World Of Warships Review – Wargaming turns to the sea with its BigWorld Engine
World Of Warships Review
Last Thursday Wargaming unexpectedly announced that its latest free-to-play MMO World of Warships would be released to the public. The game had only been in open beta for a short period and so the news came as a surprise. That said, World Of Warships feels polished and in the game industry the saying goes ‘when its done, its done’. It’s time for my World Of Warships Review. WOWS (World of Warships) is the spiritual successor to World of Tanks, the game that put Wargaming on the map. You can download the WOWS game client from the Wargaming website and start playing as soon as he installation is complete. It is after all Free-to-Play. For some of the exclusive content micro-transactions will be required, but they are not a necessity. If you are unfamiliar with WOWS then watch the trailer announcing the release below…
Just like World of Tanks WOWS is a game where players grind their way further into the tech tree to unlock new ships and modules. To earn credits and XP you need to play games, a lot of them. With each tier you need to play more games to grind your way to the next tier. At any given time you can make progress in several tech trees, depending on the number of slots you have in your port. Beginners will start with 6 slots. The game consists of ships from the WWI and WWII period. Pretty much all surface types are represented. From destroyers, cruiser (heavy and light) to battleships and aircraft carrier. Each has their unique abilities, strengths and weaknesses. Players familiar with World of Tanks will know the concept all too well. Yet, WOWS does have more subtleties.
Destroyers for example, have no armor and only enough firepower to take out other destroyers and weakened cruisers. Yet they can spot enemy ships far away and spot foe their own team. Destroyers can remain undetected far better than other ship classes if they do not use their guns. Thus they fulfill the essential role of scout. If that may seem boring then you can still use the one skill all destroyers have, torpedoes! A battleship that doesn’t maneuver can be very susceptible to an unexpected torpedo spread.
Cruisers on the other hand have a lot more firepower than destroyers, they also have a certain amount of armor. Their high rates of fire and good maneuverability means they can kill destroyers easily and keep battleships and aircraft carriers save. They can also scout but are more easily spotted.
Battleships are the real firepower in the game. Except for torpedoes only they can destroy other battleships. They are relatively cumbersome but do have the ability to partially recuperate health points. Wargaming has chosen to make hits to the superstructure do damage to the ship. This ensures that even destroyers and cruisers have a chance to kill a battleship. At this moment battleships are not the favorite class of ships in the game. Players often don’t use them properly. They think that the ships armor will save from most threats. However, battleships are easily spotted from afar and will attract gunfire, torpedo and aircraft attacks. At the same time battleships should perform a supporting role and not linger to far behind the destroyers and cruisers. Battleships you can play include the USS Montana and the Yamato.
Aircraft carriers are the odd one out. Players are given a top-down view in which they can guide their ship and the aircraft squadrons across the map. This class of sip has often been compared to artillery from World of Tanks. Nonetheless, due to the large number of anti-aircraft guns on high tier ship they are not all-powerful. Torpedoes also have a minimum arming distance and aircraft become less accurate when under fire. Last but not least aircraft carriers can’t land or pick up aircraft if the deck is on fire, so keep those destroyers and cruisers at away.
The basics of World of Warships gameplay is easy to understand. The game features two opposing teams of randomly selected players and ships in matches that can last up to 20 minutes. With naval guns, torpedoes and carrier launched aircraft you have to destroy enemy ships. Naval gunfire is the real meat of the game. You aim your cursor on the enemy ship and pull the trigger. However as ships move and shells can have a lengthy flight time at longer ranges you need to give the cursor plenty of lead. The basics are easy to understand and are at the heart of WOWS solid gameplay. That said, the game comes with myriad of subtleties that allow those who try hard to be very good. I will discuss several examples but there are many.
Choice of ammunition
Ships can fire either Armored Piercing (AP) or High Explosive shells (HE). Their roles seem reversed from World of Tanks. AP rounds may penetrate more armor but there is a risk of over penetrating, the little bit of explosives in the shell won’t go off before the shell has passed through the ship and out the other side. AP may best suited for high-tier battleships. HE rounds are practically ubiquitous in their use. They will always do damage, with setting the enemy decks on fire being ultimate objective. HE rounds are also good for hitting modules such as anti-aircraft emplacements. However, HE shells cannot usually knock out the steering or the engines.
If you look at a diagram of the armor of a battleship you will see the thick side armor extending below the waterline. If the thickest armor can be penetrated with a large gun at close range. If you want to make the most of your battleships armor you will need to fight at a distance. at least against enemy battleships that have thick armor. Beyond a certain range your armor is practically immune, but there is a risk of plunging fire. At maximum range rounds are fired at 45 degree gun elevation, but they may impact the target in a way that avoids the thick side armor and penetrates the weak deck armor. As World of Warships automatically adjust the gun elevation you can achieve a lot with plunging fire, though gun accuracy is a problem at long-range. Battleship ‘drivers’ would do well to remain in the zone of immunity. That is a distance from their opponent from which they are safe from low-angle shots that penetrate the armor and high-angle plunging shots. One thing that will not safe a battleship are hits to the super-structure. In real life the super-structure was meant to take damage as it was not important but in WoWS it takes damage. Cruisers can take out battleships that way.
For a more detailed article on the choice of ammunition and fire angles go to the official Wargaming.net wiki.
Though World of Warships has the option to play against AI players that are on the opposing team it is not very exciting. Human players are what makes an MMO different from a single player game. Sadly, there are plenty of trolls that play MMOs and World of Warships is no different. From players yammering that others are incompetent to idiots on your own side that fire torpedo spreads without checking what else is sailing between them and the enemy. It all boils down to the necessity of having a thick skin. Even good players will make mistakes which leads to troll name calling in chat
The developers of World of Warships faced some difficult decisions regarding the graphics of the game. Just like spacesims they face the problem that though ships may be pretty and detailed the environment more than likely to be dull. Unlike spacesims they can’t add too many graphical bling without drawing comments. To put it succinctly, Wargaming has done marvelously considering the sea and the sky are normally dull things to look at. Wave effects, weather effects combined with detailed modeling of the ships makes WOWS an attractive game. Though it does not compare to any of the triple A games such as Metal Gear Solid 5 or GTA 5. That said, there are some downsides. Wargaming wants to have as many gamers as possible play this game and thus the lowest setting can look stripped out. Don’t expect to see the kind of graphics you see from these screenshots without having a powerful rig. I play the game on a quad-core with 16 Gb of Ram and a 2 Gb video card and I still suffer slowdowns. The game’s garage where you upgrade your ship, select crews and select your mission feels noticeably sluggish compared to World of Tanks. It also takes the game some time to load high-resolution textures. Much has been improved since the closed beta when some textures wouldn’t load until well after a minute I selected a ship. My rig does not have a SSD hard-drive, I suspect that is the problem.
Despite the official release of World of Warships there will still be a lot of updates in the near future. At this moment the game only has two fleshed out tech trees: the Imperial Japanese Navy and the United States Navy. Most gamers agree that the Royal Navy is the most important tech tree. We won’t have to wait long, but Wargaming has to think strategically. The US tech tree was probably more important to get the game established quickly. The rumored soviet tech tree will be important to capture the Russian market, as World of Tanks is really popular in Russia. So, the Royal Navy tech tree has been delayed, but that is understandable. Not in the least because a MMO can only survive by releasing new content regularly. For those eager to play a British ship right away may be able to purchase the famous battleship HMS Warspite. The ship was removed from the premium shop during the closed beta, but it will return soon enough.
Nothing in the world is for free, not even free-to-play MMO’s. The producers of World of Warships earn a living by the micro-transactions with which you can buy rare ships, free experience, camouflage and flags. Those serious about playing the game should consider investing in a premium ship or two. They have several advantages: they earn more credits, more XP and you can use crews from other ships of the same class without penalty. If you don’t buy them you can still play the game, but you will have to do a lot more grinding to the point were the experience is ruined. At this moment I own a Gremyashchy class destroyer and it is really good, so is HMS Warspite and the German tier battleship Tirpitz. However, World of Warships is not pay-to-win, most premium ships are worse than normal ships, they are worthwhile because of the advantages that premium ships offer.
MMOs such as World Of Warships may not be for everyone. The basic gameplay can be considered repetitive, especially at higher tiers. Here the meta-game becomes import: overall win rate, unlocking ships etc. As WOWS does not have a persistent universe in which you can explore or pursue divergent gameplay this game does not compare to The Old Republic or Warcraft. WOWS is nonetheless a very accessible game. If you want a MMO that allows you to play short duration matches lasting no longer than 20 minutes than you can keep this game on your hard-drive. WOWS basic gameplay is rock solid, but filled with subtleties that keeps it interesting for dedicated players.
Score; 8.4 / 10. A very good free-to-play MMO that requires dedication from its players.
If you want to improve your gameplay of World of Warships or learn more about the community than check out the following channels. The mighty CirconFlexes plays WOWS when he is not playing world of Tanks, check out his Twitch channel in the evening. The same goes for QuickyBaby. Youtube has a slew of professional channels with good vids on gameplay tips. Check out PointyHaredJedi and IK. If you’re looking for a channel with a lighter tone than I can recommend The Mighty Jingles, who has become an internet sensation in the few short years since his retirement from the Royal Navy. Wargaming have teamed up with Jingles to do a big giveaway of premium ships. Watch the video below…