After almost 18 months of success on the Xbox 360, Wargaming has made World of Tanks available for Xbox One owners. This time around, the title has received a number of welcome tweaks and design changes, which ultimately damage WoT’s free-to-play framework.
From the outset, World of Tanks has an addictive approach to strategy. While some players set out as a lone-wolf, creeping across the battlefield through numerous lines of concealment, others prefer to hunt in packs – often in plain sight – and be accompanied by heavier built tanks. However, your own personal play style can be discarded in an instant, as team communication is the most important facet in World of Tanks.
The tanks’ categories of Artillery, Light, Medium, Heavy, and Tank Destroyer each have their own strengths and weaknesses to be exploited in battle. A Tank Destroyer, best treated as a sniper class, may be quick and powerful, but this comes at the expense of its armour, which is relatively weak. Heavy tanks have substantially thicker armour but are quite sluggish, with a slow rotation speed. They are ranked on a tier-by-tier basis: Tier 1 being a basic machine, with Tier 10 being the most advanced.
Before battle, players can kit out their metallic monstrosities with supplies and cosmetics in the ‘Upgrades’ tab. Taking a repair kit and bandages with you is mandatory, as the functionality of your tank hinges on the status of your crew. Furthermore, applying camouflage lowers your chance of detection and, combined with a camouflage net, increases your view range when stationary. Your crews will also gain experience points in their assigned tank. Upon completion, they can learn skills and perks to assist you in battle. These can vary between quicker notifications of detection, increased repair speed and visual cues for damaged enemy tank modules. It’s tough to choose which skill or perk to take, but each is helpful to all players regardless of skill level.
Wargaming has done a stellar job of catering for newcomers to World of Tanks, which is a welcome addition. While the usual tutorial-based levels are present, WoT: Xbox One Edition also sees the inclusion of the all-new PvE mode, Proving Grounds. Players can test their mettle against challenging AI – tier for tier – to build confidence and eventually graduate to PvP combat.
The game’s structure hasn’t altered since its original PC days and remains quite simple. Your tank, selected or purchased from a list of countries, is placed in a lobby with other players ranked two tiers above or below you. For instance, if your tank is Tier 6 it could be placed amongst Tier 4’s in your team. However, the flip-side is that you could be in a match where the opposition has a number of Tier 8 tanks. Progressing along your chosen tech tree is accomplished through upgrading tank modules en route to the next tier.
The game itself is good fun. The roster of tanks on offer has been dramatically increased, with new nations added (e.g.: JP, CHN) as well as expanded tech trees from several of the original nations present (e.g.: USA, GER, GBR). Furthermore, there are a swathe of new maps on offer, encouraging both ranged and close-quarters combat alike.
Playing with friends is where the most fun is to be had. In a ‘platoon’, players will enjoy mandatory boosts in currency from each battle, with your kills, assists, and end-game ribbons facilitating this further. The chat will get busy, especially as a teammate playing as an Artillery piece contemplates opening fire on an enemy only metres away from you. Hectic firefights can ensue and executing a near-perfect plan is not only enriching, but gratifying, too.
As with the original game, coordinating your tank during heated exchanges remains a little awkward. With a controller, the feedback on the sticks isn’t tight enough, which occasionally results in your vehicle being repositioned incorrectly. Also, there isn’t a satisfactory solution to quickly snap behind your tank while it’s in motion. The latter, perhaps incorporated as a Crew Perk, would be particularly useful in heated exchanges from multiple angles.
Whilst the graphics pale in comparison to the well-established PC version, Wargaming has given Xbox One players a very attractive title. Even though the visuals still need a little work, they are generally crisp and, amidst the burning sun, dilapidated villages, distant snowcapped mountains and pretty rainfall effects, reflect the locale of each battlefield very well.
The absence of a Battlefield-esque ‘Hardcore Mode’ is also interesting. Despite World of Tanks being an arcade shooter, some sort of realism mode would bring some real authenticity and reality to the game; a decreased HUD and lesser view range would fit the WWI/II period perfectly.
A lot of features have been carried over from its PC counterpart, most notably the inclusion of Special Ops missions. Used to grant players extra tank experience or a boost in silver coins, they are a good ‘carrot’ for you to play more games a lot more tactically, as they can be obtained numerous times over the same day. Rewards extend to back-up equipment pieces and even open up fast-tracked paths to new tanks.
Of course, with a free-to-play title comes micro-transactions. It’s hugely disappointing that Wargaming’s exorbitant fees for in-game gold currency and short-term Premium accounts haven’t been relaxed at all. Buying 850 gold costs just over $5 USD and increasing the amount to 3,000 gold sets players back around $15. You cannot sign up to a Premium account outright, as a majority of the bonuses are bought with gold; a month of Premium is worth 2,500 gold. Of course, there is also a Specials tab and Premium-restricted tanks as well.
It’s easy to see the appeal of Premium as it provides a useful shortcut. With the amount of overburdened grinding required for non-Premium players, it would take hundreds of hours of well-performed rounds to reach Tier 10 using just the silver currency. It’s a real shame because, with the amount of PvP and co-operative fun that’s available here, World of Tanks is worth dropping some money on. Though it is possible to trudge through the game without spending a cent, most players will be playing the game with their wallets and benefiting from gold coin packs costing as much as $90.
World of Tanks is a solid title and is highly enjoyable due to its smooth transition to console. It is an impressive starting point for those who are yet to experience the game, and currently own an Xbox One. Whilst the immensely satisfying thrill of both open and congested tank warfare has remained, so has the long road to higher tiers and the underpinning micro-transactions of this ‘free-to-play’ title.
20 hours were spent with World of Tanks for the purposes of this review. Hayden battled in all tank classes and found roaming around in Tank Destroyers, Heavy Tanks, and even Artillery, to be quite satisfying. He currently has the Tier 7 Tiger Heavy tank in his sights.
Lock, Load & Roll Out!
The addictive nature of World of Tanks remains, but so too do the money-grabbing misfires.