Early Impressions: Wolfenstein Youngblood

I’ve been looking forward to the newest edition of Machine Games’ Wolfenstein series, and it finally arrived this past week. Wolfenstein Youngblood is a game I had considered pre-ordering, but with how easy it is to get burnt these days, I decided to wait. Releasing on my payday was good for me, and thankfully it also didn’t run the full $60, instead being a $30 game on day one. Something came up that day though, so I didn’t end up buying it until the following afternoon. In the interim I read the “mixed” Steam reviews and it seems that most people were panning the game as not being a traditional Wolfenstein experience. Many compared it to other looter-shooter style games such as Destiny or The Division. It doesn’t have much of a story, the AI is poor and co-op is forced, etc, etc. Here are my thoughts on the matter:

There is no doubt that this is a game created using the same engine and made by the same team and past Wolfenstein titles. The gameplay is smooth, graphics crisp and the mechanics are sublime. I enjoy running around and shooting nazis now as much as I did back in the original. As far as story goes, it is true that it is not as straight forward as the previous iterations — you’ll get some tidbits via cutscenes, but the majority of the dialogue comes from characters you’ll interact with and from the sisters talking among themselves during levels. I’m about 7 hours into the game, and I feel like the story has pieced together well enough, but it’s not to the same level as when B.J. was at the helm. Whatever the case, I don’t find this to be a major downfall, particularly when we’ve all been playing this style of game for decades and the point is to shoot stuff and blow shit up… story used to not even exist. I’ll admit I really enjoyed Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus‘ story, but it wasn’t integral to my enjoyment either.

Gameplay is core to me in this style of game, and there is a weird amalgam of concepts that have been thrown together here, and yet they seem to work. This isn’t a looter-shooter, because you don’t constantly swap out gear or get different colored upgrades. It isn’t open world, because there is a “safe zone” called the catacombs and this is where your base of operations is. You will get new people residing here along the way, and most will give you quests. This is also the hub from which you sort of teleport (it’s explained as using the metro system) to different parts of Paris, or at least this world’s version of it. Story missions lead you to a point where you must beat several bosses at different locations, but it will end up where you won’t be able to progress immediately, instead needing to do some side missions (from the aforementioned quest givers) to gain experience. This is where I would correlate this game to other titles like Destiny, but it’s mostly just a co-op FPS with some light RPG elements and not quite the psuedo-MMOs that Destiny and The Division are. Enemies can become bullet-sponges after a time, but I can’t think of too many games where this isn’t the case, so I don’t understand the complaint. I have found that so far the AI isn’t terrible (as I haven’t wanted to play with randoms and I don’t know anyone personally that has this game on PC just yet), but I can see where it might become a liability in later stages of the game. Regardless, I don’t really see why the criticism is being laid on so thick. This is a fun game for $30, and thought it’s not exactly what we’re used to from this company, it isn’t a bad thing. It’s not a buggy mess like some of the other games in this vein have been either.

Instead of having new guns pop up all the time, instead you’ll collect coins throughout the world and can use them as currency to upgrade your predetermined set of weapons. Each item has a list of parts that can be upgraded, and from there you get some branching paths so you can optimize each as you see fit. As you gain experience you’ll gain player levels and with that comes perks that you can use to get different powers, have more health/armor, dual wield and other cool things. You really get to play the way you want to and I think that’s pretty cool for an FPS. There are a ton of collectibles in the world for those achievement hunters, and you can read/listen to those as you like. Easter eggs are around too… including an arcade cabinet housing the OG game.

Overall I think this game has a lot of potential. Future DLC could see this expanding into a psuedo-MMO, but it’s not quite there yet. Whatever the case, if you’re a fan of this series I think you’ll still like this title. Worst case scenario, it should be on sale by Christmas time.

E3 2019: Most Anticipated

The 2019 Electronic Entertainment Expo has wound down to a close and just like years prior, I thought I should give some commentary based on what we saw. This is the first year in a while that I didn’t actually watch the live streams, so I don’t have any commentary on the show itself, the presenters, any of that. Instead, I have a list of games that interest me the most, and some commentary along with a video for those curious to learn more. This has become an annual affair, and as such I thought I should probably collate all of the past years’ posts in one place so we can see how things line up.

E3 2014

E3 2015 (Podcast Episode)

E3 2015 (Written Post)

E3 2016 (Podcast Episode)

E3 2016 (Written Post)

E3 2017

E3 2018

Looking back through these lists, there are a couple of things I can glean. First, this is the only year from this selection that doesn’t have Sony present at the conference. They have started doing their own thing for the last few years at a later juncture in the year, but this is the first time I can remember them not being at the show. It also appears that I have played/own all of the games on these lists outside of the ones that haven’t released yet. Some of those games are coming down the pipeline sooner than later, finally. I suspect Sony is saving their big PS5 announcements for their own conference, as rumor already has it that we’ll see the console’s release in 2020. Now I just have to decide if I should grab a PS4 Pro this holiday season when the deals come around, or just say fuck it and wait for the new machine. Whatever the case, despite Sony’s absence there were still quite a few games and bigger updates that were worth taking a look at, so let’s dive into the list!

CD Projekt Red has a pretty decent reputation due to the success of their The Witcher series. I hadn’t played it, but grabbed the GOTY edition of the third entry in the series — I couldn’t get over the wonky combat mechanics and uninstalled it. Initially hearing about Cyberpunk 2077, I assumed it would be a similar type of game in a different setting, and so I didn’t have any excitement for the title. However, after seeing some gameplay footage and seeing that it’s an FPS in a cool setting, I became more interested. Seeing Keanu Reeves’ involvement doesn’t really sway me one way or the other, but I like most of his movies so that’s a plus I guess? Whatever the case it looks like it’s going to be a fun game so it makes the list.

I mentioned this title in prior E3 posts, as we were teased with information about it in years past. It’s finally coming out next month, and it looks to hold true to the standard the recent Wolfenstein games have set. I loved both The New Order and The New Colossus and to a lesser extent The Old Blood. Adding co-op is cool but I’ll likely play through it solo. Still, I’m ready and will be picking this one up day one if I can help it.

My girlfriend actually bought me a copy of Fallout 76 for my birthday last year. I played it for just a couple of short sessions before putting it down. One of my chief complaints would be the lack of a cohesive story and NPCs. It felt like a typical sandbox game with very little direction and I was disappointed after being hyped for the game since it was announced at last year’s E3. Apparently there have been a succession of good and bad patches/changes in the time since, and like No Man’s Sky before it, this is a game that is likely better after a year or more of development compared to the release product. Apparently they are changing up the story and adding NPCs, along with adding a Battle Royale mode (yawn). I’m hopeful that it can eventually be called a “good” game, but whatever the case we always have The Elder Scrolls VI (which was missing from this year’s show) to look forward to.

This is probably the game I’m looking forward to the most. The DOOM reboot was fantastic and made me fall in love with the series all over again. This being the sequel to that reboot, I think we’re in for a treat. I can already tell that it’s more of the same but the graphics and animations look kicked up a notch and I already know I’ll be paying $60 for this on day one.

Star Wars games tend to be pretty awful. Apparently Knights of the Old Republic was good but I never played it. Battlefront was fun for a minute, but it’s not story driven and thereby you don’t really care. I didn’t care for the MMO despite being a Bioware fan. This game looks pretty good, all things considered. I’m cautiously optimistic. We’ll see when it releases what the kids are saying about it.

I’ve talked about this one before, and holy hell does it meet and/or exceed my expectations! Finally being able to see combat and more of what this game will look like, I’m sold. Final Fantasy VII was my first game in the series, and as such has a special place in my heart. The only confusing part is that apparently it’s being released episodically, so I’m hoping that they split up the game into thirds, and just use the original break points between discs (the Playstation version had 3 discs). Anything more than that might ruin the experience, but it looks pretty sweet at this point.

The only game I probably won’t ever play unless they port it to PC, but still a game I remember with a mixture of fondness and hate. The original Battletoads on NES was a painfully difficult game that was a childhood rite of passage. This game doesn’t look like it will be remotely as difficult, but still hits me in the nostalgia feels. As of now I believe it’s only slated to release on Xbox, hence why I’ll probably not end up playing it.

Another title I talked about before, I enjoyed playing the original and think this one looks familiar but intriguing nonetheless.

Panzer Dragoon was one of my favorite games on my Sega Saturn, which was the system I backed during those console wars in the 90’s. Sony was the new kid on the block but they ended up causing the demise of the Saturn, and as a result a bunch of unique and cool games never saw the widespread fame they deserved. This one being remade is interesting because it was such an unusual title. I might get a Switch someday, but I’d hope this gets ported elsewhere.

Borderlands 3 is another hotly anticipated game for me. It’s been a long time since Borderlands 2, and The Pre-Sequel didn’t hold my attention in the same way the original two did. There isn’t much to say here, as it’s not really anything new but it’s a great looter shooter and something I co-op through with friends, so I’m in!

Strangely enough, a new DLC for Borderlands 2 was announced as well, and this time we’ll be getting a story bridge between 2 and 3. Coincidentally (or maybe not?) the PS4 version of the game, The Handsome Collection was just given away for free via Playstation Plus, so we should all be able to try out this new DLC before the new game drops.

A new game by From Software? Typically that’s an automatic win. Demons’ Souls, Dark Souls and Bloodborne were all excellent games, and though I’ve heard mixed reviews with Sekiro, I can’t imagine it’s bad, just misunderstood. The only difference here is apparently George R R Martin has something to do with the story telling, so perhaps it will be something completely different. I imagine Souls gameplay will still be present, and I look forward to hearing more.

So there you have it. These are the games that I’m looking forward to most from this year’s conference. What are you looking forward to most?

Most Anticipated: E3 2018

The Electronics Entertainment Expo for 2018 is over, and with it I’m left with a sense of excitement for the coming years. Games are releasing at such a rapid pace these days that it’s hard to find excitement for many, considering you could literally spend every waking moment playing video games and not complete every one that’s out there. This means many of us find our niche titles or genres that really speak to us and look forward the most to them. Some people are out to write about everything that was discussed during E3, while others (like myself) are going to cherry pick what they’re looking forward to and talk about that only.

Generally speaking, I feel like for the last few years Sony has taken the crown when it comes to their E3 presentation. This year things were skewed a bit differently. I only had the time to watch the Bethesda conference, and in my opinion they “won” this year. However, I did hear good things about Microsoft’s presentation along with Nintendo and the PC Gaming Show being decent. Overall it doesn’t matter who “wins” but it was odd to see that Sony was kinda meh this year. At the end of the day, I still only cherry picked titles I was interested in, and I’ll share those with you now!

Devil May Cry 5

I’ve been a fan of this series since #2. I remember one of my good friends picked it up on his PS2 and we played the hell out of it. I played the 3rd entry as well, but never did play number 4. I did finish the DMC reboot a few years back and that was a good time, and it’s hard to tell by this trailer if DMC 5 is keeping with the original Dante or moving forward with the rebooted version. Honestly he looks more like the new version, but still different. Either way it’s the same sort of action oriented combat game that fans of the series will know and love. I look forward to some mindless button mashing.

Dying Light 2

Still working my way through the first game with my best friend, as we are playing strictly co-op and don’t play it otherwise, but we should be able to complete it before this one comes out. It looks like more of the same, but the graphics look better. I assume the trailer is running on a high end PC though, so mileage may vary.

Anthem

We heard about Anthem last year and didn’t see much but teaser information. This time there’s a nice trailer with combat and it’s definitely a co-op game. I really want to play this one! Bioware games will always have a special place in my heart and this one looks like no exception.

Wolfenstein Youngblood

I’m not really hyped for this game, I played The New Colossus, but have yet to play Wolf2. I never played the little spinoff called The Old Blood, and this appears to be that same sort of thing. Perhaps I’ll get through those other titles before this one comes out, and in that case I’ll jump on it, particularly if it has a lower price point like The Old Blood did.

Starfield

This is a teaser and nothing more. Still, a Bethesda game in space? Sign me up!

The Elder Scrolls VI

Speaking of teasers, we finally got the one we’ve been waiting around for. TES6 is coming, but it’s probably a couple of years off at least. I cannot wait.

The Last of Us 2

We’ve known about this one for a while now too, but it’s looking gorgeous as ever. Naughty Dog has been producing amazing games for a long time now, and TLOU2 looks incredible. Just watch the trailer and be in awe like the rest of us.

Beyond Good & Evil 2

Another long awaited sequel that became a meme. It’s real now, but we still haven’t seen much in the way of gameplay. I’ll jump on board even more once that day comes, but the hype is still real!

RAGE 2

RAGE came and went before I really noticed. I’m a fan of id Software games, but this was already sort of old news by the time I heard of it. As a result I never played it, and now seeing the sequel I’m intrigued. I’ll pick this one up on sale and it looks like a blast.

DOOM Eternal

DOOM’s reboot from a couple of years ago was flat out the best FPS I had played in years. The visuals, the speed of the game, everything coalesced into a near perfect experience. It was also refreshing to go back to level maps that weren’t so damn linear and required some thought to navigate (and also backtrack). This is the sequel to that reboot and it’s going to be great, I can practically guarantee that.

Fallout 76

Last but certainly not least, we have the main event from the Bethesda conference, Fallout 76. So rumor had it before the show that this was going to be a Battle Royale, then people said it was a Survival Sandbox. At this point the devs themselves have called it “Softcore Survival.” What I have gathered from watching and reading about the game, it seems to be a traditional Fallout game with the same sorts of RPG elements and progression, but there is some co-op functionality and some pvp functionality. Apparently there are areas on the map where you can grab nukes and blow shit up, you can build bases, etc. etc. It sounds like Fallout 4 with co-op and I’m all about that. It was said that even if you die you don’t lose progression, so that would make the pvp less painful for people who don’t want it. It was also said you can play the game solo, so I assume then it would play like a normal Fallout. Hard to say at this point really, but I still look forward to a Bethesda RPG world that has some multiplayer in it.