Wargaming.net has created a fantastic presence in the online space with its historical combat games. World of Tanks burst onto the scene and rose to power as one of the best battle arena games created in years. It stayed true to history and quickly gained the respect of millions of players. World of Warplanes had a tougher time of it. The key to these games is having maps which give players a chance to compete, not too many obstacles in the open air. Now we have the third in the Wargaming.net trilogy, World of Warships. We have seen the game for a few years now and it has officially launched last week. So how did Wargaming.net do this time around? Well, the immediate thought is solid fun and one of the best free to play games on the market right now. If you like giant world-class battleships, that happens to be a bonus.
Playability is a big aspect of free to play games. Can you get in? How long until they ask you for money? Are there other players willing to do battle online? While playing Warships these past few weeks this process was practically perfect. Having a Wargaming account helps, but even without one the process was simple. Create an account, load up the game, pick a ship, and start fighting. Within minutes you are on the open water looking for opponents to blast into Davy Jones' Locker. The ease of getting into the game makes playing so simple you have to give it a try. Wargaming has nailed the quick entry system for Warships, fast and seamless. Also, they never ask you for a dime. It helps that this is their third time around the block with these kinds of games, I'm sure.
The next part of the game that plays a critical role are the maps. There are several maps to start, all of which use islands as obstacles, creating lanes for ships to fight in. Yes, you can actually shoot over the islands and score hits. The maps are decent to start, but more need to be added soon. Updates on the horizon should include several new maps with different layouts. The maps are your first main point of strategy, rushing forward into the enemy does not work. The ships are too slow to maneuver and you will only die in a hail of gunfire or torpedoes. Finding the sweet spot in hiding and sneaking around islands worked best, however, like in Tanks you can capture the enemy base for a victory as well. Base capture as a condition is not the only game form in Warships. You also have Domination which puts three circles on the map for each team to try and control. You also have the Encounter mode, which puts a single circle in the middle of the map. If you are too far away and the game suddenly turns into a rush to capture the bases or locations, you may find yourself out of position to get there quickly. It's like a weird but fun game of musical chairs.
Movement is another major factor in the game. This is where some players may get turned off from Warships. The movement on the ships, even the fast Cruisers, is slow. These are clunky massive behemoths of the sea, they were designed to take hits, survive air attacks, and keep on going. They are not speed boats. This isn't Miami Vice. The movement can be tricky to get used to, especially when you might be used to twitch gaming of today. That being said, moving the ships accurately portrays what driving one of these monsters was like, without having to collect a crew and that whole Navy licensing thing.
Stopping is tough, and many times you will find yourself exposed to the enemy and trying to back up out of gunfire. Also, when torpedoes are involved, you better move as quickly as you're able and not take the hit on your side. You’ll be finished if a full impact of torpedoes hits your ship. Fortunately, even the lightest ships have survivability and can take some punishment before going down. You cannot fault Wargaming for making ship movement difficult, but many players may long for something faster and more agile.
Weaponry is the other big factor with Warships. Unlike Tanks, you have multiple guns and options on how you fit your ship. The Tech Tree is deep enough to give you plenty of upgrade options and you will quickly unlock other ship types. Cruisers are your standard gun boats, Destroyers offer torpedo attacks, and the Aircraft Carriers function similar to long range artillery (think of the artillery in Tanks with some RTS elements thrown in).
Some players may just want that Aircraft Carrier experience, which sees the game very differently from the other ships. The hulking Battleships bring both punishment and survivability to the fleet. In the early games you see a lot of Cruisers floating around because people are still starting out. Once you begin unlocking ships it is easy to see how competitive the game will become when you have a good mix of ship styles squaring off against each other. The ships and weaponry really offer the player a feeling of power. Nothing beats pulling in close to an opponent, unleashing your guns and watching them go down in the sea.
One thing to remember about World of Warships is that it is not an MMORPG. This is an MMOG meant for short session gameplay, but it has the legs to keep you playing for hours if you don't mind the repetitive nature of the fights. The best way to describe the game, like all Wargaming titles, is that it's a “Historical Battle Arena.” While doing the review we looked at how the game excels in that particular area. WoWS has plenty of long term progression elements which will keep players active for some time, but the biggest challenge is to see what Wargaming comes out with next. The same formula which made World of Tanks so great is the core of World of Warships. More ships, more maps, and more features will go a long way to keep people coming back to play.
Anyone who has ever played the table top game Battleship! or even made paper boats in a puddle will find fun in World of Warships. Wargaming seems to have a knack for finding what is simply fun in large scale battles and bringing out our inner kid who played in the backyard or the bath tub pretending to wage war with toys. Where Warships really shines is in the ease of play, notable polish and quick battles that anyone can enjoy. You can't go wrong with the price of free either, and there really is nothing quite like World of Warships available.
Gameplay – 8 The game is solid. Moving the ships takes some getting used to, but firing the massive guns more than makes up for it. The learning curve to try other ships is not bad either and soon you’ll be testing all types of new weaponry.
Visuals and Sound – 9 The ships are amazing, no questions there. The accuracy at which Wargaming brings these beasts to the screen is near perfect. The guns and explosions are fun too. A nice touch is having music play background during each battle. It boosts your awareness and brings some fun to the normally quiet start to each fight. Hearing the crew yell that the fire is out is also cool. And the water? Simply gorgeous.
Longevity – 6 This is the only place that Warships may stagger. After playing about four to five battles a night you tend to want a break. More maps and scenarios are needed to boost the longevity for the game. That said, if you only have twenty minutes a night to play, you will never get bored. It is only after many games that you’ll start to look for a change.
Value – 9 In a free to play world, Wargaming has definitely found a sweet spot in how to work with its players. Upgrading to new ships does not take too long and you even get points for losing battles. The game packs a ton of punch for free. Sure the deeper you go you will need to spend some Doubloons, but at that point you already have plenty of fun under your belt.
Polish – 9 The team spent the time to make this game right and it shows. This is not a subpar product we are getting with Warships. So many games that launch early deliver unfinished pieces of a game that could be great. Even in early beta Warships was a total experience that looked great. There is always room for improvement, but as an out of the gate product, Warships is solid.