Loading up World of Tanks as a complete and utter novice is a little overwhelming. How will it play? Will it take long to get into? I bet there are loads of menus that I’ll need to naviga-…….oh wait, nope, already in a game. How about that? A multiplayer session loads as soon as you boot up World of Tanks for the first time, with loading screens giving you a brief idea of the controls before you start trundling along one of the game’s maps. What follows is welcomingly simple to adjust to, yet difficult to fully comprehend.
The combat itself is relatively straightforward; you’ll begin by getting dropped into a 15v15 multiplayer match where your objective is simply to eradicate your opponents without getting wiped out yourself. Only one life is ever available to you during the game’s main mode, and it becomes quickly apparent that you’ll require plenty of careful movements and canny navigation of your tracked beast in order to survive. Ammunition isn’t sparse but frequently slow reloading times require you to always keep moving to avoid getting hit before you can fire again, which ends up being the key to survival. The quicker you adjust to the need to keep moving whilst also aiming/defending, the longer your sessions will last. Thankfully, due to the sheer number of combatants, once your vehicle gets scrapped by the opposition, you’re able to head back to your garage instead of waiting for the session to end, with XP and cash doled out once the fight’s over.
What’s great about the garage is that you can then roll out another tank into battle at the same time whilst your previous session is ongoing, which contrasts the slightly overwhelming menu set-up. Whilst there are plenty of offline training modes which help to get you adjusted for warfare and hone your skills, the actual acts of repairing, refitting, upgrading and servicing your tank feel a little impenetrable. Engineers can be assigned to your tanks, items set ready for use in combat but it’s not exactly clear as to how they help, or in the case of the latter, how to use them. Series vets that’ve been with the game since its launch in 2010 may scoff but this isn’t an instantly welcoming game for newcomers.
Given the game is downloadable for free, and only requires payment from its players for its optional upgrade packs, it’s not a huge surprise that there aren’t a tonne of modes on offer from the get-go. Platoon mode, a 4-player co-op mode appears to offer far more of a team-oriented effort than the standard Multiplayer mode, and Team Training and Proving Grounds are no-risk practice environments designed to help you become better suited to the meat of the game and, in the case of the latter, offer a bit of variety with the inclusion of skirmishes, defence modes and even a race.
When the game gets up and running, especially in those varied Proving Ground levels, it can be good fun, especially with a zippy tank. The very nature of the vehicle can mean you’ll find yourself stuck in awkward positions often around the game’s WW2-style maps (think villages, countryside etc), which at least prods you to master how to handle them to avoid repeatedly jamming yourself between a small hill and the back of an immovable house. World of Tanks looks pretty enough, with some inconsistencies in its destructible environments noticeable, like fences that immediately disappear once you plough into them, but this doesn’t feel like a game that focusses on those elements.
As a tank warfare simulator, World of Tanks feels sufficient enough in its current form and will certainly appeal to those with a vested interest in a more intricate online game. Beyond that, its tough exterior and uncompromising execution make it something of a hard sell for everyone else.
Midlife Gamer Rating: 6/10 Format: PlayStation 4 Release Date: Out Now
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer downloaded World of Tanks for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of one week. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.