E3 2014 Tuesday Recap – Armored Warfare
The first day of open doors at the convention has come and gone and while MMOs and MMORPGs are a bit harder to find compared to recent years, I hit the jackpot with our first meeting of the day, My.com. As expected in my Most Anticipated article, their three titles did not disappoint.
While World of Tanks and War Thunder are battling it out for dominance of the past, Armored Warfare brings a more modern free tank experience to the table with all the glorious mind blazing graphics you’d expect from a game Obsidian Entertainment is supporting. But beyond the modern setting and unparalleled graphical output (the sudden implosion of a tank via a perfectly placed artillery round is glorious!), I found it to be the heavy emphasis on a co-op vs AI experience that is going to spell the most success for Armored Warfare.
See, unlike World of Tanks and War Thunder’s heavy emphasis on endless repetition of PvP grind and tank upgrades, Armored Warfare is coming at the genre from more of what you would expect of a console title. There’s going to be a backstory about modern struggles for limited resources and terrorism. And players will be able to queue up to take on this progressive storyline in 3+ tank missions complete with voice acted objectives and secondary objectives. Completion of these missions is just as valid of a progression method as PvP, and can net the player experience points for upgrading their crewmembers as well as unlocking or upgrading tanks in their garage. A nice little addition is the challenge missions that let you truly show your mastery of a PvE mission by letting you do something epic on the battlefield. Thankfully these challenges aren’t randomly assigned and actually based on the type of tank you’re driving, so you won’t have to worry about ramming through the enemy’s front barricade with artillery.
In terms of tank types, they offer a simplified but rather effective three category system. You’ll either be riding in a full-fledged tank, a supportive artillery, or a fast and stealthy recon. And with these battles taking place with the most advanced armored vehicular combat of our time, yes it’s possible to be stealthy. These three categories are only the tip of the iceberg though as there’s plenty of wiggle room from tank to tank to set yourself further apart on the battlefield. The tanks were currently rated on various mechanisms including movement speed, stealth rating, vision rating (a counter to stealth), turret movement speed, turret distance accuracy, reload time, power, and armor. And while the developers were extremely pensive about mentioning anything about the crews, the early stages of the UI made it clear that they will gain experience over time and that there likely will be four members of your crew.
Though the economy system was hardly in place, there was a clear distinction between gold, silver, and reputation on the rewards screen after matches. When asked, the representative shared that gold would be the cash shop currency, silver the in-game currency for purchasing tank upgrades, and reputation a currency for advancing one’s tech tree to acquire new and more powerful tiers of tanks. I have to applaud the stat keeping after the matches as well since you are clearly shown how much each member of your team contributed. Points are appropriated and bonus currency offered based on how active you were in taking objectives, how many kills you scored, as well as assists, damage dealt, number of tanks spotted, and points accrued from base captures.
Compared to other tank titles I’ve played, combat in Armored Warfare just felt fast. When tanks get rolling, they haul ass. Even the Challenger 2 I played as, one of the beefiest heavy armors in the world, still slammed into barricades like a locomotive. Emphasis on loco. Reload speeds also felt quite low, which changes tactics quite a bit as artillery still brings the pain if one manages to land a direct hit on your vehicle. Though the stealth mechanics and much taller structures present in Armored Warfare negates this faster reload time advantage a bit. Also artillery is incredibly slow moving and squishy, making their reliance on their team heavier than other titles utilizing the same mechanics. But it all pays off when you see a streak of fire decimate the entire region in front of you just before an enemy has that extra second to reload and finish you off.
Damage mechanics are also present though very much a work in progress. Treads can be damaged, turrets can be slowed, and reload times can be increased depending on where you’re hit. This can be negated a bit by stronger armor, as I found in one situation my shell was entirely deflected by the lead terrorist’s vehicle. Beyond just aiming at the appropriate place on enemy tanks to maximize damage, you also gain penetration bonuses from locking onto a target for a longer period of time. This features makes recon units all the more valuable as a sneaky tank that gets behind your front line bruiser might be able to wreck even your strongest tank if left undetected long enough to line up the perfect shot. Forcing a tank to remain moving also lowers their power rating and accuracy on shots, offering more reason to keep your foes on the run.
Overall I’m greatly anticipating this title. A more casual audience that’s not inclined to PvP should find a home here where the other titles on the market and their hardcore community might have scared them away. Those looking for a more fast paced head to head experience should also enjoy the more twitch reaction style of combat found here. With 15 versus 15 battles already being tested in the internal alpha, and tons of map variety already built, Armored Warfare is sure to be a new juggernaut in the free to play market when it hits closed beta later this year.