YouTuber's Life 2 Review: "At least I got to hang out with Jeff Goldblum"
Start off with the first YouTubers Life, add a dollop of The Sims, a dash of Stardew Valley and Animal Crossing (hold the Tom Nook), mix it all together and bam: You've got YouTubers Life 2! There's a lot to like about the new game, official YouTuber partnerships included, and in many ways it's an improvement over the original. The influencer life isn't all smooth sailing though, and can prove downright infuriating at times. But where does YouTuber's Life 2 go wrong, and what does it excel at?
Look Mum, I'm A YouTuber!
YouTubers Life 2 is a life simulation game, where you literally try to become an influencer.. If you missed the first game, worry not because the sequel begins with some backstory, filling you in. Then, your loyal agent and manager, Xavier, pops up and invites you to NewTube City, the world you’ll be rising to stardom in. From here, you have the option of living in the Port, Downtown, or City Hall depending on what suits your style. he Port is described as “chilled and modern” - plus you get to live on a beach - which had me sold as it suited the vibes of my newly created influencer wannabe.
Xavier meets you at your initially quite basic home and introduces you to your friendly helper Drone (I named mine Jeff Goldblum, because, well why not?). Ol’ Jeff follows you on your travels and performs a series of tasks to help you out on your journey to be a hit YouTuber. From here on out, your mission is to gain as many subs as possible and keep the viewers happy. You can do this by recording and editing videos along with posting on social media, all the while completing various quests around the city to earn some coin and build your relationships with your neighbours.
Building A YouTube Empire... Very Slowly
Obviously, the main objective of the game is to become a professional YouTuber and involves spending a lot of time filming and editing videos to post on NewTube, the game's leading video platform. You can either film from your home at your computer, your game console, or when you're out and about on your travels. This is where the issues with signposting start to arise because there were no clear instructions on how exactly to carry out this process, so it was mainly guesswork. While the recording part was simple enough to grasp through trial and error, the editing part was the most frustrating.
At first, the recorded video is split into four clips that have to fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. Yet, not all the parts join correctly, which hugely affects your score and the quality of your video. As you progress through the game, the options for making clips connect will grow. Although, there wasn't much of a tutorial on how exactly this worked again, meaning it leaves you to put two and two together yourself. Also, gaining five stars on recordings is somewhat pointless when the editing hugely brings down your overall score and there's nothing you can do to change it.
Another aim of the videos is to gain as much visibility as possible through the daily trends. You need to tag these in your shared content in order to reach out to as many people as you can. Sure, the trends are shown at the beginning of the day and you can always go back to them in your journal, but you don't get given the option to look at them as you're creating the videos. This meant I often had to try and remember what the trends for the day were and, given how many of them there are each day, that proved difficult and was hit and miss when it came to improving my visibility.
A Whole New World?
One of the best new additions to YouTubers Life 2 is, undoubtedly, the creation of NewTube City. The previous game was mainly set around the rather claustrophobic confines of your bedroom, only being allowed to go to other rooms of your home. You could leave altogether but only to attend conferences and events. In YouTubers Life 2, you can roam around the different areas of NewTube City, exploring the various shops and restaurants around the three neighbourhoods. As you walk or ride on a scooter, from place-to-place, there are various hotspots where you can stop and film a video which you can later upload to NewTube.
It's clear to see the influences from both The Sims and Stardew Valley with regards to the other characters in the town. Similarly to The Sims, the city is filled to the brim with NPCs making their way through life, including characters you can build a relationship with and others who aren't interactable with at all. However, unlike The Sims games, there aren't a lot of dialogue options when addressing your new neighbours and it's hard to navigate exactly how to build your relationship with them. For example, when I went to say hello to cool girl Blair, she angrily told me to go away out of nowhere… which seems like a slight overreaction.
This layout is pretty much identical to Stardew Valley to the point that the 'Contacts' app on the player's in-game phone shows you what each character’s likes and dislikes are, which you’ll learn as you progress. For the romantics out there, it also shows whether they’re single or not, so you can start eyeing up your future partner from the get-go.
So Much To Do, So Little Time
YouTuber’s Life 2 doesn’t shy away when it comes to the sheer amount of content on offer. There are plenty of side quests outside of the whole “become YouTube famous” objective through the main story, breaking the whole record-edit-sleep-repeat routine. For example, once a day you can accept a commission to perform a task for a friend to gain some coin, such as picking up and delivering a package.
Those of you well-embedded in the YouTube scene will recognise some familiar faces amidst the new characters you’ll meet. At one point, you team up with the YouTube magnate himself, Felix "PewDiePie" Kjellberg, on a sleuth mission to suss out internet scammers. Tagging along for the ride is the queen of pugs herself, PewDiePie’s dog Maya. Benjamin "Crainer" Dreyer Vestergård also appears in one maritime adventure.
While the amount of activities at hand is fantastic, the truth is there just aren't enough hours in the days of the game to complete them all - you have to manage your time effectively to the point where it feels like you’re missing out on something, no matter which tasks you opt for. Try to squeeze in too much and you won’t have enough time to record a video before bedtime.
Thanks to the energy mechanics in play, recording a video can often consume so much, you’ll be unable to tackle anything else that day. There are places available to get more food and gain more energy if you need, but it's difficult to do when you have no money at the beginning. In the end, this makes the expansive world outside the player's home more of a hindrance. It's a shame because lot of time has clearly been spent building this world, but you’re not given the means to truly explore it at your leisure.
Returning back to the lack of proper signposting and tutorial in the game is perhaps the biggest problem YouTuber’s Life 2 has. With many activities, there was no guidance on how to complete them, meaning a hefty amount required guesswork and trial and error. For example, the various symbols and icons have no explanation whatsoever, and the settings menu was incredibly simple with no other information to assist.. When “tracking” a quest, it also doesn’t provide any form of pointer to the next objective.
All of this combined meant, any attempt to get to grips with everything was fruitless and, due to my lack of understanding, it became frustrating to keep trying.
YouTube And Not-Chill
YouTuber’s Life 2 is quite evidently a step up from the previous game, most notably with the glossy open world map and unique characters. Unfortunately, the drawbacks in the form of poor tutorials and questionable mechanics such as the energy system left me trying to grapple with the controls and understand the game more than anything else. These issues completely sapped my motivation to keep playing, and there’s no telling whether it will improve by increasing the subscriber count even more. Oh well, at least I got to hang out with Jeff Goldblum.
Reviewed on PS4. Code provided by the publisher.