Verdun. A first-person shooter based on World War 1 released back in April 2015 on Steam which received great reviews, so the natural progression to consoles was soon to follow. On March 8th 2017, Verdun found its way to Xbox One after nearly 2 years on from its PC release.
History, is in your face! Placed well with loading screens providing information about World War I. Adding more depth and thought provocation instead of watching a loading image spinning in circles. Maps are accurate of the Great War, large and usually very open, with trenches set throughout most. These are all situated in Champagne, Flanders, Artois and Argonne.
Multiplayer centred, Verdun is set in the Great War and offers you a choice of nations to play as. Countries whom played their part in WWI; the Belgians, the Germans, the French, the British and finally, the Americans. Each nation then has their regiments, these have different weaponry respective of their nationality. Each regiment also has a varied role set, Corporal, Sniper, Rifleman, Scout and Gunner to name a few (the ones in English anyway). The Tommies (British) Rifleman kicks off with the ‘Lee Enfield Mark III’ and the Belgian Schildwacht uses a ‘Mauser Model 1889’ for example.
Each class then has three tiers costing career points to unlock in order, each unlocking different weapons for that class. The lack of weapon customisation is apparent here, one load out depending on which role you play. That being said, realism is key here – its notoriously difficult to land a hit with any small calibre or rifle for that matter over 50-70 meters, even if you’re on point. That is compensated by the fact that it’s pretty much one bullet kill but none the less…tough going. A divining item here is the sniper rifles – you get to see through the scope-sight while also looking down the ironsights, making it very enjoyable at close or long range.
There are four game modes in Verdun. Frontlines is the first, which is innovative and by far the better of the bunch, described as ‘Squad Based Trench Warfare’, Rifle Deathmatch is described as a ‘Free For All Slaughter’, Attrition is a ‘Full Arsenal Team Deathmatch’, Finally ‘Squad Defence’ is your bog-standard horde mode or ‘Co-Operative Wave Defence’.
Graphically speaking, we aren’t getting anything amazing, pretty much what you’d expect of a 2 year old game and the controls feel very clunky. The settings let you adjust the FOV (field of view), leading more and more to the belief that this was not optimised much at all for the console port. Historical accuracy was clearly the main focus here, M2H and Blackmill Games have done a great job on the research, however the execution feels lacklustre.
The servers are frustrating to say the least, utterly useless. It’s only just launched and patches are no doubt on the way but I offer no sympathy for games with game halting bugs after full release. Trying to join a game with my bestie became a somewhat of a mini game in itself, albeit a rather crap one. Connection issues during matches, failure to start a session and to join a session, glitched lobby member lists, seeing bugged textures on character models in white and purple, there’s more…but I will leave it there.
When joining friends, you choose from a list of squads, a list comprised of every single squad in the any of the matches currently being played across all the maps. An interesting idea which allows you to join anyone’s squad, but then finding the one your friends are in is another one of those mini games (see above). Once you open up the squad, you choose the role you want to play as, ‘IF’ it’s not bugged from when you tried to join multiple times 5 minutes before. There seems to be an online levelling system, however I wasn’t able to try it out because of the experience gain not being saved after each match due to server issues.
The only game mode I was able to play without serious work was Squad Defence, wholly because it didn’t require online play. Wave after wave of enemies run from their trench to your trench – in a ‘horde-meets-king of the hill’ type rinse repeat. Falling back to the next trench line upon death or losing the point. Gaining the use of an artillery strike after each successful wave to assist with my defence. It ended at wave 14 because I had chosen the sniper this time and got rather overwhelmed in Germans. The AI was basic and the difficulty was a slow climb.
The games audio let me down on many fronts. The guns SFX felt like they stolen from an old black and white movie, their shots not ringing out any real distance. Your own footsteps were delayed and off centre, many many times I turned around on myself to shoot at a would-be flanker to find it was my own boots (doc martins) playing funny buggers with me. The complete lack of suspenseful ambience; there was no rise or fall the sound track because there wasn’t one. Yeah there were bomb explosions off in the distance, the rat-tat-tat of a machine gun behind a tree somewhere and the crackle of a bag of Quavers being opened but it still felt a choppy mash of clutter, noises you would have heard no doubt but atmospheric it was not.
Menu systems were also rugged, clunky and unnecessary for the most part. It could have been cleaner and much more simple in design. Not taking into account that half of them are dependent on the servers working correctly too.
Story – N/A
Visuals – 5/10
Sound – 4/10
Gameplay – 6/10
Game Design / Innovation – 7/10
On Steam it reached a 9/10 star rating, while Metacritic rated the PS4 version an understandably disappointing 55/100. Seeing the steam version I had high hopes for Verdun, however, sadly it seems the console port trend continues to be a let down. Verdun is available for Xbox in sale for the first week of release for £9.59, before it jumps back up to £15.99.
OVERALL – 5.5/10 – Bargain Bin
Reviewed by Michael Jones (Gryffudd)
(Disclaimer: CONQUEST received a review copy of Verdun on Xbox One however this does not in anyway affect the scoring of a game or our thoughts on the game itself. We believe in total honesty and being transparent with you.)