Bringing something new to the FPS genre is no easy feat. Have a look at the Call of Duty series, and you’ll see that even when jumping from Soviet battlefields to space-based dogfights, it’s still the same ole game.
Verdun is a different case, however. Before Battlefield 1, it was among the few FPS games set in World War I. Yet unlike Battlefield 1 you can’t mount tanks on biplanes or shoot a flamethrower from the back of a camel.
Instead, Verdun is a game where you scramble to put a gas mask on as poisonous fumes pour from the sky, where tiny iron sights on your rifles have have you guessing targets on the horizon, where maze-like trenches lead to tense close-quarters fights, and where calls to charge force you out of your safety hole and into the hail of gunfire of the enemy lines.
And most of all, Verdun is a game of squad-based combat.
Verdun has a similar feel to Insurgency, only with more power given to the officer of each squad. If you play as an officer, you can set waypoints and give orders, and you become the spawn point as you charge across no-man’s-land.
The guns are deadly, and a single shot is typically all it takes for an encounter to end. Sniping is an option, but the game’s gun sight mechanics make long-distant shots a pleasant challenge. Battles are tense and oftentimes confusing. You’ll often find yourself getting caught without your mask on in clouds of deadly chemicals, find yourself tangled in barbed wire in a failed charge, and find yourself missing the first shot with a bolt action rifle as you and an opponent tensely reload and see who lands the next shot.
It manages in many ways to capture some of the feel of how books often present the First World War. Verdun doesn’t have cities or towns, deserts or forests. It’s a game of trench warfare, where bombs and gas have lain waste to the earth. It’s not a pretty game. But it has a charm of its own—one that allows it to find its own unique spot in a genre often filled with cookie-cutter copies of Modern Warfare 2.
If you’re looking for a single player game, narrative gameplay, or building-to-building combat, this isn’t the game for you. But if you like a decent degree of squad-based combat, iron sights, tense charges, and close-quarters gun battles, then look no further.