Wolfenstein Youngblood follows in the same footsteps as its three predecessors that sucessfully revived the series in 2009. Having liked Wolfenstein, The New Order and The New Colossus I thought that sharing that kind of game with a friend in Coop would be even better. This is the first installement in this series that allows you to do that and I’m a big fan of Coop gameplay. And by Coop I mean playing the regular campaign with a fellow gamer, not some unrelated multiplayer map or basic PvP action. I want to experience the story with somebody, have a ton of fun and discuss the game while playing it.
Being a German countryman I was happy see that for the first time we were able to buy the international version that is uncut, meaning it’s full of Nazi symbolism and there’s talk about The Führer and not some family friendly Herr Heiler (or what the name was). Now, I don’t really care about all those Swastikas, but I do prefer the English original audio. Although the German translation and voice actors were pretty good in the previous games, nothing beats the original, especially when you are playing an English-native running around in Germany. It makes the game so much more immersive because then only the Germans talk in German, not everybody because of translation.
Since I’m already on the topic of audio, let’s quickly discuss voice actors. The main protagonists are spot on, as expected. Even the German speakers seem to be without any accent so they might as well be Germans. What we noticed though is that the way they are speaking, meaning the translated text, is not how I would expect a native German speaker to talk. It’s too much "by the book", if that makes any sense. It lacks a bit of colloquialism to make it feel more natural. In any case, it’s still a job well done and something only Germans are likely to notice. Other than that, the weapon sounds are good and the music that tries to keep the adrenalin pumping in action scenes is dark and rough, perfectly fitting for this type of game.
Rounding off this section about the game technology I’ll quickly drop a note about the graphics. First of all, I like that the game looks good and runs very well, even on lower end hardware. It is, however, quite dull. Everything is several shades of grey, some red and black and that’s about it. It perfectly fits the scenario, but it’s nothing that’ll wow you. It gets the job done without getting in the way.
On the flipside of that shiny coin is the horrible networking implementation. My virtual-Nazi-shooting partner and I constantly dropped out of the game because one of us had connectivity issues. This was a big bummer because that meant for one player to start at the beginning of the map. When you’re deep into the "boss" lair this is very frustrating. The good thing is that one player stays in the game and the other then simply joins. That player must plow through hordes of crazy virtual Nazis again, though. Alone. That it can be done better is shown by Ghost Recon Wildlands, which is rock stable.
Now, on to the gameplay itself and that’s where the game starts to fall apart. First, the shooter mechanics feel great. It fast paced, it’s demanding, the weapons provide a nice feedback, it feels good. Until the hordes upon hordes of enemies start to wear and tear on your patience. Unless you manage to stealth everything, which is a tough thing to do, you’ll have to fight your way through several waves of enemies. During the first few hours you won’t really realize this is happening. But as soon as you start to figure out how the game works… it just becomes an annoyance. It’s like a hack’n’slay Diablo type of game turned into a shooter.
What’s also very annoying is the level design. Although the individual levels are fine, you kinda get bored after your third visit to the same location. Or after you’ve been given the same "random" side objective in the same location for the n-th time. There is so much level recycling in this game to a point where you can call it awful. This, combined with enemy respawning and the seemlingly endless waves (they do end after a while), unfortunately make this a mediocre game.
Now, there are good parts that have been a lot of fun. Every main objective that progresses the story and takes you to a "boss" location was very fun to play (despite waves of enemies). These missions usually took a bit longer to get through and took place in unique locations that you don’t have to visit more than once. You could, mind you. One time we took down one boss, went back to the quest giver to finish it, only to receive another side mission to fetch something from exact the same location at the very end of said location. Although that made sense logically, i.e. you don’t know what to do until you’ve screened all the intel that you have to get in the first place, it just sucks to be told to backtrack to where you came from. That is poor design. And this is how fast you can get from good to bad in a short time, just like in the game.
It’s unfortunate that for the sake of building some sort of open world (it’s not exactly open) with main missions and side missions to level up your character in preparation for the big fights the good of this game has to suffer. I have enjoyed the story, which has a surprising twist, and the two main characters it revolves around. There’s quite some good in this game, but I feel like a linear shooter would’ve been a better choice. No farming for experience, no needless visits to the same part of the map around 10 times (if that’s even enough). Just a nice story, some female testosterone and a lot of action.
If you don’t mind the downsides then it’s an entertaining game – assuming the network connection is stable. But if you hate revisiting the same place over and over and over and over and over and… again, then you might want to steer away.