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Wolfenstein Youngblood is pure, unadulterated shoot-em-up coop fun: review


Nevermind, that you may not always pay attention to the story, or that the wild mech-suits of the protagonists feel way over-the-top. Because here’s all you need to know about Wolfenstein: Youngblood: This game is riotous, terrific fun.

Welcome to the latest chapter in the alternate reality world of Wolfenstein, where the Nazis won World War II. These days, BJ Blazkowicz is nowhere to be found, so his twin daughters, Jessica and Sophia, are on the case to uncover his whereabouts -- and take down plenty of baddies along the way.

And really, that’s all you need to know about Youngblood, and that’s the only thing you need to appreciate some of the best first-person shooter cooperative gameplay around. Once you get into the action, you’re basically traipsing through Nazi-occupied France in search of BJ, and with plenty of reason to take down Nazi after Nazi.

That taking down part is as fun as it gets, too, especially when you buddy up. Youngblood is different from other Wolfenstein games, pushing less narrative on the gamer and instead letting you take on missions in non-linear order. Initially, this departure from previous titles throws you off, because you’re expecting a far more “guided” experience. But once you get used to it, it lets you visit and revisit various areas and approach them in different ways.

It also allows provides you with ample opportunities to enjoy fantastic gunplay and gameplay. The entire experience is best appreciated with a good coop friend, although it’s very easy for friends or anyone else to drop into and out of your game to lend support. Either way, you’re treated to a strong blend of open spaces for battles and more contained areas. The Neu-Paris that you explore has an underrated sense of verticality to it, too, forcing you to battle and brawl with your head constantly on a swivel. Watch for the snipers above, and know that you can take them down by doing more than simply shooting at them, too.

The Nazi forces arrive in great variety, everything from standard one-shot-kill troops to bullet-sponge fire-breathing hounds. Boss fights (yes, this game has them) are legitimately challenging, but the game never feels unfair. That’s especially true once you realize that different weapons produce different levels of impact against certain shields, the game’s way of keeping your weapons usage honest. The earlier you figure this out, the better.

Even if you don’t get that, though, the game is still a blast, and really, every gun feels great. All your weapons can be upgraded with the coins you pick up on the battlefield, and adding scopes, barrels and new magazines to each blaster winds up being a fun and customizable experience. Everything you fire offers weight and force, too; no gun feels weak or underpowered.

Both Jess and Soph feel strong, too, thanks to a series of powers that make them that much more vicious (that, and some wild-looking suits that, from the very beginning of the game, feel so zany that you’ll think they were supposed to be unlockables). Invisibility and dual-wielding are early tools you get, and as the game progresses, you’ll upgrade your character that much more.

Characters move with extreme speed, and double-jumps and stealth kills happen quickly. You’re never short on ways to take down the enemy in Youngblood, and you’re never bored with your methods, either. You’re also never bored with the characters. Jess and Soph enjoy plenty of fun, over-the-top banter, and from the very beginning, you’re given the impression that you won’t be taking their chitchat too seriously. Still, Youngblood makes a point to deliver two distinctly different characters who banter off of each other in fun ways.

Youngblood also finds interesting ways to emphasize the cooperative elements of the game, too. You’ll need your tag-team partner’s help, for example to open certain doors.

And a shared life system forces you to constantly work to keep your partner alive. Here, actually, lies one of the game’s flaws: If you both exhaust all your shared lives and die, the checkpointing system very well may push you farther back than you want to be, leaving you to replay a great deal of shooting.

Then again, it’s always fun shooting, even when you’ve done it before. And that’s the story of Wolfenstein: Youngblood overall. No, this isn’t a dark, serious Wolfenstein moment. It’s just pure, unadulterated shoot-em-up coop fun.

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed on Microsoft Xbox One X

Available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC