World of Tanks has come a long way since its initial proper release back in 2011. This many years later, with several tournaments, Wargaming Leagues, and a steady flow of streamers on Twitch and YouTube, it’s easy to see why it is so popular. It being a free-to-play game certainly helps in its attainability. It’s a solid game with many iterations on itself to make for one of the best tense and exciting gaming experiences you can have in short bursts for long periods of time, at no obligated cost.
Editor’s Note: This was reviewed with version 0.9.10 of World of Tanks
This is a Massively Multiplayer Online game. It is a slower-paced game, where you are given one life like in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and tactical like ARMA 3. It’s very much a rock-paper-scissors type of scenario when taking your tank up against others. It’s important when to run, when to take cover, and when to never engage. And when it is 15 versus 15, things can get hectic, so communication is key. Because once you’re out, there’s no coming back until the next battle.
World of Tanks takes place in the period of World War I to the Korean War, during the “prime” of memorable tanks from multiple nations that wage war on large battlefields, scarce or populated by structures. This all happens over a multitude of modes: Random Battles, Team-training Battles, Tank-company Battles, Team Battles, Stronghold Battles and Special Battles. Until you have a qualified team and are comfortable in battles, you’ll likely spend most of your time in Random Battles.
You can play from many nations, including American, British, Soviet, German, French, Chinese, and Japanese. That makes for an impressive nearly 400 vehicles to choose from. With five categories of tanks in the game are light, medium, heavy, SPGs (AKA artillery) and destroyer – there’s a specialty out there for someone. I tend to enjoy the medium and heavy tanks in terms of firepower and maneuverability. Most of the tanks have full 360-degree turret movement, but certain lines of tanks have limited fields of fire and require the entire tank to be rotated before it can get a shot off. Each tank has a progression, and is part of a tech tree. Researching better parts can result in maximizing that specific tank’s efficiency, providing a level of customization, if a bit limited. You gain silver coins and silver experience depending on how well you perform in combat. This isn’t a game based solely on kills, it’s by playing as an all-around player, or sticking to the strengths of your tank.
This being a PC game (at least, in its original form), the controls of mouse and keyboard are superbly fine-tuned for this style of play. Gamepads are not supported, despite there being console versions available. It doesn’t take long to jump headlong into a match without doing the training, as it’s very intuitive and familiar of playing MMOs and FPS. The biggest thing to learn, as previously mentioned, is that most tanks have a turret that rotate independently of the tank itself. This means you can be travelling forward while looking off to the side, this helps give you a lot of latitude of movement when in battle, to keep your eyes where they are needed.
As a battle starts, it is the goal of the collective team to eliminate every member of the opposite team, or by capturing their base over a slow, tense-filled upticking of a meter while you sit in a large radius. That radius is nothing compared to the size of the rest of the map, and it is always decidedly open, so you must be on your toes not to be flanked by the enemy. Should you die, you can actually leave the match without penalty and join a new game, but the catch is that the tank you last used cannot be taken into a new battle until the old one has finished, and is repaired using the in-game currency.
Any enemy your team spots, will be highlighted on the map and visible to you in the game. The map can also be pinged and tagged for areas you or your team find valuable in eliminating them. You can use buildings for cover, but they are also temporary. Most times, you’ll have to develop a plan on-the-fly and use a hill for cover until you can find a better spot. Angles are a big deal when up-close and battling on hills, knowing what your tank can and cannot do will help tremendously. There are different types of ammo, normal rounds and armor-piercing to name a couple that make an actual difference. Knowing each ammo’s effectiveness on each type of tank seems overwhelming, but is something learned over time.
Since this game has been out for several years, it has seen its share of visual upgrades. A few updates ago, the game received a significant graphical overhaul, now splitting the launcher with an SD (Standard Definition) and HD (High Definition) download so that you can either take advantage of the newer graphics, or if you have an older PC, download smaller files with the SD version.
One concern with free-to-play games is that if any of them are “pay-to-win”. World of Tanks is not. Now, while you certainly can spend real money, it does not guarantee anything. There’s certainly advantages to paying for better tanks, but that doesn’t inherently make you a better player or give you the understanding on how to use it effectively once purchased. But you can also earn those same tanks through play, and be better skilled once they are fully researched and purchased. There’s also Premium accounts. There’s no way to purchase an account that gives you access to everything, but with a premium account, it gives you gives 50% more credits and experience per battle, which all aids progression that much faster. It’s optional, and keeping your account in a premium status will become costly, so it is not effective to your wallet to invest in, unless you are in for the long haul.
The best thing about World of Tanks is the low barrier for entry, because free is pretty great. World of Tanks is a game I played back during its beta phase beta and continue to return to. This is due to its ability to not make you feel like you’re ever missing anything if you step away for a while, and rewards you for continuing to play regularly. Whether you play for one match or ten, you’re in for a good time, guaranteed to make in-game money to progress, and make friends. This is a game who love pure action, but also like being a tactician as they move through the varied maps.
A press account was provided by Wargaming for review purposes