World of Tanks Review

Written by James Gorbold

July 18, 2011 | 12:19

Tags: #free-games #free-to-play #mmo #mmorpg #multiplayer #tanks #tank-sim #world-of-tanks

Companies: #wargaming #wargamingnet

World of Tanks PC Review

Each of the five classes is further subdivided into ten tiers, from the lowly tier one training tanks to monster tier ten tanks, each of which requires more experience and credits to unlock. However, while it’s very easy to get caught up in the grind towards the top tiers, you can still have a lot of fun with lower tier vehicles. This is because the match making system tries to put you up against other players with a tank up to three tiers higher or lower than your own.

The match making system isn't perfect, though, as it’s highly dependent on the number of players logged in at any one time. You can often end up in battles against vehicles you have little hope of damaging, let alone knocking out. Wargaming.net is still working on improving the system, but the current system is still prone to irregular errors.

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Each vehicle can be improved via multiple upgrades, such as better guns, tracks and engines

To its credit, though, Wargaming.net has resisted the temptation to give gamers who spend real money on gold tokens (which can be used to buy premium content) an unfair advantage over free playing tankers. While you can buy premium ammo and tanks, hardcore tankers are better off buying a Premium Account - these only last for a fixed amount of time, but earn you double the experience and credits while they run. A subscription to a Premium Account costs £8.45/€9.95/$13.90 if you buy one month at a time, with discounts available the more you buy at once. These prices compare pretty favourably with other MMOs, although World of Tanks is still eminently playable as a free-to-play game.

While the flight sim market isn’t in great shape these days, it’s been close to a decade since we saw a proper tank sim. After all, while the Arma II series of games do include tanks and other armoured vehicles, it's primarily an infantry simulator, as it has an extremely basic damage model.

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The monstrous Tiger II - indisputably the most feared tank of World War II

In contrast, World of Tanks goes properly hardcore when it comes to the damage model, as it monitors the angle at which shells hit armour plating. This is a crucial aspect of tank warfare, as angled armour increases the thickness of the armour a shell has to penetrate, when compared to a shell hitting armour head-on. Not only that, but the game even takes deeper factors into account, such as equipment damage or crew casualties.

The other factor that holds back most comparable games is their usually meagre selection of tanks, but this isn't a problem suffered by World of Tanks, with a selection ranging from the late 1930s to the early 1950s. Right now, most of the 137 available behemoths are American, German or Russian tanks, but Wargaming.net has already confirmed that a full selection of French, British and Japanese tanks are in development too.

These extra tanks, as well as the new maps added with each major patch, provide an incentive to keep playing World of Tanks - something that’s crucial to Wargaming.net’s business model. After all, if you enjoy the free-to-play version of game, you're at some point quite likely to buy a Premium Account or another purchasable item using real money.

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There are over 130 playable vehicles from which to choose in World of Tanks

World of Tanks is also an unusual MMO simply because it actually requires skill to play, rather than just an understanding of character skills or abilities. You need to stalk your foes, plan assaults, aim and fire delicately and effectively. There are no macros that can help you, and no special moves to get you out of trouble. There is still the potential grind through tiers and vehicles, but it's at least made more manageable through microtransactions that offer convenience rather than omnipotence.

Wargaming.net should also be praised for the careful line the game treads between being an arcade game and full on tank sim. It’s accessible enough that you can master the controls in seconds, but detailed enough to satisfy hardcore tankheads. There's also no infantry, artillery, mines or aircraft to worry about – it really is a game all about tanks. That means it's inevitably in a fairly small niche of the market, but that doesn't stop it from shining brightly.
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