World of Tanks – Post 8.0, A New Look
By Remko Molenaar (Proxzor) OnRPG Journalist
Riding a tank and shooting at people with it, who doesn’t want to do that? Well it is harder than it looks! The awesome people over at Wargaming gave me a press account fully equipped with some high tier tanks to give get a feel for the advanced gameplay in this title that has been refined quite a bit during its short life. For those just now hearing about World of Tanks, this free-to-play MMORPG revolves around tanks shooting tanks! These heavily armored death machines on tracks are in your control on massive battlefields filled with all shapes, sizes, and national makes of tanks with nothing standing between each other but destructible environments.
The latest update 8.1 adds some huge new features including a new tech tree and the British! This tech tree added a whole lot of new tanks for people to play with to give the players an even harder choice to pick a tank for battle. Besides the many fixes and optimizations there was also the introduction of some map reworks and quite a bit of behind the scenes coding to reduce lag and make for an overall smoother playing title.
The first time you start the game up, you are given a set of tanks in the first tier. In total there are five different types of vehicles including Light Tanks, Medium tanks, Heavy Tanks, Tank Destroyers and Self-Propelled Guns, probably better recognized as Mobile Artillery. All these different types of tanks are scattered around five nations that you are able to unlock simply by playing. When you are in your garage for the first time you notice that you are given one tank from each nation. Each time you play on one of these tanks, you earn money to unlock more vehicles in the Tech Tree. If you are less patient however and don’t really mind spending some real money, you are also able to do this with a few tanks. This is however not necessary at all and everything accessible in this game can be earned through playtime so people with Gold won’t have any unfair advantage.
Besides having the best possible tank that suits your playstyle, a Crew is also really important if you want to live the longest on the battlefield. No vehicle in World of Tanks is able to operate without any crew, and if you have bought an expensive tank, you obviously want the best possible crew to operate it. Each crewmember has a special role in the tank that is a key to the success of surviving. The unique roles the crewmembers can have are the Commander, Driver, Gunner, Loader and Radio Operator. Each crewmember is needed in battle, and if you lose one in combat you are going to have a hard time shooting back. Take care of these crewmembers like they are your own family because while you are simply tapping on your keyboard trying to move your tank around, these men risk their lives while doing their dangerous jobs.
The Commander is responsible for spotting enemy tanks, the better the Commander, the better the chance on spotting enemy tanks at a larger distance.
The Driver is obviously just as the name tells you, the soldier responsible for the driving of your vehicle. On top of impacting the tank’s movement speed, the Driver is also able to give the tank the necessary boost in speed in a pinch that might mean the difference in victory and defeat.
The man on board that does all the aiming and firing is the Gunner! The competency of the gunner is highly important when facing an enemy tank. The better your gunner, the quicker you’re able to aim and shoot back at your target.
The Loader is the muscled man responsible for reloading your tank with whatever shell you want to fire next. This important crewmember affects the speed of reloading your shell, and as I’ve experienced myself, this can take quite some time resulting in nail biting showdowns determined by who fires the next round first.
Last but not least is the Radio Operator who keeps contact with your friends and allies and greatly increases the range when he is more skillful.
When you have finally picked your tank and found the suitable set of crewmembers, it is time to join other people on the battlefield! When you join the queue with your tank, you are automatically matched with people playing in tanks around the same tier as yours. This prevents the high level players being matched up with the newbies and scaring them away with all their firepower and skill. There is no particular nation you are bound to fight for and most matches consist of a hodgepodge of various nations and types on each team. Once you are finally loaded in the game, you will be put on one side of the map with all your allies next to you waiting for the countdown to finish. When the game starts, you will have some time before you face the first enemy tank so you will have to plan out what way you want to go on the map while considering what your allies are doing. Grouping up is probably the best plan to survive at first since you can carry each other to victory by defending and attacking at the same time.
Your tank is controlled by the WASD keys on your keyboard, and your mouse controls the turret on your tank. World of Tanks strafes for the realism in this game and thus you cannot expect to quickly turn 90 degrees because your turret is simply not that fast. Because of this realism, you will seriously have to plan ahead every step that you take because popping up at the wrong time might cost you the game as there are no respawns in these matches. Do not worry though, if you managed to get your tank blown up it is simply unavailable until the end of your match. So if you don’t feel like spectating your teammates you can simply jump into another tank and join a new battle. All roads lead to Rome and thus there are many types of shells that you can fire at the enemy tank to take him down. Since there are many tiers of tanks, you want to think through what shell might be the best for your occasion such as armor penetration against heavily armored tanks or raw explosive damage against light tanks. Luckily you are also able to get some useful medical and repairing tools when you are in dire need of repair after a close escape.
World of Tanks is a really beautiful game for all the tank maniacs like myself, not only does the game strive for realism, the graphics have improved more than just about any title on the market compared to how they looked at launch. The attention to detail it offers with destructible environments is also commendable. But what I truly appreciate is that the graphics aren’t just eye candy but actually add elements of strategy to the game with heavy tree cover that offers camouflage, tanned out cityscapes, low walls, and so on. Even in a massive tank the maps are designed to allow the typical FPS style camping and ambushing tactics. To play World of Tanks you will need the following computer requirements:
Minimum system requirements:
Processor (CPU): Intel from 2.2 GHz or equivalent AMD Family
RAM: minimum of 1.5 GB for Windows 2000/XP, 2 GB for Windows Vista / 7
Free hard disk space: At least 3.5 GB
Video Card: Shader Model 3.0 GeForce 6800GT with 256 MB of RAM / ATI X800 with 256 MB RAM, DirectX 9.0c
Sound Card: DirectX 9.0c compatible Internet connection speed: at least 128 Kbps.
Connection rate: 1024 Kbps or higher (for faster downloads)
World of Tanks brings a full package of realism, fun, beauty, and features to create a truly well-rounded game that is only getting better with age. Since I had every tank to play with I really got a chance to experience just how much diversity there is between them. Tactics can change drastically even within the same type of tank as you progress through the tiers. As a huge fan of tanks, I’ll openly admit I have some bias towards how awesome this game is, but it was refreshing to meet many enthusiasts just like me within the community. If you are a big fan of shooting people up, be it in vehicles or just an FPS setting, and have the nerve to withstand a challenging learning curve, then I would seriously test out World of Tanks as there is just nothing that compares on the market right now.
Graphics: 5 (Graphics are continually pushed to the next level as the game develops)
Controls: 5 (Though a bit unwieldy to a new player, once mastered you really love the feel of how each handles)
Features: 3 (Currently the game only has basic clan wars and regular battles. Hopefully the inclusion of Warplanes and Warships expands on available features)
Customization: 3 (Average customization exists and gets the job done)
Community: 4 (Although there's quite a few short-tempered people on the battlefield, you usually can tell that most of them are just really passionate about this title and trying to push their team to victory)