World of Warships Closed Beta Impressions
World of Warships is, as you probably know, Wargaming’s latest addition to their “World of” series of games. Since World of Tanks, and World of Warplanes, Wargaming has proven that they know how to make a good game with the world war era theme. World of Warships is sure to be another fantastic addition to their growing library of popular games. This latest game features the ships of war used in and around the World War II era from various countries, including Japan, U.S.S.R, UK, and America. I was lucky enough to receive closed beta access to give my impressions of the game. So, let’s hop into it.
The most impressive thing about World of Warships is the wide variety of ships. You might think that you would be stuck with “biggest guns are best” but you’ve got much more choice than that. If you prefer the more supportive roles, for example, you could check into air carriers. Or if you prefer fast movement and maneuverability, you can invest into cruisers. Battleships are great if you like to sit back and unleash huge salvos of cannon fire on your enemies.
Personally, just because I thought it was interesting, I made a B-line to the Japanese Aircraft Carriers. As part of this I had to pass through a Battleship which is (literally) a blast to play. These are the type of ships you want if you enjoy big ships with huge cannons. If you’re a fan of torpedoes, you’ll want to look into Destroyers. After my foray into Battleships, I found myself leaning back towards Cruisers and their maneuverability.
The detailing of the ships is great. You’ll notice that the 3D modelers paid attention to a lot of “little things” which makes every ship unique and a decent mirror of their real-life counterparts. You definitely won’t be disappointed with the quality, and you’ll be happy to know that the game runs well on both high and ultra settings if you have a half-decent computer. The game even manages to look great on some of the lower settings, too. Probably the most important thing for the developers to get right is the water and how it interacts with the ships, which they succeeded in more so than pretty much any naval game out there, free or not.
Modules & Ammo
A cornerstone of ‘World of’ games is the ability to upgrade modules and make use of different ammo. So far in the beta, unlike World of Tanks, you do not have to buy ammo or pay for repairs. I’m not sure if that will be added on later, or if they’re going to focus elsewhere with World of Warships. For now, the ships seemed to only have a small handful of components to upgrade. The Main Battery, the Hull, the Gun Fire Control System, and the Engine. All are self-explanatory but in short: Damage/Rate of fire, HP, firing range, and speed.
In the screenshot you’ll notice that there are a small number of upgrades – just one for each component type. This is something I hope they increase later on as, especially in the early tiers. It seems like you go through each ship way to fast. It won’t take you long to ‘max out’ your ship and then you’re either moving onto the next one or stuck with no more progression. I don’t want to spend twenty hours of gameplay trying to max out a single ship, but I also don’t want to have everything for a ship within a couple of matches. But the game is in closed beta and there’s definitely time for things to be added.
Factions & The Tech Tree
So far in the beta only Japan and the US are fleshed out, though USSR and the United Kingdom play in with some cameos. If you’re familiar with World of Tanks (or War Thunder, or Armored Warfare), you’re going to know about the Tech Tree. It’s the same concept in this game, where you must unlock certain modules in one ship to make way to a new ship. There are ten tiers to slog through, with the first few being quite easy to achieve. If you stay and play for a couple of hours, you’ll be in tier three in no-time.
There’s a small number of branching, but for the most part it’s just going straight down the list. I know there’s only so much you can do, but I would have found progression more interesting if there were more choices that needed to be made. After I made the decision to research into tier two cruisers so that I could get into Battleships and then Aircraft Carriers, there really wasn’t any other strategic choices to make in terms of research. It was just “Play X amount of games until you can get the next biggest ship.” It’s been a while since I last played World of Tanks, but I remember that Tech Tree offering a lot more branching and options. So I’m hoping that World of Warships will end up emulating that diversity as time goes on.
Ship Combat is… Different
The nature of ship-to-ship combat is something that can be hard to wrap your head around at first. For the most part, a lot of the fighting takes place in very large distances. For example, even at lower tiers most ships will be able to hit you from around 10km away. The game is very good at automating things such as calculating drop, so in a lot of cases (even when your target is at the edge of your maximum range) it’s just a “point and shoot” deal. The game also excels at tracking; as soon as you have a ship in your sights, the game will automatically begin tracking it with the turret so you aren’t having to constantly adjust yourself. This is great because you’ve got a lot of other stuff to worry about while controlling your ship.
Combat actually feels more similar to what I’ve experienced in MechWarrior Online or Guns of Icarus Online than World of Tanks. Rather than hold down W to accelerate and S to decelerate/stop, you have various speed settings you can set, ranging from ¼ speed to full speed. Being a massive ship, turning is a bit different too. You can’t just stop turning immediately – if you’re in a hard turn left and you’ve been in it for a few seconds, it’ll take another few seconds to come out of the turn and straighten out again. In general, things are of a slower pace which allows for more calculative gameplay. You’re going to want to think about everything you do before you do it, much more so than you would in other games.
Another interesting feature is the autopiloting feature. With this, you can just press M to bring up a top-down look of the map and can set a course for your vessel to take. This is extremely useful after you’ve played a few matches and are familiar with the maps. Setting yourself in a good position to hit enemies with a long-distance broadside while giving yourself cover from a small island is pretty neat, especially when you can just tell the ship to go there and busy yourself with looking for targets. And in case you’re worried that the acceleration or autopilot systems will lead to crashing into land (or other ships) you don’t have to worry much as there are plenty of alarms to let you know whenever you’re even remotely close to hitting something (or something is close to hitting you).
If you played World of Tanks, you’re already familiar with the match objectives. It’s your typical, “Kill all of the enemy or capture the enemy base” affair. When you first start playing, you’re restricted to co-op. After you’ve reached a certain point (which won’t take long), you’ll unlock Random Battle which allows you to take part in a variety of player versus player battles. I’ve experienced matches with three objectives that begin neutral at the start of the match, and I’ve even had a two-versus-two PVP match. Personally, the fact that a two-versus-two is possible was great. I much prefer large battles (that’s what makes vehicle battle games so fun for me!) but I like knowing that if I’m having trouble finding a match late at night or something, there are options that won’t require half an hour of queue time. Of course, once the game goes into open beta I highly doubt there will be any difficulty in finding a match as it’ll no doubt soar in popularity.
Missions and Achievements are available to help spice up the matches, too. Missions are straight forward tasks such as “destroy two ships” or “win three matches.” You’ll get three per day, each being replaced after twenty-four hours. Achievements are what you would expect – small badges or trophies you get for completing certain milestones. They don’t really add too much to the game, but they do add another layer of progression that “achievement hunters” will appreciate. I’m not really blown away by either feature, but I’m not complaining either.
World of Warships is everything I hoped it would be. Back when I was playing Fractured Space, I came across World of Warships and imagined it would be a very similar (and perhaps better) experience and I’m happy to say that it’s lived up to that hype. Despite some minor complaints about progression, there really aren’t any negatives I can come up with (at least not yet – who knows what will show up after I’ve sunk a hundred or so hours into the game). If you’re a fan of huge ship battle or just have an interest in World War II-era warships, World of Warships fits the bill perfectly. Definitely keep an eye out for the Open Beta or release, as you won’t want to miss out.
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