Much of the enjoyment of playing World of Warships emerges through figuring out how to fight and avoid damage effectively. You know you've succeeded when you graduate from the school of artillery to torpedo University. Torpedoes are much, much slower than artillery guns, but do catastrophic amounts of damage to even the largest ships. Hitting a target with a torpedo is a cause for celebration, while watching a string of those propelled missiles crawl towards you is absolutely terrifying.
The ponderous nature of the combat does have its downside. If you end up on the wrong side of the map from the other ships, journeying to the epicentre of the action can be quite tedious. Fortunately, the range of most ships' guns is such that this is a rare occurrence. A more common issue is that battles tend to taper off at the end, as a bunch of ships on one team try to hunt down the last ship on the other.
Still, the core systems are for the most part engaging and well-honed. It's also surprising how different each ship feels. I'm not referring to individual classes here, although the difference between a small and nippy destroyer and a hulking battleship is cavernous. No, there's a clear difference between each individual ship. Attributes like, speed, weapon range, manoeuvrability and firepower all vary ship to ship. Some ships can use torpedoes, others can't. Some ships can launch a scout plane or a defensive fighter, while others can use smoke-screens or radar. They're also wonderfully detailed in a visual sense, each vessel a beautiful work of digital modelling.
Bar some improvements on balancing and performance, World of Warships plays much as it did in beta. But there is one area which has been significantly overhauled, and that's the way aircraft carriers play. Previously, aircraft carriers were controlled on a separate map viewed from a top-down perspective, and you ordered your planes to drop bombs and torpedos by clicking on targets. Frankly, it was horrendously dull, like playing an RTS in which you have control over one unit.
In the final version, you can control your aircraft carrier directly, and while you still control it from a top-down perspective, it's on the same map as everybody else and you can zoom right in on the action. It's still the least interesting ship class to play as in my opinion, but at least it's no longer insufferable.
More problematic is the fact that, while World of Warships is entertaining enough in short bursts, repetition sets in fairly quickly. The difference between game modes is minimal, and while the maps are certainly more varied than those seen in World of Warplanes, they all boil down to various island configurations, each with a different theme. Couple this with the fact that it takes considerable effort to amass the coinage required to unlock new ships and upgrades, and it isn't long before the grind hits you with the weight of a millstone. If you want to see the most formidable ships, like the Yamato or the Midway, you need to be really committed to the game or have a fair wad of spare cash in your wallet.
Importantly, though, you don't need the best vessels to have fun in World of Warships. That much is available right from the get go, and while I think it's unlikely to keep you entertained for any length of time, it is ideal for dropping into for half an hour in an evening, or enjoying a couple of quick games of over lunch. One thing's for sure, it's a darn sight better than Battleships.