While everyone swoons over Battlefield 1 (or complains about the bugs in the beta), MH2 and Blackmill Games have brought Verdun out for PlayStation 4. Verdun is a World War 1 shooter. In many ways, it’s considered the WW1 shooter right now, focusing on team play, trench combat and realistic gunplay. Verdun has been out and about on PC for a while and will be arriving on the Xbox One in the coming months. What makes it so intriguing and why should anyone with an inkling for World War 1 check it out?
GamingBolt spoke to M2H co-founder Mike Hergaarden, also one of the three creators of the game, to discuss its inspiration, changes made to the game since its initial launch and more more.
"We’ve released several big updates, did a really cool Christmas Truce event, gave out several free expansions and have been working simultaneously on the console version of the game."
Verdun has been around for quite a while, having gone into open beta in June 2013 and releasing last year in April. What served as the motivation to make a World War 1 shooter, especially one focusing on the 1916 Battle of Verdun?
One of the Verdun creators visited the Verdun region when he was a child, leaving a great impression, also friends (who happen to do some archaeology there) own a house near Verdun which we sometimes visit. At Verdun the remnants of the battle (rifles, grenades and even bones!) are still sticking out of the ground in the many forests that surround the town so it is not hard being impressed by interacting with a history which may be 100 years ago but still very much part of the environment there.
When we met via (tech)university, the idea was formed soon after to create a game with Verdun as its central theme. Being big fps players ourselves we choose this platform because it gives us the biggest opportunity to fully immerse the players into the action.
How much has the game changed in the past one year? What new features and content have been added in the meantime?
Pff, we’ve done a lot with the game the past year. We’ve released several big updates, did a really cool Christmas Truce event, gave out several free expansions and have been working simultaneously on the console version of the game. In short, all of the art, weapons, characters and animations have been replaced by higher quality and more detailed versions. And we’ve added a huge amount of content, like weapons, maps, squads and game modes.
Verdun focuses quite a bit on squad play and teamwork across its game modes (with the exception of Rifle Deathmatch). How was this approach received, especially compared to other military shooters, and how has it shaped the design philosophy going forward?
The choice we made was to focus on a squad-based game where we were able to put into the field (matches) a number of different squad types as could be found on the real front. Such as infantry, jaeger, stosstruppen ,Canadians etc. and within those units specific roles to represent these (for instance the jaeger would get recon snipers, the infantry a machine gunner as a playable role). The focus of the game as a whole therefore is mostly in cooperation with other players.
"We hope to reveal our plans soon, right now we are concentrating on the console release, but interested players should follow our social media channels for more news soon."
The core reason for the choice to integrate squad mechanics into the game is to make it easier for players to actually mount an effective assault on the enemy trenches. You’d often see some role division in a unit storming a specific position (one would flank, one would throw grenades) so the choice to have these units which each have their own style of play and capture the enemy trench is very much rooted in history.
Also in Verdun you are able to level a squad together (by gaining co-op points), which has never been done with this kind of integration in any other FPS. When you level your squad you are upgrading the weapons and uniforms you fight with, where you start as 1914 squad (with the iconic pickelhaube pointy helmets, red trousers for the French) and evolve in a squad as one would find on the front in 1918, with camouflaged stahlhelms, flamethrowers and light machine guns. The squads allow us to represent a lot of historical information into one game. As the transition of the warfare was changing rapidly a lot of times you would find different unit types in uniforms fighting side-by-side. It also a way for us to represent the dramatic change in warfare that occurred during 1914 – 1918 in visual manner.
This approach was received pretty well, the players and community really like the way we deal with the historical aspects and we have a lot of fans who really know their history. It’s hard to compare this with other shooters, since there aren’t really WW1 competitors. With the recent announcement and gameplay footage from BF1, we’ve heard loads of players praising the historical accuracy Verdun has to offer compared with the more ‘modern’ take from BF1.
Are there any other intriguing modes currently in mind for the game, perhaps some with interesting rules like Rifle Deathmatch?
We have some future plans in mind, but can’t share these yet. Hope you understand.
With Verdun releasing on Xbox One and PS4 next month, what changes can we look forward to in current game modes?
Besides the normal tweaks and small fixes there won’t be big changes in the game modes. We did look at the console gamers and made some tweaks to have an optimized console experience, since games tend to play a bit different on console.
"It turns out there is quite a demand for it and a huge online community that knows a lot about the WW1."
Are there any interesting new items, weapons or new maps in the pipeline? If so, when players expect them?
A question that many ask. We hope to reveal our plans soon, right now we are concentrating on the console release, but interested players should follow our social media channels for more news soon.
How difficult was it to translate Verdun to the current gen consoles with regards to controls, network infrastructure, etc?
Major challenges are always: GUI, controls, networking, performance, platform specific implementations (friends, error codes etc.). We completely redid the GUI, so that was a big topic. Networking is also hard: while it worked out of the box, meeting all the console requirements takes a long time. Lastly maybe the biggest challenge is the always ongoing performance optimization. Since this is our first console title we were new to these console specific challenges.
Will PS4 and Xbox One versions receive patches and updates at the same time as the PC version?
Pushing patches and updates on the PC differs from both consoles and the development for these platforms is also done differently. However, we have the intention to push our new patches and updates on to all platforms.
What are your thoughts on the popularity of World War 1 as a setting, especially with Battlefield 1 coming up?
As gamers ourselves we missed the WW1 theme, there are plenty good WW2 games out there and we hoped to show that it’s also possible to develop a good WW1 FPS game.
It turns out there is quite a demand for it and a huge online community that knows a lot about the WW1. We hope that Verdun inspires people and that the game gives a bit of an impression of the war. We do get feedback from players, press and other developers saying that, which makes it totally worth it in our opinion.
What does the future hold for Verdun after the console release?
We see a bright future for Verdun and aren’t done developing on both PC and console! Hmm..I might just give have given a hint here.
"On the Unity engine we’re mostly CPU bound. So for us the CPU seems to be all that matters for performance, it’s unclear if Scorpio has a better CPU."
Will the game run at 1080p and 60fps on both the PS4 and Xbox One?
The game will run on 1080p on both consoles. As for the FPS, we are continuously optimizing the game so can’t give you an answer yet.
I am sure you must have heard about the upcoming PS4 NEO and Xbox One SCORPIO. From a development perspective what kind of advantages will these new and upgraded consoles bring to games development due to their additional power?
Ultimately nothing will change: because of the new power everyone will expect 4K support and then we’ll still be optimizing games just as hard as today.
Microsoft certainly seems to be pushing 4K gaming with their upcoming Scorpio launch next year. As someone who is been developing games for a long time, will you push for 1080p/60fps or 4K/30fps on the new Scorpio?
If we need to choose, 1080p/60fps. Smooth gameplay is more important on the long run.
On the other hand we have Sony, whose NEO reportedly has a weaker hardware compared to Scorpio. Given the current trend of better performing games on PS4, do you think Microsoft will finally have a one up on Sony in the performance/resolution department when the NEO and Scorpio launch?
On the Unity engine we’re mostly CPU bound. So for us the CPU seems to be all that matters for performance, it’s unclear if Scorpio has a better CPU. So we’re not sure just yet…but it might not differ so much.
Will you support the platforms (with games) when they launch?
We have no plans for games specific to these platforms. We’ll keep making the games we envision and then check the suited platforms.