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World of Tanks Review

Updated Mon, Apr 25, 2011 by Stow

War is hell, as one general put it (whose name became the name of a medium tank, ironically) , but war was probably a lot more hellish before tanks. Think about it: first people lined up, charged, and chopped each other with blades and arrows, or lined up and shot at each other in volleys, or dug trenches and shot each other. Courageous, yes, but messy and brutish. Tanks brought mobility and a measure of elegance back to land warfare, and with WWII, war was made mobile again. World of Tanks is all about mobility and firepower, and offers plenty of clan warfare options, crew & tank development, and customization options to keep RPG types and social gamers interested. But how does it all tie together?

Strap on your goggles and padded leather helmets and read along as Ten Ton Hammer reviews World of Tanks, the breakthrough online tank vs. tank shooter from Wargaming.net.



At its core, World of Tanks is about blasting the hell out of the other team in large battles, typically 15 vs. 15.  Victory is achieved by total domination, or by capturing a base near the enemy team’s spawn point.  This latter win condition is quite possibly the slowest capture ever, requiring a full 60 seconds of taking no damage.  But that might be the only slow thing about the game!

A typical zoomed in shot.  Unfortunately I was driving at the time, so my accuracy is absolutely horrid.   But if I stop, the enemy will have an easier shot too!

You pilot a wide range of Soviet, German, and American war machines, each differing from similar tanks from the other countries and ranging in design from the start of WWII to the Korean War, .  This leads to tons of tanks to play as, with all of them offering completely viable tactics.  How does this work, you might ask?  Think of it like WoW Battlegrounds—each battle you fight is automatically balanced around your tank’s strength, so if you have a newbie tank, you’ll be pitted against other newbie tanks and at the most one upgrade higher than you.

You’re not always piloting tanks either.  You’ve got a wealth of tank destroyers and artillery to choose from, and the heaviest tanks, the main battle tanks, also have a wide range of playstyles and strengths.  No two tanks will handle alike, no two games will play out the same way, and that adds to a lot of the core appeal that makes World of Tanks so damn fun.

Cautions

World of Tanks is safe for all ages. It only has mechanical violence, with no bloodshed or even swearing. That's not to say your team won't reach for some colorful language though, so typical online warnings apply.

Gameplay

95Outstanding

You’d think a PvP-only game with a single match type would get boring fast, but matches in each tier of tank combat unfolds differently.  Early on, you’ll be sporting speedy but frail tanks that excel at flanking each other, which results in some crazy circle-strafing battles.  Once artillery and tank destroyers come into play, battles become more about controlling territory and slowly boxing in the enemy.   It changes more and more as you rise in the tank ladder, and eventually in the mighty top tier battles you’ll see massive standoffs of King Tigers and T-30s and even Wunderwaffe tanks like the Maus and P.1000 Ratte. The heavier the tanks used, the more important strategy becomes and the more costly mistakes become; mistakes like revealing themselves to artillery by firing too soon.

The flow of the battle depends on the tank tier, but the flow of the game is quite simple.  You fight to gain experience and credits. Experience goes towards improving your crew, and once they’re fully trained, researching new tanks and tank parts.  You might just want to get into the big guys immediately, but upgrading your current tank can be critical to your performance or playstyle.  For instance, a Panzer IV can be upgraded with a long barrel for accurate sniping, with components to enable rapid firing for mobile combat, and a terrifyingly powerful howitzer that could blow similar tanks apart in one clean shot. 


Cover is everything.  Being in the open is a good way to get shot from all sides and get destroyed before you can fire a shot!

Credits are used for the obvious purchasing of the researched tanks, and purchasing weak one-time consumables for mid-combat repairs.  They’re also used for two things you might not be used to paying for—ammo and tank repairs.  Even if your tank makes it out of combat in one piece, getting hit will give you a repair bill.  This repair cost is almost completely negligible at first, but as you scale in tank level, getting blown up begins to cost as much as the profits of a good round.  Ammunition also scales from 10 credits a shot to 1000 credits a shot for the high end artillery, making accuracy and kills all the more important.

You can queue with up to 2 buddies and still join normal games. Three is company, but beyond that you'll need a full platoon of 15. Some might see this rule as a design flaw, but this was a wise response to beta feedback: matchmaking (and accessibility) breaks down if you have larger, experienced groups working in tandem. When you die, there are no respawns, but you can immediately leave the game and join the queue again in a different tank.  You will still receive full experience and cash for the game, whether it end in victory or defeat.  This solves the biggest problem of these last man standing game types: being the first one to die.

Graphics

87Very Good

Lots of detail goes into every tank design.  They’re accurate to their original schematics, and have great details such as worn armor, bold plates, and more.  When you get hit hard, your interface will be rocked, you’ll have a general idea of where the shot came from, and your tank will possibly even light on fire.  All of this is done with more than a nod to realism.  When you scope in on an opponent, the view blurs slightly and if you get hit during it, your tank rocks appropriately and messes with your shot before you can line up your sights once more. 

You're not going to get a skyline like this from any other F2P.

Even the maps are pretty.   Buildings are varied in their design so they don’t look like cookie cutter maps, and Wargaming.net did a stellar design of the maps beyond their actual boundaries (e.g. skyboxes and landscapes), making the cities feel more like cities instead of boxed combat arenas for tanks to play in.  The graphics on the whole have the production values of a retail game, in a wonderful F2P package.  They aren’t truly impressive, but they do more than just get by.

Sound

77Pretty GoodMusic is limited to pre-battle anthems, but they do a great job of setting the tone for the battle. In-between combat missions, your garage resounds with the hum of machines and steel being worked on. The real star of the show is the sound of the tanks in general—each tank class sounds different as it accelerates, struggles through rough terrain, or deflects a shot. The roar of a tank shell flying out of your barrel is wonderful regardless of your vehicle. When a part gets damaged, there are a variety of voices to announce the damage and repairing of it, which contributes to the overall semi-realistic feel of the game.

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