I’ll reveal a little secret to you, oh humble reader: I’m a World of Tanks fanatic. I don’t get to play it nearly enough (thanks, uni!), but I think it’s one of the most well designed and well supported games out there. You can imagine my elation when – after complaining that Paddy from Gamecloud got a free Wargaming bag and I didn’t – I was lucky enough to sit down with Max Chuvalov and Sergey Vorobyev from Wargaming and try out World of Warships. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t weak at the knees, but you don’t want to hear about my weak ligaments, so let me tell you all about why torpedoes are the best god damn things ever.
World of Warships, according to Max, “plays more like a tactical FPS than World of Tanks, with very fast turret reloading and more emphasis on positioning. Warships don’t have the same freedom of mobility as a tank, so planning out your movements to not get caught in torpedo fire is extremely important.” Turrets reload quickly, so if you’re exposed for longer than you need to be, you’re not going to go unpunished. On the flip side, stopping is not the necessity it is in World of Tanks, since turrets do not need time to aim correctly, but they’re far from a one-hit-kill. Reflexes are still rewarded less than foresight, and the game bleeds tactical depth.
After playing it for a couple minutes, it became obvious that running into the fray and blindly firing at everything in sight was a great way to die. If you were positioned wrong or facing the wrong direction, half your arsenal would be useless, including your torpedoes. If you were too focused on facing the right way to fire your torpedoes, you could smash into an island or another ship. You have to coordinate your movements with your attacks as well as everyone else’s, unless you’re into ramming your team’s only good player into the ocean. I almost ran into a few ships because I was preoccupied with shelling the nearby destroyers before they shelled me, but I made sure to keep an eye on the map after the third one. It requires more thought than WoT did, and it’s better because of it.
Funnily enough, the game plays very similarly to WoT. The UI is almost identical, the old WASD controls are still present, and each ships has components that can be destroyed. The big difference is that the ground is no longer home to rubble and dirt, but it’s the breeding ground of water and torpedoes. They’re powerful but slow moving, so you can feasibly dodge them, but a well timed barrage can be unavoidable. If you’re not constantly zigging and zagging through the waves, you’ll be susceptible to an easy torpedo shot and be food for coral. It’s another layer of tactical depth to account for and hammers home the importance of positioning.
Through it all, World of Warships retains the same arcadey feel as other games in Wargaming’s catalogue. “It was our intent,” Max explained, “for us to offer something to veterans and newcomers to the Wargaming franchise. Whether you’re a tactical minded player or a more casual player, we wanted to give them something they could enjoy.” The ships are sluggish and require careful positioning to gib the other side, but they don’t need a 17-year naval captain to understand their movements. Likewise, the gunplay is easy to pick up, and firing torpedoes is assisted by a small prediction indicator, but mastering player movements is a subtle art, as anyone who played WoT knows. There’s even a rudimentary paper-rock-scissors for new players to follow for all the different ship types. I was able to pick the destroyer, hop in, and instantly understand what was going on… Mind you, I was so tired I didn’t realise when I was on fire, but, you know, it’s not like fire burns down ships or anything, pffft.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to see the aircraft carrier class, a unique ship type that apparently plays quite differently to the other three. According to Sergey, “the aircraft carrier offers a more RTS experience. You can see the entire map, and control planes that attack your enemies.” I encountered said planes in my destroyer, but I didn’t really know what they did. As far as I was concerned, the only thing really endangering my prized vessel were the other ships, and I had no idea if I could even shoot the planes down. Still, my overall impressions of WoWS are good.
I was happy to see that World of Warships was in good shape for PAX, and apparently, there were still many gameplay features to be added. Things like weather, varied maps, and vision mechanics were all things mentioned by the Wargaming guys that I didn’t see. It’s slated for a 2015 release and will be free to play, so be sure to be on the lookout for it’s release. I, for one, am hyped for some torpedo action.
If you’d like to keep up on World of Warships or play WoT while you wait, you can visit Wargaming.net.