Stuck in the Trenches: Verdun Makes War Hell
Set during World War I, Verdun is a first-person-shooter that fully immerses you in the frontline battlefield of trench warfare. Not only must you defend your own base, but you have to attack your enemies and dominate their headquarters, too. You know, the typical FPS stuff, just on the bleak battlefields of the First World War.
Diving into Verdun, you’re given a very brief and generic tutorial that explains the main mode of the game, Frontlines. Then you’re thrown into the trenches -- literally.
Frontlines is a game of momentum where you have to push to your enemies' trenches in order to gain the lead, all while defending your own. Of course, this is war, and there are more squads than yours on your side, but other squads of allies -- and of course enemies.
So the more squads on your side, the better. A concept that’s great in theory, but can really screw you over if half of your allies quit midway through -- which does seem to happen more often than not. And if this happens, you’ll then be set up for failure as your own squad will probably not be able to hold the line.
This back and forth lasts forever (and ever -- just like real war) until one side pushes far enough to reach their enemies' headquarters. But just like real war, battle strategies don't always work out like they're planned, so it’s also possible to reach a draw if time expires. Personally, I lasted long enough to see the result of a few of games, most of which were draws. So sometimes, realism isn't the best design choice for a game ...
Patience is really the name of the game. Hiding in the trenches to defend from the coming enemy onslaught, or attacking the enemy trenches too hastily, can be risky if you try to do too much too fast far. Your best course of action is essentially to sit -- and wait. Wait for your enemy to make a mistake you can take advantage of.
And really, this game is definitely meant for FPS players looking to amp up their first-person shooter skills. Why? Because aiming is pretty difficult and one shot usually equals a kill. Which is great...if you have great aim. If not, you’re basically a sitting duck throughout the entire round...which goes back to patience. The best way to play is to simply wait in your area for the perfect moment to catch your enemy out of place. Sit. And wait.
But there's something more: When you do decide to make a move for it, the movement mechanics can be a bit damning as well. There's substantial lag between standing, sprinting and crouching. It’s also ridiculously easy to accidentally suicide when getting snagged on barbed wire. Of course, it's another danger of war, but hey, this is a video game and that stuff just gets annoying -- especially coupled with rough mechanics and a tight difficulty curve.
Besides Frontlines, you can play Rifle Deathmatch, Attrition and Squad Defense. But it's like a war of attrition here, too. Every time you try to enter a different game mode, the connection seems to fail. There simply aren't enough players online.
So, while the scenery graphics are visually pleasing, especially for a WWI based game, Verdun falls a little short when compared to other a multiplayer FPS titles like Battlefield 1. As a beginner, it can be very difficult to immerse yourself into the world and its mechanics, and unless you have spot-on aim, your attack attempts will most likely fail.
Developers M2H and Blackmill games have done well with Verdun, but the whole experience still feels like it's lacking some of the visceral edge that all FPS players search for.
Verdun is available on Windows, OS X, Linux, PS4, and Xbox One. You can also snag the 'Horrors of War' expansion for free on Steam.