B.J. Blazkowicz is the FPS genre’s premiere lone-wolf hero. Unlike the grizzled Nazi-killing star, his twin daughter protégés appreciate the value of teamwork. Wolfenstein: Youngblood improves upon the iconic series’ silky gunplay with dynamic co-op action and dual protagonists who exhibit an infectious rapport.
A recent hands-on session focuses heavily on Jessie (“Jes) and Zofia’s (“Soph”) backstory and an intense assault on a Nazi zeppelin. Flashbacks reveal how B.J. and Anya groomed their daughters to survive in a harsh world. Soph wails on a punching bag and screams as Anya pushes her past her limits. Soph learns to dial in a shot while hunting boar as B.J. explains how to hone her killer instincts. As with the past two Wolfenstein games, character interactions are refreshingly authentic with a healthy dose of absurdity (after her first Nazi kill, Soph cheers, abruptly pukes, then cheers some more).
“Confronting a heavily-armored Nazi flamethrower trooper is more manageable when your partner can flank him and burst his gas tank.”
The sisters’ quips and colorful dialogue add welcome color to Wolfenstein: Youngblood’s reliable gunplay. Stealth tactics or all-out firefights are still your two options for tackling the airship infiltration mission, but the twins’ power suits layer on more gameplay options from the get-go. Double jump together around vertical locales, cloak up for synced takedowns, and spend ability points to gain skills like dual-wielding or knife-throwing. An RPG-like leveling system adds a rewarding drip-feed of overarching progression to the experience.
These new features, along with the new two-player co-op, elevate Wolfenstein’s gameplay to new heights. Confronting a heavily-armored Nazi flamethrower trooper is more manageable when your partner can flank him and burst his gas tank. The sting of falling in battle is smoothed over by having your partner nearby for a quick revive. A treacherous boss battle against a power suit-equipped general is more dynamic thanks to his aggro being split between both players. Every aspect of Wolfenstein’s challenging, top-tier gunplay benefits from having a friend along for the ride.
A few more highlights and random observations from my time with the game:
- Enemies now have health bars above their head – useful info for strategizing with a friend against heavily-armored foes.
- Leveling up mid-firefight restores your health, a classic RPG rite that’s handy in a pinch.
- Melee is more powerful than ever. Your hatchet or knife is invaluable for close-quarters executions.
- A “ping” system allows players to quickly tag ammo, armor, and other pickups in the area so their partner can find them.
- Each player gets their own pickups (e.g. that piece of body armor in the corner can be grabbed by both players – no squabbling!)
- The twins each have colorful emotes they can direct at one another for helpful buffs (e.g. Jes raising devil horns boosts Soph’s armor).
- If a downed partner isn’t revived before a timer runs out, one of the players’ shared lives will be spent.
Prepare to team up with your most trusted co-op buddy and find B.J. Blazkowicz when Wolfenstein: Youngblood launches on PS4 July 26.