After the explosive success of World of Tanks, Wargaming has set their sights on the high seas. Their latest free-to-play MMO will be World of Warships, which allows players to take command of a selection of vessels from the early 20th century.
As with previous entries in the Wargaming universe, World of Warships focuses on tactical combat using several types of vessels. While players can directly control the warships using the usual WASD keys, it’s also possible to set waypoints to direct a ship using the mouse, allowing players to look at their surroundings while piloting their vessel. This is crucial; the maps are large, and vision can be impaired by islands or by enemy smokescreens. Any negligence can easily result in your warship capsizing faster than you can say “You sunk my battleship!”
True to form, players have the option of choosing between a varied selections of classes, all of which are based on real-life counterparts. During the demo match that I observed, I witnessed a versatile destroyer sneak into the battle, aided by a strategically placed smokescreen. The ship had just enough time to deploy some devastating torpedoes on the enemy before becoming overwhelmed. Watching the vessel sink was almost as fun as watching the combat itself. Every volley of fire displaced the water, resulting in visible concussive shocks or wakes from speeding torpedoes. Each ship takes real-time damage, meaning that hull holes and fires may be in abundance. In the case of the demo-player’s destroyer, the damage it received was enough to blow the ship in half before it sank to its watery grave.
While the destroyers are designed to get in close to the action, other classes allow for more varied tactical action. There will be approximately 75 ships total, all of which will fall into a particular class of vessel. Battleships are slow-moving but pack a lot of damage, and they can withdraw mid-battle to repair themselves. Cruisers are the fastest ship, ideal for quick strikes but not capable of withstanding too much damage.
Finally, aircraft carriers can deploy dog fighters, dive bombers, and torpedo squadrons into battle. While the aircrafts make it noteworthy, the diverse gameplay that it offers is even more appealing. Players can direct the aircraft carrier with the same camera as the other warships, or they can get a birds-eye-view of the battle arena by shifting to a top-down camera, which introduces an oddly RTS-flavored aspect to the otherwise traditional combat. This top-down view is ideal for deploying aircrafts in for reconnaissance or a quick-and-dirty airstrike. The view can also distract from the aircraft carrier itself, leaving the vessel open to sneak attacks from the enemy. The use of the aircrafts is balanced by the carrier’s inability to take a lot of fire, and so it does not take much to capsize a carrier.
There will be many, many more things to consider in the heat of battle than the proverbial make and model of the warships themselves. For example, the angle of the vessel will affect the number of guns that fire. Full firepower will require the players to turn their ship broadside to the enemy, which may also create a larger target. Similarly, geography will play an important role since teams can easily use island structures to their advantage to bottleneck or corner the opposition. Needless to say, there will be a steep learning-curve between combat and the controls.
World of Warships will also come with progression and customization features. Career paths for vessel commanders serve as combat perks. Any upgrades to the ships themselves, however, will be modular and require compromise. Each benefit comes at a price, and so players have to plan their purchases wisely to match their tactical strategies.
All in all, World of Warships looks as though it’s just as dedicated to realism and tactical gameplay as its predecessors. Though there is no release date as of yet, there was a beta-test last week, and there may be more test sessions to come for any who are eager to take the helm.