Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Verdun - Initial Thoughts

About the Game (From the Steam Store Page)

Verdun is the first multiplayer FPS set in a realistic First World War setting. The merciless trench warfare offers a unique battlefield experience, immersing you and your squad into intense battles of attack and defense.

The game takes place on the western front between 1914 and 1918, in one of the bloodiest conflicts in world history. The developers were inspired by the infamous Battle of Verdun in 1916. The game offers 4 distinct game-modes: Frontlines, Attrition, Rifle Deathmatch, and Squad Defense. There are also many historically accurate features such as realistic WW1 weaponry, authentic uniforms, horrendous gore, and maps based on the real battlefields of France and Belgium.

The Frontlines game mode is unique in its tactical complexity. The realistic trenches are challenging to fight in and require tactical cunning to capture and defend. The Entente and Central Powers strive to gain control of frontline sectors. In one battle you’ll find yourself rushing the enemy trenches during an offensive action in order to gain ground, while in another you might be defending your recently conquered ground against a fierce enemy counter-attack.

Players can choose to be part of one of the many squad types in the game, each of which have their own distinct tactical roles. By working together with your friends, you can earn experience that improves the power and versatility of your squad. As you gain more experience fighting and get promoted in rank, you also earn Career Points which you can use to unlock specializations, weapons and equipment.

In the Attrition game mode, the Entente and the Central Powers are pitted against each other in a single battle. Each side has a number of tickets which represents the amount of manpower they have. When a player is killed and respawns, a ticket is deducted from the side they belonged to. When a side has no more tickets, players of that side cannot respawn - the last side standing wins!

The Rifle Deathmatch is a free-for-all game mode, where all players are pitted against each other in a thrilling contest of skill using only bolt-action rifles.

In the Squad Defense mode, the player along with three squad-mates will have to defend a position as long as they can against endless waves of AI controlled attackers.

Previous Playtime

3 minutes

Expectations and Prior Experience

Let me just get this out of the way first - I have been deliberately avoiding Verdun. With all due apologies to Faolind, whose generous gift made this possible, I was initially interested in Verdun's setting and premise, but got scared off when I learned that it was online multiplayer only.

World War I is a fascinating period when it comes to video games, because as far as I know, it really hasn't been explored all that thoroughly. It's possible that's because the period is so pointlessly grim, but I actually have another theory - WWI is in an awkward place, technologically, where the guns don't fit into the standard shooter mechanics, but you can't credibly be carrying around a sword. I'm interested in seeing how Verdun handles this issue.

I just worry that my lack of FPS skills will make me a liability to my team and the lack of an offline tutorial (that's my previous 3 minutes, starting it up to see if I could practice) will mean that the learning curve is too steep for me to ever really improve. I'm also concerned that the hotel's slower internet connection will create enough lag to force me to play exclusively from home, which will make getting through the game a lot slower.

On the other hand, I'm seeing a lot of praise for Verdun's willingness to buck the standard FPS formula and create something a bit more authentic to the real WWI, so if nothing else this will be an interesting historical curiosity. Whether I like it or not will probably depend on the balance between historical immersionism and me being a complete load on the battlefield (though to be fair to Verdun, me being a complete load in trench warfare is probably historically accurate).

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