While running around with an assault rifle in one of the million and one first person shooters released every month is undoubtedly fun, it’s far more satisfying driving a 68 ton hulk of noisy, oily metal (aka a tank) around a battlefield shooting at enemies with a bloody great big gun and crushing them under your tracks. Right?
In recent years tank-driving gamers have been short-changed by the industry. The last proper tank sim, Steel Beasts, is so old it’s now painful to play and while Arma II does have AFVs, its damage model is grossly simplified and very unsatisfying.
World of Tanks attempts to fill this void, with a cunning combination of easily accessible gameplay coupled with a realistic damage model and decent ballistic simulation. Currently in closed beta, World of Tanks is planned by developer Wargaming.net as a free to play MMO with premium content that you have to pay to access.
Tank warfare is fast-paced, brutal and very, very destructive
Unlike most MMOs though, the gameplay of World of Tanks isn’t a simply a matter of timing when to activate spells and special moves. Instead, it requires many of the same skills as a first person shooter. Most importantly, as you’re in direct control of a single AFV (armoured fighting vehicle), you need to be able to aim accurately.
Accurate shooting is best carried out from the first-person perspective camera - looking down the sights of your AFVs main weapon. However, you can also control your AFV via an over the shoulder third-person perspective camera if you wish. The latter is useful when manoeuvring across the battlefield as it gives you a better idea of how well camouflaged your AFV is, when lurking in woods or the middle of a city.
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As it’s still in beta, there is currently only one gameplay mode in World of Tanks. This pitches you alongside 14 other randomly selected players and tasks you with destroying the other team of 15 players or seizing control of their flag. These matches can last anyway from five to 15 minutes depending on the skill of individual players and how well they work together as a team.
Players are awarded credits and experience points for different actions in battles, such as detecting hidden enemies, damaging and destroying them and capturing the enemy team’s flag. Between battles these credits and experience points can be used to upgrade your AFV and eventually purchase a better model.
Set between the early 1930s and the start of the Korean War, World of Tanks simulates a huge number of different AFVs. Right now there over 60 to choose from, with more being added every fortnight or so. Right now this selection comprises a selection of German and Russian AFVs plus a small smattering of British tanks. Wargaming.net expects to add a full range of American AFVs before releasing the full game, and already has plans for more British, French, Italian and Japanese AFVs in due course.