I’ve been a little WWI obsessed for the last few years. It was a terrible, bloody conflict where soldiers had to fight under unfathomable hardships. I know capturing trench-style warfare in a video game is an almost impossible task, but it’s always interesting to see how developers choose to portray that conflict. There have been a fair amount of WWI games to come out in the last few years, with Beyond the Wire and Isonzo releasing within a couple of weeks of each other. While both of these games feature WWI combat, Beyond the Wire has always struggled to remain a strong playerbase, even through its Early Access period.
Beyond the Wire is a first person multiplayer shooter that touts cinematic action and 50 player versus 50 player matches in its store page. And while it’s true that Beyond the Wire does have some pretty good production values, it never managed to capture players’ attention. I know I keep mentioning player numbers, but it really is hard to review a multiplayer game and never play in a server that is near capacity. But here I try to do it anyways.
One of the biggest things working against Beyond the Wire in its current state is any lack of single player option. There are a few “training levels” but those are nothing more than shooting ranges. They do give you a glimpse of what joining a server and choosing a role is like, and you can get your hands on some of the weapons and try them out, but there is nothing instructional beyond that.
Beyond the Wire has some pretty darn good gunplay, too. It’s not my favorite, but its weapons feel powerful. Weapons also make satisfying clicks and clunks when triggers are pressed, ammo is replenished, etc. In addition to how guns feel, bullet impacts feel truly impactful: shooting the ground kicks up dirt, and hitting another player causes a satisfying ragdoll-like death. It’s a game that’s just fun to run around and shoot in.
There is also great attention to detail. Beyond the Wire does a great job with authenticity. Uniforms look historically appropriate, and weaponry looks and fires in a historically accurate way. The levels themselves look great, too. All of them are appropriately war torn, trench filled, and pock-marked—exactly how you would envision a World War I battlefield.
While the shooting feels good, Beyond the Wire does suffer from some janky movement. It’s not horrible, but it feels like it’s caught between a more arcade-like shooter and a mil-sim style shooter, still feeling not quite like either. I like that Beyond the Wire gives you the chance to drop into a prone position quickly instead of awkwardly kneeling down and settling into prone.
I’ve tried to play Beyond the Wire at several different points for the last couple of months. It’s pretty much a dead game. It promises 50 versus 50 player action, but according to Steam Charts it has had 75 total players in the last 24 hours. The player numbers did get into the hundreds during its official release a couple of weeks ago, but nowhere near its all-time peak of over 1700, a number it hit well over a year ago.
I would love to recommend Beyond the Wire, but this isn’t a review so much of a chronicle of a dead game. It has some great things going for it, but it ultimately suffers from the killing blow of any multiplayer game: no players. And without a single player component, there really is no reason to play Beyond the Wire.
Beyond the Wire is available now on PC via Steam.