Wargaming’s booth at PAX was certainly not one to miss this year. In addition to World of Tanks: Blitz, they were also showcasing World of Tanks for the Xbox 360, World of Warships, and World of Warplanes. With the large lines and giant tank on display the booth was definitely hard to miss! I was unfamiliar with World of Tanks, or Wargaming.net in general, before the convention, but I was pleasantly surprised by what they had to offer.
World of Tanks 360 was probably the easiest of all of them for me to pick up. The controls were familiar, and though I was absolute rubbish at the game it was still quite enjoyable. You can download World of Tanks on the marketplace for free and start fighting in 7v7 matches for world domination, as long as you have Xbox Live that is. Interestingly, Wargaming found that many players wanted a physical copy of the game and were disappointed by the lack of one, but how do you make a box copy of a free game? Wargaming’s solution is ingenious: package up a copy of the game, a free month of Xbox Live, a substantial amount of their in game cash-only currency, and a little bit of nifty swag. The result is perhaps the best possible way for a free-to-play game to garner attention from less internet-savvy players.
World of Tanks: Blitz takes the popular PC game on the go by bringing it to the mobile platform. Introducing a customizable interface and unique controls, there’s no doubt that World of Tanks: Blitz was immensely popular. Matches were quick to get into and the combat was familiar to the other World of Tanks games. This was perhaps my least favorite of the options available because, while enjoyable, I found the controls for the mobile platform were clunky. I have to say that the problem lies more in mobile gaming’s limitations than with Wargaming themselves, however. With more practice it’s certain to get easier, but it was the least friendly to pick up at the start. That said, it seems to be a good representation of World of Tanks, and those familiar with the game seemed to love it. Many people went back a number of times to play it again. So if you’re looking to get some quick tank destruction in on your morning commute, check it out!
Sadly, World of Warplanes was not one I was able to check out myself, but the gameplay seemed really interesting. There were different planes for each type of combat, from your clunky carrier style airplanes to your flying ace agile fighters. In 15v15 matches with everything from dogfights to ground targets to spy missions, I have to wonder if the game would get confusing very quickly, but those I saw playing at the booth didn’t seem to mind at all. There are also crew objectives which help you bolster pilot skills and gain various perks to help you in combat so you can control your own progression through the game. It was certainly interesting to watch and, I’d recommend giving it a try if you enjoyed old style aerial combat games.
There’s no doubt that World of Warships was the most popular game that Wargaming brought to the table this year. The lines were often hours long, and it wasn’t hard to see why. Though World of Warships is only in alpha, the game already seems quite polished and ready to enter beta phase. You have choices of everything from small fighting ships to flight carriers, but what struck me as most unique about this title is the fact that everything on the ship works and moves independently. Each cannon and anti-aircraft gun is rendered and animated on its own, and the battleship displayed during the interview had over 500 individual pieces. Simply from a technical and coding standpoint, that’s pretty awesome. The biggest challenge they faced for World of Warships was the complexity. Tanks, as they say, are fairly simple beasts but warships are “an entire city on its side”. With an almost obsessive eye for historical accuracy one would expect the game play to suffer, but World of Warships doesn’t sacrifice on any front. The water reacts to the guns as they fire and you can see the shockwaves ripple out from the ship as you play. Ships catch fire as they take damage, but fire isn’t necessarily the grim reaper in this version. Your crew will fight to put out fires and repair various functions as you play. Carriers can launch fighters, and you’ll have a little control over them, but the focus is really on the ships themselves.
Stunning details and accurate combat styles certainly make World of Warships appealing to everyone from the World of Tanks enthusiast to the combat game noob. Of all the titles offered at PAX, this is one of the ones I’m most excited about getting my hands on when it becomes available.