System Requirements: Intel from 2.2 GHz or equivalent AMD Family processor; minimum of 1.5 GB RAM for Windows 2000/XP, 2 GB for Windows Vista / 7; 3.5 GB har disk space; Shader Model 3.0 GeForce 6800GT video card with 256 MB of RAM / ATI X800 with 256 MB RAM, DirectX 9.0c; DirectX 9.0c compatible sound card; Internet connection speed of at least 128 Kbps
Genre: Action MMO
ESRB rating: Not yet rated
Release date: Available now
Imagine driving a Tiger tank through a deserted city, spotting a smaller Soviet vehicle. You take aim and fire a HE shell at it, killing its engine and setting it on fire. But before you can finish it off, a Soviet T-34 ambushes you from an alley, spots for some artillery, and you get obliterated, only to respawn and live to fight again. This is a typical day when playing on Wargaming.net’s servers for World of Tanks. It’s been almost a year since I last looked at it, and the game has grown up. Wargaming.net calls WoT, “…a team-based massively multiplayer online game dedicated to armored warfare in the mid-20th century.” Focusing on Soviet, German, and US panzers from the period, and boasting maps with a wide variety of terrain, it offers those who love their heavy armored vehicles a chance to get into the nitty-gritty of armored warfare.
Each country has a large variety of vehicles for players to drive, including light, medium, and heavy tanks, supplemented by tank destroyers and self-propelled guns. Every vehicle has a place to fill in battles and they are fully upgradable. Artillery has the most firepower, but they need others to spot the enemy for them, while heavy armor can swat most lighter tanks around like they are flies…unless they are shot from behind. Each country has a large order of battle, and there are plenty of low tier and high tier vehicles in all categories. This is important, because no one would want to play a game where the German Maus is the single best (or worst) tank for all combats.
Combat takes place on a wide variety of maps, from plains to cities. As both cover and concealment are implemented in the game, spotting targets, speed, concealment, and maneuverability are all vital considerations in any fight. Noobs are easily identified by their tendency to run right up to their enemies to force combat right away, rather than taking the time to maneuver as a team with the rest of the players. But running and shooting are not just a point and click affair; aiming is something that takes time and practice to develop. The game pays close attention to different armor thicknesses on different parts of the tank’s body, and certain parts of the tank can be disabled fairly easily if you hit it with the right ammunition. Combined with different kinds of ammunition, players have to make hard choices about when to use HE rounds and when AP would be more efficient. And since reload times can be considerable depending on the quality of your tank crew, button-mashing takes a back seat to lining up a good shot that can actually disable an opposing tank.
WoT relies on a payment model that has both free and premium options, as well as extensive use of micro-transactions. Players earn both credits and experience points in battles, which can be spent on various upgrades, in addition to repairing damage. Premium accounts, with daily, weekly, or monthly fees, earn credits and experience faster; gold can be purchased via micro-transactions. Gold can be converted into credits and experience, but it is also used to purchase premium vehicles, premium ammunition, and other goodies. Generally, these premium items are best used by more experienced players; the system does not encourage pay-to-win so much as it is pay-in-lieu-of-grind. And trust me when I say that there is plenty of grind once you get to the higher tiers. Players who have committed to a tank class will be sorely tempted to pay real money for swift upgrades.
WoT has a fairly friendly community, and new players can always find someone who is willing to answer their questions. That being said, flaming is still an issue on North American servers like it is with any MMO, but no more so than any other comparable title. Still, it is a complex game. Anyone looking to play should read the manual so that they understand what they are getting into. The game has some rather important concepts that need some explaining. When a tank seems to magically disappear before you can get close, it won’t be a surprise; you’ll know that the other player’s crew is skilled in camouflage and the player’s tank is equipped with a camouflage net. I think I should point out that the game is still not quite finished. It is sitting at version 0.6.6 right now. Some people have made a big deal out of this, arguing that the game is still just in beta. Whether it is beta or not, it is not currently that buggy; however, it is still getting balanced. Some players complain about the overpowering nature of artillery (the KPV gets a lot of discussion in particular) and others feel that the heavy tanks need a nerf, but I have found that WoT is well on its way to being a solidly built title. Still, since it is getting balanced, I would do some reading up on the forum and researching vehicles and consumables before putting any money down on a premium account or micro-transactions. You don’t want to spend real money on something that appears awesome only to find out that it got nerfed yesterday.
While not necessarily the game for me, I can recognize a quality effort when I play it. It’s not perfect, but World of Tanks offers the best armored warfare experience for anyone who has ever dreamed of picking the right ammunition to use at the right angle when facing a Tiger tank. It’s still experiencing some growing pains, but anyone who has visions of armored warfare from the 1940s dancing in their head should stop by and try it out. I personally guarantee that no infantryman with a panzerfaust will ruin your day, although a hiding US tank destroyer just might.