BJ Blazkowicz may have been the highlight brooding tough guy in Machine Head’s take on Wolfenstein, which balances gun-heavy combat and akimbo shotguns alongside good storytelling, but the formula needs to change. Enter his twin daughters, Jess and Soph, who are given the task to find their dad after we went missing during a Paris covert sting. That’s the premise of the new entry in the series: Wolfenstein – Youngblood.
While it’s cool and all to see the New Order universe through the eyes of a battle-weary older gent, it’s even more refreshing to see it through the eyes of two in-training soldiers who think this is a lot of fun. Of course, with narrative changes come gameplay tweaks: you can still run and gun Nazis and baddies left and right, but there’s bit more of a stealth and speed element this time around.
Half And Half
Seeing as half the game is co-developed by Arkane (the Dishonored folks), your protagonists are fast and agile. They have a double jump and can climb on ledges faster than anyone to get to higher ground. When their health runs low, they can use “pep” gestures to give their sister a temporary boost. A “thumbs up” grants health, while a “metal horns” dishes out armour. Essentially, you are your ally’s temporary pick-me-up in a dire situation.
Levels are also a bit more open-ended than the previous Wolfenstein titles. The duo gain access to three distinct city districts and can use the Metro system to traverse to either one of them. And each district has their own “gimmicks” and level design to make them distinct from each other.
And just like the Dishonored games, the sisters can upgrade themselves via Silver coins. You can use them to either make your weapons have bigger magazine sizes, or just attach better scopes and silencers for stealthy kills. Leveling them up also opens up new moves, like a bone-crushing tackle when you sprint into Nazis or a temporary invisibility cloak. Those neo-Daft Punk suits on the screenshots aren’t just for show.
A New Lens
The fact that the sisters are novices in this means that the dialogue and banter is a lot more light-hearted and intentionally awkward, but in a good way for viewers. Never have I seen such joy when both of them scored their first explosive Nazi kill, followed up with guffaws from the twins. They are certainly chattier than their dad, which means that this may be subjective to taste if you prefer New Order and New Colossus’ approach to narrative while gunning.
As for gunplay, it seems that the SMGs and the shotguns are the go-to guns during the E3 demo. As much as we would like to go into detail, we can judge the rest of the game when it’s out this 26th July. As it stands so far, the sister-to-sister banter, the fresh non-grim perspective, and the open-ended approach to taking down Nazis are the jumpstart the new Wolfenstein series needed.