blazkowicz’s twin daughters, Soph or the Jess (the one I played), living in Paris and taking on the Nazis. It’s a co-op game though you can play it alone, with your sister being AI controlled.
The game’s not bad. The gameplay itself is pretty much identical to the previous games in the series. The guns are mostly the same, but can be upgraded, which I enjoyed. You can steal in or go guns ablazing. The enemies are difficult and you can tell that MachineGames understands how to make a good FPS fight.
My main issue is that Paris is a “hub” and so all of the missions take place in the same locations, which are all well thought out and look great, but the repetition gets annoying after a while. Wolfenstein as a series is linear, and part of the fun is going to all of the new locations. Even New Colossus, which had a hub of the submarine, kept advancing the plot through interesting locations. Youngblood feels like MachineGames ran out of plot ideas and (probably) was pushed into making a co-op game because it was popular at the time. But the plot suffers because of it. The game isn’t as fun or weird as the first two games of the trilogy, and Soph and Jess just aren’t very interesting characters. The concept of guerilla style fighting in the streets is cool, but it just gets old fast, and not enough new gameplay concepts are introduced to keep the series fresh.
SPOILERS AFTER THIS POINT:
I will say, I did appreciate the moment when they finally reunite with BJ and he reveals that he has learned of a dimension where the Nazis lost World War II. This was a huge gripe of mine with the new Wolfenstein trilogy: it sucks that the Nazis won the war. I know, the fact that they won means you get to experience killing Nazis in different decades, but it always fundamentally bugged me. It’s just historical fiction, so I shrug it off. But now the game acknowledges that BJ’s universe is different from ours. It’s kind of a corny twist, but I liked it.
The game also ends with this revelation that Hitler had a doomsday device that BJ accidentally activated, which is slowly killing (their) Earth. The scene is clearly a setup for Wolfenstein 3, which will maybe? get made? Nobody is sure. Youngblood didn’t sell well so they’ve either canned it or are waiting to release it. I hope didn’t can it; The New Order and The New Colossus are excellent games (the former is in my top ten for sure) and the series deserves a wrap up, especially since Youngblood feels like a side story, a la The Old Blood. I’m hoping we get some BJ Blazkowicz in the 90s action, trying to get his family through some portal into our universe.
All in all, Youngblood was fairly average. Good fights hampered by a lackluster story and a strange lack of humor and weirdness which permeated the first two games. Hopefully it didn’t do too bad and MachineGames gets the go ahead for Wolfenstein 3.