Saturday, 23 October 2010

Update: NEW World of Tanks maps

Well, on  21st October 2010 the US servers for World of Tanks went down for a patch... the long awaited 0.5.5.1 patch had arrived, bringing a couple of minor balance fixes and most importantly... two new maps.

Welcome to Cliff and Komarin.... newly designed maps to introduce some new and interesting teamwork challenges. Built from the ground up to be different to the existing maps, the developers certainly whet our appetite with these and everyone was desperate to add more variety than same old 'Campnovika'.

Check out my other World of Tanks previews and guides.

After two days of testing these maps with several tanks ranging from Tier 2 Tank Destroyers all the way up to Tier 7 tanks, including some Heavies and Mediums, here is what I think of them:

Cliff:
This new map is going in as my second favourite map after the city based brawl, Ensk. First impressions? Simply picturesque. It is exactly how you would imagine a small coastal village of the time to look and your teams of tanks clashing in the middle brings about a little bit of the feel from that era.

Tactically, it opens up several fronts with plenty of cover and bushes for those pesky Tank Destroyers to hide and snipe away at the unsuspecting passers by. Light tanks and the lower tier Medium Tanks can perform their roles admirably, scouting out the map and aiming to find the Artillery. Heavy tanks are able to quickly converge on several chokepoints and lend their firepower into the fray whilst in certain areas there is ample space for the more nimble Medium Tanks to encircle their opponents. Better than most other maps because it so easily lends itself to provide good opportunities for all types of vehicle to combine into an amazing fighting force without the requirement of a pre-planned group of friends.

From my engagements on this map, I find it to be very balanced and unbiased to either side. Artillery is well protected on this map, much to the chagrin of most Artillery haters, but I find the much disliked SPG's to have a much less profound effect on this map.

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Komarin:
A very open swamp map which starts each team at the North and South of the map with the bases on the East and the West. A rather green looking map, with a lot of bush areas and water on the map.

The Devs obviously intended for this to be a rush or bust map where an organised team would attack with everything except a couple of scouts and the artillery. Using the overwhelming force to crush the enemy's base defenses, the scouts would bide their time until the enemy started capping the base and would fly in to spot for the artillery who can ping shells at the cappers with impunity, knocking back their capping speed.

Yet so far, this ends up being an "uhhh what do we do?" map where some people go attack, some people go defend and the rest of the team sits around, doing nothing until they decide to follow someone and invariably die in a blaze of the opposite of glory. The openness of the map lends itself well to Artillery and the bushes offer a ton of cover for the Tank Destroyers out there. However as detailed below, there are several reasons why this map is not very fun for the nimble Light and Medium tank users.

Despite being a swamp map I haven't found many areas which swamped down my tank and rendered me to a slow crawl which confuses me to a point. A swamp map with no swamp to slow me down? The area also deceives you evilly by not making it clear whether you can cross this small bit of water or not. Several times I have been whizzing around in my T-43 trying to reach a certain point on the map, only to be thankful for seat belts when I stop in an instant against a small lake which I'd expect to cross. There are also a few perilous chokepoints which I'd expect to be heavily camped unless they are breached very early.

Conclusion:
A mixed bag really. The developers are trying new ideas for this beta which I am honoured to be testing and the major issue I have with Komarin will be fixed when people understand the map better. The maps are seeded quite well in the map rotator and I find myself coming across them reasonably often and it is always good fun exploring if you take a Light tank to find all of the nooks and crannies available.

I look forward to the next patch and more maps to test because World of Tanks keeps getting better.

Check out my other World of Tanks previews and guides.

A teaser video of World of Tanks gameplay from their official site: