Preview: World of Tanks beta
World of Tanks is by far one of the most popular free to play MMO titles that you could spend your time playing, based on a simple concept of jumping in one of the hundreds of historically accurate tanks available to you then joining a team and heading out to crush any moving armour in your way. World of Tanks looks to try to appeal to a wide audience and not just MMO fans, but history buffs who enjoy nothing more than a good battle reenactment. Having this title transfer from the PC to the Xbox 360 (perhaps also the Xbox One) is a huge boon for Microsoft, but just how well can a free to play title transfer over?
Luckily for me I had the chance to sit down with the current beta and give World of Tanks a good going over to see whether this old war machine still had tread on its tracks, or whether it lost its steam when converted to home consoles.
Graphically World of Tanks does the job, but only just, perhaps this is because we’re so close to the next generation of consoles that seeing the 360’s power not really being pushed just isn’t impressive anymore. If this was a launch title for the Xbox 360 I imagine my opinions may have been different, but that’s hindsight for you.
Looking like something from Mercenaries 2, The surroundings are colourful but very rough around the edges and pretty plain if you get up too close. There is a fair amount of detail on the Tanks and this is the most important aspect of the game.
When you first start you’ll be given the choice of two tanks, the all American T1 Cunningham and the German Leichttraktor, both of which are light tanks. All round, machines which have a good amount of speed and enough power to take down most enemies you come across. As you go on, you’ll be able to upgrade these machines to your heart’s content and unlock a wider array of classes from Medium/Heavy tanks to Tank Destroyers and Self-Propelled Guns which have almost no armour but enough firepower to eradicate a whole team silly enough to roll into your path.
Unfortunately all unlocks and upgrades are currently frozen in the beta meaning my time was spent with the two most basic light tanks, but this was more than enough to have some serious fun.
The battles, unlike some multiplayer entanglements, are fast paced and don’t look for ways to penalise you for leaving early. Essentially both teams start at either end of the field before a thirty-second countdown begins, giving you and your team time to discuss tactics, then you’re off! Rolling your way to victory, or perhaps doom, depending how good your tactics are. You can win by simply destroying every tank on the other team, which can be a tall order, or by simply taking over their base. The team bases are marked as I or II and you can win with a simple Trojan horse tactic, roll into their base and wait for the timer to count up to 100. Victory is yours.
As you would expect you’ll gain points for each Tank you destroy, but if you slip up and find yourself sitting in a flaming pile of rubble which used to be your moving armour, then fear not. You can simply jump out of the game, brining all the XP you’ve earned with you, and then jump straight into another skirmish.
This was a hugely addictive concept for me, the first 2 games I died, and died fast, but it didn’t deter me I just kept on going until I’d mastered my Tank and my strategy. Soon I was unstoppable.
The controls are simple, just like any vehicle section of games gone by. The left trigger puts you into the scope allowing you to aim over greater distances, while pressing down the right thumb stick acts as zoom for both the scope and blind crosshairs. Right trigger fires your shells (you’ll have to wait for your red bar to fill before you can fire again, although the time changes with Tank class) and A is for accelerate. Simple. Easy peasy, war isn’t cheesy.
That sums up World of Tanks. It’s an easy, no frills fun game. Sadly the more in-depth features aren’t available at this moment, but enough was on show to make it abundantly clear just how much fun can be had. I look forward to building my army of British tanks and waging war on anyone in my path.
Definitely give it a go, for some straight up tank crushing fun.