Veterans Online Preview – War Has Never Been So Much Fun

Veterans Online Preview

This is just how every real-world war should be solved – sit a bunch of world leaders in front of a computer, tell each one to pick a soldier and let them have at one another in a virtual battlefield. There would be no human toll, no deaths whatsoever, apart from the unlikely possibility of dying of laughter. 

Veterans Online takes me back to my younger self, when I had a lot of fun playing relaxing war games (quite the oxymoron) such as Cannon Fodder and Ikari Warriors. It shares the top-down view with those two Commodore Amiga classics, but it’s a competitive multiplayer affair – a sign of the times, these ruthless “I’m better than you!” times. 

Veterans Online’s developer is the indie studio Nuked Cockroach. Hailing from Tunisia, this group set out to create a fun, fast-paced shooter and the recent playtest confirmed our hopes: this is a joyful old-school game for the new generation. 

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War Dogs 

This playtest was a bit light on content, as some of the functions weren’t yet implemented. Customization, for example, was noticeably incomplete, but it’s clear that the final release will let you customize several aspects of your soldier, including head, torso, legs, hat and even the backpack. Furthermore, you can pick a taunt, tag and mount – we could try a motorbike and a small flightless plane. Really, who said that we could bring our toy airplanes to the battlefield? 

Quick match was the only option available, first within the gloomy Cross River map, with the lush arena of Jibalba being the highlight of the second day of testing. The first game mode is Territory Control, with players having to stay inside a continuously moving circle to score points. The team that has the most points when time runs out is the winner. The Cross River map is an intricate web of war debris, with plenty of fences, barbed wire and the odd skeleton thrown into the mix. The top and bottom areas are divided by a river that looks conspicuously harmless, but apparently our brave little soldiers aren’t too confident in their swimming skills – perhaps the current has a lot more to it than it looks at first glance? 

Things were way more straightforward when it comes to the Jibalba map, as this was the theater of operations for pure, relentless deathmatch gameplay. It’s a small map that is carefully designed for a hide-and-seek style of combat, and it comes as no surprise when you discover that some players are effectively doing that: sitting in a corner, waiting for a careless player to go by and blast him to smithereens. You didn’t even see that coming. 

Veterans Online Preview Territory Conquest Brothers in Arms

The top-down perspective means that Veterans Online would have to play unlike any first-person shooter. If you were expecting to clearly see every player on the screen, you can forget about that – this is where the fog of war mechanic steps in. Any object that is blocking your way is also hindering your sight, which means that you may be standing right next to an enemy without knowing it. Carelessly get around the wall and there may be a bullet with your name on it. 

There is no time to waste on Veterans Online, as your puny starting pistol just won’t cut it. You can access the in-game shop anytime and spend your hard-earned coins in new weapons and items. You are limited to a primary and secondary weapon, and it is advised to take a couple of grenades (smoke, flash, explosive…) and healing sprays with you. When you are killed, everything is lost forever, so keep that in mind. 

The arsenal is diverse enough, with a few pistols to choose for your primary weapon. Things become interesting when you must decide between the awfully expensive bazooka and sniper rifle. Perhaps it’s better to settle for a cheaper alternative until you get the hang of the game’s mechanics and battlefield, so why not try the very effective shotgun, the double uzis or the jackhammer? No matter your choice, you can rest assured that success relies mostly on twitch reflex and skill, not on who has the most powerful weapon. And who is the best at dodging, also known as disconcertingly rolling around on the ground like you have the crazies. 

Just don’t run over to an enemy soldier with your knife and overstated melee skills – unless you get very lucky, shame is all that will stem from this confrontation. 

Veterans Online Preview Deathmatch Standoff

Soldiers of Misfortune 

Apart from the Quick Match, there is a War Mode option teasing me on the game mode selection screen, along with Tutorial and Custom. I can only assume that this is an all-out warfare between the two factions, the Company and the Empire. Other game modes are most likely in the works, and some exciting new maps were also teased, such as one set in a moving train and another on an oil rig. Tanks should also make an appearance, as it was to be expected. 

A skill upgrade system is another little touch that we are used to take for granted nowadays. Veterans Online allows you to specialize your soldier in several areas, progressing his skills and his proficience in battle. This is the light RPG aspect of Veterans Online that opens new ways of playing. 

With a healthy dose of fun comes a noticeable amount of frustration, when every clash seems to go down the wrong way. However, I would take Veterans Online over most competitive first-person shooters any day, which reminds me… this is a perfect game for a Battle Royale mode. I know, I know, we are all a bit tired of that, but it feels like a natural fit. However, Nuked Cockroach says that this isn’t planned, so don’t get your hopes up. 

Veterans Online Preview Territory Conquest Outnumbered and Outgunned

Veterans Online can only grow from here. With frequent updates bringing new game modes and maps, I can see it becoming a favorite for many players. It’s difficult to properly label it, as it may look cute and fun on the outside with its cartoonish visuals, a perfect fit for casual players, but it’s also an extremely competitive beast that will no doubt become the stage for many fierce fights over the top positions of the leaderboard. 

Mixing twin-stick shooters with Cannon Fodder is probably one of the most underrated ideas in the entire world, and hopefully this game will set things right.

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