World of Tanks–Logic, Tactics & Friggin’ Huge Guns.
July 11, 2011 § 2 Comments
The onslaught of Free-2-Play games has suddenly turned into a flood, thick and fast. Team Fortress 2 has succumbed to this increasingly popular payment method, and the diversity of genres supported continues to increase – grindy eastern-style MMORPGs are no longer the only choice you have when looking for some wallet-friendly gaming.
Most of them, to be fair, are terrible. But hey, you get what you pay for. Or not in this case.
A few, Battlefield Heroes for example, are passable time wasters – fun for a while, but not something you would sink a huge amount of time into.
But for every few dozen cash-cows in World of Warcraft clothing, there is always the chance of a diamond in the rough; Battleforge, Realm of the Mad God, Quake Live, and World of Tanks.
This, my friends, is Angry House country…
I played World of Tanks a while back, and to be honest – I wasn’t impressed. The games were laggy, the tanks themselves unwieldy and I invariably got blown to bits within a few minutes with no real idea why. Not the best of first impressions, and I eventually gave up.
Fast forward six months – during the course of a nightly wander about the net, I came across the bookmark for the WoT site, and decided to have another look. What had been a fairly sparse front page before, now had a number of beginner tutorial videos, along with a helping of wiki links to tactical diagrams, tank-by-tank strategies and basically a wealth of very helpful information. I spent an hour working my way through the stuff, and was shocked at just how much I had missed.
Damage is dependant on range, angle and direction? Tanks have location damage?? As a starting scout, I should never have even fired a round, I should have spent my time spotting opponents??! I realised my mistake, of course – I had went into the game assuming it was going to be another cheap and cheerful combat game with some tank models and some WW2-esque battlefields. I had no idea it was going to be so… deep.
I re-downloaded the client that night, and spent a rather fruitless night getting blown to bits – again. But I wasn’t going to give up that easily this time…
I played the next evening, having decided to stop firing at every red silhouette I saw, and simply keep moving between cover. I was in a T1 Cunningham – the starting American tank – and it was made of paper; two to three shots and I was dead, but it was fairly quick and tough to hit while moving. And, to my utter surprise, I started playing better. You get points for detecting enemy tanks, as well as shooting them, and I was working my way up the scoreboards by simply scouting.
Strangely, playing like this actually got me more kills. Now and then, I would find an enemy tank with their backsides to me, easy kill. Sometimes, I would wander into a fight between one of our guys and an enemy, easy assist kill. I became an opportunist: picking my moments and slipping around the outskirts of the battle, preying on the weak or the damaged as they attempted to find cover. I was making it through more and more battles intact too, it was spectacular fun.
Before long, I had amassed a wealth of in-game currency and was able to upgrade to a new tank – a T2 Medium Tank was the next logical step – bigger, tougher, and packing a considerable punch. After all that skulking, it would be nice to be one of the big guns.
After being wrecked the fourth time in a row, I stopped and had a think.
Being in a heavier tank doesn’t mean anything in this game. Ironically, I should have already known this – most of my kills in my Cunningham had been medium tanks; using my superior manoeuvrability to hit them in the softer rear armour and knocking out their tracks to stop them from escaping… All I had done in purchasing a medium tank was give them a bigger target to shoot. Okay, it is a better tank for survivability and stopping power, but I had spent so long in my light tank, I had a whole new set of skills to learn to be as effective in the monster I had just bought.
Of course, there are higher tiered light tanks too. However upgrading to these also has a slight drawback: your tank crew.
Each tank has crew slots. The larger the tank, the more crew required to operate it. Drivers, gunners, radio-men, and the all important commander. Each starts at 50% efficiency in their resident tank, this rising the longer you use it. After you unlock every upgrade for a given tank, you have the option to funnel all your experience points into levelling your crew up even faster. The problem? Your crew is limited to tier, so the crew on my T1 Cunningham can’t be transferred to a T2 light tank without either spending real money, or getting your crew to 100% efficiency, where you can train them further.
The clever element in this (apart from the devs getting some cash from impatient players) is that it encourages you to stick with a tank, learning every nut and bolt and get as much out of it as you can. And when the time comes to move on, you can take your fully trained crew with you, making your next tank far more effective from the start.
World of Tanks takes the accessibility of the modern Free-2-Play game, and wraps it around a deep and compelling tank sim that doesn’t only reward play-time like most MMOs these days – it rewards dedication, quick decisions and team-work.
Oh, and it’s quite the looker too, in a gritty, war-torn kinda way.
Give it a try here: http://www.worldoftanks.com/