The Wargaming brand of video games now has over 100 million players across all genres, and that number will surely grow with the addition of World of Warships, which is the first title to focus on naval warfare. I had a chance to get some hands-on time with the Alpha build of World of Warships while at PAX Prime, and while I wasn’t the best of captains, it’s clear that Wargaming’s time tested pedigree is present, which should make fans of its brand of games excited.
World of Warships is being developed by the Moscow Wargaming studio, and its focus, like the Tanks games, is on historical accuracy. This is immediately clear once you see one of the game’s massive battleships anchored in highly detailed water that reacts masterfully to the ship’s guns, engines, and cannons. The level of detail in the ships is beyond impressive, and according to the developers on hand, each model took around eight months to build. We were shown a Nagato battleship from Japan’s fleet, and it boasted five hundred individual objects that had to be crafted to maintain World of Warships’ dedication to history and accuracy. Every gun turret, cannon, and living quarter has been painstakingly recreated in digital form to give the game a level of realism that Wargaming fans have come to expect, so the eight month build time is no joke and evidence of the team’s dedication to making World of Warships an authentic WWII-era naval action strategy title.
The game will feature other classes of warships such as destroyers and even aircraft carriers, and each boat will offer different styles of gameplay due to the size of the ships and how they maneuver in the open sea. For example, Carriers will offer gamers a top-down view while controlling them due to their massive size and abilities, while a battleship sized craft will offer a more traditional third person view similar to the World of Tanks game.
For the demo I took control of the Japanese Nagato ship, and its power can literally be felt through the gameplay thanks to the slow movements a ship of this size makes while navigating the watery battlefields of an open ocean battle. Ships are controlled through the WASD keys, but clever captains can take use of the game’s waypoint system, which allows you to plot your course on the game’s mini-map. By using waypoints you can keep your focus on blowing other ships up over driving, which is a blast thanks to the strategic and methodical cannon gameplay.
Due to the slow moving ships this game isn’t all about fast-twitch shooter skills like other online multiplayer games, so it opens the gameplay up to players that may not be the fastest on the trigger. Each ship sports multiple weapon types that can be toggled with keyboard keys, and each of these weapons also have a cool down period, so one must use caution while attacking, or you’ll be left vulnerable as you wait for the weapon to recharge. Ammo is unlimited, so you don’t have to devote resources to amassing a stockpile of shells and bullets, but you do have to plan your shots thanks to the cool down period.
I found the controls to work quite well, but it is challenging to get used to the slow moving pace of the larger warships. Making any sort of turns or course corrections have to be planned ahead because the ships don’t react like race cars when you want them to turn. I actually appreciated this level of realism as it adds to the game’s mantra of historical accuracy, and makes the gameplay much more strategic in nature versus a fast moving arcade style affair.
Attacking also has to be tactical, but there is definitely skill involved with lobbing shells at distant ships on the horizon. There is no auto-targeting, so you must predict the arch and trajectory of each shell to ensure that it finds it mark. This is made a bit easier with a scope you can pull up to bring distant ships into view, but your speed, the opposing ship’s speed, and the amount of distance between you all factor heavily into where your shot will land. You can zoom in and get a GoPro shot of the shells you’re shooting to help get a better handle on how well your aiming skills are, but doing so limits your field of vision, so it has to be used sparingly. Managing these factors and your ship’s trajectory keeps you constantly engaged in World of Warships‘ gameplay, which will surely add to its addictive nature.
Wargaming’s World of Warships is shaping up quite nicely, so history buffs and fans of its other titles should get excited for its release. At this time a firm launch date is unknown, but the team expects the full game to ship sometime in 2015. The Big World engine has never looked better, and the footage I saw was from the Alpha build, so the finished version should be something amazing to look at. If you’re up for testing your sea legs in a historically accurate WWII title, make sure to follow World of Warships’ development via the official website.
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