The build quality of games that we play for previews can sometimes leave much to be desired here at GameGrin, luckily Verdun doesn’t suffer from this issue at all. This title is taking on the humongous task of recreating the infamous World War One trench warfare, whilst making it entertaining and rewarding. With mechanics akin to Red Orchestra - specifically its hardcore mode - Verdun goes for the idea that teamwork, precision and skill should mean more than unlocking and perfecting your individual loadout. All the signs are good so far.
When you first boot up the game you’ll want to jump straight into ‘Frontlines’. This is the main objective mode that does a great job of creating a constantly engaging battle and the mode I’ve lost quite a few hours of my life to in writing this preview. The mode manages to blend Conquest style objective play from the Battlefield series, requiring players to attack the next line of trenches or defend their own position, with the more tactical approach that Red Orchestra manages to foster so effortlessly with its hardcore ‘one shot, one kill’ mentality.
That’s all well and good but what will you be attacking and defending with? Well, Verdun sticks to the tried and tested method of static kits for specific roles. The difference is that your role will be defined by your squad’s specialisation; squads can be tailored to different roles including recon and assault. This gives a sense of great importance on the individual working as a team to overcome something for the greater good. This is Verdun’s biggest strength over other squad-based shooters. The squad you are in levels up slowly unlocking new talents for your certain members to use, encouraging players to follow orders to gain those extra abilities and be a greater force than you could ever be on your own.
Some of the roles turned out to be fantastic fun even though initially seeming dull. Who wants to stand around looking through binoculars trying to coordinate artillery and your squad, when you could be shooting people with a range of WWI bolt-action rifles? Once you’ve got the hang of it, I can bet you will. The realistic concept of the instant death a single bullet can bring, really makes a well placed artillery barrage a great feat to pull off. The feeling of finding and helping your squad/team exploit the weak point in an enemy’s built up defensive line is great, even in this early build.
The graphics at this early stage are also pretty fantastic. There are quite a few glitches like clipping and odd model behaviour, but nothing unforgivable in a beta state. The levels all manage to feel unique regardless of their trench warfare leaning, which is frankly one hell of an achievement as even Call of Duty still struggles to mix up map design, even with it being in its eighth year of mainstream success since the release of CoD4. This only makes me eager to see what other creative map design will come with more work.
The other game mode on offer at the moment is called Rifle Deathmatch. This does exactly what it says on the tin; giving players a choice of rifles and a confined map to traverse in search of that high kill/death ratio. I actually found this brought nostalgic feelings of the the original CoD multiplayer on PC. I had a great fondness for bolt-action rifles in that game, and Verdun does bolt-action like no other game I’ve played since. The feel of taking someone out with a single shot, and knowing that if you had missed it may have left you open to a quick death, is one that Verdun does so very well that the only competition right now is Red Orchestra.
So is it just a WWI version of Red Orchestra? In a sense it’s very similar, with a lot of the same draws like the hardcore sensibilities, but right now it feels like it’s something special already. The recent Christmas truce map, which was put into and taken out of the rotation, consisted of players throwing snowballs at each other in an effort to simulate the famous truce that happened in 1914. This is a great sign of what effort the developers are willing to put in to make this game stand out from the pack.
With a lot more to come from this game yet, I’d keep an eye on Verdun; we may just see something different and popular pop up from nowhere.