With the rise of online gaming over the last 20 years it’s not an outlandish thing to say that war-based shooters are one of the most popular entries into the genre. Obviously titles such as Call of Duty and Battlefield are two of the biggest, meddling in modern as well as historical warfare. There are a fair few smaller titles out there though, and Tannenberg deserves its fair share of the action.
Tannenberg is based around battles from World War 1; this means an almost primitive approach to warfare, with single shot rifles, pipe grenades, and leather gas masks being the best we’re going to get to defend ourselves with. It’s a stark contrast to the likes of Modern Warfare, and does a good job of truly presenting just how terrifying being involved in that conflict must have been. We’ve got a few mod-cons – a radar, overhead map and hit confirmation reticules – but the bleak, rural battlefields make spotting enemy soldiers hard, and using the basic iron sights on a rifle makes hitting them even harder. There’s very little room for error too, as despite the slow pace of gunfire all it takes is a single shot to finish us off from almost any weapon. Add in unseen mortar strikes, grenades and gas attacks and Tannenberg can be really quite harrowing.
It’s not the most visually graphic depiction of warfare though. Killed soldier’s exhibit fairly simple damage on their corpses – there’s no dismemberment that I saw – and the visuals are pretty basic by today’s standards. However, the audio work is top notch. Bullets whizz by our ears with surprising accuracy, soldiers yell out orders in their native tongues, and the rifles and weaponry hit with a bang. Occasionally downed soldiers will scream out long after they’ve been hit, crying and whimpering in quite a disturbing way. There’s no revive mechanic here, so all we can do is listen to their pleas as they wait for the end. Again, it’s a sobering reminder of just how awful real warfare is, and between the grisly combat and loading screens giving us the backstory of the real world battle that inspired each map, Tannenberg take’s its historical teachings seriously.
It’s not all doom and gloom though. It almost feels inappropriate to say this after all that, but Tannanberg manages to be a really fun multiplayer shooter too. We have three modes to choose from; Attrition, which is a case of depleting the enemy teams respawn counter in 5v5 battles; Rifle Deathmatch, pretty much what it says on the tin – a free for all fight with rifles; and finally Maneuver, which is the main mode of play in Tannenberg.
In Maneuver, two teams of 20 battle to capture points on a map, slowly pushing towards the enemies base in order to capture that and win. Each side also has 2000 points that can be depleted by holding more objectives than the other. Battlefield players will likely be at home here, though again it’s a much more measured affair to the run and gun of Dice’s series. After the initial mad dash to capture the closest points, things slow right down as players try to flank and capture enemy controlled points ahead. A good round of Maneuver can last anywhere between 10 minutes and half an hour as each side plays tug of war with the front line. Capturing points is a slow process, and there’s rarely anywhere to really hide so we need to keep our head on a swivel. The tension generated by slowly sneaking up to a point, clearing out the enemy and watching that reticule slowly empty and refill in our colours is intense, and it’s rarer still to cleanly grab a point without having to defend ourselves.
Each team is broken up into several squads, with four players per each. Each player fills a different role, with some being able to call in mortar strikes, while others have access to better weapons or load outs. It’s possible to request a specific role, but I mainly stuck with being able to call the mortars in as that was where my experience was focused. Victory points earned can be spent unlocking new weapons, and experience gained levels up not only us but the squad as a whole, granting access to new items and abilities. There’s a lot to dig into here, though I must admit to having a bit of a hard time combing through the menus to figure it all out exactly. When respawning, we can land at a captured base, or spawn directly on our squad if they are not under attack. We can also spawn on objectives that are being captured from us, so it’s possible to surprise attack some players – though it’s just as easy to be over run instantly!
When the teams are full, and squads work together Tannenberg is great. Unfortunately at time of writing it seems lobbies are full of Rambo-wannabes that have little to no interest in co-operation. Shout out to Cully125 though; he was as surprised as I was to find another player on mic and we managed to pull some cracking flanking out working as a team. Across the rest of my time with the game though, I found one other player on mic who seemed to get bored after a few minutes and stopped chatting. There’s also not a huge amount of players to match with either, which is a real shame. EU servers managed triple digits mostly, but US, AU and ASIA servers were barely in the double digits. All of the modes can be played offline with bots, but that’s even harder to get any team work going obviously. I really hope Tannenberg picks up a bit more of an audience in the coming weeks and months.
I really quite like Tannenberg. It’s committed to presenting WW1 in a pretty chilling way, yet still manages to be a fun, challenging online multiplayer shooter. The levelling progression menus are a bit confusing, and there’s not all that many people playing it yet, but get a good squad to go into battle with and I think you’ll be won over.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by the publisher.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.