Wargaming’s free to play tank combat title rewards patience and commitment. But it’s not for everyone.
World of Tanks is an exercise in discipline. When you’re done trudging through combat with bots and learning the differences between various tank classes; when you’ve finally figured out which tank suits you the best and how to properly orient yourself while staying on the move; and when you’ve reached that moment of enlightenment in simply not rushing ahead into the fray of battle, lest you endure a hail of tank shells, World of Tanks begins to click in your mind.
"If you favour speedy reconnaissance and avoiding direct combat, light tanks are your best options while heavy tanks offer an unprecedented level of armour and firepower at the cost of speed."
You’re online and battling various real-life opponents but continuously having the floor wiped with your scrap metal again and again. You study your opponents, find out what they do best, go back to earning credits and devoting yourself to either earning that higher level, heavily armoured death machine or simply upgrading your current tank. Chances are you’ll improve, sooner or later, and eventually rise up against the very behemoths that smote you down before.
Eventually, you will become Tank, Destroyer of Worlds and other lesser tanks. Whether that journey is frustrating and time-consuming is up to you and how you approach it. World of Tanks isn’t a simple grind – it actually challenges you to become better at fighting with tanks en route to earning better tanks and upgrades. It’s ultimately up to how the disciplined the player is when it comes to investing their time and patience into such a game and turning that frustration into reward.
That is Wargaming’s World of Tanks in a nutshell. Since launching initially in August 2010 for Russia and making its way around the world before appearing on the Xbox 360 in February 2014 and now on the Xbox one, World of Tanks has become one of the most popular free to play titles not named Dota or League of Legends. This is no straight-forward action game involving tanks. It’s not even just a historical war simulator per say.
World of Tanks offers a smorgasbord of different tanks, roughly 390 of them (and no, I haven’t tried them all), spread across different countries like Russia, United States, Britain, China, Germany and so on. Vehicles are divided into five types – light tanks, medium tanks, heavy tanks, tank destroyers and self-propelled guns. Each has its own unique spin to fit your play-style. If you favour speedy reconnaissance and avoiding direct combat, light tanks are your best options while heavy tanks offer an unprecedented level of armour and firepower at the cost of speed. Tank destroyers mix things up further by being built to counter all kinds of tanks while self propelled guns act as artillery and provide powerful indirect fire at the cost of great armour.
"When it clicks, World of Tanks is methodical, cerebral and outright visceral. When you annihilate an enemy, it feels like you’ve earned it. It feels like you’ve made the next evolutionary step in armoured warfare."
Overall, there’s a lot of nuance to understanding the various armoured vehicles in World of Tanks. Sadly, the game itself doesn’t always do the best job explaining how one actually improves in combat. Though there are the usual instructions and training modules within the game, you’ll often times discover your groove through online matches and multiple matches of trial and error.
Despite the ease of the controls and generally lax realism, when you finally get the basics down, you’ll often find yourself opposed by much tougher opponents when playing online (forget taking on entire teams). Though this rings true for many online multiplayer titles, it’s not always the equipment which will be your downfall in World of Tanks. It’s about learning the nuances and tricks of combat and they’re not always immediately apparent until you take your licks.
Also, when taking part in team-based combat, you only really have one life per match. If you’re blown up, then you’re out of the game. Sure, you can still watch the action through your team-mates but it’s a long wait before you get back into the fray. On one hand, I appreciate this aspect since it encourages players to think more tactfully and not just rush into combat. On the other hand, that’s only just the beginning of the basics in World of Tanks as you’ll have to master the art of outflanking, sneaking, detection, successfully penetrating an enemy tank’s armour (the weakest spot being at the vehicle’s rear) and aiming/pacing your own shots in the process.
When it clicks, World of Tanks is methodical, cerebral and outright visceral. When you annihilate an enemy, it feels like you’ve earned it. It feels like you’ve made the next evolutionary step in armoured warfare. The satisfying explosions and rattling tank shells reinforce the sheer brutality of tank-on-tank combat. And despite the fact that you’re encouraged to team up with friends, World of Tanks is as much about your own skill as that of fighting alongside other skilled team-mates.
"Regardless, World of Tanks isn’t for everyone. For players who want to try something new and don’t mind investing the time and/or money required to get good at it, it’s worth a look."
For those who aren’t so inclined to learn the nitty gritty of World of Tanks’ combat, the game may often seem like a myriad of rewards only achievable through constant grinding or by investing real world money. The good news is that you don’t have to pay to unlock some of the cooler stuff. The progression system in World of Tanks gives you a good selection of tanks early on. Sadly, you’ll be working hard later on to get some of the best equipment in the game which makes the aspect of micro-payments far more convincing for those short on time.
The visuals are quite appealing for a free to play title and even a civilian like me can appreciate the intricate detailing on the tanks. Sound effects, as noted above, are awesome and successfully convey the atmosphere of war going on. Neither aspect will give AAA titles a run for their money anytime soon but they more than suffice in World of Tanks without being conspicuously lacking.
Regardless, World of Tanks isn’t for everyone. For players who want to try something new and don’t mind investing the time and/or money required to get good at it, it’s worth a look. There’s truly nothing like it on the market and it presents the best possible tank warfare solution in games today. Those who want a quick and dirty action session will need to put in the time for the grind, both in skill and earning better upgrades, and they may not necessarily be into that. Whichever you sound like, World of Tanks should be experienced, even if that experience ends in your rapid and fiery death from the get-go.
This game was reviewed on the Xbox One.
Tank combat is awesome, especially when you learn the essential tactics. Large selection of tanks and strategies for combat. Great sound effects and acceptable quality of visuals.
Not for the action junkie or those with little time to spare. Graphics are above average at best. Game does a poor job of explaining the more nuanced concepts of combat. Lots of grinding for better tanks and upgrades.
World of Tanks is a grueling game that requires a rather hefty investment on the part of the player and not everyone may want to stick around for learning its intricacies. Those that do will find plenty to like though there's still a fair bit of grinding to endure (and it's best to play with friends).