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Before there was Battlefield 1 there was Verdun, a "realistic" First World War multiplayer FPS released in 2015 by M2H and Blackmill Games. It obviously wasn't as much of a hit as EA's big-budget shooter but its unique, unforgiving approach to online combat found an audience—enough to justify a "standalone expansion" called Tannenberg, announced today and scheduled to come to Steam later this year.
Tannenberg brings the Russian Empire into the fight on the Eastern Front, in a very different style of fighting than that seen in Verdun. "The Russians and Austro-Hungarians played a huge part in the First World War and we're looking forward to portraying their contribution," Jos Hoebe of Blackmill Games said. "The Eastern Front didn't see the same trench warfare as in the West. In Tannenberg we offer players the experience of a more mobile side of the war which many people may be unfamiliar with."
The game will feature a new 64-player mode that "captures this more mobile nature of battle." Squads will have access to new, highly-detailed weapons, and there will be new landscapes to fight over as well, including snow-covered fields, forests, burned villages, and mountainside pastures. And of course, as noted in the Steam listing, there will be plenty of "horrendous gore."
Verdun's "realism" means that it's not the most accessible gaming experience you're liable to have. Most of my time with it has been spent crawling through mud toward where I think the fight is, and then getting killed by someone I didn't see. But I like that there's a place for games like this to thrive, and I hope that Tannenberg does just as well, even if I won't miss those deathtrap trenches. It's slated to come out later this year.
World War One FPS Verdun may have ceased firing over the holidays while reenacting the Christmas Truce, but it's now back to business in the bunkers. To mark the new year, M2H and Blackmill Games are adding The Highlander Squad to the battlefield—kilts and all.
Performing an "aggressive scouting" role in Verdun, the Scots comes equipped with Pattern 1914 Enfield—a five-round 'dog-leg' bolt handle rifle, which combines elements of the infamous German Mauser and renowned Lee-Enfield, best suited to marksmen.
"The Scots were no stranger to war, and when the call to arms came in 1914, a relatively large number of Scottish young men eagerly joined the ranks of the British in Belgium," reads an update post. "Wearing their traditional kilts, they performed many aggressive scouting maneuvers, often finding themselves in the thick of savage battles such as Loos and Arras. They suffered a staggering number of casualties as a result, but were nevertheless undeterred and soon earned the nickname the 'ladies from hell'."
I'm from Glasgow myself and while not overly fussed with kilt wearing, I know better than to take the piss out of a proud Scotsman/woman for wearing one.
Should you wish to don the traditional tartan attire in the virtual battlegrounds of Verdun, the Highlander Squad update is out now free-of-charge via Steam. You'll of course need the base game to play, which costs £18.99/$24.99.
Last Christmas, multiplayer WW1 FPS Verdun reimagined the 1914 Christmas Truce—a famous period of ceasefire during the first World War where soldiers are said to have downed tools, sang carols and played football—in-game. This year, it's doing the same, however the net profits of the three-tiered donation system will this time go to UK charity War Child.
War Child is a UK-founded charity that offers assistance to children in the aftermath of conflict. Its latest fundraising campaign, Armistice, has already teamed up with World of Tanks, Democracy 3 and 1979 Revolution: Black Friday—each of which has created bespoke peaceful playthrough options or has donated portions of their sales to the charity.
Verdun's Christmas Truce DLC costs either £1.99/$2.99, £5.59/$7.99 or £9.99/$12.99 (depending on which tier you vouch for), and is available to buy from now until January 2, 2017. Doing so grants you access to a "dedicated Christmas Truce winter map" within which you'll be able to have snowball fights, play football matches, sing Christmas carols, and send in-game cards to in-game loved ones. Players will also receive a special 'Christmas Truce medal' and apparently Scottish highlanders play the bagpipes.
"War Child aims to build on this peaceful movement so it becomes an annual event where more and more gaming studios and players around the world raise of awareness and money for children living with the brutality of war," says the charity in a statement.
The First World War multiplayer FPS Verdun has grown significantly with the release of the free Horrors of War expansion that brings night-time combat to the game in the Champagne region of France. There's also a new Squad Defense co-op mode that pits groups of four players against attacking waves of AI enemies, more than 40 new weapons, new squad types including the Belgians and Americans, and even gore settings.
Gore settings promises to let players experience the real horrors of WW1, which I rather strongly suspect is neither an accurate statement nor something that any sane person would ever want to live through in the name of entertainment. But to the credit of developers M2H and Blackmill Games, they do seem to be approaching the subject matter a little more sensitively than, say, Sniper Elite 4.
In order to get a more realistic war-torn feel to the game the developers have added bloody injuries such as soldiers losing limbs. This has been done in a respectful way as the developers understand that this is not an easy topic to cover, they wrote. For those that find it too realistic or even shocking, the developers have made sure that the new gore setting can be set to different levels of intensity, even allowing the players to disable it completely if they choose.
The update also adds a Belgian sentry squad, a Doughboys rifle squad, and a US Marines engineer squad to the game, along with two new German units, the Schutzen sentry squad and the Pioniere engineer squad. New weapons include the M1918 BAR, the Stielhandgranate, the Ross rifle (which you'll probably want to throw away the moment you lay eyes on a Lee-Enfield) and the C96 Mauser.
The Horrors of War update is live now. Details are on Steam.
Huddled in the trenches of northern France, soldiers on both sides of World War 1 began to adopt a 'live and let live' attitude towards their enemies, agreeing informal truces to recover the dead and wounded or simply enjoy a little peace. As the story goes, on Christmas Day, 1914, occasional indifference to enemy activity culminated in a carol sing-off and an international football match amid the devastation. The scale and details of the event are contested by historians, but it's a heartwarming tale to come out of an otherwise black period, and the fantasy has made for one of the best holiday events I've seen: the Christmas Truce is in place in WW1 shooter Verdun.
Players entering a dedicated winter map will be able to throw snowballs and play football with the opposition until January 4. Apparently you can partake of carol singing, although your teammates might not thank you, and even write Christmas cards (emails) from the front lines for a chance of winning Verdun keys for your friends. For the duration of the event, Verdun will be 40% off.
There might be a moratorium on World War 2 shooters, but developers are still allowed to make gun-'em-ups set during the First World War, which has been relatively undocumented in games. Verdun is such a game, concerning itself with "realism", tactical squad management, and "merciless trench warfare". It's been in Early Access for a while—you can read our review of the Early Access version here—but today it has been declared finished, and been released into the wilderness of Steam.
The developers plan to release free themed expansions after this main event, adding Belgian and American troops, a "gritty in-game gore system", and a new, "hardcore" game mode in addition to other stuff. There are a few more details about those expansions in the 'road map' below.
In keeping with its efforts to offer an authentic WW1 trench warfare simulator, Verdun studios M2H and Blackmill Games will host special truce Christmas events in-game this month. This is in keeping with the historical truce between French, German and British troops during Christmas 1914, where soldiers downed weapons in order to share Christmas carols and, reportedly, play some friendly matches of football.
You'll still be able to engage in bloody military warfare, but the truce scenarios will play out between matches from December 18 until Christmas day. During the scenarios players can play football or engage in jovial snowball warfare.
The events will be complimented with a series of competitions, detailed below.