Ever since it launched on Xbox One roughly nine months ago, Verdun’s already small player base has been steadily declining over the course of the year to the point where you’d more than likely struggle to find the 32 players needed to populate the game’s standout mode, Frontlines, if you were to venture online nowadays.
The game does have its drawbacks; the class menu is still overly clunky and it’s not exactly a world beater when it comes to visuals, but the unique and strategic gameplay far outweigh these shortcomings and its continued marginalisation by the console community is unfortunate, as there really is nothing else like it available on Xbox One.
Verdun's continued marginalisation by the console community is unfortunate, as there really is nothing else like it available on Xbox One.
As far as can I see, the only way of ensuring Verdun remains playable in any meaningful form is by enabling cross-play with PC. Out of all the platforms on which the game is available, it’s the only one that has a consistent populous; at the time of writing, Verdun’s 24-hour peak on Steam was 444 players, a figure that’s more than healthy enough to support multiple lobbies and matches.
In fact, the game’s done well enough on Steam that developers M2H and Blackmill Games have brought a standalone expansion to the platform, taking players to the eastern front and introducing Russian forces. Somehow, I don’t see Tannenberg being announced for consoles anytime soon.
Although this is by no means a perfect answer, due to the balancing issues that come with putting console players up against the greater accuracy and reaction times afforded to PC players by mouse and keyboard support, the game’s First World War setting, and the developer’s commitment to historical accuracy, may actually help to partially mitigate these issues.
While a lot of shooters will stick an enlarged set of iron sights or semi-historically accurate reticles on weapons in order make life easier for its players (I’m looking at you, Call of Duty), Verdun is unapologetic when it comes to replicating First World War-era firearms - particularly rifles, the weapon of choice for most players – ensuring that both console and PC users are at the mercy of their limitations, including tiny, hard to use iron sights and limited fire-rates.
Coupled with the need to draw breath in order to ensure a steady aim, the advantages of mouse and keyboard control don’t seem like they’d be quite as advantageous in Verdun as they would in other shooters where fully-automatic weapons and large magazines are the norm.
Even if it does mean having my ass handed to me by the gaming master race every now and then, I genuinely hope, and I’m sure those who enjoy Verdun just as much as I do agree, that whoever is in charge of these decisions takes note of this plea, because the game deserves better, and it may be the only way to ensure I can keep enjoying Verdun on my platform of choice.
Do you have any old favourites that you’d like to see revived by the implementation of cross-play? Let us know in the comments below or over in the forums.
We’re also working on a review of the Tannenberg expansion, so stick around for more on Verdun.