For those of you who’ve not been initiated, World of Tanks is an upcoming free to play (F2P) MMO currently in beta. Game play centers around armored fighting vehicles ranging from the WWI era on past WWII. You’ll fight your way across a multitude of battlefields blasting enemy tanks, dodging fire from ambushing tank destroyers, always fearful of the ever present rain of death from artillery. Game play is quick and lethal, but with good tactics and a couple of platoon mates, no one will stand in your way.
You’ll initially log into the game to find yourself in the hangar, as the proud owner of one of three starter tanks; the Russian MS-1, the German Leichttraktor, or the American T1 Cunningham. There are many options on the screen but as you currently have no money, and no experience, the only really option is to pick a tank and hit the big red “Battle” button. After a short loading time while the server looks for a round that matches your level and you’ll be deposited into a map surrounded by your team mates. You’ve got your standard stuff - a mini map, team list to either side, a diagram of your tank, and cross hairs. Controls are very easy, using “wasd” to move; forward and back, left and right. Targeting is handled by the mouse. You will quickly notice two different cross-hairs, one shows where you are pointing, and the other where the gun is pointing as it tries to track your movements. You’ve got two types of ammo you can use, AP for general all around fun, and HE rounds which are used for higher module damage. Your targeting reticule also has a lot of useful information showing your health and current reload time via bars on the right and left. There is also a green circle that shows your cone of fire that will increase or decrease based on your current speed and movements.
Main battle screen.
As you putter along in your steel 'coffin' you will eventually come across the enemy. This is a good time to explain the spotting system. As you locate a target you will “spot” it automatically for your teammates on the mini-map. If your buddies are within visual range, and assuming the enemy is not behind a hill, they will have the opportunity to fire on the target. Now many things will effect your ability to spot; such as trees and bushes, the size of the enemy and weather or not they are moving or firing, as well as your spotting range and ability of your tank commander. Some vehicles such as Tank Destroyers have a natural camouflage that will reduce the ability of you being able to spot them. There are also skills and modules that can increase your ability to spot targets as well as decrease others ability to spot you. Another thing to take into account is radios. Each tank is equipped with one. It's through these that your spotting information is relayed to the rest of the team. Based on the strength of your radio and friendly radios, they may or may not get your spotting information.
Upon engagement you’ll exchange rounds with the other team, each side pounding away as best it can. As you take damage you notice your crew and modules being taking out. This will have consequences such as slower reloading times and poorer aim. One of the worst that can befall you is having your tracks being taking out leaving you stuck there till they can be repaired. In the early levels everything is balanced to be easy to get into and compete. As you level up and start fighting in higher tier equipment and you’ll come up against tougher opponents. It’ll come as a shock the first time you fire at an opponent and you shells bounce off his amour. Each gun has a penetration value, and each vehicle as different amour value based on there size and type of vehicle. The amour values tend to be weaker on the sides and the back, but sometimes even then you wont have the penetrating ability to damage a target. This is were HE shells are most effective. Even though they have relative low penetration compared to AP they reek absolute hell on tank modules.
After finishing the battle you be deposited back at your hangar. With the money and experience you’ve gained you can go to the research tab and research more powerful guns, better tracks, thicker turrets ect. You’ll then have to spend the money to put these upgrades on your tank. You can also by modules that are attached to your tank to improve it, such as advanced optics and gun stabilizers. There are also consumables which can be purchased that are used in battle for small boost for a limited time. You’re crew will also gain experience for every battle you participate in, making them more effective in there area of expertise. If one of your crew happen to reach 100% you can start to train them in a secondary skill like repair or firefighting. You will also gain medals and rewards for stellar action in each battle. Assuming you have the experience and cash on hand you can advance your self into the next tier. This is your first decision time. You can continue up your current technology tree gaining access to better and heavier tanks or you can split off here and try one of the other two classes; Tank destroyer or Self Propelled Artillery.
Tank destroyers and SPG's play differently from tanks. You’re tank is the main offensive weapon of the team. This is going to be the vehicle that will advance the team forward to crush the enemy or capture the flag. Tank destroyers are your defensive and ambush specialist. For their tier they have the highest powered gun but weak armor compared to the tank. Most TD's also come with a natural camouflage bonus. With the exception of a few American TD's which haven’t been released yet, most TD's have no turret and a very small firing arc, before the whole vehicle has to move. This can lead to some problems if you get tracked and are attacked in the sides or rear, or if a smart tanker runs parallel to you were you can’t turn to engage him. Last we come to the SPG. Initially they look very similar to TD's, with a large gun and most don’t have turrets. However they have a special ability. When they enter sniper mode(left shift) they go to a top down screen looking over the map. You can pan around using the mouse, and fire much in the same way as you would a tank. The difference is your shells will go on a very high ballistic arc, allowing you to hit enemies behind hills and buildings. The main draw backs of spgs are that they have weakest amour, and the fact that they have to rely heavily on teammates to spot targets for them.
Sniper mode on tanks and TDs.
Sniper mode for SPGs a top down look.
Sniper mode for SPGs a top down look.
Grouping is also possible in one of three ways in WOT. First is a platoon. You and two buddies can form a group and be matched against others in regular battles. As a platoon your rated higher as a group than you would be individually in the same battle, but assuming you’re all within a couple of tiers of each other the balancing usually doesn’t get to wonky. Platoons also have access to in game voice communications. These are effective and clear maiking it easy to understand platoon mates. Comms are limited to only the people in your platoon which can be good or bad depending on the situation. The second way to group of is trough company battles. You and your buddies most form a company based on points between 70 and 90 points. Each tier counts as a point. Unlike platoons companies are only matched against other premade companies. Last way to group is through clan battles. These are currently not patched into the game, so as such I’m going to leave comments on that for the future.
While this is an F2P title, they do have to make money. With purchase of in game gold you will have the options to by more hanger space, or premium tanks. Premium tanks are outside the normal research trees. Some of the best options are to max your crew to a 100% and by a premium account. Premium gives you a boost in exp and money over what you would normally get for every battle. For the most part the premium options available in the game are not over powered or force you to pay to win, but allow you to advance at a much faster rate than you would normally.
Over all the game is very fun and polished at this state. It’s quick and easy to get into but one of those games that is very hard to master. With every update comes new vehicles and new maps to play one. The main thing now currently holding the game back is the lack of a clan system and a persistent battle space. These are both currently planned to be added before US/Euro release. There are also future plans to add other nations such as the French, British, and Italians. While the game is still in beta you can sign up here http://www.worldoftanks.com/ for an invite. Usually it takes no longer than 24 hours to receive your key. I suggest that you give it a try and see if you like it.