Review

World of Tanks Review (PC)

It’s a daft name, there’s no getting around it, but WarGaming.net’s World of Tanks demands more than just scoffing at its moniker. It attempts to meld a lightly-realistic tank simulation with equal parts online persistence and swift 15-on-15 action, creating a pick-up-and-play experience that contains enough long-term hooks to keep people coming back for more. With a sedate pace and reliance on teamwork rather than reactions, that may well explain the 3,000,000 players that have sampled its battlefields to date. Well, that and the fact it’s free, anyway.

Structurally there’s precious little padding here, and soon after installing you’re dropped into a garage with just a couple of menus and a huge red button for company. Leaving aside the desire to jump straight into the action (although that’s absolutely a viable option), it’s within those menus that World of Tanks draws an analogue to the likes of Call of Duty or other online shooters, with a basic experience and currency system providing access to a raft of additional equipment with which to differentiate your experience from that of your comrades. These are more than just trinkets and better avatars however, and long-term investment in the game reaps a steady reward of additional power.

It’s a dour and gritty world

As the name suggests, the developer has concentrated on providing a vast array of mobile armoury as that dangling carrot for longevity. You’ll start off with three light tanks representing Germany, Russia and the USA respectively, and further tanks, research, crew and upgrades (split into the likes of turrets, engines, radio, munitions, etc) can be purchased for each of the vehicles in your garage with in-game currency (after researching each of them with battlefield-earned XP). There are separate tech trees for light, medium and heavy tanks, as well as the devastating Tank Destroyers and SPG’s. These units effectively form the MMO-style class system, and determine your specialist role on the battlefield more than any other factor.

Although those same five categories of hardware apply whichever nation you choose to plunder (and there’s nothing stopping you from progressing all three at the same time), there’s still a hell of a lot to unlock here as each of the factions contains its own unique lineup of units and upgrades. Progress at the early stages is swift enough to sample all three before committing though, and only becomes truly gruelling towards the mid-to-late stages of each ladder. Make no mistake though, as with any mutiplayer-skewed online title, it’s those with the most time and resources that will eventually dominate, as indeed they probably should.

Thankfully, whether you’re in it for the long haul or just an hour or two here or there, World of Tanks doesn’t disappoint on its core action loop.

A sandbox taken to the extreme

Jumping into any game is as simple as clicking that tantalisingly huge red button at the top of the screen, at which point the servers attempt to match thirty tanks of roughly the same class and experience before throwing them onto a small-to-medium sized map and allowing nature to take its course. Games are won either by destroying all of the opposition tanks, or by capturing enemy bases in the manner of Battlefield. It’s that simple.

In keeping with the style, controlling your tank is also as straightforward as those game rules. WASD is deployed for movement, whilst your mouse acts as the turret. A targeting circle decreases in size depending on whether you’re in motion or aiming from the spot, and scrolling the mousewheel allows for a more accurate look at your enemy or the section of ground that you just accidentally lined up in front of. Each of the tanks has a radio range that acts to highlight enemy units on the map (upgradable, of course), and there’s also an element of dice-rolling on the back-end to determine which shots are accurate, penetrate armour, or those that simply whistle past into the nearest hay bale.

Despite those random elements coming into play at inopportune moments (firing a shell directly into an enemy tank from short range can occasionally result in barely a lick of damage), in practice it all works pretty well, with battles that play out for 10-20 minute stretches and promote co-operative action rather then lone-wolf tactics. To be successful, teams need a variety of hardware taking up scouting, sniping and heavy artillery roles, and in that respect the game caters well for lower-level players that can perform the less glamorous but nonetheless crucial role of a spotter or - at times - a kamikaze distraction.

The big question of course is whether or not you’ll want to do that, as finding a fight that’s close to your capabilities can be difficult in the early stages. There is a steep learning curve across that first hour that’ll see many players repeatedly viewing their metallic corpse and wondering where they went wrong, and it’s only when learning to leverage the power of the heavyweights that things start to click. Battlefield tactics such as minimising your profile, factoring in terrain movement speed and reload times all work their way into the equation, and stumbling on the wrong situation as a newbie almost always ends in a fairly instant death. It is, at times, brutally difficult to get anywhere.

Detail is decent

For those same newcomers, the pacing of a tank game might also take a little while to adjust to. Ponderously sweeping your way across any of the nicely-rendered maps allows for careful consideration of exactly where you want to set up your ordinance to give yourself the best chance, but to reach an optimum position and end up mullered by a one-shot behemoth heading round the corner is frustrating at the best of times. That’s the nature of the simulation of course, and hardly the developer’s fault; but it’s certainly worth baring in mind for those of you coming in from an FPS background. Quitting out after death is a non-penalised option, but you’ll need another tank available in your garage as the one you just lost is locked until its game ends and repairs have been made.

For those with the time and patience however, World of Tanks looks to be an ever-evolving title with ambitions to stay fresh for the foreseeable future (new nations have been added since launch, and Risk-style clan-based world warfare is reportedly coming soon). That additional spit and polish is happening on top of an engine and structure that - despite the reservations listed above - is already in an extremely decent state, and given there are currently no waiting times whatsoever to be matched with 29 other playes, it certainly looks to have found its audience. Whether or not you’ll want to become a part of the crowd depends on your experience over those crucual first few hours, but there’s certainly no reason in the world not to give it a try.

Best Game Moment: “Sniping” an enemy tank through a gap in the wall.

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Videos

Comments

By djole381 (SI Elite) on Aug 08, 2011
djole381
This game is awesome. I've been playing it for months now and I can't miss a day without it.
By nocutius (SI Elite) on Aug 08, 2011
nocutius
Have they fixed the spotting system yet?
Getting killed while 10 tanks shoot at you and you don't even see anything is pretty nerve wrecking. Not seeing some huge tank hiding in a little bush until you're right next to him was not very fun either.

How about matchmaking, are people still being put in matches with their joke low level tanks just to be cannon fodder for other higher tier players?
This aspect of the game means it's all about grinding towards a high enough level where you're not just an easy target anymore.

We'll at least that was my experience after 6 moths of playing.
By djole381 (SI Elite) on Aug 08, 2011
djole381
The game has been greatly improved with the last couple of updates. I haven't noticed the spotting issue and the matchmaking is a lot more better now. The strongest tanks are still IS-7 and Maus, but that doesn't mean that they're unbeatable.
By SirRoderick (SI Elite) on Aug 08, 2011
SirRoderick
with battles that play out for 10-20 minute stretches

The maximum time limit is 15 mins actually.
Munitions aren't upgradable either. You get choice of AP, HE and "gold" ammor for most guns.

Other than that, good review. the game is certainly not without it's, occasionally infuriating, flaws. But it's fun.

My main gripe is how the matchmaker handles light tanks and puts together matches with more than a 3 tier spread (i.e. 4-5-6)
By nocutius (SI Elite) on Aug 08, 2011
nocutius
SirRoderick i also quite hate that part. Being FORCED to play a scout because THE GAME DECIDED SO is totally stupid. I want to choose my own role, that's why there are light, medium, heavy tanks, AT's and SPG's. Don't force me into a role thank you very much.

I almost wanted to quit during that part of the leveling, it's really, really hurtful to the game.

But otherwise they would not be able to sell you a subscription. This way they make it into a artificially and deliberately painful grindfest in hopes you give them money to lesser the grind.

I really loved the game 'when it worked'. I would not get mad at it otherwise, instead i'd simply quit and forget about it.
By SirRoderick (SI Elite) on Aug 08, 2011
SirRoderick
What I also don't like is how they're putting in the French line before the British. What the hell sort of logic is that?!
By djole381 (SI Elite) on Aug 08, 2011
djole381
Well there are some British tanks in the game Roderick, but only a few and on Russian side.
By SirRoderick (SI Elite) on Aug 09, 2011
SirRoderick
Those are gold-paid premium tanks. I'm reffering to full tank lines that they are implementing.
By nocutius (SI Elite) on Aug 09, 2011
nocutius
Well it sounds a bit silly to put French tanks in before the British. The British ones should be in even before the American but that would not be a smart move from the marketing point of view, US is a big market after all.
By SirRoderick (SI Elite) on Aug 09, 2011
SirRoderick
Screw the US, these guys are (belo)Russian! Whatever happened to the good old Cold War mentality?
By nocutius (SI Elite) on Aug 11, 2011
nocutius
I went to give it another go with the new patch.

Absolutely nothing has changed, same stupid spotting system where you don't even see the person that killed you after he fired multiple shots at you :(.

Too bad, this has been one of the main issues for a very long time now, do they ever even intend to fix it? It's not a very fun game until they do.

I won't even talk about the matchmaking in this post.

A shame really. All the cosmetic stuff is not important at all. They can put 500 new tanks in and it will still be the same game.
Fix the main problems please.
By lacki2000 (SI Member) on Aug 11, 2011
lacki2000
@nocutius: but why should you see your killer? Seeing your killer (like a red marker on map or outlined shape in bushes) must be an effect of your squad/team spotting skills. Everything else is a serious step towards cheating.
By SirRoderick (SI Elite) on Aug 12, 2011
SirRoderick
I've never gotten the "invisible tank" thing either. Spotting and camoflage are part of the game, deal with it.
By nocutius (SI Elite) on Aug 12, 2011
nocutius
Well on one side they give you the exact outline of the tank that the ENTIRE team sees. You need to be spotted by just one tank and the entire enemy team sees EXACTLY where you are, where your turret is pointing, how you're moving and all that in real time.....

....On the other side you get killed by stealth tanks after they've been shooting at you for a while.

Have you ever seen a video of a tank shooting? Please do so if not. You'll see how stupidly unrealistic the WOT camouflage system is.
Tanks are big, a small bush would not hide it after firing. Look at at lest one video. You should be able to spot him, if not after the first shot then after the second or the third, depending on the calibre of the gun and distance. He should not remain invisible.

A tank is shooting at you from 500m you see him, but when he's 501m away you suddenly cant. He's in the middle of the desert, no cover, you're looking straight at him but cant see him at all cause he's 1m too far. Eyes don't work that way.

The current spotting system is simply not fun for me. It's that simple.
By nocutius (SI Elite) on Aug 12, 2011
nocutius
A very simple fix: only the tanks that are close enough see the realtime outline of the enemy tanks, others only see an icon that show general location. Change SPG to AOE weapons with faster firing rates and more ammo so they don't suffer cause of this and make it profitable to keep people using SPGs. Half of the problem is already gone.

The other half: the bigger the calibre of your gun and the closer you are to the enemy the higher chance you'll be spotted after some point (common sense) you are guaranteed to be spotted. And since we already implemented the first solution not every enemy will know you exact position so there's really no problem with higher(more realistic) chances of being spotted.

There, a simple and effective way of making this game a little bit more realistic and fun at the same time.

Solutions like this have been suggested long time ago, but those guys simply don't listen apparently.

Anyway, i've uninstalled the game again, and i'm probably not going back until they fix these issues. It's simply not fun for me which is too bad cause i absolutely love the way tanks handle, they really nailed it at least in that regard.

I hope it's obvious how much i wanted this game to get good, i wouldn't write this kind of novels otherwise. I played way over 1K battles in the beta, trying out all classes, i wasn't just playing heavies.I love the idea of the game and most of it's implementations, but it's not enough.
By ZoZoN (SI Newbie) on Aug 25, 2011
ZoZoN
I love this game, and i dont have pay to m play this.
By Caedes (SI Veteran Newbie) on Aug 25, 2011
Caedes
I can play this game all day long! I do hope some new game modes will be released soon, and they add some more pure city maps like Himmelsdorf. Also looking forward to their next project: World of Warplanes!
By jayjay4466 (I just got here) on Sep 22, 2011
jayjay4466
Can't recommend this highly enough! Very difficult to stop playing- just one more battle so you can afford that gun upgrade. Easy to get into...hard to master...
By jayjay4466 (I just got here) on Sep 22, 2011
jayjay4466
Can't recommend this highly enough! Very difficult to stop playing- just one more battle so you can afford that gun upgrade. Easy to get into...hard to master...