It’s been 100 years since the start of the First World War, so I thought I’d look at a game based on the period. That game is….
Verdun is a squad-based multiplayer FPS inspired by the infamous battle of the same name. The game includes historically accurate features, such as realistic WWI weaponry, historical maps based on various sectors of the Western Front, and authentic uniforms and equipment. Verdun effectively immerses you in one of the bloodiest conflicts ever fought in Europe.
The merciless nature of trench warfare offers a unique battlefield for tactical squad play in Verdun’s gritty Frontlines mode, as well as pure, raw gameplay in Rifle Deathmatch mode.
Frontlines mode is unique in its tactical complexity, placing you in different types of squads, each with its own tactics and roles. The realistic trenches are an extra challenge in the fight, and mean that teamwork and tactical cunning are essential to success. Drive your enemies from their trenches and dominate the Western Front!
Verdun lists its key features as:
- Unique World War 1 gameplay: Authentic weaponry, character levelling and realistic historical battlefields from France and Belgium,
- Tactical squad-based FPS: Squad assembly and levelling,
- True trench warfare: Real-time dynamic frontline; momentum-based attack and counter-attack gameplay,
- WW1 atmosphere: Typical WW1 music, art, units, grim battlefields and an immersive user interface,
- Chemical weaponry: Tactical gas deployment and immersive gas mask experience.
So that’s what the developers say about it, but what’s it really like? Well, it’s pretty much how it’s described above. You’re placed in a squad and each person in the squad has a role. Each squad is based on a historical unit and consists of four unique roles which you can choose from. Each role gets unique clothing, weapons and abilities. For example, a Grenadier will be the only one with grenades, while a machine gunner will have a heavy machine gun which stops him from being able to run – just what a sniper is looking for.
Currently, though, there are only two gameplay modes. The Rifle Deathmatch mode is your typical free-for-all. That is, if you can get into a match, because not a lot of people seem to bother with it. Instead, everyone’s playing Frontlines mode, which is raw 32-player battle. There are no kill streaks, no kill Cam and lone wolves don’t win matches. Instead, it’s about overwhelming the opposing team – if you get more people in the trenches than they have, then that trench is yours. It really is a dynamic way of playing, with the maps opening up ahead of you or behind you, depending on whether you are attacking or defending.
Dutch developers M2H/Blackmill recently added new squads to the game, including the British Expeditionary Force, the Canadians, and a new German unit – the Stosstrupen. Each new unit also has its own, authentic weapons and kit: the MP18, Lewis gun, Webley Revolver, Lee Enfield MKII, Feldspaten, Trench Club, Mills Grenade, Pritchard Bayonet and Pattern 1907 Bayonet.
So far so good, then. But are their any drawbacks? Yep, there are, and these may put some people off. First of all, Verdun is still in beta, so the final product may yet change significantly. The developers are a small team (composed of two different studios), so there may be a while in-between updates – although to their credit, they’ve been putting out a lot of updates recently. In-game, you’ll find the hit boxes are unforgiving, so your iron sights better be right on the sweet spot, because normally one well-placed bullet equals death, and you won’t hear it until it’s too late.
As part of the beta process, I’ve had my progress reset, along with all my unlocks. It takes a while to reach these, so being put back to Rank 1 was frustrating to say the least. However the biggest drawback so far is the lack of players, which typically number anywhere from 40-300, depending on what time of day you play. But the people who do play seem to like what they see and tend to stick around, so you will start to seeing some of the same names over time. The match-making is also hit and miss, and there have been times when I’ve been the only player on my side, put up against 10 players on the opposing one! It’s very rare that people switch sides to even out the game.
So why did I choose to play this game in the first place? Well, apart from there not being many WWI games out there, Verdun really does deserve to have more people talking about it. There’s a good Red Orchestra vibe about it, where map awareness, accurate shot placement and team play the key to winning matches. You can tell it’s a labour of love for the development team and you can also see the improvement in every update. Developers and games like this deserve our support. This isn’t a ‘get rich, milk the consumer for as much money as possible’ enterprise, it’s genuinely about people producing a game they would want to play themselves.
Ultimately, the question is, ‘Is it worth parting with your hard earned money?’ for Verdun. Quite simply, the answer is ‘Yes!’ As long as you remember that it isn’t (and possibly may never be) a wholly finished game. Even so, I hope to see many of you on the battlefield soon…
Read our exclusive interview with the devs to find out more…
Early Access: From September 2013
Official release: February 2015
Steam (Mac, Linux, Windows)