Over The Top: Verdun Charges Out Of Early Access

The First World War is a not a common setting for first-person shooters. This perhaps isn’t a surprise, given that guns were a bit rubbish then, most deaths came from being shelled while huddled in trenches, gas was a grinding terror, and tactics often didn’t seem much more advanced than “Run quickly towards the enemy while yelling and hope they don’t machine gun you all.” That said, I’ve heard good things about WWI FPS Verdun [official site].

After almost two years in various forms of open beta and early access, the tactical multiplayer FPS today officially launched. It’s on Steam for £15.29/19,35€ right now.

Set across the western front between 1914 and 1918, Verdun aims for a realistic-ish take on trench warfare with realistic ballistics, gas attacks, gas masks, artillery strikes, carefully-researched equipment, and awful death. While it does support deathmatch, the core team-based mode is about the attacks, defences, and counter-attacks of trench warfare.

Along with personal persistent progression, it has a neat-sounding squad progression where playing together with the same folks in a certain role improves you all.

Verdun’s come a long way overs its many years of development, as this trailer showing the path from earliest art in 2006, across engine changes, updates, and so on shows. Future plans include more maps, more squad types, new gore, and more.

As for how the game is now, here, have a launch trailer:

40 Comments

  1. BobbyDylan says:

    Also, So has Kerbal Space Program.

    • Synesthesia says:

      Yeah, i was wondering what happened with that post. KSP1.0 is a big deal!

      • Premium User Badge

        phuzz says:

        I think most people who care about KSP are either playing 1.0 right now, or catching up on the sleep they’ve lost from playing KSP.
        Or, like me, playing GTA while waiting for all the mods I like to be updated.

        That said it would be nice to see a WIT from one of the RPSers who’s not played it before.

  2. Gap Gen says:

    Pro strats from Derek Robinson’s Goshawk Squadron link to i.imgur.com

  3. McCool says:

    RPS better title their WoT of this “The bloody verdict of Verdun”.

  4. GamesBrit says:

    Warning: May not be able to play after finishing Valiant Hearts

    • MrFinnishDude says:

      I find valiant hearts to be (being a cartoony puzzle game) a much more better presentation of WW1.

  5. Premium User Badge

    serioussgtstu says:

    German U-boats are OP.

  6. JustAchaP says:

    Wow didn’t know how long they had been in development. Bought the Early Access back in December.

  7. Distec says:

    I’m heavily reminded of the old The Trenches mod for Half-Life, which I think I remember having a good time with.

    WW1 is one of those settings that I’d like to see more games take place in, but also realize it’s hard for a game to do it justice or be fun in its own right without sacrificing what made it so bleak and terrible.

  8. tangoliber says:

    Footage looks rather historical and serious….. then all of a sudden…
    “LEVEL UP YOUR SQUAD”

  9. bamjo says:

    Thanks to the 80’s I can’t hear the phrase “over the top” without thinking of biceps and yelling, which I guess could describe WW1 as well.

  10. rabbit says:

    That gun sway animation when running really bugs me out. I don’t know if it’s too-forward, too-fast or too-supm else but it just seems weird and off to me.
    Will definitely check it out though as it’s a cool idea.

    BUT!
    EVERYONE!
    I heard this podcast series recommended on the excellent Crate and Crowbar podcast a month or two ago and have been hooked ever since —- it’s not something that i ever thought I’d be hugely interested in listening to over music but whilst at work and on the way to and from work, this has been pretty much solidly on for the lastm onth or so.
    It’s basically a whole series of history audiobooks presented in a very accessible, casual but informative manner and in a conversational style. Generally they’re a couple quid a pop but there’s a bunch of them up for free. I couldn’t recommend enough – start with Wrath of the Khans or Prophets of Doom depending on whether or not you’re more interested in the Mongol horde or ye olde doomsday cult. (Cult based in the city on which Mordheim seems at least partly based?)

    link to dancarlin.com

    • SlimShanks says:

      I too highly recommend this. Watch it now, stop being ignorant about World War 1. It was kinda important.

  11. pelle says:

    WW1 weapons rubbish? Hm. I think you need to be a pretty hardcore weapons geek to even tell the difference between a ww1 rifle and a ww2 rifle. Most armies used the same rifles in both world wars, just with minor modifications. The German rifle in ww2 was for instance still a variation of the rifle from 1889. The American automatic rifle (BAR) in ww2 was still model 1918 (with some updates). Machine-guns were lighter in ww2, but most non-history geeks will not be able to tell the difference.

    The big change was that ww2 had submachine guns. WW1 did not. And that is something that makes my neckbeard all cold when I look at this game trailer (and many, many other ww1 games and mods): The German MP18.1 submachinegun was never officially adopted before ww1 ended. A few were produced, but they were not assigned to front-line units. Having them in a ww1 game (other than as some ultra rare scenario-specific special) makes about as much sense as having a ww2 flight simulator where the Germans frequently fly around in some jet fighter prototype. But my main problem with that isn’t “realism” but that it is just one of many ways ww1 game designers tend to try to make their games ww2. Including submachineguns makes combat very ww2. What ww1 did have in abundance that should be there to make the game feel ww1 are hand grenades, including soldiers armed with only grenades. I hope this game has that.

    This was the tl;dr. You should hear my long rants about ww1 games. There are many things to say about ww1 tactics and how they could or should be represented to make games different from ww2 games, because it was more tactics than weapons that made a difference (and it is interesting to think about how that can be well represented in a first-person shooter?).

    • WiggumEsquilax says:

      It’s hardly as if historical inaccuracy is even necessary to give soldiers a close combat capability. WW1 forces weren’t limited to bayonets; they had rifle butts, swords, daggers, hatchets, shovels, spades, revolvers, pistols, and the Lee-Enfield mad minute. Submachine guns add nothing to a WW1 game.

    • Gap Gen says:

      You also have stuff like mechanisation, force multipliers like more effective tanks and aircraft. This seems to have made a huge difference to stopping static trench warfare and reliance on massed infantry assaults, even if they still happened in WW2 to some extent. You’re right that the tactics had changed dramatically, but many of these tactics relied on weapons that were still crude in the first war.

    • Hedgeclipper says:

      and you didn’t even mention the Eastern Front.

    • P.Funk says:

      True the tactics were behind in many cases, but still when you examine the premiere progenitors of modern strategy and tactics, your Rommels and Arthur Curries you have to realize that the scale of the warfare and the type of technology available was the real limiter. It had been telegraphed since the American Civil War that trench warfare was the future. The entire final Overland Campaign demonstrated how even numerically overwhelming superior forces couldn’t break a concerted static defense based on overlapping and deep trench lines.

      Mechanization and air power proved to do a great deal to restrain the potential for the trench stale mate and only then could those novel tactics and strategies become mainstream. If you look at the best possible tactics used in WW1, those of the Canadian Corps at places like Vimy Ridge and Passchendaele, you’ll see that even modest casualties against dramatic gains were heinous.

      I only wonder what Arthur Currie could have done with a Panzer brigade and a squadron of Stukas.

      • pelle says:

        WW1 tactics were sometimes backwards, but it was a time of experimentation and learning. Modern tactics were developed during ww1 and the massive frontal assaults the war is infamous for was not as common as many think. Read for instance Rommel’s own book (Infantry Attacks) written after the war about his experiences as a platoon/company/battalion commander. I can also recommend Gudmundsson’s book Stormtrooper Tactics (Innovation in the German Army, 1914-1918). The introduction to that book is describing a scene of Germans attacking in 1940, and then the rest of the book is about how the tactics used evolved. What many forget is that ww2 was also mainly an infantry war, with tanks quite thinly spread, so the problems of attack was very similar to end of ww1 (except for the submachine-guns), it was mostly a question of using infantry in a better way than having better weapons. (Tanks did help on the operational scale though.)

        Nice (free) online intro is a paper called “The Dynamics of Doctrine: The Change in German Tactical Doctrine During the First World War” (on the google).

    • Unruly says:

      Having the M1918 BAR in a WWI game is almost as nonsensical as having the MP18.1 in there. Yes, the BAR was in production since 1917, but it saw use in WWI for a whopping 3 months before the war ended. Previously, it was forbidden from being issued to troops because of fears that the weapon would be captured and reverse engineered. Which is why American troops got the supremely inferior Chuachat instead.

      Also, if the Chauchat doesn’t jam regularly, and is able to be properly aimed using the sights without heavy compensation to the upper left, then it’s not authentic.

      • Meneldil says:

        The chauchat was inferior only because Muricans didn’t want to french-issued ammo and adapted it to their own ammo. Making it pretty shit and prone to jam every five seconds in the process.
        French troops never complained about the Chauchat… This whole “the chauchat was crap” is a bunch of bullshit, that tarnish the name of a perfectly fine weapon.

        • Unruly says:

          Actually, the French did complain about the Chauchat. Which is why they conducted a troop survey about its performance not long after the war got stuck in the trenches. After the survey, they began issuing dirt covers for the magazines in 1917, because troops complained about mud and grime getting into the open-sided magazines and causing jams and misfeeds with incredible frequency. The magazine window combined with the thinness of the material they were made of allowed them to warp as well, meaning feeding was made even more problematic, so they started making magazines with thicker material as well. At the end of the war, to get rid of the dirt covers and fix both jamming and warping problems, they started removing the window from new magazines as well as continuing using thicker material. Also, overheating complaints were why they changed their recommended usage away from being a dual-purpose automatic rifle and light machine gun to just being an automatic rifle, because when it overheated the action would lock in the open position until the weapon cooled down again. You could call that a safety feature, to prevent rounds cooking off, but the thing overheated so quickly that it rendered it useless in a light machine gun role.

          So yea, the French did complain about the Chauchat. Just not as much as the Americans did. And yes, the American issues were, in part, because of the rechambering. Not only did the French factories fail to get the chamber measurements correct, which caused even more loading issues, but the 30-06 round caused the rifles to overheat even faster and the greater stresses it generated exacerbated problems with the overall material quality. Everything else about the manufacturing process was the same. The Belgians had them rechambered in 7.65×53 and those had only the problems that the French ones did, since they didn’t screw up the measurements that time and the round was more similar to the French 8mm. However, it still doesn’t negate the fact that the Chauchat’s biggest problems were related to the magazine design.

          Actually, the problems with the Chauchat in the trenches were pretty similar to the problems that the M-16 originally had in the jungles of Vietnam, only one was caused by a poorly designed magazine and the other was caused by tight tolerances in the receiver. They both couldn’t handle being in mud-soaked environments and relied on being kept relatively clean. Which is pretty impossible when you’re living in mud holes and wading through swamps. But get both of them on dry land, where maintenance is easier and can be done less frequently, and they’re not too shabby.

          • Unruly says:

            I realize that my post basically became a word salad. But the gist of what I was saying is this – Saying that only the Americans had problems with the Chauchat is disingenuous. The French had many of the same problems, and took a few steps to fix them, but never actually got all the bugs worked out. The difference was that there were 2 extra things exacerbating the American issues: a more powerful round that made existing issues more readily apparent, and poor quality control at the French factory that handled the production of US models causing even more loading problems.

      • pelle says:

        The Americans were only involved (except for minor operations) starting June 1918, so if the BAR was used for 3 months that is a substantial part of the time they were fighting at least. But I have not read up on that weapon enough to compare with the 18.1. Never saw a BAR in a ww1 game before, but the 18.1 always shows up.

  12. FredZepplin says:

    I really want to like this, but whenever I play it, it makes me think I should just go play Red Orchestra 2 instead.

    • Fathom says:

      My thoughts exactly. RO2 is more fun, more polished, and generally better in every way. I don’t know who this game was made for.

  13. fr3udes says:

    This game really bugs me. People do know how horrible this war was ? I wonder what would my grand-grandfather say, he who died from mustard gas in these trenches… Honestly, I can’t see where the fun is. Can’t wait for the cancer simulation game.

    • Napalm Sushi says:

      All wars are horrible. The 1983 invasion of Grenada was almost bloodless by wider comparison, yet there are still people for whom it was irrevocably devastating. This is a can of worms that will always writhe under the skin of wargaming and, as I figure it, it’s largely down to the individual player to reconcile their enjoyment of it with their ethics.

      Arguing that certain conflicts should be singled out as “too horrible” to represent while others are A-OK, though? That’s another can altogether.

      • Stellar Duck says:

        Ah, the good old Grognard Guilt.

        The pang of regret I feel when playing as the CSA in a Civil War game. Or playing the Germans in Unity of Command. Sure, it’s all fun and games, but on the other hand… I’m a nazi.

    • vostokone says:

      That’s one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever read. Do you think this about all the Medal of Honor and early Call of Duty games? It sounds like you are singling out WWI games for some nonsensical reason. If you’re opinion is every war game is ethically wrong, then fine, that’s your opinion. But that doesn’t sound like what you are saying.

    • Shazbut says:

      Absolutely, but where do we draw the line?

      If it comes down in the end to a personal thing, we don’t really have a platform upon which to complain

    • Gap Gen says:

      I agree that subtext is hugely important – I was discussing with some people and it’s hard to make a genuinely anti-war film or book or game that doesn’t also glorify war to some extent. That aside, it is possible to miss the point, or to have a situation where you have to change the subject matter so much that it becomes a cartoon of what it was trying to be. If you wanted “realism” in this you could model long periods of doing nothing in dirty conditions, the effects of being under heavy artillery fire for extended periods of time, mutiny, disease, frostbite, etc, etc. You could have it so that as soon as you jumped over the top you had to wade through sludge and be cut down easily by snipers and machine guns.

      That said, like people have said, even if you do treat the subject matter with sensitivity it’s still hard to avoid the fact that you’re doing this for fun, for any war setting or indeed for any violent games. I don’t think this means that they shouldn’t exist – and games like Operation Flashpoint have informed my view of war as being something where you can die for no reason from someone you never saw – but I agree that you have to tread very carefully around this kind of thing, and there are very important aspects of war that a purely action game will never be able to capture.

    • OmNomNom says:

      Really? Are you serious? MOST games have violent elements, often based on real things.

      Watch out with those violent films and books too, they can really be offensive to some people.

      Also, a cancer simulator would be reaaaally dull.

  14. jonesthealiencat says:

    How well does this game run?

    Recommended system requirements:

    4 GB of RAM and a 2 GB video card memory.

    My laptop has the first but only half of the latter. I doubt it can handle this properly… I really need new hardware.

  15. Michael Fogg says:

    >>>tactics often didn’t seem much more advanced than “Run quickly towards the enemy while yelling and hope they don’t machine gun you all.”

    that’s a common misconception. Ask Tim Stone maybe?