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Review

Wolfenstein: Youngblood Review - Family Matters

  • First Released Jul 26, 2019
    released
  • Reviewed Jul 25, 2019
  • PC

Young, wild, and free.

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In Wolfenstein's alternate 1980s, Nazis remain a tyrannical force of evil and oppression across Europe, even after Hitler was killed by series protagonist BJ Blazkowicz. Thus, the Nazi killing continues as the Blazkowicz twins, Jess and Soph, pick up where their parents left off for a spin-off in Wolfenstein: Youngblood--a relentless co-op shooter driven by an unapologetic, youthful attitude. It may not reach the same narrative heights of its predecessors or land every idea borne out in its new approach, but Youngblood hits where it counts.

Our introduction to Jess and Soph shows how their parents, Anya and BJ, taught them the means for survival on their rural Texas homestead. There's a tense tone of protective parents who've been through the worst and are preparing their daughters to be able to handle the same, which is quickly juxtaposed with the twins' carefree exuberance when alone together. Bring in the wizkid best friend Abby, daughter of Wolfenstein 2's Grace Walker, and you have a trio that brings their own unique swagger to the Wolfenstein name.

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Their personalities immediately come to life. Jess and Soph are boisterous and sometimes dorky, the same way many teenagers and young adults are, and it gives them genuine personalities that mostly just come off cool as hell, especially with stellar voice acting. They'll go back and forth about their favorite superspy novel series Arthur & Kenneth, even imagining themselves as their beloved in-fiction duo. They'll refer to things their parents have done, hype each other up in combat, and just straight up act silly in the elevator loading screens to the tune of '80s synthpop background music, breathing new life into the Blazkowicz family.

The game is less about a bold, fleshed-out narrative and more about instilling an infectious charisma in its star characters to match the over-the-top action and sow the seeds for what's next in Wolfenstein.

It's not long before they take a turn for the absurd; with BJ gone missing, they uncover clues to his disappearance and take matters into their own hands. But they're not exactly sneaking out of the house or secretly taking their parents' car out for a drive. They're taking a military-grade helicopter to Nazi-occupied France to find their dad, and well, kill Nazis. As either Jess or Soph (with your co-op or AI partner as the other sister) and equipped with high-tech Da'at Yichud battle suits, you join a French resistance movement in Neu-Paris, which quickly boils down to you raiding Nazi outposts and strongholds.

With Jess and Soph inseparable, co-op is at the heart of the experience, and thankfully partnering up online is a breeze. As a host you can have friends (or randoms) jump into your session seamlessly without interruption; the AI will assume control until a player connects and again right as a player leaves. If players have identical missions in the quest log, completing it will record progress for both players. And if you'd rather go it alone alongside a decent AI companion, it's just as viable an option for the entire game.

Youngblood captures that familiar Wolfenstein feeling of taking an automatic shotgun to a Nazi soldier, melting an armor-clad supersoldier with a laser rifle, or zapping a horde with a lighting coil, and what a powerful feeling it is. But what's new is that tougher enemies have one of two armor elements that are weak to corresponding weapons, encouraging you to actively juggle your varied arsenal. Furthermore, a slightly more diverse weapon upgrade system helps flesh out some familiar firearms to get them to function the way you prefer and tear through enemies more efficiently.

Light RPG elements also make their way into the character progression system; you rack up XP then dump upgrade points into new skills and perks, like raising health/armor caps, increasing cloak times, stocking heavy weapons, and much more. Enemies scale to your level, and only a few sections are defended by near-impossible enemies early on. It's a simple system that helps facilitate steady unlocks, making you feel like you're getting ever more devastating, but never overpowered.

Solid gunplay and some neat mechanics wouldn't mean much without the proper combat encounters to complement them, and Youngblood delivers. You'll often find yourself pulling out all the stops to either finish combat scenarios or realize you have to retreat and rethink your approach. A completely stealthy approach isn't as viable as it was in previous Wolfenstein games, even with the new cloaking ability, but it's a good way to thin out the opposition before going all-out guns blazing. It can get overwhelming when supersoldiers, massive mechs, and a bomb-strapped panzerhund bear down on you, but that's when Youngblood is at its best. Intense firefights can break out anywhere with little warning, and the main missions manage to keep a consistent action-packed momentum throughout.

Youngblood captures that familiar Wolfenstein feeling of taking an automatic shotgun to a Nazi soldier, melting an armor-clad supersoldier with a laser rifle, or zapping a horde with a lighting coil, and what a powerful feeling it is.

Admittedly, co-op centric features are a bit sparse. Each sister has a roster of emotes and motivational quips called pep signals that provide stat buffs or much-needed armor/health. However, that's pretty much what you get in terms of tandem abilities, and the absence of some sort of joint attack or tag-team abilities feels like a missed opportunity. In the fray, partners will be frantically trying to revive each other or falling back on shared lives which work like instant continues, taking the place of a traditional checkpoint system. It can be frustrating to make it to the final fight of a main mission, run out of shared lives, and be sent back to the very beginning of the mission. But if anything, it's a crude way to emphasize cooperation and tactical gameplay.

Overall, Youngblood leans more into an open structure by making Neu-Paris a group of separate districts (open hub areas) where you find your missions. After a brief introduction, you're tasked with assaulting three "Brother" towers--your main quests--attached to each hub area. Out on the streets, though, side missions and random events fill in the spaces and are conducive for racking up early XP, getting familiar with district layouts, and soaking up the vibe of a downtrodden 1980s Paris, but these missions quickly feel like filler that bulk out your to-do list.

The design of the districts are striking, however, and you'll see hints of Arkane Studios' influence; when I'm double jumping and mantling to the rooftops and top floors of buildings, I'm reminded of Dishonored, especially as I search for collectibles and chests full of currency. This approach also spices up combat with some verticality and the opportunity to flex the agile capabilities of those slick Da'at Yichud suits. The Brother towers even have alternative entry points that you'll have to discover yourself or find through side missions. It's a successful incorporation of that studio's strengths, and the game is better for it.

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The Paris catacombs acts your safe hub in Youngblood, and it's where you accept side missions from resistance members, stock up on supplies, or hit up the old knock-off Wolfenstein 3D cabinet. It's not as extensive as The New Colossus' U-boat home, and you won't get much from its inhabitants--they're nowhere near as involved as Wolfenstein 2's supporting cast since they're just quest givers. However, Jess, Soph, and Abby are there to pick up the slack.

They might be polar opposites of their parents, but it gives Youngblood its own flair. BJ's inner monologue and struggle internalizing life-long trauma is at the heart of modern Wolfenstein games, and Anya has seen the pure evil of the Nazi regime first hand through the years. Naturally, Jess and Soph have vastly different characterizations, only knowing a post-war world and presumably growing up in a stable household. They capture the spirit of a carefree youth, yet they share the same unfettered motivation for killing Nazis; it would seem that Anya and BJ taught them well.

The story doesn't reach the same highs as mainline Wolfenstein games, namely The New Colossus. It’s an incredibly tough act to follow, really. But aside from a cheap plot twist and underwhelming villains, most of Youngblood's lean story is quality stuff. To that end, the game is less about a bold, fleshed-out narrative and more about instilling an infectious charisma in its star characters to match the over-the-top action and sow the seeds for what's next in Wolfenstein. Despite Youngblood taking place after events we've yet to see unfold in the mainline games, it leaves the door open for some exciting, wild possibilities for where the series could go.

Jess and Soph are boisterous and sometimes dorky, the same way many teenagers and young adults are, and it gives them genuine personalities that mostly just come off cool as hell...

Throughout Youngblood, traces of an ongoing game structure become more pronounced once you finish the main story. You can take on daily and weekly challenges as they cycle into the game, which offer some additional XP and currency to unlock any remaining abilities and weapon mods. What's a bit more substantial is the option to replay story missions on harder difficulties (hard, very hard, and challenging) for increasing amounts of XP and currency. While it's a bog-standard way to keep the co-op experience going, they at least offer an outlet to try new tactics, as these harder modes can become quite unforgiving. The endgame may not be extensive, but the ride was exciting enough that the content feels like a little value added.

Wolfenstein: Youngblood has the series' signature first-person shooting thrills that'll have you gladly busting shots and blasting lasers in the face of Nazi trash--and the opportunity to do so alongside a friend. It incorporates some new ideas which are serviceable for the most part, but hits more of the right notes in RPG elements and level design. It also knows the resistance doesn't end when one person cuts the head off a monstrous regime; the fight continues, sometimes into the next generation. And the way this brief spin-off broadens the saga with the Blazkowicz twins makes you wish there was more to see from this new cast of lovable knuckleheads. Jess and Soph--and Abby too--learned from the best, and embrace their newfound duty of ridding their world of tyranny while being cool as hell doing it. Youngblood is short, but oh-so sweet.

Back To Top
The Good
Thrilling, challenging combat encounters
Light RPG elements spice up the solid gunplay
Bright, charming, and unapologetic attitude from Jess, Soph, and Abby
Seamless co-op system and decent AI partner for solo players
The Bad
Lack of variety in side missions and additional activities
Limited use of co-op for gameplay features
8
Great
About GameSpot's Reviews
Other Platform Reviews for Wolfenstein: Youngblood

About the Author

Michael loves them story-driven shooters, especially the modern Wolfenstein games. He spent around 12 hours (roughly split between co-op with a friend and solo with AI) coursing through Youngblood’s missions and endgame content on PC. Review code was provided by Bethesda.
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Utnayan

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Edited By Utnayan

No one gives a rats behind about two sisters fighting nazi's. The game mechanics themselves suck. You can check out the metacritic reviews and steam reviews where solid points are made. If anything, it is getting better reviews because of two female protagonists fighting nazi's and the theme of that. So let's talk about the poorly implemented open world system with level gates. If you are too high a level, you will just go through a trial of bullet sponge mechanics and if you win (If you do not get one shot) no reward other than 4% higher XP than if you would have just came back and completed it at the level required. And if you come to an area / mission where you are above the level, nothing scales there either and it is a complete cheese fest without any challenge. Controls and combat is completely clunky. We can talk about how the IP itself has no identity. What happened here isn't wolfenstein - it's a prototype for a Coop shooter made by Arkane and then skinned by Machine games on Bethesda's orders to make it a Wolfenstein IP so it would sell better. That completely takes away the identity of a popular franchise. They continue to do this. Fallout 76 was Battlecry and when Bethesda bought Battlecry studios, they took the assets and rehashed them in 6 months to release what we now know as one of the worst games of all time.

This is the third time they have done this. (you guys know Prey wasn't supposed to be Prey either? It was a new IP by Arkane in Sci Fi - at least that one was mildly successful)

Back to this game: A poorly conceived and thought out save system. The checkpoint system is an abortion of checkpoint systems. Early on, it's normal. Now I do not know what happened in month 7 of dev here, but that completely takes an about face where you will start at the beginning of a level when you get glitched (Tons of bugs in this mess) and have to restart a level, fighting through 30 minutes of trash, yet again. Why? No check points for 30 minutes.

Some problems with the IP switch and bait Bethesda continually does here. People, when they see Wolfenstein, are expecting, well, Wolfenstein. A single player game (I don't give a rats ass if you are a guy, girl, pan, trans, who cares.) killing nazi's with a superb story line. People buy this game expecting that. Buyer beware and people should know that some of the reviews are really just that. It's both customer fault, but also bethesda's fault for continually messing with the identities of their IP's.

Upside? It's $29.99 - but right now, this would be like buying Andromeda for $29. I still haven't bought that yet (played a rental to see how bad it was like I did with this game - thanks Gamefly) for $7.99.

The game is absolute garbage and how it got an 8 at this point astounds me, which DOES lead me to believe it was because of the theme. And, if true, why I think people are upset. I do not think people care about the theme. People care about the rating of the game itself and not being given a higher rating because of slanted media outlets (On both sides by the way) rating a game on that rather than the merits of the game itself. Because on the merits of the game itself? It's a solid .05/10.

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JEF8484

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@Utnayan: .05/10? You're such a tool.

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Chlamydia

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@Utnayan: cry me a river. Go back to playing your JRPG dross.

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ZmanBarzel

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@Utnayan: "Fallout 76 was Battlecry and when Bethesda bought Battlecry studios, they took the assets and rehashed them in 6 months to release what we now know as one of the worst games of all time."

* Bethesda didn't buy BattleCry Studio. It was its parent when the studio was founded.

* BattleCry (the game) was ****-canned in October 2015, three years before "Fallout 76" was released.

The only way you lightly brush against reality is that BattleCry Studios did help in trying to get the Creation Engine ready for online.

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Mogan

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Mogan  Moderator

@zmanbarzel: Look. It's difficult to get unreasonably angry about video games when you insist on people telling the truth instead of making up whatever fits their agenda best. : p

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OldDadGamer

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OldDadGamer  Moderator

@Utnayan: You do know that your account comes with a convenient place where you can post reviews and blog on your own profile, yes?

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naomha1

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@Utnayan: Next time let's keep the book writing to a minimum. I haven't experienced one bug in over 2 hours of playtime yet. Checkpoint system works just fine for the coop aspect part of the game. it isn't broken at all. None of your points have any basis except on a personal level. That opinion and 2 dollars will get you a cup of coffee. Enjoy.

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gamingdevil800

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@naomha1: You have to wonder why some of these guys aren't writing reviews themselves when they leave large blocks of texts as comments on here.

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PCsama

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@Utnayan: WOW, that's a lot of typing.. thanks for sharing ..

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Utnayan

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@PCsama: You bet :)

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Fedor

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The absolute breakdowns people are having below is glorious.

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Bobzilla67

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@fedor: The Soy is strong with you

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Fedor

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@bobzilla67: Have a good cry, buddy.

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brxricano

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@fedor: I read everything you say in a Barry Six voice ?

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JSprunk

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@fedor: The best breakdowns are by the 93 SJW replies trying to deny they are SJWs.

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Warlord_Irochi

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@jsprunk: You 5 min before this post:

"This game must be about "strong female characters". It's the only way a game can score this high at Gamespot these days."

Only real breakdown are from kids like you, to whom every tiny little change they don't like in their game, they need to run to their mommy crying "SJW agenda"

Two women are protagonists of this game. Oh the humanity! Jesus, man. Grow the f*ck up. If the genre of a character really messes up your gaming options you are really one simplistic and sensitive little man.

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JSprunk

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@Warlord_Irochi: When you don’t know what an SJW is, but you’re determined to act insulted...

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Gamerforlife96

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Edited By Gamerforlife96

@fedor: meh

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Fedor

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@gamerforlife96: You were better off not replying.

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Gomtor

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No couch co-op?

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Utnayan

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@Gomtor: Of course not. That would require effort. This was an arkane prototype for a coop shooter whicb bethesda didn't think would sell on it's own meits and had machine games slap a skin of Wolfenstein on it for a box sale.

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JSprunk

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This game must be about "strong female characters". It's the only way a game can score this high at Gamespot these days.

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Bot101101

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Edited By Bot101101

@jsprunk: Oh grow up you idiot

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JSprunk

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@bot101101: uh oh

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santinegrete

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@jsprunk: must be? do you even care about the game?

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Gamerforlife96

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@jsprunk: dude that IGN not gamespot.

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aross2004

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@jsprunk: You sound scared of the big bad women.

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Honkler

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@aross2004: These two clowns are "big and bad" to you? Sad.

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Bobzilla67

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@aross2004: 'Big Bad Women?' all I see are 2 irritating teen girls with Uber Cringe dialogue. But then again, punching Nazi's is all the rage today. Should have given them black masks, along with milkshakes and bike locks for weapons...then set the story in Neu Portland, Oregon

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Gamerforlife96

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@aross2004: big bad women :)

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Utnayan

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@gamerforlife96: I love big bad women. Too bad the game sucks balls to not be able to enjoy a story about 2 big bad women taking out nazis.

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Mogan

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@jsprunk: I mean, no, and a quick look at GameSpot's recent review scores proves you're wrong, but whatever helps you cope, man.

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aiat_gamer

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Edited By aiat_gamer

Remember when Gamespot had the integrity to talk about microtransactions in games? Those were the good time...

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Bot101101

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@aiat_gamer: Apparantly people are more triggered about SJW related shit. Proves once again they're all goddamn idiots. Glad i only come here occasionally

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Mogan

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@aiat_gamer: Turns out, they're barely there. I actually had a dev on Steam tell me where the microtransactions were and what they could buy before I even found them in the game.

All the important stuff, the weapon upgrades and skill points, I'm getting at a steady rate just playing. I guess they put them in for folks who want to equip a different skin in a first person game … but as far as I can tell, they may as well not exist.

I imagine, had the reviewer talked about the microtransactions, there'd be a lot of comments here swearing he'd been paid to downplay the cash shop, or just flipping out that it exists at all, regardless of actual impact.

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Thanatos2k

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@Mogan: This comment is a lie. There are pay to win microtransactions in this game and Mogan downplays them as he always does.

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aiat_gamer

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@Thanatos2k: I guess in his mind the devs went through the trouble of setting up shop without expecting anyone to buy anything.

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niv0070

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@aiat_gamer: Yeah, before it became a standard in most games, it's not about integrity, it's just the way it is unfortunately.

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aiat_gamer

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Edited By aiat_gamer

@niv0070: They can still mention the store. They used to that.

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niv0070

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@aiat_gamer: Yeah, fair point

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penstrol

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Edited By penstrol

Remember when Tomb Raider - the early ones - had you play as a woman, and nobody cared, because the games were good?
And remember when Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas had you play as an African-American man, and nobody cared, because the game was good?
Now a game has you play as anything other than a straight white man (after 2 entries in the series that had you playing as a straight white man, lest we forget) and people start screeching about feminazis and SJWs.
Weak as piss.

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ecs33

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Edited By ecs33

@penstrol: Never cared about the gender identification or politics of my game characters

What does grind my gears is when a game gets up marks specifically for those things. I think we can all name a few Gamespot writers who have that bias.

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penstrol

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@ecs33: I'd appreciate if you could mention some Gamespot reviews that marked games up because of gender/ethnic character diversity. I'm not snarking you. Point me at them and I'll read 'em.

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Honkler

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Edited By Honkler

@penstrol: Exactly. Those characters stood on their own because the game was good. Nobody wants forced characters or agendas. That's what you meant right?

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penstrol

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@honkler: Wrong.

The parallel world you're describing is one where shit games get good reviews for ticking inclusivity boxes. That's not what's happening here.
My point was actually that there's no reason to see female/non-white characters in games as being "forced characters/agendas". It wasn't seen that way in the Tomb Raider/San Andreas days. It's not some weird oppressive speculative fantasy, women and non-white people actually exist. I've seen em on the internet.

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Bread_or_Decide

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@penstrol: What do you mean nobody cared? Plenty of people loved that san andreas had a fresh new protagonist that was different from the last few games.

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penstrol

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@Bread_or_Decide: Apologies. My comment was maybe unclear - I didn't mean that NOBODY cared at all, I meant that nobody cared in a *negative* sense. Male gamers didn't think there was some sinister feminist agenda at work when they played as Lara Croft, and white gamers didn't think there was an ethnic conspiracy at work when they played as CJ. It's a weird quirk of our times that people are now hypersensitive to this kind of thing.

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Bread_or_Decide

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Edited By Bread_or_Decide

@penstrol: Because Croft and CJ still played to stereotypes and appealed to the tropes that gamers were used to. Lara had huge boobs. CJ was a gangster. All status quo. It was diversity in disguise. Really its so male gamers could stare at boobs and take on the role of a gangster. Nothing out of their comfort zone. It's these male gamers who complain the most. The rest of us just the the worlds diversity mirrored in games. They see it as some evil agenda forcing them to see the world for what it really is.

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aiat_gamer

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@penstrol: There is literally one comment complaining about SJW my dude, chill the eff out.

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Bot101101

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@aiat_gamer: With the most likes, which is very disturbing if you ask me

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santinegrete

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@aiat_gamer: the trend is dying then, good.

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DEVILTAZ35

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Edited By DEVILTAZ35

@penstrol: lol so true plus you could eat as much as you wanted and be a lard ass in San Andreas and nobody cared lol . Games really should be disassociated with real life and looked on as the pure fantasy they are then everyone can be happy. Well most :).

I remember the controversy with Gone Home yet really the game was rather boring not because of the subject matter but just the fact it didn't offer any compelling gameplay. The X files vibe was kind of cool though.

Did i care she was Gay? Nope but i did care it was almost more fun watching a fly crawl up the wall than actually playing the game.

You know a game is boring when you have more fun trying to get stupid basket ball through the hoop than the entirety of the rest of the game.

Anyway my point was i agree with you lol

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thereal25

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Edited By thereal25

The last two wolfenstein entries failed to impress me much, but this actually seems half decent!

And it's selling price price is quite low too.

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santinegrete

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@thereal25: if the gameplay left you unimpressed only get this if you have a pal that likes shooting too.

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DEVILTAZ35

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@santinegrete: The gameplay is fine. It probably just won't appeal to people brainwashed by COD is all.

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santinegrete

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@deviltaz35: CoD kids play the game like it's their job. I just don't understand how that game got away with yearly releases and not burning their audience out. But hey, every year, a lot of kids learn to play shooters.

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AyatollaofRnR

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So its Wolfenstein with basic Co-Op, lite rpg and some Open World elements

Sounds like a decent game, but not essential.

Interested in how the Switch version fares

Wolfenstein: Youngblood More Info

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  • First Released Jul 26, 2019
    released
    • Nintendo Switch
    • PC
    • + 2 more
    • PlayStation 4
    • Xbox One
    Wolfenstein: Youngblood
    5
    Average Rating66 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Wolfenstein: Youngblood
    Developed by:
    Panic Button, MachineGames
    Published by:
    Bethesda Softworks
    Genre(s):
    3D, Action, First-Person, Shooter
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Mature
    Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language