Wolfenstein: Youngblood

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action
Publisher: Bethesda
Developer: MachineGames
Release Date: July 26, 2019


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Switch/PS4/XOne/PC Preview - 'Wolfenstein: Youngblood'

by Redmond Carolipio on July 13, 2019 @ 2:00 a.m. PDT

Wolfenstein: Youngblood is a co-op experience where play as one of BJ Blazkowicz's twin daughters and undertake a do-or-die mission to find their missing father in 1980s Paris.

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Killing troves of Nazis has always been a thing in video games, but for nearly four decades, no one has done it better or more often than B.J. Blazkowicz. He's the face of the Wolfenstein series since the early 1990s, so gamers have seen B.J. tear through alternative, Nazi-dominant history in the most violent way possible, his path always seeming to end with a bullet-soaked confrontation with some dastardly version of Adolf Hitler. You can't unsee Hitler in a powered mech suit.

The Wolfenstein name has evolved from that chaos, giving B.J. a distinct face, voice and tragic backstory. The past two games have stirred in long cinematics and deep characters to turn B.J's fight against the Nazis into an epic saga: It's gaming's bloody answer to "The Man in the High Castle."

Wolfenstein: Youngblood turns the Blazkowicz journey into something generational. This time, it's B.J's twin daughters who have to take up the fight in the 1980s, a couple of decades after the events of New Colossus. It looks like B.J. has gone missing in Paris, and his two well-trained offspring, Jessica and Sophia, make it their mission to try and find him.

Like the previous Wolfenstein games, storytelling and lengthy character-deepening cinematics set the tone for the adventure and help establish Jess and Soph as entertaining protagonists in their own right. They have a goofy, almost twisted chemistry together and emit a strange and youthful enthusiasm as they resume their father's work in wiping the Nazis they encounter off the face of the earth. Both women use crafted, form-fitting power suits that allow them to do things like double-jump and climb otherwise untenable areas. They are faster and more agile than their dad ever was, which alters the geometry of gunfights and exploration.

Single-player is certainly available with an AI partner, but this game feels meant to be realized with another person. That was the case in the fast-paced demo we got to try at E3 2019, as my partner and I had to communicate constantly to not only fight effectively, but also to triumph over some of the light puzzles, like finding pairs of levers to be pulled simultaneously or opening heavier doors. Both of us had a slight tendency to get lost, and used a combination of map and communication to find each other in those moments.

The action has the kind of Doom-like speed and fury you'd expect, and the Nazis the sisters face in Paris also come in a variety of shapes and sizes, or at least their weapons do. Our demo concluded with General Winkler, a boss in powered armor who managed to reliably laser the hell out of us consistently before we were able to put him down.

Wolfenstein: Youngblood was one of the more fun demos to try hands-on at the show, and it looks poised to be the ideal spin-off of a series that, to me, has underrated depth. It'll be intriguing to see how the sisters Blazkowicz add to the legacy.

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