There has been an overload of shooters made based on World War II throughout video game history. Warfare in the modern/present era also receives plenty of attention from gaming developers. The Vietnam War receives some virtual attention here and there. But games, particularly first-person shooters (FPS), based on World War I are severely underrepresented. I was surprised that EA DICE even developed Battlefield 1, an interesting change for a series that had been focusing on present warfare for years. The game was pretty well received too. But for me, the king of the WWI FPS is none other than the WWI Game Series featuring Verdun and Tannenburg.
Where Battlefield 1 gets the nod is in the graphics and overall polish, which many times is the advantage of being a high budget title. But when it comes to the attempt to really capture the authenticity of WWI, that is where Verdun and Tannenburg shine. Sure all the games miss the mark in different ways concerning realism, but I delight in how M2H Game Studio and Blackmill Games developed titles don’t turn their depiction of WWI into an over-the-top, Hollywood-like production.
Trench warfare was a significant part of what took place on WWI battlefields and I prefer the way it is portrayed in Verdun and Tannenburg. Because I don’t have overpowered weaponry, I feel vulnerable and have to choose the shots I fire wisely. The reloading of my weapons is not instantaneous so I have to make sure that I place myself in a spot where I can take the time to do so. That also creates tense moments as sometimes you’re hoping that the reloading animation finishes before an enemy spots you. Some of my favorite moments are when I catch the enemy bots reloading and they are defenseless against my attack.
As with all games based on war, playing them makes me appreciate and better understand the horror that it is. The vulnerability of being in the trenches had to be terrifying at times to even the bravest of soldiers. Knowing when to stay, when to advance, and when to pull back were all decisions that were made in those environments. In no way would I want to actually experience what I play. But I have nothing but the utmost respect for those who have gone through or are actually in those situations.
While Battlefield 1 has a single-player campaign and a multiplayer suite, I would rather have Verdun and Tannenburg’s lack of a campaign in favor of multiplayer bots. Campaigns are fine tuned to the point where your playable character is already chosen for you and the outcome is going to be the same because it is predetermined. Multiplayer with bots gives the experience more unpredictability as you’re trying to win the battle, not make it to the next cutscene. For me, those fresh experiences each round significantly increases a game’s replay value. You don’t have the game trying to guide you through checkpoints in multiplayer battles. It’s a more free flowing happenstance.
I am at the point as a gamer that if I purchase a shooting game, the ability to have a multiplayer experience against the A.I. is a requirement. The ability to execute console commands is also preferred. Verdun and Tannenburg provide the ability to do this on the PC versions, but I don’t know if the option is on the console versions. You can see in the picture above that I was able to change the duration of the round and I had also formerly added bots so that the total number of soldiers was 90 instead of 64. With console commands, it provides a lot of flexibility and customization that can make each round feel unique.
My hope is that more developers will explore “The Great War” going forward. It is many times overshadowed by the Second World War, but the fallout of the first one is what eventually led to the second. Beyond the Wire was the latest WWI shooter to be released in 2020 and enjoys “Very Positive” reviews on Steam. M2H announced this week a new game in the works named Isonzo, an official followup to Verdun based on the Italian front of WWI. Thank goodness games such as Beyond the Wire, Battlefield 1, Verdun, and Tannenburg do exist because it at least gives gamers a virtual representation of WWI. But I would welcome even more FPS games on the war.