I know what you’re thinking, and I was thinking the exact same thing last week. World of Tanks has been out for eight years, but it’s only just now hitting 1.0? Also, more importantly, why is it only hitting 1.0 now and not five years ago?
The most important thing here is that, when many devs play fast and loose with major version numbers, Wargaming really mean it. World of Tanks 1.0 has seen them rebuild the entire game engine, keeping the same core tank combat gameplay, but updating practically everything else so that it feels at home in 2018.
That’s been one of the key driving factors for Wargaming; to make this something that you’d be more than happy to share with your friends. Describing this free to play tank combat game, you won’t have to add the caveat of dated graphics, and the new visuals will go some way to dispel some of the stigma that still lingers around free to play games. Then again, considering Fortnite’s popularity, anyone turning their nose up at free to play these days is pretty dumb.
As a side note to avoid confusion at this point: World of Tanks on PC and on console are created by two different teams. It’s the PC version that’s hitting 1.0 and getting all this enhanced graphical loveliness, while the console version had already taken a good few steps beyond the game on PC.
This is built on Core, an entirely new graphics engine built with modern DX11 hardware in mind – DX12 they found didn’t really offer much of an advantage to them. There’s a lovely new dynamic lighting engine, tessellation to make surfaces and objects have a much more 3D definition to then, the ability for tanks to leave accurate trails in mud and snow, some gorgeous looking waves that tanks can leave a dynamic wake in, foliage that reacts to the concussive blast of cannons firing, dynamic wetness and snow build up, and on and on.
It looks really good, and what’s truly surprising is the level of hardware that Wargaming have targeted for the “Ultra” graphics setting. If you’ve got a very middle of the road Nvidia GTX 1050, you’ll be sitting pretty. Considering that this card is around £150-200 (for the 4GB version) and is commonly found in respectably priced gaming laptops, that’s great for accessibility.
Even more impressively, the new Core engine comes without a penalty to those playing the game on older hardware. The minimum system requirements haven’t changed and you can still play with a computer that would have been considered top of the line when Half-Life 2 came out. Those players will still feel many of the benefits though, with the graphics engine update going hand in hand with an across the board reconsidering of the game’s assets. No stone has been left unturned here, or more accurately, no stone has been left without an artist coming to re-do its mesh and textures.
The side-by-side comparison shots are striking, regardless of the setting. In one shot it’s the improved ground detail and the inclusion of trails worn into the ground that give it more dynamism, elsewhere it’s the way the sun breaks through the clouds, or how the maps now stretch off into the distance, adding huge mountains in the background.
It’s clear that great care and attention to detail have gone into this, with Wargaming dipping into the war chest that the 160 million lifetime players have left them with, leveraging their global network of studios and even more contractors to pull this off. Most importantly, they’ve tried to ensure that the actual game feels and plays the same for all the community that has built up around it.
Two teams of 15 tanks line up with a goal of wiping each other out or capturing a spot. There’s no respawning, so you need to try and make your one life count, or you’ll have to duck back out to the lobby, pick another of your unlocked tanks and head into another battle – any tank you use is locked until the end of that match, even if you quit.
There’s a great tactical feel to the battles, as you try to stick together, pick different tank classes, from nimble light tanks that are great for spotting enemies to the heavy mainstays and artillery that can hang back, and there’s technical depths and realism to the game in how shells can ricochet off oblique surfaces or you might try to target a tank’s tracks in order to strand them for a few moments until the get them fixed.
It’s tough when going up against those that know what they’re doing, but it’s fantastic when it clicks into place. You need to be assertive, but not overextend yourself, your aim needs to be true, and so on and so on. For me, I had one outstanding match where I found myself in the sweet spot between the front and the back lines, able to pick off enemies all around, dancing around a unique Swedish tank destroyer that tilts forward to avoid taking damage, and even ramming a tank that was left with just a sliver of health after I shot it.
While some maps have been tweaked and adjusted to help them play better, most of the 29 that were previously in the game have stayed essentially the same outside of the graphical spruce up. However, there’s also a new map named Glacier that Wargaming have picked up off the cutting room floor, after it had been discarded for simply not looking good enough in the old engine. Now they can do it justice.
The same is true of the soundtrack – this is releasing on Spotify, Deezer, Apple Music and elsewhere. Every map now has a unique piece of music that looks to evoke the mood and feel of the region, mixing local music with brass heavy orchestra of the Prague Symphonic Orchestra and the mechanical and affected sounds of tank warfare.
What comes out the other end would slot neatly into the soundtrack of a spy thriller like Jason Bourne, ratcheting up the tension and drama in the run up to battle. Some elements like having bagpipes for Scotland and La Marseillaise for Paris are a hit on the nose, but there’s nothing more Scottish or French, to be fair. In battle, the music only intrudes and swells after a certain point, blending layers of music in different ways depending on how a battle is going, and leading to differing win or loss screen music. There’s a huge amount of
After eight years of release, hitting 1.0 is almost something of a joke, but it signifies the scale of what Wargaming are doing here. They’ve effectively rebuilt their game from the ground up, and they’re releasing it all in one go. 1.0 is a statement and it’s a release that should make people sit up, take notice, and try this compelling tank warfare game out.
Travel and accommodation for this preview event were provided by Wargaming.