Military shooters are no stranger to World War II, Vietnam, modern day terrorist insurgency, and even the far off future, but what about World War I? Well Verdun has come to consoles to show that you don't need gimmicky gadgets and killstreaks to make a great shooter, but will the transition from PC to console affect the quality of the game?
Being that Verdun is multiplayer only, you would think that there is no story. That isn't necessarily true. The story of Verdun is WWI itself. Now that may sound like a cop out for writing an actual story, and it is and it isn't. During loading screens, there will be a short paragraph either stating little known facts about WWI or quickly summarizing the battle that was fought in real life on each map you are loading into.
Although I am already fairly well versed in the history of the first world war, I still found these loading screens to be incredibly interesting and overall helped bring the maps to life. If you aren't too familiar with the actual history of WWI, then Verdun is a great starting point to get you interested as well as being nearly 100% accurate. Who would have thought that a gritty first person shooter could be considered an educational game?
A game touting itself with a realistic setting and story needs equally realistic gameplay. Thankfully, Verdun delivers precisely that. In an industry where firearms have the penetration power of an airsoft gun on Viagra, it's so refreshing to play a first person shooter where guns behave how they're supposed to. Your enemies will go down in only one or two shots depending on the gun, and so will you. The amount of recoil each weapon gives off seems to be accurate to their real life counterparts, and they just seem like they have a certain weight to them while moving around.
You will have 3 game modes to choose from: Attrition, Rifle Deathmatch, and Squad Defense. Attrition is similar to team deathmatch in that whichever team gets the most kills wins, but in Verdun, each team has a set amount of "tickets." Whenever a player is killed, a ticket is deducted. The team with tickets remaining wins. Rifle Deathmatch is the standard free for all where there are no teams and everyone must kill everyone. Squad Defense is similar to any horde mode in other games. You and 3 other players must defend various positions on a map from waves of the enemy AI. This is the only mode that can be played solo. Attrition quickly became my favorite since it's the closest to an actual battle in WW1. Squad Defense was my least favorite due to the enemy artificial intelligence lacking any intelligence.
It may not seem like it, but Verdun is actually a tactics based game. Each team and subsequent squad have to work together to win. The team that has players running around trying to shoot everything that moves is very noticeable and will quickly lose to a well coordinated team. Your best option would be to use a headset as the leader of a squad to issue orders to other players, but you can also issue orders in game. Not everyone listens though, so you could be the only one working hard for victory whilst everyone else on your squad is running around looking for enemies.
Picking your squad, class, and weapons can be a bit of a pain. To do so, you must first pick which squad you want to join, choose which squadmate you want to play as, choose your weapon for said squadmate, then you can play. Problems arise when you want to play as a certain squad member or use a certain weapon, and another player is already using them. You can ask them in game if you can play as that character, but you will more than likely be ignored. It's not a horrible system, but perhaps being original isn't the best option in this sense. Creating a loadout for whichever team you're on has proven to be tried and true.
Artillery and phosgene gas mix things up in the heat of battle. As soon as you either hear or see the tell tale signs of artillery coming down, it's time to run, usually into the longing arms of your enemy. Same goes for running into phosgene gas, but you has a gas mask to help in that situation. The only drawback is that the mask significantly obstructs your view. I'd say that's better than destroying your lungs and dying painfully though. The frame rate does suffer a bit due to both of these. Whenever artillery rains down or you find yourself in a yellow cloud, there will be noticeable dips. Nothing too severe, but something worth noting and looking out for.
Verdun actually looks fantastic for an indie game. Weapons, clothing, and items look incredibly realistic, the firearms especially. The amount of "little details" is a work of beauty as well. Whenever you reload, you can actually see your character press the magazine release, watch the magazine release slide into the gun, and pull the magazine out. I've never seen that level of detail in a first person shooter before. I was actually so impressed that I had to constantly reload to take the best possible screenshot. See for yourself. Being able to turn off the HUD entirely to either take screenshots or to add to the realism is a welcome touch that more developers should consider implementing.
Sadly, environments don't get the same level of detail though. Dirt, grass, and foliage look alright, nothing special, but you can't inflict any damage to them. And I'm not talking about there not being destructible environments, which there aren't. I'm talking about just cosmetic details. Shooting anything in the environment won't yield a little cosmetic bullet hole. It may only be me, but that's something that really stuck out to me in an otherwise gorgeous game. An exception also comes in the form of the fire effects for the flame thrower. The fire looks so bad that it actually affects gameplay because it's often too hard to tell where your flames are going and how close you need to be to your enemies. Explosion, screen, smoke, and gas effects all look great as well. The blemishes the graphics have aren't enough to poison the well though. Verdun can be just pure eye candy at times.
Now just how authentic is this realistic WWI first person shooter? In a word: very. All weapons and armors are all period accurate and associate with the right military and nationality.
You won't find an American soldier with a German weapon here. Each nationality speaks the correct language and you can even shout orders to your teammates in that language.
Every map is based off a real battle fought in The Great War. The trenches give off claustrophobic feelings that triggers a sense of paranoia that an enemy could be right behind you at any moment. Given how authentic Verdun is, there is no flashy over the top action. Almost every battle will be in a trench whilst attacking or defending a part of the map. This will no doubt be a turnoff to those looking for cheap thrills, but those of you that can take the time to appreciate the authenticity of Verdun are in for a great and original time.
Verdun was already a fantastic game on PC, so it's a pleasure to see it translated near perfectly to consoles. Verdun doesn't need lensflare, dubstep, or cartoonishly over the top action to be a great game set in World War I. As cliche as it sounds, Verdun has a heart and soul that will be nearly impossible to recreate by another game. Simply put, Verdun is well worth your time.