World of Tanks Review for PC

World of Tanks Review for PC

An Army of Tanks

Countless video games have depicted World War II. But to the best of our knowledge, World of Tanks is the first free MMO in which every single player controls a classic tank. It’s a fascinating premise, to be sure.

World of Tanks has technically left beta, but there are still some major additions to come, so bear that in mind before downloading. As it is, the game has one major downside and one major upside (well, besides that it’s free). The downside is that because the developers emphasized realism to a great degree, the basic gameplay can be slow and tedious. The upside is that this title is carefully crafted so as to reward solid battlefied tactics and RPG strategy, and several yet-to-be-implemented game modes should be even more complex and interesting.

World of Tanks Screenshot

Anyone who’s played a first-person shooter on a PC before will immediately catch on to the controls in World of Tanks. Moving is done with WASD (with A and D turning the tank rather than strafing, of course), and you aim your gun with the mouse. Don’t think the mouse aiming allows for twitch shooting, however: You can point wherever you like, but the tank’s gun adjusts slowly, so it can take a few seconds for the weapon to turn to face the direction you want it to. And while you can upgrade to faster tanks, it will take a lot of work before you’re zipping around the battlefield. Similarly, most tanks have a low rate of fire, meaning that if you miss, it’ll be a second before you can shoot again. Once your tank blows up, there’s no respawning; all you can do is watch the rest of the tanks finish the battle, or leave the battle and get into a different one with another tank.

The reason for all this, of course, is realism. The developers brag that they carefully studied World War II tanks of the American, German, and Soviet variety, and based the in-game tanks’ characteristics on their real-life counterparts. Even the modifications existed in real life, at least as prototypes. The developers deserve credit for their attention to detail, but the bottom line is that the minute-by-minute gameplay feels dull as a result.

World of Tanks Screenshot

That very same attention to detail, however, is the factor that makes this game a joy to play on a tactical level. As you level up and gain access to more tanks, you realize that each vehicle has its own purpose on the battlefield. Tank Destroyers, for example, feature strong armor in the front and powerful weaponry, but they’re slow-moving and highly vulnerable to flanking. You can rack up a good kill count with this vehicle, but only if you manage to stay back from enemy tanks. Other tanks offer different tradeoffs, such as more power for less speed.

In addition, while the lack of respawning can be annoying, especially for beginners, it also forces you to play very carefully. You can’t run out into the open, spray some shells in an enemy’s general direction, and hope for the best, as you might do in a multiplayer FPS. Instead, you have to stay behind cover, roll out, take a shot, and roll back, until the advancing enemy is dead.

World of Tanks Screenshot

The most basic mode here—and thus far, the only one available—is a combination of team deathmatch and capture the flag. Two thirty-person teams are put together by the matchmaking system. A team can win by destroying the other team, or by capturing the other team’s base. Most fights are over in five minutes or so, but a tie is declared after fifteen minutes. The matchmaking system is remarkably efficient; it never takes more than a couple of minutes to get into a fight, and the teams are usually evenly matched. After each battle, you earn several kinds of EXP, which you can spend to climb tech trees and improve your crew, as well as credits, which you can use to buy new tanks or upgrade your current one.

The deeper game mode, due to be implemented soon (you can already sign up for it), is Clan Wars, a never-ending campaign in which you join a group of other players in a “clan” and try to take over hundreds of territories on a map of the world. Controlling territories brings in currency for the clan. Because this mode lets you play on a consistent team and even conduct diplomacy, this mode will lend itself to even more careful strategizing. Of course, this mode will also be much more demanding; the members of a team will be given thirty minutes’ notice when one of their territories has been challenged. (There can be up to 100 people in each clan, and a maximum of fifteen can take part in a battle.)

World of Tanks Screenshot

There are a few other multiplayer features as well. For example, you can create a small platoon or even a large company with your friends (though at least one member needs a premium membership at $10/month for this). Or, you can help a clan out, without joining it, as a paid mercenary. The forthcoming Historic Campaigns will be special re-creations of various real-life battles. The maps will be based on real World War II battle locations, albeit adjusted to smooth out any unfair advantages the original terrain offered one side or the other. These events promise a lot of fun for history buffs, and for everyone else, they offer a nice midpoint between the several-minute-long random battles and the labor-intensive Clan mode.

Graphically, this game is far from a powerhouse, but it’s not bad for free. The maps include both wide-open landscapes and city scenes, with plenty of cover and destructable objects. The textures and models could use a little more detail, but in the end, they don’t look bad enough to distract you. The sound effects don’t stand out much either; they get the job done, but they won’t win any awards.

Finally, a word on real money. Like all free-to-play games, World of Tanks strongly encourages you to pony up, but technically you’re not required to. In addition to the ability to play with friends, a premium membership gives you a fifty-percent boost in the credits and EXP you earn. You can also use real money (converted to in-game “gold”) to buy credits and various high-end items. Exceptionally dedicated players may be able to earn enough EXP and credits to play completely for free, but if you’d like to be competitive and drive high-level tanks (which require ammo and repairs in addition to the initial purchase cost), you should probably plan on paying at least the $10 per month premium membership fee. You might also consider premium tanks, which cost around $5 to $10 apiece and begin at Elite Status, which means you don’t need to complete tech trees for upgrades. Online message boards are alive with tips for saving money, such as playing with a lower-tiered and cheaper tank to earn the currency needed to maintain a more expensive one.

World of Tanks has a great premise, and it offers surprisingly deep gameplay for a free game. Those looking for fast-paced thrills won’t find them, thanks to the slow-moving nature of World War II tanks, but those who enjoy battlefield tactics and RPG progression will find it to be worth a download—and maybe some “microtransactions.”

They’re decent—for a free game. 4.2 Control
They’re a bit clunky, but intentionally so, because you’re controlling a tank. 3.7 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The sound gets the job done, but it won’t win any awards. 3.8 Play Value
It’s free and features deep gameplay, but the best features are yet to come. 3.7 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.

Review Rating Legend
0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 – 2.9 = Average 3.5 – 3.9 = Good 4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 – 2.4 = Poor 3.0 – 3.4 = Fair 4.0 – 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • A global-scale MMO action game, an FPS, an RTS, an RPG, and a simulator in one.
  • Gamers can have light, medium, and heavy tanks, as well as tank destroyers and long-range self-propelled howitzers.
  • Risk-influenced Clan Wars mode to come.

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