Preview | Isonzo – When we talk about war and video games, World War II is a widely used setting. Wars in a less recent past have also often been reviewed, but the First World War is a somewhat different story. That war is somewhat overshadowed by the Second World War, but it was just as interesting. The Dutch BlackMill Games and M2H Game Studio use that war for their WW1 series, which is now almost on its third game: Isonzo. We saw the game in action at gamescom and now tell you more about it.
The Italian Front
In the past we have already been able to play Verdun and Tannenberg, made by the same developers. Two shooters that play differently from the run-and-gun shooters you mostly see today. The pace is slower, it’s a bit less advanced and it’s somewhat about teamwork. Not surprising, given that the game takes place in a different time than what we see a lot in 2022. With Isonzo, we’re going more south, as this game is set on the Italian front. It is also not a haphazard location, as the game is based on a battle that lasted no less than two years.
In terms of gameplay, Isonzo is very reminiscent of the previous games in the series, which should make it somewhat recognizable for players. It plays in a similar way, the visual style is very similar and the tempo is distinctive. In the half hour we played, we played against bots to get the hang of it all again and it can be said that this is a shooter that stays true to its roots. So where everything nowadays revolves around high speed, flexibility and very in-depth customization, Isonzo is a shooter that doesn’t go along with that and that suits the developers.
Practicing for the real thing
Of course the real gameplay experience of Isonzo is in the online multiplayer, where you fight against another faction on different maps. But as is more or less a regular spot for the series, you will also be able to fight bots. We noticed that these bots are not the most intelligent, but that doesn’t matter in this case. It is an excellent school to discover the gunplay, to get to know the maps and to understand the gameplay. The latter is especially useful for players who will be completely new and who are taking a step in this series for the first time.
That said, the shooting felt very authentic while playing. Everything is quite slow, you are somewhat unwieldy as a soldier and tactical positioning is of great importance. All elements that were particularly important in the First World War. Moving from location to location was very slow at the time and when you have to climb uphill as well, which was the case on the map we played on, you understand that it can be a challenge. It’s not for nothing that the battle on which Isonzo is based lasted two years, so ironically that translates to the gameplay to some extent as well.
Make it difficult for the opponent
Anyway, the gameplay is not limited to just blowing everything you come across. This way you can take on different roles and for that you get a matching loadout. This in itself creates variation in the gameplay, but it doesn’t stop there. It will also be possible to make it difficult for the enemies with extra elements. Think of blocking a commonly used route by rigging barbed wire, slowing it absolutely will. But you can also target remote locations with mortars. And so there are more additional aspects that give the gameplay a little more dynamics.
The developer also thinks about the details, so we had a very heavy but powerful gun with us. With an LMG, for example, you quickly know that the recoil feels like a roller coaster ride. Not really effective in a fight with a lot of enemies around you. It is of similar order with the weapon we used, but in Isonzo it is possible to stand behind a wall, where you can fold out the legs. Although you are easier to spot, since you are in a fixed place, but take it from us that the shooting is a lot more stable. And so there are more elements to take into account. Also know that you are not bound to a predetermined equipment per type of soldier, because you can adjust a few things in attributes and things that you take with you, so that you can realize the best composition for you.
More of the same, but…
Isonzo clearly builds on the foundation of Verdun and Tannenberg, but adds new elements in the gameplay. In addition, the new location gives you a completely different environment to choose from, which should result in varied maps in which height differences play an important role. So although the gameplay is more of the same, which is nothing wrong with that, the setting and novelties manage to bring enough news to keep players entertained for a long time. Of course, Isonzo does not lack a completely new mode, so you can now play ‘Offensive’.
This mode revolves around defending tactical positions, where the opposing team has to launch the offensive. On the different maps it concerns various locations that can form a key in the battle. It’s not unique in terms of mode, but in the spectrum of this franchise it can be a valuable addition. Especially because earlier parts in the series are not the biggest games in terms of modes and maps. Again nothing wrong with that, but then an addition of a new mode can be all the more valuable. How that will work out in practice remains to be seen, since we mainly tasted a bit of the gameplay while playing.
The 25-person team that has been working on Isonzo for a long time is almost done with the development, as the title will be released next week for various platforms. Based on what we’ve seen and played, Isonzo feels like a breath of fresh air for the franchise, mainly due to the setting. The gameplay is mainly what we already know, supplemented with some new elements and of course the new Offensive mode, which should provide the game with even more variety. We have only played half an hour and that on one map, so of course we have to wait for the review for a real judgment. We can tell you that Isonzo will be a great shooter exactly in line with Verdun and Tannenberg, and that’s a good sign!