Review – Tannenberg (PS4)

Tannenberg is a World War I squad-based strategy shooter focused on controlling a map and planning your next attack. It was developed and published by M2H and Blackmill Games, the creators of Verdun. For anyone familiar with their previous work, don’t think of this so much as a sequel. Tannenberg is very much an evolution of everything that was crafted by these companies in Verdun.

The first thing to note about Tannenberg is that, although there are a handful of options, there’s really only one game mode in practice. There are a couple variations on deathmatch, including Attrition (team deathmatch), and Rifle Deathmatch (free-for-all), but these modes are incredibly hard to get into. There just simply isn’t anyone playing them at the time of this review. After a few hours of playing these modes, I think the highest amount of players I managed in one match was 7 out of a possible 16, which made the games drag a lot when you can’t actually find anyone.

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Pew pew I’m gunning for you.

The real draw to Tannenberg is the squad-based strategy of the Maneuver mode. Maneuver is all about outplaying your opponent and starving their resources. This means taking various objectives, taking key points, and eventually, taking control of your opponent’s HQ. Unlike games like Battlefield, where each member of a squad can play wherever they feel like, Tannenberg has forced roles for each player. From support and resupplies, to NCOs, you’ll have a role to run, and your squad will suffer if you don’t follow it properly. One big thing is the NCO’s ability to call in strikes. These strikes range from smoke and gas to artillery. What strikes are usable are based on your squad level, which is based on the average level of each player.

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Fire on my mark!

While the game can seem basic to today’s spoiled Call of Duty and Battlefield players, offering a very small variance in guns, this isn’t a game about using whatever is best in the current meta. Tannenberg’s meta is skill, communication, and strategy. Every player is on equal footing with a rifle and a pistol. While mounted machine guns exist, and are as devastating as they were in the actual war, they are limited to what is in front of you. Strategy is key and an NCO’s ability, or inability, to strategize and command a squad can be the difference between dominating your opponent and being dominated.

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Take control, cut off their supplies.

Much like Verdun, Tannenberg’s multiplayer is made up of a bunch of maps surrounding the battle of Tannenberg in East Prussia during World War I. Instead of being on the western front, Tannenberg is based on the eastern front and the fight on that side of Europe, with a large variety of playstyles, different maps and terrains, even historically accurate weapons and uniforms based on the era. The game also features realistic gore and wounds, but if you’re squeamish, you can always turn the gore down or off.

The only real gripe against Tannenberg is the music. The loading screen music is the same two bars over and over again. I hate to admit how catchy it was, but with how long the loading screens can be between matches, you might go just a tiny bit insane. The sound effects are great though, and the game nails spatial audio: entering a cabin muffles everything outside, but you can hear very easily if someone is inside with you. Just be careful not to shoot your team because friendly fire exists. And with that, I’d like to send my apologies to the random squadmate who startled me that one time. Sorry mate.

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That’s a win if you ask me.

As much fun as Tannenberg was, I wouldn’t have considered it good value for a full-priced game, solely due to its noticeable lack of content. Thankfully, you don’t need to worry, as Tannenberg is nowhere near as expensive as your average AAA game. The price tag that the game boasts is actually less than I would have been happy to pay for it, after sinking quite a few hours into it. If you want a mindless shooter, then Tannenberg definitely isn’t for you. If you like to plan your actions, and if you’re methodical about how you proceed through a map, Tannenberg should be right up your alley.

Graphics: 8.0

Not a AAA looking game, but a great looking game all the same. The dev’s attention to detail is really impressive.

Gameplay: 9.0

A very strategic, more thought invoking FPS. Much more planning and thinking involve than most, but a welcome change in pace to the Call of Duty and Battlefield games out there.

Sound: 8.5

While the music in Tannenberg may be lackluster, the 3D and spacial audio that it features is wonderful. Leaps and bounds better than the current big AAA FPS games leading the market.

Fun Factor: 7.0

The biggest downfall of Tannenberg is the lack of players in game modes other than Maneuver. While it’s a small game with smaller devs behind it, one thing that Tannenberg might benefit from significantly is cross-platform play. Adding just a few hundred more players might make Attrition and Rifle Deathmatch far more fun to jump into for shorter sessions.

Final Verdict: 8.0

Tannenberg is available now on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

Reviewed on PlayStation 4.

A copy of Tannenberg was provided by the publisher.