This World War I shooter puts players into trench combat

“Verdun” is the game that might give your great-great-grandfathers flashbacks if they were around to see it. It’s World War I complete with the poison gas, artillery barrages, and machine guns that made the war infamous — basically, everything that could kill a doughboy except for the trench foot.

Your character can die from a single bullet, even if it’s not a headshot. It’s “Dark Souls” with wool uniforms.

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It’s much more fun to be the guy using the flamethrower than to be the one feeling its effects. (GIF: WATM)

But like “Dark Souls,” the constant death and challenging gameplay is part of what makes “Verdun” a lot of fun to play. You can create and join squads with your buddies and make your way through the trenches and “over the top.”

Each squad has four positions. The corporal can rally his men forward and call in artillery, mortar, or gas attacks. The rifleman is a standard infantryman who charges forward into the breach. Machine gunners can cut down waves of attackers or clear enemy trenches. Finally, grenadiers blow the enemy away with explosives.

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Seen here, a rifleman in the trenches doing what he does best. (GIF: WATM)

The squads change a little depending on what nationality the group leader chooses. The American Expeditionary Force is represented by two squad options: the U.S. Marine Corps or the 82nd Infantry Division that later earned fame as the 82nd Airborne Division in World War II.

Squads from each nationality have different standard weapons with unique qualities as well. For example, you can’t reload e German rifle until you’ve discharged every round. And some weapons require that you manually open the bolt before reloading, just like they’re real-world counterparts.

The two teams, each made up of a balanced number of squads from the Central and Entente powers, fight back and forth for control of the trenches. Since everyone is so fragile and there are so many bullets flying around, players should expect to die a lot.

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Gas attacks in trenches kind of suck. (GIF: WATM)

This creates a game that is a grueling scrimmage between two sides with dozens of players. Seriously, players will go through squads like an actual World War I general.

These long matches help players get invested in the outcome of each competition, even if they aren’t invested in their short-lived characters. And there’s a sense of accomplishment after clearing and holding a trench manned by stubborn defenders. Actually, there’s a sense of achievement that comes with staying alive through more than three enemy encounters in a row.

There’s also a growing feeling of dread when your team is pushed further and further back until you’re fighting in your reserve trench and the enemy breaks through.

The graphics aren’t exactly stunning by current standards, but they’re good enough to immerse players in the combat. And the look of spreading gas wafting through a trench or a mortar explosion throwing a player aside is good enough to make stomachs clench.

“Verdun” is currently available on Steam and is being released for Xbox 1 and Playstation 4 on August 30.

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