Straight out of the box in closed beta, Wargaming got the formula right for World of Warships. This was following thier previous installment to the trio, World of Warplanes, which was a massive flop. They knew if it wasn’t perfect on release day, it would be put into the garbage pile in everyones game libraries just like warplanes was.
World of Warplanes followed exactly the same everything as world of tanks – it ran the same UI, the gameplay was pretty much indistinguishable. It just felt weak. If you winced, you’d be mistaken for thinking you were playing some flying tanks special event from World of Tanks. As a result, the audience playing the game slumped shortly after release and remains low to this day, despite attempts to remedy the issues. I remember playing it for about an hour, getting bored and going back on World of Tanks.
So in World of Warships, they upped their game (litterally and metaphorically). It still followed the tried and tested basic pitch as World of Tanks, but they changed it where it counted. Wargaming made it feel like a different game, even though it’s more similar than it is different. Especially after thier two year anniversary, Wargaming have refined what makes this game so special and different to thier other titles, yet kept it in the familiar Wargaming ecosystem.
Sitting in the menu you’d be forgiven for not seeing the differences. The same layout with your ships at the bottom, the same tech-tree research system, the same commander and a similar skill system. But thats because it works so well. Why fix it if it isnt broken? Apart from a bit of change for flavour reasons of course.
No, where I think World of Warplanes really fell over was its in-battle UI and mechanisms. They have been completely reworked from the previous games, bringing something unique and something that really works. Everything works together in unison, and you really feel like you are a huge battleship, part of a co-ordinated team. Each line of ships, and even each ship for that matter, feels seperate to the next one. They feel alive.
Destroyers feel completely different to cruisers, and to battleships, and to Aircraft carriers. Each type changes gameplay immensely, from stomping through the battlefield to stealthily navigating through and dropping a devastaing torpedo load onto an unsuspecting ship. Its meh when you lose and intesely satisfying when you win, which is a great combo.
The games are slightly longer than World of Tanks, with the average game legnth (Start to death, not end of game) being around 7 mins (an estimate). I’d say this is spot on. When it was first release, people were very skeptical about the slower pace and if it would get boring, but its rare to see more than a minute go by without particpating is some sort of action. The faster ships can get to fights faster, and the slower ships have a much higher range to be able to reach targets from much farther away, meaning they have to travel less.
There are even mini strategies like in World of Tanks that you dont need to rely on teammates for. In WoT, you could do things like go hull-down or angle your tank, and if you could perform these well you would be handsomely rewarded with good fights. The same is true in WoWs. They are not quite as obvious, but the angle of your hull in proportion to the targets, the distance your shells travel, and the type of ammunition allow these mini-strategies to really change a game.
And the price for this? Its still a free-to-play title with in-game purchases. Which, you’ll be glad to hear, its very rare for a premium ship to be overpowered for very long. The main reason people run these premium ships are because they make more in-game money than the standard ships, not because they are more powerful. Some complain that the russian ships or the aircraft carriers are more powerful than the other nations, but this is barely noticable. Especially since aircraft carriers are constantly being balanced seemingly every patch in order to keep them viable but also not to have them overwhelm battleships. It all comes down to the synergy between different ships in any given game.
Is it worth a download? I’d say so – I think I must have at least 200-300 hours on it now and would reccomend it to anyone wanting to play a free multiplayer game, that you can really sink a lot of time into without realising. Its easy to pickup and leave, with lots of replayability and detailed gameplay. Coming from an avid WoT veteran, I would go as far to say as it is thier best title, even if the stats show WoT is more popular. Its had such a big head start compared to WoWs that you really can’t compare them on stats just yet, so we will have to wait and see once the community really settles in for the long haul.