LifeisXbox’s Isonzo review | You might know the developer behind Isonzo from other first-person shooters, Verdun and Tannenberg. Please wait! I might know what you may be thinking now. Those last two games didn’t really set the world on fire and Verdun’s release on Xbox back in 2016 was a small disaster. (Loyal readers might remember I scored Verdun 23%.) Blackmill Games & M2H learned a thing or two though and managed to release much higher quality standards.
Let me explain first what Isonzo is all about! An authentic online first-person shooter without any sort of single-player content. Players are placed in offensive and defensive positions, all based on historical battle environments during the first World War in Italy. This slow-paced shooter with real-life players or AI bots differs quite a lot from Call of Duty, Battlefield, or the like. In this game, you need to be cautious and take advantage of the environment to breach or defend your positions. Each shot is pretty much immediately deadly and there’s no such thing as healing over time. Teamwork, playing smart, and not being a chicken without a head will make you successful. Now that you know what to expect from Isonzo, here’s my opinion about the game and why the saying third time’s a charm really fits Isonzo!
ℹ️ Reviewed on Xbox Series X | Review code provided by PR/publisher, this review is the personal opinion of the writer.
What we Liked!
- Mountainous environments | One big element that sets Isonzo apart is the incredible level of design. Not only is it an authentic experience but the skirmishes on mountains and the wide open terrain allow for some challenging but balanced fights between the attacks and defenders. Naturally, the defenders have an advantage as they have the high ground like Anakin vs. Obi-Wan in Star Wars. This is balanced by a high respawn rate for the attacking players. with the help of airstrikes, toxic gas clouds, sabotaging enemy tools, or even something as simple as creating barbed wire you can make the difference between a victory or loss.
- Much better sound compared to Verdun and Tannenberg | When you get targeted by mortal shells the audio experience is exactly how it should be. A lot of work has been done to improve the overall sound quality with much better weapon sounds and environmental effects. Things as bullets flying past your ears, different kinds of sound depending on the ground, or fatigue and hit effect sounds. A pretty big game changer if you ask me, making Isonzo a more believable game. Playing with a headset always improves the audio quality but this little war game should really be played with one. The immersion is truly something here, only to be disrupted by the ridiculous screams from soldiers, but more on that in the disliked section of this review.
- A massive amount of time went to making Isonzo a setpiece in authenticity | You’ll hear almost every shooting game shout realism and authenticity but Blackmill Games & M2H really made the extra effort. You immediately start to notice it with the army uniforms. If you watched a few World War documentaries like me you’ll really appreciate the attention to detail that went into making the uniforms accurate. Same with the different kinds of firearms, the game doesn’t have a lot of them but all of them are accurate for that time.
- Progression system and cosmetics | You can change the appearance of your soldier, just don’t expect a large character creation tool. Despite being a bit limited you can still change facial hair and tweak a few things on the uniforms. Isonzo has a class progression system too that unlocks new weapons or grenades. There is a total of six different types for example a rifleman, sniper, officer, or mountaineer. They have minor changes that can benefit the team in assault or defending. The game has automatic balancing in place so you can’t have an entire squad of snipers or officers. My favorite is the engineer class as he can construct barbed wire and can create new spawn points twice as fast as other classes. Each action that you do is rewarded with experience points that can level up each class individually. I’m aware that the developer didn’t invent hot water here but the depth is a welcome thing. You might start to wonder why I placed this in the mixed section. Well. It takes way too long to make any kind of progression, despite being awarded for killing enemies, healing other players, or making turrets or sandboxes. In the beginning, most classes are literally the same, so it would have been better if the classes had immediate big differences or if the unlockable new weapons or items would be faster to reach.
What we Disliked
- I miss single-player content | (no score reduction) I get that not every game needs single-player content. Battlefield V launched without a campaign (with a strong negative impact) and Verdun and Tannenberg, the two previous games from the developer launched without it too. I do however feel that this is the next step that they can take with the WW1 game series. I’m honestly really impressed how they went from Verdun with a 23% score on LifeisXbox to an 80% score for Isonzo. I’m really curious to see if their talent of era attention and level building can be used for something more than an online-only video game.
- Haunting but hilarious screams | At least they aren’t using the Wilhelm scream that many Hollywood movies use but the mortifying screams that you regularly hear aren’t doing the game any favor. An overly long and obviously fake scream sound is what is supposed to give you a bit more realism but it is exactly the opposite. I’m completely aware of the gruesome sounds you should be hearing on a battlefield, especially if limbs are shot to shreds but no… I’m pretty sure this isn’t what the soldiers were hearing in Italy.
How long to beat the story | Only online
How long to achieve 1000G | 40+ hours
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