Youtubers Life – OMG Edition and Youtubers Life 2 paint very different pictures of what it must be like to be an internet personality. If we’re to believe Youtubers Life – OMG Edition, a Youtuber is effectively a shut-in, only leaving the house to collect awards for 100,000 subscribers. Life feels like a battery farm for serial killers. But if Youtubers Life 2 is to be believed, Youtube life is a game of Animal Crossing. It’s about swanning around in the sun, relaxing, perhaps doing some fishing, and then instagramming – sorry, ‘instalifing’ – a picture of your meal. We suspect the reality is somewhere in the middle.
Youtubers Life 2 is a significantly different game from Youtubers Life – OMG Edition. We get the feeling that the first game poured money through U-PLAY Online’s letterbox, as this is quite the glow up, and a large amount of that money can be seen up on the screen. Sure, you are still doing some similar stuff to OMG Edition: collecting ‘reaction cards’ to create quality clips and then jigsawing them together to make Youtube videos. But it’s the dozens, no, hundreds of other things to do that makes Youtubers Life 2 a completely different prospect from the first.
The game kicks off with you choosing your character and then getting shipped off to NewTube City (we’re a little bemused why a YouTube licence has clearly been obtained by U-PLAY, but barely makes it past the title). There is some story reasoning for why you are here, but it is absolute nonsense. Honestly it’s continuous bilge that runs throughout the game, and keeps bubbling up words like ‘metaverse hackers’. We struggle to understand a single word of it, let alone care. It’s best to shoo it away and focus on the rest.
You are given an apartment and basic setup, so you can produce gameplay and comment-videos. A dronecam, or ‘Personal Recording Assistant’ is also handed to you, so you can interview randos in the street. And then it’s made abundantly clear that you are at the bottom of the ladder, a nobody who needs to start accumulating cash, viewers, subscribers, plus other weird social points if you want to survive. People won’t talk to you, areas will be locked off from you, and basic human rights will be denied unless you hike them up. It’s a Black Mirror episode, basically. Survival of the fleekist.
There are some echoes of Youtubers Life – OMG Edition to these moments, but stepping out of the front door shows how different it really is. This is an open world chunked up into three different areas, and you are free to explore it at your whim.
At first, it’s oddly bewildering. You’re given clear objectives, but they stop short of being useful. Quests ask you to find characters you’ve never met, or to visit locations you’ve never been to. A series of hashtags tell you what’s in vogue at a specific time, but they’re keywords like #streetgym or #doge that won’t mean anything until you stumble over the damn things. Youtubers Life 2 is a sprawling mess of elements, and you’ll only begin to make sense of it by blundering about.
But you never quite get the sense that you can blunder about. Youtubers Life 2 does a bad job of making it clear whether you should be running around like a headless chicken, or just chilling. The open world is explored in game-time, with shops and amenities opening and shutting at various times, and the whole city basically takes a siesta on Sunday. The constant march of time puts you in a state of low-level panic, and the natural erosion of viewership means you have to be putting something out. Plus there are events that only happen on specific days, so you feel an obligation to complete them – if you can find them.
Having played for quite some time, though, we’ve learned to calm down. Youtubers Life 2 sends you mixed messages, but it’s generally okay to relax, explore areas you haven’t been to, build a mental map of the city, and unravel those hashtag keywords. It is best played at leisure, an hour or two at a time. In many ways, we wonder whether things would be improved if Youtubers Life 2 borrowed MORE from Animal Crossing, with true, real-world time making it clear that sometimes you should just come back tomorrow. It would probably make the game more relaxed, more reflective of how U-PLAY want you to play Youtubers Life 2.
Because what they want you to do is everything. There is a ridiculous amount to do in Youtubers Life 2. In the ‘internet personality’ category is a host of video and streaming categories, and you’ll likely do each one based on the hashtag keywords of the day. You can do unboxings, vlogs, livestreams (replete with Guitar Hero-style rhythm action minigame), interviews, gameplay vids, comment vids and more. Commonly these will play out like OMG’s did, with you choosing reaction cards from a deck, and trying to satisfy five different ‘categories’ of viewership. Then you’re hopping to your computer to sequence them in a way that generates maximum views, giving it a clickbait title and then waiting for the results.
There’s a full friendship game to play as well. You can cross paths with NewTube personalities and work through their individual missions, and there’s absolutely dozens of them. Most people are imagined, but a few you might recognise. PewDiePie and Crainer turn up early on, and Rubius, InoxTag and GermanLetsPlay also make cameos. I’m only familiar with a couple of them, but I know enough that these sequences will generate more WTFs than anything else. These avatars don’t look much like them, they don’t talk much like them, and their quests are wild rides into metaverses, amnesia and other high-concept topics that don’t have much to do with them either. At least completing their missions gives you a reaction card with their catchphrases on, so that’s something.
Beyond that, there’s absolutely tons more to do. Cashflow is going to be a constant grind on you, so you’ll want to do procedurally generated missions called Commissions. Get enough disposable cash and you can start improving your house, moving house, marrying people, improving your gaming rig, improving your streaming rig, filling out your game library and more. And that’s without the complete nonsense of the main quest line.
It’s a blizzard of stuff, and you’ll be into double figures of hours before you feel comfortable with it. Once we got there, Youtubers Life 2 proceeded to tug at us. We’d reach the end of a day, no energy left, and Youtubers Life 2 would save the game. It might have felt like a good time to stop if we didn’t have raw footage to make into clips, quests to complete, or a new event happening that day – a convention rolling into town, a fire on the quayside, or a new celebrity poking around NewTube City. So, we’d play another day and another, and wonder where our evening had gone.
There’s absolutely no defending much of Youtubers Life 2. The story is awful, a flurry of nonsense. Famous Youtubers are tossed in, without much care for what makes them special. It’s messy, a cacophony of people shouting at you, and often you’ll stop to wonder why. Why am I desperately trying to get more followers? Why am I dabbing in front of a cat up a tree?
And yet. Youtubers Life 2 may be tacky and noisy, but sorting through the mess begins to approach fun. Fewer and fewer of the keywords are confusing. The open world starts to make sense. And then the game’s loop emerges: make videos, get cash, buy equipment, make better videos, make more cash. It’s Animal Crossing in designer headphones.
As someone who’s tended to sneer at the idea of career influencers and social creators, Youtubers Life 2 made us change our minds for twenty hours or so. It must be addictive living that life, and it’s certainly a lot of work. It almost makes us want to give it a go.
You can buy Youtubers Life 2 from the Xbox Store for Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S