Some children go through dinosaur phases, and some like superheroes and professional athletes, but I was the kid in class who drew tanks all day. What’s not thrilling about a heap of cold, hard steel rumbling through anything and everything, blasting other tanks to pieces?
If you haven’t heard of it, World of Tanks (WoT) is a massively multiplayer online game created for Windows users by Wargaming.net, a Belarusian company. This fast-paced strategic thriller made its debut as an eSport at the World Cyber Games 2012. Rapidly breaking out of its original Eastern European hub, WoT is one of the fastest growing free-to-play games available on PC and now it’s available for the Xbox 360.
Wargaming West, working independently of the Windows developer, developed and released this Xbox variation of WoT and is offering it for free to Xbox users with a Gold Xbox Live membership. Non-Gold users can also download the game to give it a try for free during a 7-day trial period. I would recommend Gold members who plan on committing a lot of time to the game to drop a little cash on premium mode in order to gain additional experience and in-game currency for all of your matches.
The object of WoT is to win a round by either completing an objective or destroying the enemy team with the help of your allies in the scope of just fifteen minutes. Along with some serious in-depth customization, players can unlock and play as different types of armored fighting vehicles used during the mid-20th century. If you’ve played other FPSs that feature the use of vehicles, you’ll pick up the controls quickly. As soon as I jumped into the pilots chair of my tier 1 Leichttraktor it felt eerily familiar, as if I’d traveled back in time when Battlefield 1942 made its big debut in 2002.
Each of the three countries represented in the Xbox 360 Edition Germany, Britain, and the United States. Each country has a seemingly endless tech tree that must be researched using hard-earned experience points from the battlefield. Researching these techs allows you to unlock different kinds of tanks.
All tanks are placed into a hierarchy of quality called “tiers”, with tier 1 being the lowest, most standard tank and tier 10 being among the most beautiful pieces of destructive machinery ever conceived by man. The higher tier the tank, the higher stats it has, so a tier 10 tank is almost on another plane of existence from a tier 1 tank. Its heavier armor deflects incoming shells like they were tennis balls, encouraging strategy and teamwork by the opposing team to take you down. Luckily, the matchmaking system only puts you into games with and against players using similar tiered tanks.
There are five “classes” of tanks in WoT, all of them having their own strengths and weaknesses.
Light tanks are fast and effective when assaulting stationary enemies, but sacrifice a lot of durability for high speed and maneuverability, while medium tanks are about as close to a middle-ground as you can come when talking about tanks. Medium tanks are popular for their all-around reliability in any number of situations that can present themselves to you at any time in-game. Heavy tanks are fortresses on tracks, and they are very hard to kill without appropriate firepower and teamwork. In addition to having some serious firepower, they tend to have a chassis that's near impenetrable to angled arms-fire of almost any caliber. The one drawback to these behemoths, though, is that they’re painfully slow. This makes flanking the most optimal option when it comes to trying to destroy one of them.
Tank destroyers, the snipers of WoT, lie in wait at long ranges and use high penetration grade ammunition. Tank destroyers are handicapped in that their turret swivel is often impeded by their design, as it needs to be re-zeroed after rotating your entire vehicle. This means sometimes giving away your position and makes these vehicles easy to flank from behind or the sides.
Last but not least is the Artillery class, which uses a birds-eye view when zoomed in, as opposed to the first-person zoom in all other tanks. Firing high-explosives at the greatest ranges, artillery can hit enemies behind terrain and buildings, as well as act as spotters. Normally sticking to the back of the spawn point, artillery is easily picked off by aggressive Lights and Mediums.
Most of the maps are gigantic, appropriate for fifteen-on-fifteen tank battles, and offer traditional settings for the tank battles: rolling dunes for the North African theatre, snowy forests and plains from the Eastern European campaigns, and dense woodlands with the rolling hills and mountains of France. Strategic hills and tree lines are hotly contests spots for tank destroyers and artillery pieces and chokepoints on almost every map turn into tank graveyards as newcomers learn why it’s not smart to drive down the center of the road.
There are some big differences between WoT Windows and WoT Xbox, but these changes make the game more playable for a more casual demographic. Having overall fewer vehicles available for play and keeping things like vehicle upgrades, new tanks, and consumable or equipped items in a simple format helps less hardcore players get a grasp of what’s going on quicker. I don’t need to know the design differences between the PaK 40 and PaK 45 guns, only that the latter does more damage; so please, game, hook that beast up to my Marder II tank destroyer. Research is expensive, though, and you can only research stuff by spending experience points, which can’t be bought at the store. The only way you’re getting that Jagdpanther is by playing the game and working hard for it.
WoT for Xbox 360 singlehandedly revives my love for console gaming. I hope you’re a quick learner because how fast you unlock new tanks is directly correlated to how well you do in game. I could see this small community catching some flak from their more passionate seniors on WoT Windows, but it’s redesigned well with the Xbox community in mind.