Once again Panic Button pulls off the seemingly impossible with another AAA port of a current generation game to Nintendo’s ultra popular console, something so many other developers and publishers seem unable, or unwilling, to do. Wolfenstein: Youngblood brings all of the action and excitement of killing Nazis on the go!
The twin daughters of Terror Billy (A.K.A. B.J. Blaskowitz) are on rampage through Nazi controlled Paris looking for their father who up and disappeared without a trace. Play as either Soph or Jess armed to the teeth in an action-packed campaign through the City of Lights, hell-bent on driving out the Nazis and bringing their father home.
The girls are only similar to their father with their love of murdering the Nazis. They’re wild, young, and untrained but their youthful excitement is contagious to the player. What’s better than killing Nazis? Killing Nazis with a friend.
Wolfenstein: Youngblood is the first co-op experience for the series and, for the most part, it works fairly well. Don’t worry, if you’re like me and don’t have any friends the game can be played entirely solo with the AI controlling the other Terror Twin. Because it is a co-op game I would’ve liked that there be more dedicated servers for it because it always seemed like my servers wouldn’t connect to another player or there would be too much lag for it to even be enjoyable. To alleviate this issue it would have been nice if the developers added couch co-op, which would be a great addition to the Switch version, especially since you can “share the joy”, but perhaps that would have proven too taxing to have split-screen action running on a single console.
It’s also not much fun to play online with the Nintendo Switch smartphone app being the only way to talk with your partner online. With every other modern console offering native voice chat this is another prime example of how Nintendo is basically shooting themselves in the foot by sticking to this archaic form of voice chat, which just flat out doesn’t work. I’d suggest finding alternative chatting methods if you have them, like Discord or even using party chat on PS4 or Xbox One (you can have those systems running while playing the Switch – it’s a weird workaround, but it works). This wasn’t really much of an issue for me, as I preferred to play it solo anyways. The AI is smart and helpful unlike some other co-op games, but I can see how much more fun I could of had with another player helping me throughout the story.
Set in 1980, 19 years after the events of Wolfenstein 2, Youngblood has an infectious ‘80s vibe reinforced through the constant banter between the two sisters with their totally tubular verbiage. The girls offer a new and interesting viewpoint as opposed to previous Wolfenstein protagonist, B.J. I always felt like it would be great to play through the lens of a woman fighting Nazis and I’m happy that it’s all the more satisfying to do so.
Like previous installments in the franchise there are plenty of collectibles to find throughout your adventure, such as cassette tapes and 3D glasses. Players can also find silver coins that they can trade for weapon upgrades and alternate costumes.
There’s a new light RPG element added to the core game formula. The girls will level up when defeating enemies and finding collectibles, which will earn the player ability points. These can be spent on upgrading the girls’ abilities and even unlocking new ones.
Wolfenstein: Youngblood offers the player plenty of freedom giving them the choice of playing any story mission in whichever order they prefer. There are also plenty of side missions available which give a lot of replay value to each map.
With the added RPG element comes the inevitability of grinding. Leveling up and going through each map multiple times turns from enjoyable to a bit of a chore. The game encourages exploring and finding all the collectibles it has to offer – meaning you’ll need to explore every inch of the map. Unfortunately every time you leave a room after clearing a wave of Nazi soldiers, upon returning to the room you will find newly respawned Nazis. It becomes quite a task to exterminate a room only for the enemies to come back a few minutes later. I couldn’t help but think this process was a grind.
The graphics take a serious hit on the Switch. Having played all the previous installments of the franchise on the PlayStation 4, it was clear that this is not the version to play if you are particular about the frame rate or amount of pixels on the screen. When playing docked the game looks significantly better, but there are still some hiccups on the screen. Textures didn’t seem to load quickly and other times it looks like I was playing a PS2 era game.
Handheld mode didn’t look so bad when I was running and gunning down Nazis but when I slowed down it seemed like a miracle that this game was even running on a handheld console. It felt like it might burst at the seams, only held together with duct tape and dreams. The cutscenes in particular became really quite choppy in handheld mode and occasionally while docked. In handheld it’s extremely hard to read the text on the screen for the menus and subtitles. It would have been a nice touch if the developers made the text a bit larger for when the game is being played portably.
The Switch version of Youngblood includes motion control via the Joy-Cons, introduced in Wolfenstein 2 on the Switch. It’s a nice addition but I preferred to play with my Pro controller.
There are plenty of rad tunes from the ‘80s hilariously covered in German that play while mowing down waves of Nazis. Throughout the different maps of Paris there is an intercom that will give “advice” to Parisians on how to be responsible citizens according to the Reich. This really added to the immersion into the alternate history that the rebooted games of this franchise are known for.
Wolfenstein: Youngblood is an altogether fun experience, but I couldn’t help but think while playing it that this might not be the best platform to play it on. If you’re a diehard fan of the series and you only own a Nintendo Switch then it’s a no-brainer. However, if you’re a stickler for graphics and a more consistent frame rate you might want to consider picking it up on another system. Regardless, the level of customization, freedom to play, and the ability to play co-op make it a worthwhile purchase on the Switch offering hours of Nazi killing, even on the go!
- Graphics - 6/106/10
- Sound - 8/108/10
- Gameplay - 8/108/10
- Lasting Appeal - 8/108/10
Final Thoughts: GOOD
Liberating Paris from the Nazis is a lot of fun, and even more so with a friend. If you like the rebooted Wolfenstein games then you’re bound to love this one too. C’mon, it’s killing Nazis.