World of Battleships Interview with Wargaming.net’s Frazer Nash

Ten Ton Hammer talks with Wargaming.net VP Frazer Nash about submarine warfare, fleet tactics, aircraft carriers, and other exclusive details regarding their third military MMOG, World of Battleships, plus we get our first look at World of Warplanes.
world of battleships
If games marketing had an Elusive Man figure, Frazer Nash might be him.  “I’m the guy who everyone knows, but they don’t know why they know,” he joked, as I asked if he was THE Frazer Nash.  In a career spanning more than 16 years, he’s been one of the principal UK marketing figures behind games like Half Life, Half Life 2, Diablo 2, Warcraft 3, and a horde of sims, online titles, and other games. Frazer Nash Communications has frequented my inbox since I began this job 6 years ago, but it was always as his own PR firm.

I told you that to tell you this: Frazer’s seen a lot of bad games in his time, so for him to sign on with Wargaming.net full-time, well, he must see a lot of potential in the upstart company’s growing list of online military titles. That, and he’s a true wargaming enthusiast, nothing like a PR shill. After riffing about the good old days of Avalon Hill and SSI, we sat down to talk World of Battleships.

World of Battleships Preview


While Wargaming.net’s third World of game wasn’t playable or demoable at this year’s gamescom, Frazer used concept art to tell the WoB story. “These are aspirational screenshots,” he noted, “but you know from following World of Tanks that this is 99.999% the way it will be.” I couldn’t fault his analysis; the gorgeous plates we first saw of WoT at GDC in March virtually mirrored what we see in the game and, as a bonus, for a fairly miniscule 6 GB footprint.

world of battleships

Frazer wasn’t just selling World of Battleships with concept art. He used the images to help explain how different WoB will be from its two predecessors, World of Tanks and World of Warplanes. “This is your game, this is your view,” he began, gesturing at the image above. “The destroyers are in completely the wrong place. Those two should be screening the battleship, protecting it from aircraft. Off in the distance you see an aircraft carrier… it’s dead. It may be floating now, but trust me, it’s dead. It should be on the complete inside of the formation… alone it’s extremely vulnerable.”

That, in a nutshell, is the world of difference between World of Tanks and World of Battleships. As Frazer went on to explain, while World of Tanks rewards cooperation, you can split off into multiple groups or, once in a while, find success by going solo. In either of the latter cases, you can often retreat and find another angle. Apart from having distance and relative speed in place of cover, much the same will be the case in World of Warplanes – as Frazer put it: “Everyone can be a hero... everyone’s an ace.” But World of Battleships will be grad school for Wargaming.net students – win together as a single unit, or die apart.

world of battleships

Frazer’s comments were revealing in another way too. Yes, there will be planes, but players won’t be able to control aircraft directly in World of Battleships. “As a carrier, the only weapon you’ve got is AI planes. You launch the planes, they go to a particular location, and they’ll either find something to shoot on the way, or they run out of fuel and head home.  The smaller, fast ships can evade or fight off planes as they get a fix on the bigger ships, so your battleships can begin to fire.”

So we begin to see a variation on the tune Wargaming.net has played in World of Tanks with great success, and Frazer confirmed that WoB will stick to the 15 player-per-side format. But instead of the WoT formula - light tanks for scouting, medium tanks for skirmishing, slower heavy tanks for… well - tanking, and self-propelled guns as the vulnerable indirect-fire nukers, we have a slightly different dichotomy in World of Battleships. Carriers take the place of SPGs, battleships take the place of heavy tanks, and then cruisers, frigates, destroyers, PT boats, and the like will fill out the skirmish, scout, and anti-aircraft roles. Still, the gameplay will be more than familiar to current players: “What we say around the studio is that what you play now, you’ll play in WoB.”



I’d guessed that submarines might fill the SPG role, but Frazer squashed my Silent Hunter-loving aspirations. “There will be no submarines in World of Battleships. You know and I know and every gamer knows what will happen when players go beyond random battles and begin to put together their own rosters. Everyone will get into a submarine, one poor bastard will get into a boat, the boat will die a horrible death and everyone else will have no one to shoot at. It just makes the game unbalanced, unplayable, and not friendly… If you have a sniper sitting in a tree, killing everyone off, and no one knows where he is, that’s not fun. And that’s the submarine.”

world of battleships

It’s a livable compromise – how much less fun would World of Tanks be if we had to worry about tank-killing airplanes like the Soviet Il-2 – but, still, I won’t give up hope. To geek out a sec, given that Germany’s U-boats had a 72% casualty rate during WWII, they’re hardly the indomitable powerhouse, historically, that they might seem. Submarines could still be an interesting expansion possibility if Wargaming.net artificially limits their number to one or two per side and bakes in a fair yet realistic amount of vulnerability and challenge.

World of Warplanes First Look


For a select few at gamescom 2011, Wargaming.net demoed their upcoming successor to WoT, World of Warplanes. Clicking past the Cyrillic text, Frazer logged into the game, explaining the premise to me as he went along. “Planes date from the 1930s and its slow biplanes, right up through the 1950s. It’ll include the Korean War-era planes and early jet planes, or as they were commonly referred to, tractors in the sky,” Frazer joked, alluding to the fact that early jet plans couldn’t turn well while keeping their wings attached and tended to plow through bomber formations  in straight furrows. “It’s the sexy period of combat aviation, before guided weapons, stealth, and so on.”

world of warplanes

So what can players expect not to see in World of Warplanes? Takeoffs and landings, for one. “You will start in the air, you’ll never start on the ground… that’s a sin.” Other elements of the game are more familiar: “It’s 15 vs. 15, and while there isn’t cover like in World of Tanks per se, you’ve got clouds and the blinding sun… At launch, you’ll have 60 planes: American, Russian, and German, followed by the English and Japanese, and maybe a half dozen maps. But just like World of Tanks, in a matter of weeks you’ll maybe get more planes and more maps for free.”

In the demo, the UI looked fairly familiar – the same reticule used in World of Tanks, for example, but one feature really stuck out as new and exciting. When firing on an opponent, a small damage cam pops up to show you where you’re hitting your target. The damagecam isn’t just useful to fine tune your aim, it adds a nice visceral touch to longer range engagements.

Frazer, who looked to be piloting a F4U Corsair, splashed a German Bf 109 before drawing the attention of something with Soviet-looking and bulbous (as a kid I failed the Civil Air Patrol plane identification course). As with the other Wargaming.net games, Frazer could have spectated or opted to climb into a second plane to fight in a different battle, but instead he debriefed me on the game format.

world of warplanes

Though takeoffs and landings won’t be a part of the game, bases will. Frazer noted that bases have anti-aircraft defenses to protect against lone wolves breaking away from the pack to have a run at the base.  That implies that bases will have a certain number of hitpoints that opposing planes will have to winnow away, but the amount of AAA, HP amount, and the difficulty of hitting the base wasn’t covered by the demo.

World of Warplanes will also have more mission types than it’s predecessor. Frazer hinted at one mission type where AI-controlled bombers proceed on a straight line to the enemy base and it’s up to players to escort (or attack the enemy bombers). Regardless of the mission type, players will always have two ways to win, destroy all enemy planes, or destroy the enemy base before the enemy destroys yours.

2012 should be as an exciting year for Wargaming.net fans as 2011 was with the North American debut of World of Tanks. Stay tuned to Ten Ton Hammer for continuing coverage, and our thanks to Frazer Nash for an inside look at Wargaming.net’s next two titles.


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