World of Tanks wasn’t quite my cup of tea. Despite seeing the long-term appeal that it offered, it just didn’t quite grow on me and Wargaming’s World of Warships seemed much more daunting. Orienting tanks on a dime and trying to be a valuable tank commander was hard enough already and now I had to take control of a naval vessel? You may as well have had me captain the Titanic. Thankfully, World of Warships offers a gameplay model that just may appeal to every kind of military enthusiast, even if the open sea isn’t their first choice.
"The first major reason I found it easier to get into World of Warships was the combat itself. In World of Warships, there are several significant ways to play depending on the class of vessel you choose."
As the name implies, the focus of World of Warships is on naval combat. You’ll witness a variety of seaworthy vessels to choose from a number of countries such as the United States Navy, the Soviet Navy, Imperial Japanese Navy and many more. The vessels in World of Warships are divided into four key classes – destroyers, aircraft carriers, cruisers and battleships. Like World of Tanks, there’s a pretty large variety of craft to choose from and each class has ten tiers of technology trees within each nation. So even if you start out relatively slow in your destructive power, don’t worry – you’ll have plenty to look forward to after amassing credits and ranking up.
The first major reason I found it easier to get into World of Warships was the combat itself. In World of Tanks, you had a variety of tanks to choose from but the tactics were more or less the same – protect your rear, don’t push too far and constantly stay alert and on the move to avoid damage. In World of Warships, there are several significant ways to play depending on the class of vessel you choose. The destroyer is best suited for quick bombing runs and because of its relatively weak armour, it’s not a good idea to stand toe-to-toe with heavier enemies. On the other hand, battleships offer tons of firepower and armour but are limited in their movement. The cruiser balances both of these aspects, offering a good amount of toughness while delivering decent stopping power and agility.
The aircraft carrier is where things get even more interesting. This essentially lets you to direct various planes to attack foes, issuing orders from a wide-ranging map and managing different squadrons. Though it isn’t quite the most nuanced in terms of real-time strategy mechanics, it serves as a very strong change from the other vessels in-game.
"Regardless, there’s a ton of synergy to be had between the different vessel classes and when you have your battleship pelting enemies from a distance while your destroyer flanks for the quick kill, supported by the aircraft from your carrier, the game can really capture the nuance and tension of a high seas battle."
To make things even better, the combat within World of Warships is geared more towards thinking tactically, measuring distances and sticking together with your team. You’ll have to factor in distance from your target, projectile travel time and other nuances in order to succeed in battle. For what it’s worth, things do improve as you level up and unlock more upgrade. Not only do you become faster and stronger but you’re also capable of various abilities like, say, support craft that help you spot enemies more easily. The objectives that make up World of Warships’ battles are fairly straightforward but it’s the tactics of your team, be it in destroying the opposing team or occupying certain regions for a set amount of time, that ultimately decide how battles play out.
It should also be emphasized that teamwork is essential in World of Warships. Granted, when you’re not teaming with friends in Divisions, you do have to rely on the perils of matchmaking (and lord help if your team has no clue what to do). It can also get a little annoying when the game tries to match you to opponents within the same tier and somehow finds opponents that are a few tiers higher.
Regardless, there’s a ton of synergy to be had between the different vessel classes and when you have your battleship pelting enemies from a distance while your destroyer flanks for the quick kill, supported by the aircraft from your carrier, the game can really capture the nuance and tension of a high seas battle. Wargaming also put in some significant effort for the visuals. Even as a free to play title, World of Warships features intricate detailing on your ships, right down to the paneling and different weapons, gorgeous sunsets peeking out over the jungle ridden islands and beautiful, if understated, skyboxes. The odd graphical glitch does occur every now and then but for the most part, the game runs very smoothly.
"With its realistic depiction of naval combat, strategic team-play, and varying classes that provide unique experiences all around, World of Warships is definitely worth a look for all kinds of war gamers."
Of course, there is one little niggle that World of Warships shares with World of Tanks – the progression system. Your main impetus is to earn better craft and pursue upgrades but it feels like a grind when you’re trying to get the right amount of credits and experience. You can purchase a premium account which boosts your credits and experience amounts earned by 50 percent for a number of days or you can purchase various consumables for your ships through Doubloons with real money.
Microtransactions are also the only means to pick up some exclusive ships along with removing upgrades and such. It takes away a bit from the competitive nature of the game, especially when the person who spends the most money can immediately obtain access to the best ships. Couple this with the matchmaking that doesn’t always pit you against the most evenly balanced opponent and you may encounter some difficulties with World of Warships when you’re truly serious and debate dropping any cash. Also, like World of Tanks, your average player may find it tough to really acclimate to the various details and realistic combat in the early going. And no matter how much you get used to the combat, the pacing is often slow – even when you’re suffering great defeat, it takes a while before your enemy can fully stomp your team.
You ultimately don’t have to spend any money to really play and enjoy World of Warships though, and the game doesn’t force it on you either. With its realistic depiction of naval combat, strategic team-play, and varying classes that provide unique experiences all around, World of Warships is definitely worth a look for all kinds of war gamers.
This game was reviewed on PC.
For a free to play title, World of Warships is very pretty. Different classes of vessels offer great variety in gameplay. Teamplay is highly rewarding. A number of different upgrades, vessels and goals to play towards. Smooth network and graphical performance throughout.
Progression can be a bit slow, resulting in some grindy matches at times. Microtransactions aren't forced but feel all the more essential for quick progress. The odd bug and graphical glitch can occur at times. Definitely not for everyone.
World of Warships serves up high-stakes action that mixes tense moments with realistic action. Yes, it can require some grinding and won't be everyone's cup of tea, but it's one of the best naval combat (and free to play) titles out there.
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