If you had concerns about Wolfenstein: Youngblood's new approach to the coveted shooter franchise, have no fear. With the ability to partner up and play as one of BJ Blaskowicz's twin daughters, Wolfenstein: Youngblood offers double the action and double the fun. I had a blast playing with a partner on the show floor of E3.
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus left me disappointed in its larger focus on stealth and lacking level design. In Youngblood, I was thrown right into the battle on the streets of 1970s Nazi-occupied Paris. My partner and I had no hesitation and went blasting away. The Nazi enemies in Youngblood are much beefier this time around. While some enemies are simple cannon fodder, others have armor and take many hits to take down. The most fearsome foe I encountered was a flamethrower-toting, armored-up Nazi that struck fear in our hearts.
Enemies are understandably more difficult to take down this time around. It appears that MachineGames added a considerable amount of armor and health to these Nazis to balance the cooperative gameplay. Youngblood encourages teamwork when in a firefight. Late in the level we fought a Panzerhund. These robot dogs are armed to the teeth with steel and a flamethrower. I ran around like a headless chicken trying to avoid its flames while my partner blasted away at the Panzerhund.
Enemies in Youngblood have health bars, and for the more bulky enemies, the health bar did not seem to tick down. This gave the illusion that your bullets were doing no damage. It remains to be seen if static health bars will be fixed, but the health capacity of enemies might benefit from an adjustment.
One of the strongest aspects of the new Wolfenstein games are its weapons. The guns in Youngblood are brutal and loud, and tear apart enemies as you would expect from MachineGames. Youngblood features several weapons from previous games in the series such as the Sturmgewehr assault rifle and shotgun make a return. A new weapon I encountered resembled an Uzi and had high fire rate and recoil.
Skillpoints and perks made an appearance as well. They are separated into categories, and one perk might allow you to duel-wield weapons while another increases your max health capacity. A considerable amount of perks for your character is at your disposal, and I leveled up throughout the demo like an RPG.
Combat mechanics aside, level design of Wolfenstein: Youngblood is shaping up nicely, in part due to MachineGames' collaboration with Arkane Studios. The streets of Paris were detailed beautifully in a strange, alternate-history 1970's aesthetic. The demo mostly took place within the streets of Paris. With alleys and stairs to higher levels on the sidewalk, I was able to get in and out of cover in a really interesting and fun environment. At one point we reached a fork in the road. A side-path through a building to an upper floor gave us a better view of the firefight waiting ahead. For a more direct approach, we could have climbed up the ladder to the top of a Nazi barricade, but we wouldn't have the element of surprise.
Arkane's level design always encouraged different ways to approach each situation, and I could see that here. While I can't say for certain how much will be in the final product, I enjoyed the enemy placement and interesting locale. Some ways to move forward required collaboration between me and my partner. A closed door blocked our way and had a keypad requiring a code to proceed. A booth a few feet away had a code generator, so I was able to relay the right code to my partner while he punched it in.
The twins themselves didn't seem to display their personality as much as I expected. There was little chatter between the two, so I hope that later on their characters can develop and quip at each other as combat ensues. Little bits of customization for the characters are available too. You can unlock skins and helmets for the twins to personalize your character.
If The New Colossus left you disappointed, Youngblood is still worth a look. While I am unsure if the gameplay will be as fun and engaging without a friend, there's enough improvements and new features this time around to interest fans of the series.
Wolfenstein: Youngblood releases on the Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch, and PC on July 26, 2019.
If you want to know more about this and other announcements happening at E3 then be sure to check out our E3 2019 Coverage Hub.