Isonzo is the latest effort from M2H and Blackmill Games, the developers behind the WW1 Game Series. After covering the Western and Eastern fronts in previous titles Verdun and Tannenberg respectively, Isonzo sees the multiplayer action heading to the Italian Front and a more Alpine setting.
As matches progress, the backdrop for each map can change quite dramatically. On Fior, for example, all the action initially takes places in an alpine forest, but by the final two capture points teams are battling it out amongst the large boulders, steep slopes, and open fields of a mountain top, while the Sabotino map shifts from a ridgeline skirmish in trenches to close quarter combat in a ruined town. Dolomito probably had the most memorable finale, with the defending team holed up on a mountain peak while the attacking side tries to storm its steep faces.
Officers can call in air and artillery strikes, which can not only make or break an assault but often come with an impressive salvo of explosions
Players have access to several class types they can utilise in order to shift battles in their favour. Oddly, we found the newly introduced Mountaineer class and its extra sprint bonus the least useful of the available roster, which feels like a bit of a missed trick, given the game’s setting. Instead, it was the Engineer and Officer classes that we spent the most time with. The former allows players to build machine gun posts and mortar stations, especially useful if you’re on the defending team, while the latter can call in air and artillery strikes, which can not only make or break an assault but often come with an impressive salvo of explosions.
As you progress each class, new items can be unlocked. Unlike the previous titles where new kit was often buried in sub-menus, progress is a lot clearer in Isonzo, with your available weapons, kit, and class specialties organised in a menu system that’s similar in style and functionality to the ones found in Battlefield V and Battlefield 1.
Class challenges, which unlock new kit, perks, or secondary weapons, are also easily trackable, and can be quite fun to complete. They often help encourage players to try alternative play styles, such as building and then using machine gun nests, or getting a specific number of melee or close quarter kills. It's also easier to customise your appearance in Isonzo, with a surprisingly large array of cosmetic items to unlock. These include uniforms, as you’d expect, but also an impressive number of moustaches and other unique items, such as cigarettes, wireframe glasses, and smoking pipes.
We weren’t expecting to be able to personalise our avatars’ appearance quite so much, and the developers have clearly had fun with the cosmetics while still retaining historical accuracy. A bit of flare is also useful at helping you tell apart real players and bots. You’ll likely come across these AI soldiers at some point, as they are used to make up the numbers when there’s a lack of human players.
While bots will never replace the challenge of a real human, they provide capable backup in the meantime. We’d often see bots destroying enemy spawn points or constructing our own, healing allies, manning machine guns, and generally contributing to the war effort. They’re also pretty good at contesting objectives. Although Hell Let Loose has shown that there is a market for tactical shooters on console, much like Verdun and Tannenberg, Isonzo is likely to have a niche following and therefore in need of decent AI allies.
We’d definitely encourage people to give Isonzo a go, especially if you’re into historical shooters or just multiplayer shooters in general. If the game can establish a decent following, Isonzo, with its punchy sounds, improved visuals, and overhauled UI and progression system, would definitely feel like a more premium product than its predecessors.
Veterans of Verdun and Tannenberg will find more of the authentic, tactical gameplay they enjoy, while newcomers will be getting the most robust experience yet.