The Great War has come to console in a deadly form.
Over the past few years, Verdun has slowly worked its way into the small but respected hardcore first-person shooter genre. While the lifeblood of the game, teamwork and deadly one-shot-one-kill combat, can be found in games like Arma, Insurgency and Red Orchestra, up until recently Verdun was the only game with a World War I setting. This small but ultimately meaningful difference has helped Verdun stand out and apparently grow enough to warrant console release.
Now out of early access on PC, Blackmill Games and M2H has turned their efforts to bringing Verdun to PS4 with an Xbox One version coming “soon.” Thankfully, I can report that the game remains largely the same on Sony’s console with the biggest difference being an inexperienced console crowd – something that will likely change over time.
Combat is squad and class focused. Players are put into small squads and are assigned roles to help build your army’s momentum. While you’re not required to stay near your squad leader, working together will help boost your squad’s experience and will reward you with better weapons and gear. Because the game has only been out a short while on PS4, I’ve found that many players still seem to try to “lone wolf” combat only to die the second they step out of the trenches. This behavior is somewhat expected because of Verdun’s steep learning curve, but I couldn’t help but wonder if the brief tutorial at the start of the game could have worked a bit hard to get new players up to speed.
Another big complaint I have with the game comes with general performance. In its current PS4 launch state (no post-launch patch) the game consistently drops frames. The more action going on in front of you, the worse it gets. Because Verdun requires patience and a steady trigger finger, I found myself irritated every time I would aim down the site and feel the game momentarily come to a crawl. According to the developers, performance boosts and joining friends are coming in the first patch, so these issues might not exist later on in the games life cycle.
In hand with frame rate issues, I’ve noticed a substantial amount of bugs in each match. Audio will occasionally cut out, I’ve had my entire HUD disappear (effectively making teamwork impossible) and for whatever reason, the “gore” toggle in the settings seems to do nothing to the game except add gurgling dead enemies.
Despite these hang-ups, Verdun is still a fun and rewarding shooter when your squad works together to take objectives. In fact, Verdun’s signature mode, Frontlines, is some of the most dynamic multiplayer around. Instead of having an attack and defend team, one team will attempt to storm an enemy trench. If they succeed, they’ll take control of the trench while the other team counterattacks. This back and forth gameplay will test teams as winning will hinge entirely on each squad’s ability to quickly change from offensive to defensive tactics.
Visually, Verdun leaves a lot to be desired. While it certainly has made strides over PC early access builds, many textures still feel blurred and ugly on PS4. Additionally, weather effects, or maybe just poor draw distance, make differentiating between teams almost impossible on night maps. Thankfully, I’ve noticed that team damage is off by default; saving you from embarrassing mistakes.
Gunplay in Verdun is solid but feels a little less responsive on console – a relatively common occurrence. The game’s default sensitivity, particular while aiming down sights, is extremely high which can make shooting at enemies in the distance a real bear on the DualShock 4. Once I toned down the sensitivity a few points, I found that I was killing dozens of enemies per match. Again, none of these things are deal breakers, but minor decisions from the developers can ultimately push players away from a game like Verdun with such a steep learning curve.
Verdun is a brutally difficult shooter that emphasizes player awareness and teamwork to win matches. In its PS4 launch state, there are bugs and performance issues that made me wonder if the game needed a little more refinement before release.
When the console play space is dominated by bullet-sponge, fast past shooters, it’s refreshing to play something that requires thought and strategy to win. The console port is certainly far from perfect, but Verdun’s realistic gameplay and deadly weapons feel like a breath of fresh air.
Verdun was reviewed on a PS4 press copy courtesy of M2K and Blackmill Games.
Interested in Bear Claw Gaming’s review process? Check out the official scoring FAQ!