Anybody unfamiliar with World War history may come across the title, Verdun, without understanding what it means. The battle of Verdun took place in 1916. This battle was one of the world’s most gruesome occurrences. With over 714,000 casualties – of which over 262,000 were dead or missing – it has left a scar on the lives of many families. If this game were ‘too realistic’ it would be too horrifying to play. You would spend most of your time tripping your way over thousands of corpses every game.
Despite these facts, it seems many people are not all too familiar with World War I battles because of the huge saturation of World War II games. We easily tend to forget what has happened in the past and this war was one of the most recent large scale tragedies that have occurred in history. Don’t get me wrong… There is much worse. But we tend to make silly jokes out of them with movies such as 300 and games such as Mount and Blade. If you are fans of these games, I’m happy for you. But as gaming continues to evolve, we continuously see recreations of history popping up. As far as this game is concerned, M2H Game Studio has nailed it.
While the battle of Verdun took place in 1916, this game covers a generalization of 1914 – 1918. Weapons, environment, and map design is spot on. This is all out trench warfare in all its glory. In each of the six maps, you progress your way across fields toward trenches in a hardcore tug-o-war. There are boundaries limiting where you are able to move to in each sequence of attack and defend. I, personally, had some problems complying with this system (as I do with all authority), and kept forgetting about the boundaries; walking out side of them and being executed by the server after the 10 second limit.
Elevation is a key component of this game. If you aren’t defending you are moving toward the enemy’s current trench. To get to it, you have to move across battlefields littered with craters which are mostly for cover. In some maps this isn’t very easy because of the large amount of barbed wire which will slow you down and heavily damage you if you aren’t careful.
My first thoughts upon entering the game (with max settings) was, “YES, this doesn’t run on a patchy engine!”. Verdun runs, smoothly, I might add, on the Unity engine. Gaming on a mid-core, bargain PC, I played with an easy 60 FPS while streaming to twitch, playing music, and running a browser for chat. Textures in some areas aren’t ‘phenomenal’, but character and weapon textures, environmental effects and particles spawned beautifully!
You may feel that the screenshot above is very dark and dreary. And, to you I say… That’s what makes it so great! (Can you spot all of the enemy soldiers?) Above is the darker of the six currently playable maps. I would actually do my best on this map because of its environment. From a distance, it is very difficult to see enemies because of the way they blend into the scenery.
Having sound in Verdun it is of utmost importance. Because of this, I had to score the audio a little bit lower in this game for its redundancy. There isn’t a lot of variation in sound effects. While this may be changed in the future, it is currently a little bit of a nuisance in the ears. However, it still accomplishes its goal to create a realistic feel to the game atmosphere.
A very interest thing that occurred as I played, however, is that I found myself becoming familiar with the sound of other languages. As you play, your character will talk about what is going on around them (as is common with many shooters). Due to their chatter, you can hear nearby players whether they are allies or enemies, how many are near and what to expect as you engage them.
Verdun is not very forgiving when it comes to mistakes. While aiming both from the hip and while aiming down sights feels very smooth and interactive, failure to utilize jumping, crouching, and prone will get you killed faster than you would think. Since I was attempting to use tactics for Call of Duty and Battlefield, I found myself dying repeatedly. But since I figured out that being seen by the enemy isn’t the end of the world, I learned how to dance out in the open without actually getting hit depending on the weapon my target was using to fire at me.
I did feel some things were buggy if not broken. For example, you can only sprint between certain intervals of time. If you accidentally bump your shift key you cannot sprint for a second or two. This can get you killed almost immediately because a huge strategy is to predict your enemies movement and essentially juke your way around their shots. Because of firing intervals, one messed up sprint will get you killed before you can react with a crouch or prone.
Classes & Leveling
Verdun actually uses a very unique leveling system. While you have your overall account level, you also have squad levels. However, squad levels don’t work the way you may think they do. In effort to encourage people to play together more often, you level up in the different squads of players that you play with. This way nobody enters some random games with a severe advantage over anyone else. As you level from 1 to 100 in each established squad, you unlock new ranks which each have their own individual combinations of weapons and utilities.
I felt a great quality of this game was that, for example, if I am playing as an officer as opposed to a rifleman, I will spend more of my time transversing from area to area locating soldiers and notifying my team of them via VoIP or chat. I use a pistol so close ranged combat is my preferred form of engagement while I have the ability to flank and melee my enemies as well. Officers also have the ability to use binoculars and call in mortar strikes and issue locational attack commands.
One downside I found was how some ranks feel like saturation in lieu of drive. There is one with a pistol and a shovel. Personally, I find melee engagement rather difficult to come by because of how few shots you can take before being killed. I believe shovels give a longer melee range but it still doesn’t seem viable to the rank.
When first starting out, I died constantly. But after a game or two, I was leading my team in score. All weapons kill people within three shots. If using an automatic weapon, the bullet spread and recoil of the weapon will make accurately taking out waves of players very difficult. Of the ballistic weapons, there are automatics, semi-automatics, bolt action rifles, and sniper rifles (with a very realistic scope). Of course there are also melee capabilities and grenades.
A recent addition to the game is chemical warfare. Enemies can call in different types of gasses which can poison or disorient you requiring a gas mask to maneuver through. Now don’t think these gas masks are easy to use. First off, it takes about two to three seconds just to equip one, and it’s extremely difficult to shoot with one on. But you can also use an enemy’s field of gas as a tactic as well. If you hide in the center of them, enemies also have to use masks to engage you and if you get good enough, you could essentially trap them with their own weapon.
There are two very specific niches that this game falls into. One would be war fanatics. War fanatics come in all ages. Often, offspring of war veterans will be taught about stories that their ancestors lived and will sink deeper into their histories. For fans such as these, this game will live for a very, very long time.
There is also another subculture that this game will easily fall into. Many high skill casual gamers will find themselves playing this quite frequently. Since the gameplay of players does not necessarily directly influence the realism of the atmosphere, people who play this game casually won’t have too much of a problem playing alongside those who play it aggressively. The hardcore element of this game is almost impossible to not recognize. And because of this, it would also make for fantastic practice for other games as well.
If realistic war is your thing, Verdun is your game. It is almost upsetting that such a depressing period of history could be so fun to relive. I feel it’s a good development in us as humans to gain some sort of an accurate perspective on what political conflicts can lead to. As for the game, I think it’s great that we aren’t just continuing to recycle World War II, and instead are starting to look into World War I conflicts a little bit more. While the educational value of Verdun may not be too incredibly high, the ‘virtualization’ of the historical events are genuine and captivating.
I don’t see Verdun leaving us any time soon. Due to its well-polished design, easy to run engine, accurate world, balance and even cost, It will always have a fan base. Whether you’re looking for a hardcore tactical shooter, an activity for yourself and some friends to enjoy, or just want to relive the life of a still-living or deceased relative who bravely served as a pinnacle of history, Verdun is a great choice. So long as there are at least 40 people online daily, the game, like our history, will never die.
- The most realistic shooter yet
- Chemical warfare creates accuracy
- Immersion at it’s best
- Slight redundancy in class load-outs
- Extremely hardcore
- Barbed Wire