Games are made available on a new consoles all the time, not many however get a complete makeover from the ground up. World of Tanks is a great game on the Xbox 360, but the visual and auditory makeover to bring it to the Xbox One is a work of art. It is still the same great game but having been rebuilt from the ground up, it is not just a new coat of paint to make it look pretty. Wargaming has brought the main characters, the tanks, alive in a dynamic world of textures, effects and ambience that is explosive on your senses.
I recently had the opportunity to visit the Wargaming studio in Chicago for some hands-on with World of Tanks on Xbox One. What stuck me the most as I entered the studio was not the quality of the game, but the level of excitement and the intense passion from everyone in the studio. The team has been working on the process of rebuilding and migrating World of Tanks to the Xbox One for over 8 months and they were busting at the seams to share what they have accomplished. And while I was there to interview them, I don’t think I really got much opportunity or had need to ask questions as the Dev team shared their exuberance in detail of the Great Tank makeover. Talks of polycounts, wiggly bits, CG quality and HDR were just some of the buzzwords that were repeated by each and every Dev I had the opportunity to meet on the tour. The biggest surprise for me however was to learn that World of Tanks on Xbox 360 and Xbox One are integrated and play together.
The radical changes to the game immediately apparent once I finally got to sit down and play for the first time on the Xbox One. The stunning environments and level of the detail to the tanks seemed to put you right in the driver's seat where you can almost smell the smoke that hangs over the battlefield. While being explained that up to 40K polygons went into just the tracks of a tank is one thing, see it and experience how the tracks moved while driving across different terrains is quite another. Each individual track actually shifted and moved as they rolled across rocks, logs and other tanks. All the while the wiggly bits like gas cans, logs and ammo cans are shaking, rattling and rolling as the tank moves and engages in combat. No longer did the tank feel like it was a solid unit that just had a turret turn and fire. The first time you see a turret fly off from a killing blow will have you in awe and want to replay the scene over and over again. The tank is alive with the sounds that matched the actions you are seeing in perfect harmony. The level of detail didn’t end with the tanks however, running over a tree to knock it down and hear it crunch, shoot a building and see it crumble from the damage, splash through the water and throw up a rooster tail behind you. Just many of the great levels of detail that the power of the Xbox One has allowed them to add to the game.
Seeing the two consoles playing side by side really brought home just home much work had been done to World of Tanks. The attention to detail in every aspect of the reconstruction, fully utilizing the native features that the XBox One brings to the table is a game changer. But it wasn’t the just the complete makeover on the tanks that stood out to me, but the drive, the dedication to ensure that regardless of which console you were playing, there was no tactical advantage and the damage physics stayed the same. Without this, the merging of the consoles into a single playing field would have been impossible. It is easy to assume that with greater detail in visuals, there would be an advantage over the Xbox 360 players, either from the ability to use the terrain better or the how the hit boxes and damage models are more defined. This just isn’t the case however, sure everything looks and sounds better to a Xbox One player, but at the core of the tank, everything on the inside is still the same regardless of the console you are on. This allows players have one account that they can seamlessly switch between consoles with, playing on either and together with friends on either.
Wargaming discovered many innovations in the art and sound that could be implemented on the Xbox 360. I am continually impressed with the dedication to continue you to improve their already successful game. As primarily a PC player despite all the consoles in my house, I have to say that World of Tanks on Xbox one has shook the very foundation of my understanding of high graphic and audio quality in games. The transformation between the Xbox 360 to the Xbox One is hard to describe and must be experienced. I enjoy playing the PC version of World of tanks, but after my studio tour I have to be honest with myself and acknowledge that for the first time I am contemplating picking up an Xbox One to go next to my PS4 so I can continue to be immersed in the World of Tanks universe that Wargaming continues to perfect.