First off, English is not my first language, thus explaining the general awkwardness in the review.
Secondly, I only have a small knowledge of WW1 so I might have made several mistakes when comparing the game with the war.
Making an FPS based on WW1 must be no easy task: one rarely thinks of WW1's trench warfare as heroic, making it an unlikely choice for a fun FPS that would also have many elements of WW1's warfare.
While in most multiplayer FPS you get a feeling of power by playing as wolverine's brother and being able to eventually, should you have the required skill, take a number of enemies at once, Verdun makes you feel like you might die any second, and the bullet might come from anywhere in the horizon, even from the skies. In other words, it is realistic.
In the main game type(frontlines), the players have to either A. Defend your team's trench or B. Charge the enemy trench by crossing through the No man's land.
If the defenders successfully repel the attackers, it will be their turn to charge the enemy trench.
Should the attackers capture the enemy's trench, they will have to defend it from their previous owners before being allowed to conquer further trenches.
While it might seems like a simple "Defend the objective" game type, the level design based on trench warfare and the gameplay drastically alter the experience.
For the vast majority of shooters, it is often the defenders that have the advantage. Verdun pushes this to the extreme.
The gameplay itself reminded me of Red Orchestra 2: a slow-paced realistic shooter where you die with one or two bullets.
While in Red Orchestra the gameplay's first and foremost goal was to make the game more realistic, Verdun makes, IMO, a better use of it by combining it with trench warfare.
Having to charge under enemy fire and through the No man's land almost inevitably results in a slaughter for the attackers, who can barely fire back at the enemy.
Depending on what map you are playing on, the No man's land's size will vary. If on the easier maps, charging the enemy's trench proves to be a difficult task most of the time, it almost feels like an impossible feat on the hardest maps.
The only way to make it through to the other side is to carefully move from hole to hole in The No man's land, run in packs and hope that one of your fellow soldiers will catch the bullet for you.
Squad leaders can call for artillery strikes. The heavy use of artillery makes it that no place is safe in No Man's land, which leaves you with the following dilemma: either trying make a run for the next hole to avoid the bombardment under heavy enemy fire or hope you will be lucky enough to be out of its range.
Furthermore, No man's land is riddled with barbed wire. Should you be caught in barbed wire, your chances of living for more than two seconds drastically drop, as you will loose health have your movement speed tremendously reduced and you will loose the ability to sprint, leaving you very vulnerable to enemy fire. Therefore, one has to go either go around the barbed wire, through a seemingly safer but more predictable route, or take the risk of being caught on the barbed wire by jumping over it.
Even once the player has reached the other trench or is defending his/her own, the player is still vulnerable to artillery strikes, most especially gas attacks. The presence of gas makes it necessary to equip a gas mask. While the gas already reduces the player's sight, making it necessary to go to close quarters, the gas mask further impairs the player's vision. The player thus has fewer chances of detecting enemies and thus feels even more vulnerable.
Nevertheless, the game is fun to play. There is a good overall balance, the guns are very satisfying to use. I especially like the "old school" approach in terms of unlocks. I hate the modern unlocking system that requires players to play(or buy in certain cases) for a very long amount of time before being on an equal footing. Luckily in Verdun, players can have everything unlocked in a matter of hours.
Furthermore, the class system reduces the problems due to being able to pick whatever loadout players want, such as an entire team being made out of snipers/machine gunners/ explosive specialists and keeps an the balance in the game, especially as some classes act as counters to others(snipers vs machine gunners) and give a much greater tactical aspect to the game, as the game requires a team to be cohesive to work properly.
The netcode and overall optimization should definitely be improved though, as it often hinders the experience. Expect a steep learning curve, as you will have to learn the game by jumping with others players right off the bat due to the absence of tutorials. I am still confused as to how some game mecanics, such as the squad leveling system, work. The learning curve is further made steeper by the absence of a matchmaking system.
Now be aware that, due to its status as an indie studio and thus, limited ambitions(as shown by the relatively low price), the game cannot offer as much content as some triple A FPSs, both in terms of maps, game types but also in terms of the gameplay's depth.
Furthermore, as I mentioned, players must know that the gameplay varies from the norm in that it will require the player to be much more patient and expect a more frustrating game.
I believe that, in this matter, a picture is worth a thousand words, it is almost necessary to see some gameplay before buying the game if one never played similar FPSs.
Here is a link to some gameplay footage without commentary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8aeugkc20BI
This game is one of the few multiplayer games that offered more than fun. While the game is fun, it also realistically portrays some aspects, of what it must have been like to go through the horror of fighting through the trenches and having to charge the enemy's trench although it would likely result in your death.
While I doubt the developers' first goal aimed at recreating these emotions of fear and weakness, Verdun is a FPS that, while making WW1 fun, also effectively portrays some of its darkest aspects.
I must admit that I would have liked to have more gore in the game, as a way to portray more effectively the violence used, especially as WW1 is also famous for the (Before googling it, be aware that the images are extremely graphic) "Broken faces," and a significant development in modern plastic surgery.
Although I am undoubtedly biased toward a game that accurately portrays some of the horrors of WW1, as well as being developed by an indie studio, I recommend Verdun as a very welcomed new take on historical multiplayer FPSs.