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Saturday, March 2, 2024

The Great War: Western Front – Review

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WW1 isn’t a war that you get many games about, due to its static nature, but seeing the footage of The Great War: Western Front on Youtube replete with a campaign map, stacks of units on each side, real-time battles that included creeping barrages, tanks and waves of infantry really got my Historical gaming juices flowing.. Basically WW1 Total War right?!

And so, I got it on steam for £34 spent a couple of hours going through the tutorial, readied myself for the epic campaign annnnd completed it in one sitting of 5 hours. To say I was disappointed was an understatement.

Conceptually the game has a lot of promise. You have a campaign map thats broken into hexagonal territories, each consisting of a number of stars to indicate how many times you have to win a great victory before you can capture one. Lesser victories increase battle fatigue and reduce national will (this is the main mechanism for winning the game) but to take an area you need a great victory and that means taking all objectives. So in theory quite hard to do and with only basic tech at the start not something you can do from the off, even with overwhelming force.

On top of this if you don’t carry on an attack in an area the stars are replenished and it puts you back to square one (or Hex one as it is). So far, so WW1, great! There is an added level of nuance to the campaign map and battles, in that when you fight you build trench lines, add machinegun nests and barbed wire, all of which persist throughout the game when you fight in the same area. Also if you fight in an area for the first time, there maybe be minimal trench lines or even non at all and you have to start from scratch which is a great idea. You’re building your defenses and they affect how effective that area is at repulsing attacks. 


Seeing waves and waves of enemy troops smashing against your trench line, watching the first line fall, and then reinforcing from reserve lines you built is enjoyable and placing artillery in optimal positions as well as having pre-battle bombardments from siege artillery is a great touch. To give that feeling of trench warfare.

The thing is though there’s all this potential in the game but it seems squandered or even just bolted on. The campaign map is tiny, the campaign itself is super short and I spent most of my time doing very little because I didn’t want to waste national will by launching assaults on trench lines I knew I’d lose against. So much so that the battle of Ypres didn’t happen until like May 1918 and when I had 6 to 1 odds on the enemy and half of my army artillery and tanks.

Added to this research is slow, battle is Infrequent (based on the short game) and there just doesn’t seem to be much depth within. Even the persisting battlefield is pretty pointless because you don’t really get to witness it that much. Also you can’t destroy trenches and artillery craters/damage disappears.

It’s quite frustrating to be honest because you can see what the game could be and if you don’t mind just multiplayer battles, if you can find one, then it’s not bad but for that grander experience it has very little to offer and for me kinda turned me off the whole thing.

A shame, great potential, badly executed.

Matt Geary
Matt Gearyhttps://www.geek-pride.co.uk
From N.Ireland but now living in Manchester, England; Matt is the founder and CEO of Geek Pride. Interests: Photography, Music, Art, poetry, Military History, Model making and painting and of course gaming (table top and computer)

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WW1 isn't a war that you get many games about, due to its static nature, but seeing the footage of The Great War: Western Front on Youtube replete with a campaign map, stacks of units on each side, real-time battles that included creeping barrages,...The Great War: Western Front - Review