Yet another FPS shooter?
- Developer: Blackmill Games/M2H
- Publisher: Blackmill Games/M2H
- Genre: FPS Online shooter
- Release Date:24/07/2020
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, Linux, Mac OS
- Reviewed on: PlayStation 4
- Game Supplied by: Publisher
From the word go, this is hardcore! It won’t take players long to realize that this game is tailored for a niche market within the online shooter fraternity, and that niche market is bolt action, slow-paced, fire and manoeuvre tactical gameplay. In short, it’s not for everyone. With no single-player campaign to speak of, although there is an offline mode to practice, the meat and potatoes and ultimate success of this game boils down to its online capabilities and gameplay.
Visually the game is, at best, standard. At worst, it feels like a game from ten years ago. The modern consoles aren’t exactly being pushed for fidelity, however, the details in the maps are excellent. A varied gameplay environment, with lots of detritus scattered around the undulating fields, hillocks, and trenches, visually takes the player back 100 years in time.
Particle effects of explosions are minimal, and the lighting and shading of objects are good. However, with little rendering on the structures and scenery, it can at times make what is on show look a little bland. As we all know, though, stunning graphics don’t always make or break a game; it’s the gameplay that counts.
Slow but steady.
Unlike the previous game, Verdun, where stagnant trench warfare on the Western front was the signature of the gameplay, Tanneberg is set on the Eastern front of WW1 and has a different feel. With its new game mode, “Manoeuvre”, manoeuvring your team and your overall movement on the battlefield is the key for victory. It plays out similarly to the Battlefield game mode Conquest, where capturing targets reduces the opponents’ tickets, and gives your team a new spawn point. Defending teams can of course recapture and push the attackers back, but the game can end prematurely if the attacking team captures the defending team’s last foothold, their HQ.
The other game modes include team deathmatch, free for all, or private customizable lobbies, but the main draw to the game is Manoeuvre.
All about the experience!
To play in these modes, players are equipped with one-shot kill bolt action rifles, a sidearm or melee weapon, grenades, or binoculars. The game has a very limited HUD, with a small localized map on the bottom left of the screen, and minimal size text appearing of events occurring during the action.
The maps are of a large size, and they take time to learn and navigate your way around looking for hotspots. It also takes a while to get from one objective to another due to the size of the map, and the only way to traverse is on foot.
With a match featuring one-shot kill weapons, you would expect the gameplay to be stagnant, but surprisingly, and refreshingly, each game I played in had like-minded individuals playing to the objective, and not just treating the game like a giant team-deathmatch, as often occurs in these types of games.
Where the game excels is in the feeling of satisfaction of capturing a location, whilst avoiding gunfire and maybe taking a few defenders out in the process. The reward of then successfully defending the newly captured location from a counter-attack is equally uplifting.
However, what can at times be rewarding can also be frustrating in that, enemy targets with very stiff animations have the ability to suddenly move left, right, forwards or backwards with no real-world physics in play. Because of which, it is at times incredibly frustrating to track enemies from your gun-sights, only for them to suddenly be running backwards at the same pace as they were forwards, whilst they are still facing forwards?! Your shot goes wide, and they are then alerted to your position, so spin and shoot you whilst you are reloading. Better player animations would have helped immensely here.
After a while, players will find they are not only being killed from gunfire and melee weapons but gas and artillery fire too. The game doesn’t explain how or where to get these, like a lot of other unexplained gameplay aspects. It was only by chance that I found them at certain locations on the map, but there were no instructions on how to use them correctly so it was a process of learning by trial and error!
What is also confusing is, it’s not very clear how, where or what equipment the squad you are joining has, and this can become frustrating as some squads are outfitted with sidearm weapons only.
The map system is clear on what objective to go for, but not for issuing instructions or asking for help. At times I would see a big arrow on the main map directing me to a point of interest to attack with my squadmates but have no idea how that order was issued.
The sound of warfare
One of the best aspects of FPS games, and certainly this one, is the authentic experience the audio of the weapons and war ambience can provide. With rifles that sound like handheld cannons, and other players’ characters yelling about an incoming gas attack, the audio was very immersive. There was even a point in gameplay where a fallen comrade was shot 5 yards from me but was screaming out in agony until he respawned. Artillery barrages thunder around the battlefield, as does the twang of a near miss from a rifle ricocheting off the nearest bit of protection you were hiding behind.
When it all comes together
When players finally get to grips with the nuances of the game, despite the fact the game doesn’t explain itself, for the most part, it really does excel as an experience, albeit in a slower-paced, tactical, squad-based style. The clunky graphics of movement do hinder the immersion, and you can play for many minutes without seeing another soul at times, but when the action starts to heat up, and you know in an assault, just one bullet will end your life, it really is a heart thumpingly great gameplay experience.
However, there is one major issue the game has, which isn’t actually the game’s fault. Tannenberg has a very small player base. This is especially noticeable as the maps were designed on PC to have 64 players (32 per team). So when the console versions have the same maps, but at best 20 v 20 player matches, even the best of times with a full lobby it can feel a little sparse. However, during testing for this review, the most I’ve ever seen in one match together is 38, i.e. 18 v 18. Whilst searching for games, the search engine also shows how many players are online at the time, and the most I’ve experienced in one go on the PS4 is 107, spread out over 5 games. It’s a shame, as the game is most definitely playable and enjoyable, but needs more marketing and a stronger player base to thrive.
Unlike most other FPS shooter games, there isn’t any clear progression path for the player either. Again, nothing is explained, but it appears that when playing with certain factions, squads will open up different loadout options after set requirements of kills/time have been met.
Even with a currently small player base, there is still a lot of hardcore FPS action to be had in this excellent game, and with more players getting involved the experience will only get better. Considering the RRP of Tanneberg is £16, this is an excellent FPS, that is only held back by the less than stellar gameplay animations, and hardcore, unexplained features that require patience and trial and error to learn.
Once you do, however, the map design, hit detection and overall rewarding and satisfying gameplay is well worth sticking to. Even with a small number of players, you will more often than not get that sense of achievement, having earned every inch of your victory.