This month’s free to player we will be reviewing World of Tanks. World of Tanks is considered to be an eSports game and often appears at many mass games tournaments.
The free to player is dedicated to reviewing free to play client based titles. There is an admission that anyone reviewing a free to play title must first admit…. you can’t review one of these in a single bulk session. These games are designed to be played over a year and thus must be given some time to be reviewed properly.
There are a few rules to this review:
- Game Must be Played for 30 Days before a Review is Done
- Game must be Played Minimum 30 Minutes a Day
- Effort Must be Made to Play All Facets of the Game
- No Purchases Allowed
Following these rules we get a unique free to play experience and at the end of this it will be either a thumbs up or thumbs down to this game.
Have You Ever…
I think the big catch phrase for any game development might start “have you ever…” fill in the blank with what you offer. If the answer is no, you really have to work hard to make this fun.
So let’s try it out. “Have you ever wanted to drive a tank in a war.”
Most people’s answer: no.
The reason for this is quite simple, the era of tank duels was quite short lived. How short lived? Well tanks first showed their ability in World War 1 in which armored vehicles were fitted with large weapons and machine guns. These were generally used by commanders.
Most units still had cavalry and as thousands and thousands of horses were dying and breeders were not able to meet the demand horses were slowly being replaced with tanks.
By the time World War 2 came around tanks were all the rage. Specifically the campaigns in North Africa, Italy, Russia, and Germany became more about who had a larger tank count and less about almost any other factor.
In the Pacific however things were raging differently. Japan was seen to have the modern army, America copied it. The Battle of the Pacific became more about infantry securing islands and air forces securing the air.
The fact that Japan was the “modern warfare” showed decades later as every major battle was decided by who had more planes and infantry and less about who had more tanks.
So who exactly are the people who are interested in tank battles? Well as it would seem it is a person who very specifically was interested in the European theater of battle during World War 2. Even more specifically these people might be fans of tank commanders like Rommel, Patton, and Montgomery.
Having operated a tank for a day I have a very basic understanding of how it works. The drive drives. The gunsman aims and shoots. The tank commander spots and directs movement and fire. Often there is a fourth or fifth person in the tank loading ammunition or manning an external flak or anti-infantry turret.
In this game all of these various people get combined into… you.
Really there are only a few movies that feature tank crews in action. Kelly’s Heroes and Sahara are among them. I can most recently remember the newer Repo Man had a tank battle cameo.
To aim you move your mouse to a location. This guides the turret to move to this location. A second retical indicates where the turret actually is. Upon hovering the turret retical to a target, the target will light up red. This means you have a guaranteed shot.
Different guns have different ranges. Faster guns will have shorter ranges, longer reload guns will have long ranges. Maps will supply opportunity for both styles in which the smaller gun can flank for very fast kills while the longer gun can pick people off from a very far distance.
The controls are WASD, forward left, back, right. Just like in a real tank the controls will invert as you go backwards. This will no doubt confuse people who are used to driving a car.
You will start off at a load out screen in which you can pick a tank. You can choose a better tank by paying for it with real or earned money.
After that you load up a random game and are added into a battle with random players on a random map.
Tech and Tank Buying
The main revenue model of this game is to sell premium tanks and premium tank upgrades. To better explain this there are three currencies.
The first currency is experience. Experience is used on research and will unlock new tanks and upgrades for you to unlock.
The second currency is silver. Silver is used to purchase upgrades and purchase new tanks.
The third currency is gold. Gold is also used to purchase upgrades and purchase new tanks.
Wait a minute.
Something’s fishy here!
Yes there are certain tanks and upgrades only purchasable with real money.
As an example you can get 50% damage for $0, 75% damage for $20,000 and 100% damage for 200 gold. This is all accomplished by going to the tank recruitment screen.
This means that the game is *shock* pay to win. I will say that the advantages given only really effect the top 5% of players. With the randoms I play against (who are mostly free players) not having these upgrades doesn’t make too big of a difference.
On top of that you can convert about 20-30 days worth of playing into a couple of real money dollars to get some of these upgrades, so you can technically still purchase all of this stuff. It’s really based around the inconvenience model in which after so long of waiting to get something you’ll just spend $2-3 and buy it anyway.
The game imbalanced caused by money is pretty sickening. You can take 14 shots at a guy and reduce his health from 100% to 85% and have him turn around and kill you in one shot.
This is the equivalent of (in a normal MMO) a level 50 player killing a level 10 player. This distinction of course is only unlockable with money.
The game is going to be very slow paced. Basically all tanks die pretty easily. They can take 4-5 hits. With 16 players in the team it means one moment of being exposed could result in an instant death.
To this extent a player of this game has to be patient and only attack when the opportunity is present for a kill and only move when it is safe to do so.
The game requires mass strategy from players in which they attack from various flanks. Much like in real life tanks when hit from the sides take considerable more damage from a frontal attack.
You would think this would mean quickly glinding by tanks and lighting them up is a viable strategy… but it’s not.
This is a slow game of sniping and resembles closer to the strategy of a first person shooter than that of a war game.
Of course unlike in a first person shooter everything just moves so much slower.
Since I like playing the faster lighter tanks I provide scouting information and flank opponents as they are trying to fire at my team mates. One unique feature about fast vehicles is they can battering ram targets on the side for insanely high damage… that is if you can get that close.
As well sometimes I’ll use the fast light vehicles as skirmishing units being able to almost be everything quickly moving around the battlefield only engaging in win fights.
AFK and Friendly Fire
The format of the game means grinding vicious amounts of income so that you can earn money to purchase new vehicles. So to this extent people can just AFK through a game and get a tremendous amount of dough for no effort. This happens more often than not.
A person can pretend to be “strategic” and sit at home base defending home base. They get caught when they do not respond. I’ve gotten up to 5 kills in a game because I’ve just been picking off AFK players.
It more or less ruins the game and most games seem to be decided based on who has less AFK players.
The game really just supports AFKing. If you die you have 15 minutes with nothing to do. If you live you might also have 15 minutes of nothing to do. If you park your vehicle somewhere it’s unlikely the enemy will try and approach it in risk of dying.
I often found myself loading up a video on Netflix to watch in between deaths.
You can’t just leave the battle because ammunition and repairs cost money… which if you leave you will be out cash. You need cash to acquire new tanks and upgrades… so you don’t want that.
The maps need some sort of progression. Since each map is capture the flag or elimination there is no reason to grab a point, you might as well just kill everyone. If there was a very potent and powerful advantage or reward given to capture wins you might see more motivated players.
This game also has friendly fire. You can target a player, fire at them a bunch of times and kill them. By team killing (TKing) you get a -1 by your name. However this won’t stop people from padding their damage without killing you.
World of Tanks has a lot of tanks. There are eight tiers of tanks. Each tier has about 16 tanks, so yeah that’s a lot of freaking tanks.
The biggest challenge of the game is grinding from Tier 1 to Tier 8. And I do mean GRIND. You will need to play hundreds of games to get to tier 8.
In my one month of play I was only ever able to get to tier 5. That seems relatively sad.
In some free to play models you can get to the end faster… but not this one. In this game you have to hard grind out your tank and then you pay for the bonus damage.
After the first few games in a row you start to realize it’s a lot of the same thing. You queue into a game in which you have 3 different tiers. If your’e on the bottom tier you either hide and never engage or die immediately. If you’re in the middle tier you hide and sometimes engage and die relatively fast. And if you are the top tier you fight the entire time and take a lot more hits to kill.
It’s a long process that could use some streamlining to zoom people to tier 8 faster. But of course once you hit Tier 8… there really isn’t any end game. You’ve been doing everything you are “leveling to” the entire time.
And the Verdict Is….
I HATE IT I HATE IT I HATE IT I HATE IT I HATE IT…. I can’t stop playing it.
Much like first person shooters which as a genre I don’t enjoy that much… I can’t stop playing them.
There’s some addictive quality to this game and I’m not exactly sure what it is. Every time I finished a match I would keep telling myself “okay just one more.”
Then I’d leave and be like.. man I want to play World of Tanks again.
After I peel myself away from this game for some time I’ll be able to figure out what exactly makes it addicting.
Addicting is not the same thing as fun. I find many aspects of World of Warcraft (of which this game is named after) fun. The ones that I play however are the addicting ones.
I just didn’t find it a very good game. It didn’t have a lot of depth or variation to it. You just played the same map modes over and over again.
At no point did I feel like I was going anywhere. Spending 15 days to grind out a tank valued at $2 hardly seems worth my time.
At the end of the day there are free to play models that make the whole experience feel seamless like that of Team Fortress 2. Then you have your World of Tank games in which the difference is absolutely baffling.