Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Warship Wednesday - Welcome

So as I mentioned last week I've become oddly excited for World of Warships over the past few months and finally got into the Closed Beta last week. I expect this to be my secondary short-time-schedule game to supplement EVE for the next few months much like World of Tanks did for a while.

This post is an introduction to my view of the game and my thoughts on it so far. TL;DR: OMG so much fun!

Being produced by the same developers as World of Tanks, its not surprising that the game borrows heavily on the concepts there: there are four classes of ships divided into ten tiers. You start at tier 1 ships and get experience and credits towards more advanced ships as you participate in battles. There are several maps from open ocean to lots of islands, and the different ship classes act as a rock-paper-scissors mechanic. You enter the queue for a game, get matched with other players in ships near your current ship's tier level, and you fight a battle that ends when one side is wiped out or the objective (depending on the battle game type) is met.

But that's where the similarities end. You might think the ship classes map almost exactly to tank classes at a first glance, but you'd be wrong (and we'll get into that more later). Whereas WoT battles are rare to go the full 15 minute match time, WoWS battles often go longer than 15 minutes and many times time out at the max 20 with a few ships still slugging it out. The heaviest of tanks feel fragile compared to average cruisers, its easier to spot your adversaries at long range and harder to hit them, and there is a lot more to pay attention to with aircraft, torpedoes, and open lines of sight all threatening you. Plus you have more functions on your ships other than just aim and shoot. The end result is a deeper and more complex game. This is not a knock against WoT; sometimes a quicker and more visceral fast action tank battle is what's called for. But WoWS does not deliver the same experience.

With all that in mind, let's take a quick close look at the ship classes.


The iconic battleship is what most people picture when thinking about World of Warships and for good reason: they deliver a massive punch at extreme ranges and can take a beating in return. I wasn't most excited for battleships when I started but once you get past the lacklustre low tier versions they really start to shine. Nothing says satisfaction like a broadside that cripples an enemy cruiser or shooting at one target kms away while your small supporting guns take out a pesky destroyer.

Battleships also have a handy repair ability (with a cooldown and limit to how many times you can use it) to recover some hit points when you need a little boost and often sport a scout plane it can launch for eyes in the sky.

The downside to the behemoths is that the hull is slow to turn and the big guns are slow to transverse and even slower to shoot. The best firing rate is twice a minute or thereabouts so if you miss a full broadside you are stuck with no big guns while they reload for 30 seconds. This can allow dangerous torpedo ships the chance to sneak up and shoot them at you.


Covering from light cruisers to heavy cruisers, they are faster than battleships due to lighter armour, and their guns are a lot smaller, but this makes them harder to hit at long range and they can fire more often allowing them a better ability to take care of destroyers. Later tier cruisers also have improved anti aircraft ability.


You might think destroyers map right to light tanks but you'd be wrong. Whereas light tanks are the scouts of WoT battles, in WoWS the scouting is taken care of by aircraft. Destroyers are more like mobile tank destroyers, moving in the smoke they can generate or around islands to pop out and launch a devastating short range strike of torpedoes. A good run with a destroyer can cripple or even sink a battleship. Destroyers very fast and small so often have the job of jumping on objectives quickly to secure early points in domination mode. For aircraft carrier captains, nothing is more terrifying than a destroyer slipping through the lines and running towards you.


Carriers operate on mostly on a top down view of the map like artillery does in WoT but that's where the similarities end. Captaining a carrier is like being in an old school RTS where you direct your units to spots on the map to try and win the small battles.

Carriers can have flights of different types, fighters for air superiority and coverage, dive bombers (which are really not that exciting), and fearsome torpedo bombers which can deliver a world of hurt when a run is executed properly. A lot of battleship captains hate torp bombers because they don't pay enough attention until 6-12 torps are bearing down on them and its too late to evade, but really a smart player can avoid the worst of the damage and the carrier pilot needs precious minutes to have his bombers fly back, reload, and launch again.

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I'm really enjoying the game right now in closed beta and looking foward to seeing more ships as they flesh out the lines. My favourite is a tossup between the battleships (Kongo!) and the carriers (Saipan) but I still have lots of fun in the cruisers and destroyers.

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