Hands On: World of Tanks Beta

World of Tanks is the embodiment of a very enticing proposition: chose a World War II era tank of your liking, load it up with crew and with upgrades and head down to a battlefield in order to take on other armored giants. The game is being developed by Wargaming.net and it is currently in beta stage.

My initial impressions are very good. The effort that has been put into the game is impressive and it shows in the quality of the experience.

The player has access to two early tanks when he first logs into the game, one for Russia and one for Germany, and as he plays, wins and racks up kills he can advance and get to use other more advanced vehicles.

The game simulates light, medium and heavy tanks but there are also options to use tank destroyers and self propelled artillery on the field of battle.

The developers actually managed to balance the entire cast of vehicles pretty well, meaning that the presence of a SPG or even a very light tank can mean the difference between victory and defeat, especially when the players are skilled and have a few games under their belt.

I rank myself to be a pretty serious history buff and I was still amazed by the amount of tanks Wargaming.net included. All the names you recognize from World War II history are there and some variants are also included.

German players can even get to drive the massive Maus heavy tank but probably the best bet for success is use of a medium tank, which combines a decent speed and turning rate with some good armor protection and a gun that can pierce the armor of most other vehicles.

To get to a more advanced model the player need to both research technology like chassis and turrets and to choose the path he is interested in.

Once in actual combat World of Tanks can be a bit overwhelming. I got into a game where I was knocked out in about 30 seconds without firing back more than once and only getting a faint idea of where I was fired on.

The maps are varied enough even in the beta stage, including some interesting urban battle scenarios and with varied terrain, some of it posing particular challenge to tank warfare. The actual combat experience depends very much on the vehicle the player chooses.

Team work was pretty limited in the game I played but as the player base becomes more experience a few players that actually coordinate their tactics can become a very potent force.

World of Tanks is an exciting addition to the MMO genre. Much depends on how the developers at Wargaming.net handle the payment model for the game and how the overall strategic layer is developed.

The beta is very promising and shows a game that is very much suited for history buffs and grognards looking for a lighter, quicker experience.

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