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World of Tanks

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So some of you may have seen the advertisements for the "free tank mmo," World of Tanks, floating around. Normally when I see the words "free mmo" floated, I cringe in disgust. However a friend recommended this game to me a few days after it left beta, and I've found myself playing it quite a bit. I thought I would give some of you information on the game, in case you wrote it off as some piece of crap because of the advertising. I know I did, but it deserves a fair chance. Basically it's hardly more of a "mmo" than Team Fortress 2 is: It's class based Team DM/Capture a point, with WWII tanks, rather than a true FPS. The only difference is, you research technology trees and buy tanks with the credits you earn from playing games.

As a shooter, I'm finding it to be a completely different, and somewhat refreshing experience in comparison to what I am used to. This is not a tank simulator. The gameplay is fairly arcadey in comparison to, say, Red Orchestra: You drive in third person, and can go into a gunners view to snipe. Movement is relatively slow, and there are lots of tactical considerations to the way you move. Swarming the enemy with your tough medium tanks in a "wolfpack," popping around the corners of buildings in your heavy tanks, probing at the enemy lines and trying to pop off artillery pieces with your light tanks, laying in ambush with your tank destroyers... there's really a lot of variance in gameplay here. Compounding this is the presence of three different countries to choose from, each with their own technology tree that presents certain strengths and weaknesses, which are (sort of) historically accurate. There are a ton of tank lines to explore, which would consume a very, very large amount of time were you wanting to play every single tank in the game.

But of course no free MMO is ever really free. Thankfully, the things that cost real money in this game don't have a massive effect on gameplay, and you don't need to pay any cash to have a good time. Basically if one pays the $10/mo or so to get a premium account, the benefit it provides is 1.5x experience and credit output from your tank battles, essentially just speeding up leveling a bit, and additionally allowing you to create tank platoons to get inserted into random matches with, with a couple of your friends. There are also premium tanks that you can buy, which overall do not compete well with the ones you earn in game but allow you to play higher tiered matches more quickly and get more credits early in the game when they are hard to come by. There's a variety of other things you can buy with money, like increased garage slots so you can own more tanks at a time, better crew training (which again, just speeds up leveling,) and hybrid ammo for your guns. This hybrid ammo deals (high explosive and armor piercing) has the best chance of dealing damage in the game, but outside of competition people rarely spend their money on it, so it's not as if you have to worry about some guy with a ton of money ruining your experience if you play for free. Generally the use of gold is limited to competitive matches.

This looks to have turned into more of an in-depth review than I was hoping, but I wanted to tell people about this game that I have so far spent so much time on. If you like somewhat historical games and the use of tactics, I can soundly recommend this. It's not perfect; the Russian developers sometimes get a hard-on for Russian tanks and pass over the other countries in terms of balance. But in terms of pure fun, I have had a ton of good times so far in this game and I've only been playing for a few weeks. Even if you're only a little intrigued, give it a download and see how you like it. It's not for everyone, for sure, but if you have the right mindset it's a total blast.

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The battles are based on real events as well, such as the battle in WWII where Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, and America invaded Berlin and took control from Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, and America. No infantry was involved, just tanks. It ended in a glorious victory for Germany, Russia, and America when they managed to capture Germany, Russia, and America's flag, thus ending the battle.

Seriously though, I tried a few matches with Shai and while I hated it and found it fairly frustrating at first, it does get a bit more fun once you get the hang of it. There are still some pretty stupid things about the game though such as having to be a premium member to form parties. Clans I could understand since it would kind of keep the game from being flooded by shitty clans that don't last more than a few days, but forming parties? That's just flat out stupid. Not even Activision has fallen that low (at least not yet).

Also the experience system seems to be flat out broken. I went one match without hitting a single enemy and survived about a minute before being destroyed and still got several thousand credits. Next match I managed to destroy two tanks, severely damage a third, and survive five minutes. 200 credits.

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Craigs said:

Also the experience system seems to be flat out broken. I went one match without hitting a single enemy and survived about a minute before being destroyed and still got several thousand credits. Next match I managed to destroy two tanks, severely damage a third, and survive five minutes. 200 credits.

There's an equation for the XP system that you haven't figured out yet. After you know the rules it all makes sense. You get a base experience for dealing damage, hitting the enemy, a little bonus for getting the killing shot in, for getting achievements, and for scouting out enemy tanks which subsequently get killed. Taking into account all of those factors, if your team wins, your experience and credits are multiplied. In addition to that, the first victory of every day gets x2 xp and credits.

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