Objective And Perspective
Fortunately, even at Cruiser-level, World of Warships’ gameplay keeps its captains engaged, and the match-making is solid enough that if you don’t have all the perks of the big boats, you’ll be in the pool with similar players. There are two primary modes of combat, with a third unlockable much later.
You’ll start with Co-Op mode, where you join other players to defeat AI enemies. At Level 2 you’ll unlock PvP, and at Level 9 Ranked mode will come available. The first two modes feature the same maps, objectives, and matchmaking, but with increased stakes: Co-op is a good way to learn the game, PvP allows you to complete Missions for currency to purchase upgrades. Ranked only uses Domination matches, and allows teams of seven players to compete for higher ranks and better rewards at the end of each season.
There are three gameplay modes: Standard (capture the opponent’s base), Encounter (capture a neutral base), and Domination (earn 1000 points before the other team by capturing bases/destroying ships). You can win any of the three modes by destroying the enemy fleet completely, too. There are plenty of different maps with unique island set-ups, presenting both hazard and cover as you fight it out on the high seas. With all this plus all the unique ship set-ups, you’re guaranteed a new challenge each time you load a game.
The first thing you’ll notice when you enter a match is that World of Warships looks lovely. The visuals are simple (water and islands, mainly) but pretty, and don’t overstrain the game, though you can turn graphics down if needed. I experienced a few weird graphical glitches of ships clipping in and out, but largely the experience was smooth and pleasing to the eye. The music is great, too, though after awhile you’ll probably want to replace it with your own tunes.
Having never played a Wargaming title before, at first I was overwhelmed by the interface and controls. There was no tutorial, no tooltips…nothing. Some quick guesswork got my ship moving in realistically slow motion as it picked up speed, and after a few accidental rounds were fired I figured out the controls. Though initially overwhelming, the interface is intuitive and sensible. You learn fast.
The boat moves like a boat, picking up speed gradually and slowing down over time, so your movements must be carefully planned. Numbered hotkey indicate which weapon you have active and allow you to swap and reload easily while still aiming to shoot with the mouse. A minimap lets you keep tabs on your teammates and foes brought out from concealment, and the zoom feature with its marked distance lines helps to track enemies and shoot accurately, while letting you avoid hazards with a simple right click to zoom back out quickly.
…Most players I met were friendly and willing to work together.
With smooth controls and an intuitive interface, you can focus on the strategy of the game itself. At its most basic, you have two types of guns to fire at the enemy, with wider ranges of options for concealment, destruction, and reconnaissance available as you upgrade. Firing your guns from a distance may surprise the enemy, but given travel time and ship speed, you’re likely to miss and end up revealing your position. Your cannons act like actual cannons, meaning they take some time to re-aim and not all of them will be able to hit the enemy at all times. Do you turn your broadside toward the foe to hit them with all you have, presenting them with a huge target? Or do you stay a narrow target, but only hit them with one cannon?
Along with individual strategy, World of Warships requires some teamwork, especially once you hit PvP and beyond. My enjoyment of the game depended heavily on how well my team was communicating: eight lone wolves sailing straight into danger will not win, no matter how tricked out their boats. Simple hot-keyed chat commands help affirm instructions or ask for help, and most players I met were friendly and willing to work together. Simple tactics such as well-dropped smokescreens, hiding behind islands, and leaving ships behind to guard your objective go a long way.
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Though it can take some time to get the hang of how to aim properly, which guns to use when, and how NOT to fire torpedos at your pals, World of Warships is very forgiving. If your ship is destroyed you can just exit to the menu and begin a battle with a different ship while you wait for that match to finish, and you still get rewards if you helped your team secure a victory. There’s no consequence for loss beyond reduced rewards, and completing Missions each day to deal a certain amount of damage or destroy a certain number of ships can help make losses profitable, too.
You won’t be losing all the time, though. I found players notoriously helpful and communicative. Though I didn’t know anyone I was playing with, the best moments in-game were when my teammates and I clenched a close victory through simple, useful communication. Liberal use of positive hotkeys to encourage others keeps the climate warm and friendly. Hopefully it will stay that way long into the game’s life.
World of Warships proves a solid, polished new title in the Wargaming franchise, sure to satisfy both fans of action games and tactical strategy. The biggest issue is that it can get…well, grindy. When you are trying out a new ship and everything is fresh and shiny, the game is thrilling and challenging. But given the amount of EXP required to unlock the higher tiers, you’ll be playing the same configurations for a long time, and that stands to be tedious. Still, combat is strangely addictive, and when you do get that shiny ship tier, the rewards prove well-worth the wait. Especially since it’s free-to-play, I highly recommend giving World of Warships a try. Good luck, and fair seas!
A copy of this game was provided to GameSided for the purpose of this review. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.
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