Tannenberg PS4 Review – Despite what video games will so often tell us, war is so much more than just a series of battles doled out from the business end of a gun, knife or bayonet. Instead, it’s an interconnected series of conflicts and tactical gambits governed and dictated by the captains, majors, colonels and generals who see the wider picture. This ostensibly then is war; a complex and sophisticated murderous engine that requires robust ruthlessness and efficency in every aspect of its design.
This isn’t Battlefield 1. This isn’t a Hollywood movie embellished with ill-fittingly overblown spectacle. This is Tannenberg and like its predecessor Verdun, there’s still nothing quite like it on PS4.
Tannenberg PS4 Review
Tannenberg’s Obsessive And Slavish Pursuit Of Authenticity Is Unmatched
The second entry in the WW1 Game Series franchise, an established continuum of tactical first-person shooters set during the Great War from developers M2H and Blackmill Games, Tannenberg possesses a refreshingly singular and slavish obsession towards authenticity which serves to separate it from the more bombastic and dramatic shooters seen on the market today.
Certainly, there are no narrative driven campaign missions which recycle the well-trodden tale of a lone soldier casually blasting their way through the enemy, or an explosion-laden vehicle chase scenes or anything like that. Tannenberg isn’t that game.
In its relentless pursuit of authenticity, Tannenberg allows players to take roles in the Russian, Roumanian, Latvian, Austro-Hungarian, German and Bulgarian armies of the time, as they engage in a variety of battles that span the width and breadth of the Eastern Front. Clearly, developers M2H and Blackmill Games have done their homework here too, as the uniforms which are bespoke to each army are highly detailed and wholly representative of what those troops wore into battle over one hundred years ago.
Beyond painstakingly detailed uniforms, Tannenberg also strives for a feeling of authenticity with the nationalities of the troops themselves, in which each soldier actually speaks the language of their native tongue on the battlefield; something that is a world away from the accented English seen in other war games. Such strides towards realism are seen in many other places within Tannenberg’s overarching design too.
Death, for example, comes extremely quickly in Tannenberg as there’s none of the bullet-soakery that permeates other shooter shooters. In Tannenberg, if you get shot, you get dead – it’s that simple. Speaking of getting shot, in so many other shooters, the reliability of your firearm is often taken for granted but in Tannenberg, your firearm can get jammed, requiring you to un-jam it in quick fashion. Imagine the horror as you peer over the top of an artillery crater, Arisaka Type 30 rifle gripped tightly in your hand, you line up a kill-shot and then *click*, the rifle jams and then the enemy whirls around on your position. Exhilarating, yes. Terrifying? Yep, that too.
Then there’s the incredible audio work that developers Blackmill Games and M2H have wrought here. Whether it’s the distinctive crack of the Martini Henry rifle signalling the gun dealing out its grim wager, or the heart-stopping, rapid pop of the Steyr-Hahn handgun, all the firearms in Tannenberg impressively feel, look and sound like the real deal.
Battlefield Tactics And Realistic FPS Mechanics Converge With Aplomb In Tannenberg
Like Verdun before it, Tannenberg is so much more than just a first-person shooter that happens to be set during the Great War. Without a single-player campaign mode to speak of (though the game does allow for AI bots in some modes), Tannenberg is resolutely an online multiplayer shooter and it’s here that it should absolutely be played in order to maximize your enjoyment of it.
Though Tannenberg offers up the usual smattering of deathmatch and competitive multiplayer modes, it’s arguably in the new maneuvers mode that Blackmill Games latest effort succeeds in underscoring the difference between itself and other shooters.
Similar in theory and execution to a regular territory occupational game type, maneuvers has two sides wrestling for control over key districts and areas in key scenarios which span the conflicts of the Eastern Front. Where Tannenberg differs however, is in how each district and area provides meaningful incentives for each side. Occupying a military outpost will provide additional ammo for your troops, while an artillery position for example, will reduce the cooldown on the next time you can call in shelling or scout aircraft support.
As such, success in maneuvers is dictated by much more than just how quickly (and accurately) you can pull the trigger. Whether you’re ordering in units to attack an enemy position, consolidating a position under attack, calling gas attacks in on an enemy position or using your captured territory to outflank your foes, the tactical opportunities that Tannenberg provide the player with are satisfyingly and rewardingly vast. Tannenberg is as much a match of wits as it is one of physical mettle.
And really, there’s nothing quite so satisfying as ordering your unit to charge over hill towards a fortified enemy stronghold that just seconds before has come under heavy fire from your own artillery batteries, or snatching victory from the jaws of defeat by holding off a determined enemy player advance in a central position with a depleted unit of troops. Tannenberg is filled with these sorts of moments, where its tactical decision making and gunplay blends to create a sort of battlefield theatre where anything can happen and where, more importantly, the spectacle feels grounded, rather than eye-rollingly overblown.
For long tenured Verdun players, Tannenberg ushers in a whole host of other welcome new features too. Within each army exist specialized squads that have special abilities, such as improved cooldowns and stamina regeneration with more becoming available, as the player gains experience from killing enemies and completing objectives. This means that progression through Tannenberg’s various army ranks feels rewarding, as you gain access to better abilities, perks and equipment.
Also new to Tannenberg is a dynamic weather system which can utterly transform the battlefield with snowstorms, blinding rain, obscuring fog and much more besides, all of which can turn an attack into a chaotic nightmare, or allow a resourceful force to mount a better defense than they might otherwise have been able to.
Despite Offering An Unparalleled WW1 Tactical Shooter Experience, Tannenberg Won’t Be For Everyone
While Tannenberg is a hugely enjoyable tactical shooter effort that strives for authenticity, like its predecessor Verdun, it clearly won’t be for everybody.
For a start the visual presentation is a clear step down from other shooters (and certainly a cut below the PC version which released last year), with some janky character animations and fairly basic buildings and environmental landmarks. Despite such visual flaws, Tannenberg nonetheless does a commendable job of realizing the key battlegrounds of the Eastern Front and it’s important to remember that the team behind Tannenberg is essentially an indie outfit that comes nowhere close to commanding the same level of personnel or budget that a studio like EA does.
Something else that we’ve already touched on is that Tannenberg doesn’t have a single-player story campaign, which means that those people looking for a narrative driven shooter will be disappointed. Again, Tannenberg isn’t that sort of game – it’s a tactically driven, smart shooter that places a real emphasis on authenticity and wider battlefield strategies.
Beyond the visuals, another area where Tannenberg struggles to hold parity with the PC version of the game is in the number of players that the game allows for its marquee maneuvers game mode. On PC, maneuvers supports 64 players whereas on PS4 only 40 are supported – a sizable drop off of 24 players. One can only hope that a patch in the not-too-distant future addresses this, because while the battles still feel suitably epic, they’re a notch lower on the scale in the intensity stakes when drawn into comparison with the PC version of the game.
Another issue is the manner in which 3D audio is handled. When played with a decent headset, it can be extremely difficult place enemy footsteps, making you look (and often run) around frantically in a bid to pinpoint for foes. For this scribbler at the very least though, Tannenberg’s deft blend of realistic FPS action and macro battlefield tactics ensures that I can foresee many, many more hours spent on the Eastern Front. For the rest of you sat on the fence though – take a look past Tannenberg’s flaws and you might be surprised with what you discover.
Tannenberg is out now on PS4.
Review code kindly provided by publisher.