I Really Don’t Like Wolfenstein: Youngblood

If you have been following my blog the past few months, you know that I have been making my way through the most recent entries in the Wolfenstein franchise. For the most part, I have been really enjoying my time through this weird dystopian series. It has its highs and lows for sure, but each title so far has given me some sort of reason to finish it. That was until I reached Wolfenstein: Youngblood.

What I thought seemed like a promising premise turned into one of my most frustrating and boring video game experiences of this year. Rarely do I ever not finish a game when I have it started, but Youngblood convinced me that my time was more valuable than whatever type of experience it was trying to serve me. 

Wolfenstein: Youngblood

Kind of Cheapens the Story

Not that I don’t like the idea of seeing more of this universe, but we haven’t finished the other arc. We skip ahead of whatever the events of Wolfenstein 3 are going to be to see the children of our heroes grown up and contributing to the fight because, as it turns out, the Nazis still have control of a large part of the world. 

I don’t know. It just makes me think that when Wolfenstein 3 does release, it won’t be as fulfilling as it could have been without this game. They could have waited a few more years to develop this type of story.

The beginning of the game is kind of sweet seeing Blazcowicz and Anya train their daughters, Jessie and Zofia, to be fighters and helps to show how they became so competent however the plot soon goes into a tailspin. Blazkowicz goes missing, and Jessie and Zofia decide to track him down across the world because no one else will.

They have no real-life experience as they were only trained, and you can see the incompetency as they begin their investigation. It felt refreshing at this point, and then they kill for the first time, and all of that is thrown out the window.

Once they got past their initial anxiety, they turned into killing machines like their father but ones that are infinitely more annoying to hear prattle on in the background. 

The twins’ frustrating dynamic, weird 180 character development, and the lack of any of the interesting world-building that made the other games tolerable makes this a story I have even less interest in than Old Blood.

Wolfenstein: Youngblood

Frustrating Gameplay Changes

But let’s be honest, the Wolfenstein stories are never the real meat of these games. Instead, we come for the adrenaline-pumping gunplay and heart-gripping stealth sections. Unfortunately, Youngblood is more than just a departure from its main character. The gameplay has changed for the worse and not in the ways you might expect. 

First, there really aren’t any stealth opportunities like there were in past games. In the other games, most sections could be navigated, at least partially, in a stealthy manner which allowed the player to get a leg-up on any confrontation you might encounter. 

In Youngblood, you’ll be lucky to get one or two enemies down, that is, unless you are abusing the stealth suit. However, that in and of itself kind of takes away a lot of what made the stealth interesting in the first place and kind of makes stealth more tedious as you wait for the suit to recharge.

Combat now has taken on a leveling system where you can fight enemies that are both above or below you in power level, which makes them either made of paper and easily torn apart or bullet sponges. There really is no in-between, and it was the main reason I found this game so infuriating to play, especially by myself. 

As you progress, levels will require that you are stronger in order to take down some of these more tanky enemies, but the only way to do that is by completing missions and fighting lower-level enemies (unless you want to fight the spongy enemies).

I did this for a little but ended up playing the same couple of levels over and over again as they were recycled with more powerful enemies populating them over time. What’s the point of me leveling up if all the enemies are going to keep pace with me? 

Not only are you forcing me to replay these sections, but you are forcing me to fight enemies that shouldn’t be nearly as slow to kill as they are. Often, this game would feel more like a grind than an enjoyable Wolfenstein experience where I was learning how best to fight the enemies and conquer certain sections of the game. 

I don’t understand why they couldn’t have kept a more traditional enemy roster without levels like the previous games did. If you wanted stronger enemies, then you can add tiers but enemies leveling up makes it so tedious.

Coop Inclusion Was a Mistake

I have mixed feelings about games that go for a full coop focus. Often the mechanics can seem clunky and stand out in the overall world as not seeming natural.

This is especially true when a series that has been traditionally single-player try to shoehorn coop into the game. A great example is Dead Space, where the introduction of coop not only took away from the core philosophy of the game but introduced mechanics that were clunky at best and infuriating at worst. 

The exact same thing can be said about Youngblood. The moment I got to a key objective and had to wait for my AI partner to catch up in order to open a door, I knew that I wasn’t going to like this game nearly as much as the others.

The AI was more or less useless in most situations except when she revived me (sometimes). For the most part, it was me taking on the world of overly difficult bullet sponges in the same few repeated corridors while also trying to make sure that my partner didn’t completely die. If she did, I would also be reverted to another checkpoint, much like Gears of War. 

So I thought maybe the AI was just bad, and I could give online a try for once? Maybe that was the definitive experience that this game needed. While I wasn’t happy about it, I did give it a try, and matchmaking was effectively broken.

I’m not sure if it’s because I was playing so late into the game’s life or what but long load times, constant drops, and low population were all I ran into. I never had a session last longer than 10 minutes before someone left.

I was so frustrated by the end of the 15th hour of play that I decided that Youngblood wasn’t worth my time any longer. I really hope that we don’t get any more of this type of game from the Wolfenstein franchise. 

A few tweaks to this story, and it would be tolerable, but the gameplay mechanics introduced and the forced coop are some of my least favorite additions to this series. I appreciate the idea of trying new things, but these changes don’t enhance my experience as a fan. In fact, these choices inhibit me from enjoying the game at all.

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