Sunday, 17 October 2010

Tank you, World of Tanks :)


Well, it has been awhile since my last post. That is because I was invited to a Closed Beta Test (CBT) of a new and upcoming MMO based around tanks from an era spanning the 1930's to the 1950's called World of Tanks.
This new MMO pits up 15 of those famous tanks from that era against another 15 tanks in head to head team based combat on a map which spans 1 km by 1 km. The scenario is simple, you either obliterate the enemy force or you capture their base in a take and hold fashion which can be interrupted by being hit. They are planning to introduce a 30 Vs. 30 match type with maps reaching up to 3 km by 3 km in size.

So far, the game introduces tanks from two main factions, the Germans which feature memorable tanks like the Panther and the Tiger and a prototype tank which never saw combat, the Maus, and the Russians who have their iconic T-34  tanks (T-34-/5 pictured  above) alongside the KV and IS series. Several tanks from other nations are available as purchasables via gold which is given daily to the testing group such as the Churchill and the Matilda. The US tank tech tree is supposed to enter into Closed Beta in approximately two weeks time and British tanks are looking to be the first group released after World of Tanks launches.

The mechanics behind the game are rather complex, introducing realistic armour penetration models so you could be in a T-26 scout tank and plinking shells at a King Tiger all day and do near enough to zero damage as its shells fail to penetrate the thick armour on the King Tiger. As well as the armour penetration calculations, you also have a selection of Light Tanks, Medium Tanks, Heavy Tanks, Tank Destroyers and SPG's (or Artillery) which have their own seperate roles within a group. Light tanks are often the spotters for enemy artillery, Heavy tanks go toe-to-toe with the Heavy tanks and Mediums take pot shots at all different types of tank, having the manueverability and the gun options to deal damage to all manner of tanks.

A fearsome JagdPanzerIV enters the battlefield
Overall, the system might seem complicated in word form but it boils down to a very simple game which will take you 5 or 10 matches to pick up and you will learn constantly from your actions and other peoples actions within the arena enviroment.

Balancing is handled extremely well at Tank Tier's 1 and 2 but starts to go a little awry after that. Most of the time their balancing system works. You will get an even spread of each type of tank with very similar tiers and most matches are reasonably well contested, going down to the last 3 or 4 tanks. But sometimes... well let me tell you that even in a fully equipped Tier 4 A-20 Light Tank,going into an arena where you are seeing King Tigers, IS-7's and Maus class tanks duking it out is very daunting and often very frustrating. Despite your best efforts, you are not likely to do much damage besides taking out the enemy light tanks and scouting for a bit until someone damages your tracks and obliterates you.

Graphics-wise, it looks rather good. Models are as far as I am aware accurately modelled and detailed, maps look very good for a game of this scale and provide for some decent ambushes and large scale battles complete with destructable terrain. Sounds are great with shells flying around everywhere and tanks exploding, your crew barking at you with comments such as "Our fuel tank has been hit!" or "We've hit them hard" all helping to create the atmosphere. I admit I am slightly disappointed with the noise from the guns, especially the SPG's. I prefer the noises from Company of Heroes which packed a lot more punch and rumble, making you feel closer to the action.

Don't mess with me! Some massive battles can be had on the battlefields of World of Tanks

The game is going to free to play with microtransactions and from what I have seen, you won't be penalised if you don't put money into the game. There are only a couple of minor combat advantages provided by some of the gold items and people aren't even using them in Closed Beta when they're giving us free gold every day to test out the features. I'd expect these premium items to be confined to clan matches, allowing a level playing field for everyone.

World of Tanks is scheduled for release in Q1 of 2011 worldwide and looks to be on course to meet that deadline.

The address for signups is at http://www.worldoftanks.com and if you are lucky enough to be given a key, you can find me online as ElcomeSoft.

Happy Gaming!

Check out my other World of Tanks previews and guides.


Check out my other previews and reviews here