Verdun Game Review

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Graphic by Lea Clarin.

A squad-based multiplayer first-person shooter, Verdun was released for PC in April 2015, PlayStation 4 in August 2016 and Xbox One in March 2017 after a year of Steam Early Access. Inspired by World War I trench warfare, the game emphasizes extreme realism and bloody, muddy, and at times depressing setting of a truly depressing war.

When it comes to games about World War I, there isn’t really a large first-person shooter market. After the release of Battlefield 1, Verdun received tough competition, but the two games are separate in what they are trying to achieve. While Battlefield 1 offers an interesting single player campaign unlike Verdun, its fast-paced and often symbolic depiction of the Great War is far from historic reality. On the contrary, Verdun was made for history buffs.

“Camping” in the corner of your trench will allow you to survive, as trenches were meant to help you sit inside and camp. However, an artillery barrage and creeping enemy raider teams trying to outflank you and capture your trench will force you and your team to relocate, cooperate, and try to put up a stiff resistance. Should the enemy fail to capture your lines, you hear your commander whistle, you jump off the trench, you see your buddies run straight into a chlorine cloud. Your squad-mate tries to put on gas mask and misses the barbed wire, getting entangled in it. Your other friend turns to him, looks, thinks for a second, but gets nailed with an enemy bullet (All Quiet on the Western Front style). French, German, British, American, Canadian, Belgian, Scottish … no man’s land is just a giant mincer, chopping your lives short. You see how people in front of you get mowed down, running straight into machine gun crossfire.

Over time, you’ll see clean-shaven soldiers become veterans with waxed moustaches, and the squad uniforms will update to later war styles. The ability to play as a Canadian team is a unique opportunity that this game allows, along with the option of playing as Belgian riflemen or Scottish Highlander infantry, brandishing kilts and sturdy will. Every time you choose your team, a short tune will play (for Canada it is “The Maple Leaf Forever”) while you are being readied to spawn next to your commander. Within the squad, there are unique roles that change based on nationality, as well as unique weapons and abilities.

The cons of this game are some optimization problems and bugs, but developers regularly update the game. The pros include realism almost to a fault. Detailed gore and vast maps are nice, and the game gets regular free updates with no paid downloadable content. But is it worth fighting? If you start thinking about it all, you might miss the command to retreat. The next thing you see is your lifeless (ragdoll) body flying away, while the mortars hammer your position. Unless you affix your bayonet and charge your enemy, how dare you claim to know anything about true dirt and pain of virtual warfare? Get immersed into this painful world of war, and remember lads: “It’s a long, long way to Tipperary.”

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