World of Warships First Impressions
Relatively unique in its gameplay, particularly the slow and methodical pace. Great graphics from top to bottom
The pace is simply not going to appeal to a lot of players and will be way too slow. A lack of in game help or pop-ups makes navigating the different pages a little confusing currently.
Yesterday we got the chance to try out World of Warships from Wargaming, the World War II strategy/tactical shooter where players take control of a variety of battleships in a fight for the high seas. Having played the game briefly at GamesCom in August with a member of the Wargaming team at our side telling us the controls and what we needed to do, it was interesting to see when left to our own devices whether we’d sink or swim. The game enters Closed Beta testing today, but already from our time in game we can tell that it really feels like the Wargaming team have a very complete product.
Stepping into the game we were greeted with a rather unfamiliar sight, having never really played either World of Tanks or World of Warplanes we weren’t well accustomed with the various values, figures, menus and icons that we were suddenly inundated with. A glance at the Tech Trees and Modules looks baffling to anyone unfamiliar with the game, at least it did to us, though as ever things aren’t always quite as complicated as they seem. The one thing that did stand out was the big Battle button at the top of the screen, which seemed as good a place as any to start out.
Here came our first gripe, which is not always fair to have when a game is in Alpha testing (or even Beta testing) and that was the queue times. The Co-op Games weren’t too bad, here players go up against bots in base capturing/ship destroying team based matchups, usually queueing for 1 to 2 minutes, which we can handle. Trying to queue for the Random Matches, that pits two teams of players up against each other (and is also the only way to complete Missions to get the rewards) was a whole other matter and we were queueing for five minutes before we gave it up. The queueing mechanic seems odd, it’s hard to make out whether you are in a queue or simply waiting for other players to join before a game starts. So primarily we focused on Co-op, given our skill (or lack thereof) it wouldn’t really make much of a difference to us if we were fighting against bots or other players as we die relatively quickly to either.
Straightaway the thing that grabs you is the graphics, from the ocean waves themselves and the general environment to the actual detail that’s gone into the ship models, which we are assured are accurate portrayals of their real-life counterparts. Take as much time as you like marvelling over the graphics and examining your ship, the game is extremely slow paced (albeit this has been sped up considerably from the initial release) and everything from movement, slow fire rates, progression across the map and the general length of the battles are testament that World of Warships is a slow, strategic, thinking man’s shooter and generally lacks the frantic firefights that you so often see in war based shooters.
That said the adrenaline does start pumping once you get a few successful shots on target as you manage to keep aiming at their projected course (known as “leading”), firing ahead with manual aiming so that the ship sails into your shot and landing hit after hit then making the decision whether to pursue them as they flee towards their allies or hang back and lose the kill. Unfortunately we never hung back, would always pursue and would always end too deep in enemy territory flanked on all sides and sent to the bottom of the ocean. You live by the sword; you die by the sword… or in this case by the torpedo. That really does highlight the main style of combat for the game; you simply have to plan ahead, choose your course and layout a strategy but be prepared to change it at a moment’s notice. As movement is so slow you can’t simply turn round and escape back the way you came, the methodical plodding of your ship with its wide turning arcs and slow speeds often means that once you go too deep and end up in trouble it is very hard to get out of. As a new player the number of bells and whistles going off telling you when you hit an enemy, where you hit them, what damage it did, whether it’s set them on fire, what hits you’ve taken, whether you’re on fire, etc. it can all be a little confusing and overwhelming to begin with and so you rarely know you’re in trouble until it’s too late and you didn’t notice you sailed full steam into the enemy fleet whilst trying to gun down a distant ship.
Being the press in the game this far away from any major games conventions raised a few eyebrows as our press “Preview” name appeared in the team rosters, enough to strike up conversation in a few games and get a little bit of a guiding hand from some players. The lack of tutorials available to us meant learning whilst playing, which typically meant going gun-ho earlier in the game then sitting around in spectator mode (because we were destroyed) and chatting to other players finding out the more helpful controls and tactics. We were even invited into a Division (a Guild) of one of the players that ended up on our team and chatted to a guy over TeamSpeak who was helpful enough to give us a few tips, make some recommendations on our choice of ships, explain what our different types of ammo did, how the AI turrets work (with your own control the main guns) and more, and was really quite helpful (a big thank you “BestTomatoEver”!)
There’s plenty in the way of ship options and customisation, players are able to purchase items and research new upgrades to improve their various ship classes to arm them up in a way that best suits their play style. This was a major issue for us as we pretty much sucked.
As with the game itself improving your skills is a slow process, with queue times and the time it takes to complete a match it doesn’t feel like you’re necessarily getting that much better, but with a little persistence and patience it comes with time and when you make your first kill it is pretty fulfilling. The game isn’t going to be for everybody, that much is obvious, though it’s never been marketed as a replacement for its other sister titles and instead offers something different, it’s clear that it will appeal to a different type of combat strategy player. World of Warships is at least a little more niche than other war games on the market and hopefully won’t suffer the same issues that World of Warplanes has suffered with players not really buying into the game when there are equally good (or in some opinions better) alternatives such as War Thunder on the market; so for now Warships stands alone in a huge ocean was no real competition to blow it out of the water.