Verdun – Review
Follow Genre: Action, Sim, Strategy, FPS
Developer: M2H, Blackmill Games
Publisher: Blackmill Games, M2H
Platform: PC

Verdun – Review

Site Score
8.6
Good: several sectors each with large maps, authentic visual and audio design, skill-required gameplay, turn-based trench warfare, mature community
Bad: loadout can only be changed/unlocked during games, no singe-player narrative, no "loot" system, no friendly fire
User Score
9.2
(5 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.2/10 (5 votes cast)

Less than a year ago, Verdun was released as a Steam Early Access game. The successful collaboration of M2H and BlackMill Games has finally reached a point where the developers are happy to release the game in all its glory. Many features and content has been added only shortly after our preview, which you can read here, but even more has been added since.

Verdun

Story

A hundred years ago, during the first World War, German and French soldiers roamed the fields of Verdun. The Germans provoked the French into counter-attacks and counter-offensives, hoping to gain ground. You are an active soldier, covered knee-deep in dirt and living in these muddy trenches. You duck right on time, only to see that one of your regiments finest has fallen victim of the bullet hail. The artillery fire never seems to cease and you pray for your life and that of others. Being in the front line is hell and you know it. Orders are being shouted and you get ready to follow them – even if it means dying in these fields that has already taken many lives. The counter-attack begins and you move swiftly with your comrades over the trenches. Soldiers, frozen in time and life, lay scattered around the fields. Their injured bodies now provide a large feast for the rats that don’t seem to shy away from the horrors. You see a shimmering somewhere in the distant trenches. Your body stands still, your mind still racing. Breathing becomes ragged. A comrade not far from you starts shouting for the medic as he points in your direction, not able to reach you without being seen by the sniper. You look down and notice your filthy uniform, soaking in the blood. Your legs buckle and you fall down on your knees, shocked what this means. Toppling over, you see the medic far behind. Darkness overtakes you and nothing but silence fills your ears.

Verdun scr2

Alright, I may have been overdoing the storyline but as the game does not have a narrative, you can simply force your own story upon it. The gameplay focuses on being historically correct during this era, more specifically during these battles, so it cannot be hard to imagine what must’ve happened.

Graphics

The visuals have undergone a notable change since the preview. A positive one I may add. The game now uses the brand new Unity 5 engine, allowing details to come out properly. This also allows for better lightning and shading improvements. It simply adds that extra spice the game needed to become as realistic as possible, on top of being historical correct. With this update, the horrible depth of field from before has also been tackled.

Sound

The soundtrack you’ll hear in the menu is authentic music from that era. But since it’s a multiplayer game, you won’t be idling in the menu for long. Luckily, the sound design during combat is equally brilliant although it’s doesn’t have a soundtrack. There’s no need either because there is too much going on in the fields around you. Each weapon has their unique sound which adds to the extreme realism of the game. This in combination with “charge” sounds, attack commando’s and mortars flying around you, will make you feel at war.

Verdun scr3

Gameplay

Firstly, Verdun is not your typical first person shooter game. You do not get to run around like a madman – although you can still do that but you might get punished for desertion. Verdun uses turn-based gameplay where you attack or defend in combination with squads. Currently there are seven types of squads, four for the French side and three for the German side. Each of these squads have four different classes with each three tiers of weapons. You can simply join a squad or create your own squad. You’ll be leveling up your account but also your squad while unlocking different tiers of weapons with career points, which are earned by leveling. It sounds incredibly complicated and at the beginning it truly is. Once you understand how it all works, it’s almost child’s play.

I already mentioned each class has three tiers of weapons. The first tier will always be unlocked as that will be the default weapons. You’ll need to unlock the 2nd tier, before you can unlock the 3rd. If you’ve played Call of Duty 2 or Medal or Honor Allied Assault or even Medal of Honor Breakthrough, you’ll be familiar with weapons such as the Lee-Enfield and the Kar98. It’s not only the weapons that will be familiar as these weapons almost play the same – bolt-action rifles are still a blast to play with albeit they’ve never been incredibly easy to begin with. To get back on topic, the “loadouts” which you can unlocked, can only be unlocked in-game which is one hell of a lacking feature. No one likes to be killed while idling in the menu – looking for the perfect weapon.

Verdun scr4

A surprising element that has been tackled differently is the auto-balance of teams. The game will not force you into joining a specific squad once unbalanced but it asks nicely. The team that has most players will also be subjected to a score penalty. This doesn’t really help much when the teams are 3 vs 9 but once in a while, people do tend to switch.

All of the above is only for the Frontline mode which acts as a team match mode. The Frontline mode is all about the turn-based trench warfare – unlike the free for all mode. Frontline currently has six sectors, each with different maps: Flanders, Artois, Picardie, Argonne, Vosges and Aisne – a new map launched upon release. Free-for-all mode has only five sectors: Artois, Flanders, Picardie, Vosges and Vauquois. Since FFA is played with only 16 players, down from 32 players in Frontline, the maps are much smaller in size but they still provide enough breathing room to roam the fields like a madman. To top it off, FFA can only be played with rifles – which you can unlock with the career points as well. Additionally, you can unlock a bajonet knife and a scope for each rifle.

Verdun scr1

Both modes require a certain amount of skill as you cannot “spray” a bullet hail upon your enemy, allowing for a more mature community than that of current Triple A-titles. There are a few features “missing” such as friendly fire and the fact that you cannot “loot” from fallen soldiers. However none of these features are disastrous for the gameplay thus these didn’t weigh through as much as other features did. If these features, including a kill-cam, are a necessity for you, you may want to think twice about buying the game. Those who want to run rampage during warfare should also look the other way as the game requires some patience due to the attack and defense turn-based system.

Conclusion

Verdun is one of the few World War I games out there and as far as I’m concerned, it is also the best currently available. Its realism and authentic warfare allows for an incredibly large game in which skill is required. Since you cannot spray-and-pray, the community is much more mature resulting into a relaxing evening. A single-player narrative is still lacking but even without, the game features incredible visual and audio design with a gameplay that is simply superb. All-in-all, Verdun is on par with titles such as Call of Duty 2 and Medal of Honor Allied Assault, and the turn-based trench warfare makes it truly unique in the genre.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.2/10 (5 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
Verdun - Review, 9.2 out of 10 based on 5 ratings
Drydwen


Hi! I'm Jess and I’m a writer, dreamer and gamer at heart since the early ages. I primarily game on PC but occasionally also on PS4 and Xbox One. I have a tiny obsession for World of Warcraft and caterpillars but you may also claim I have a devoted passion for the gaming industry in general. If you want to hit me up, find me on twitter!

1 Comment

  1. […] can read the review of the PC version here, as well as an interview with Jos Hoebe from Blackmill Games right […]

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    0 people found this helpful
    Was this review helpful?
    Yes
    No

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.