Review by jlee123

"There's some fun gameplay, but you pretty much have to pay to ever see it"

World of Tanks is a great concept on paper. It's basically team deathmatch with tanks, and it's 'free' to play. Alas, like most F2P titles the developers made some poor gameplay decisions that ruin the fun in order to get people to give up and pay to win.

Graphics (6/10): Passable, nothing more. The tanks look pretty good, but the battlefields looks pretty bland. They were presumable trying to keep system requirements very low as a F2P title. It works well enough, but you aren't going to dazzled by eyecandy here.

Sound (6/10): The game gives you audio ques for everything, telling you if a shot didn't penetrate, your tracks have been damaged, etc. It's helpful so you can concentrate on the fight instead of having to look at the UI to see something is wrong. There's some background music, but you'll quickly turn it off as you'll want to have full attention to the sound effects enemy tanks are making. There's unfortunately only one voiceset regardless of what tank you're playing. There's no difference in audio between using a German, Russian or US tank. Again like the graphics, the sound is passable for a F2P and nothing more.

Gameplay (20/60):

Combat (40/60) - The combat portion of the game is generally fun. You can't simply charge in like Rambo and start wrecking everyone, you have to play wisely using your tanks strengths. There are 5 classes of tanks: light, medium, heavy, tank destroyer, and artillery. They generally all play very differently from each other. Tanks all have different armour values, weak points, weapon penetrations, speed, etc. Tanks can suffer damage to various modules such as the tracks or ammo rack, and they also have crews, and damage can result in a crew member being injured and reducing your aim or such. You can also take a few consumable items into battle with you, such as repair kits and med-kits to help keep you at full strength a little longer. The gameplay works well because it's fairly simple to learn, but there is a fair bit to master. It's easy to aim and shoot, but the real skill comes in knowing when and where to shoot, when to fall back, and when to ignore the enemy and try for a capture win. I did not care for artillery at all, but I understand its place as a counter to lumbering heavies and chronic campers. While you only get one 'life' per battle, one nice thing they've done here is that once you die, you can leave and start a new game right away (though not with the same tank). You do not have to sit there and wait for every last person to die. If you get a team full of morons, you can just suicide quickly and move on with life.

F2P Grind Factor (-20) - This is unfortunately where developer greed destroys a good game. You have in-game money and experience. You must grind your way up the tank tree to get to better tanks. This part isn't too abnormal, and it makes some sense to make people 'pay their dues' in a Panzer II before getting to drive that Tiger tank. There are two massive problems though. One, it takes months of grind to get anywhere. Not only does it takes months of grind to reach new tanks, but those new tanks will be useless until you grind out the equipment upgrades (stock tanks are woefully underpowered) and crew skill levels. It seems okay at first, but once you hit around tier 4 (there are 10 tiers) progress grinds to a halt. Two, the developers have made the matchmaking as horrible as possible to discourage low tier players. Things would be fine if light tanks were always fighting other light tanks and weak mediums, but no; most of the tier 4 tanks get thrown into matches with tier 6-9 tanks. Tanks they can never hope to even scratch the paint on. And it's not like there's lots of other low-tier tanks in those matches to fight, usually there will be 2-3 low-tier fodder tanks for the heavy tanks to get some free kills and feel good. And by sheer 'coincidence', some of the most awful tanks in the game happen to be placed before iconic tanks everyone wants. The tanks before the Sherman, Panzer IV, T34, etc. All awful tanks with awful matchmaking. It's been frequently complained about on the official forums, the devs are aware. But nothing changes, so this is clearly just a ploy to make people give up and pay to 'skip' these torture tiers. Worse of all? Experience you earn for battles is mainly determined by how much damage you do! That's right, those hopeless matches you can't hurt anyone in? Enjoy earning minimal XP every battle because you can't do anything.

To make matters worse, you have to pay for repairs and ammo used in battle. At first, your income per battle easily covers this. However by about tier 7 you start running in to situations where you LOSE MONEY EVEN IF YOU WIN THE BATTLE. There's a way to avoid this of course! That's right, you pay for a premium account which gives you 50% more income! Oh, and your crew with a new tank starts at 50% effectiveness. They very slowly gain XP. There's a way around this of course! That's right you may money and instantly get to 100% crew effectiveness! And consumables? There are Pay to Win items you can only get with real money. Shells that have better penetration, items that boost crew stats, repair kits that repair multiple modules instantly. That the final kick in the nuts, there are tanks you can only get with real money. These tanks have, you guessed it, easier matchmaking, start at full power, above average armour, and have cheaper repair bills than normal tanks. All yours if you open your wallet!

You also cannot play with more than one friend at a time unless you pay. You can invite one person to matches, but if you want to do two people you have to pay. You cannot make clans without paying either. I really don't know why the devs didn't just make this game pay to play.

Community (3/10) - It's a MMO and you're forced to play with others. How are they? It's a f2p, so the answer is mostly bad. It doesn't really get better at higher tiers, and anyone bored enough to grind 24/7 can eventually get the high tier tanks. And there are some really bored people out there apparently. People rarely communicate and just do whatever. It never really felt like a team game, and simply had a set of tanks I wasn't supposed to shoot at and occasionally steal my XP by shooting someone before me.

Replay (5/10) - There's lots and lots of tanks to unlock. I have some friends who got hopelessly hooked on it because they're the type who will play anything with WW2 in it. Of course they both threw in a fair bit of money to ease the grinding pain. Your mileage will vary depending on whether you can stomach the dreaded tier 4-7 grind or not. If you can make it to tier 8 where every tank can basically hurt every tank, you're set. The game becomes fun and skill based as it should, and you never feel like you're in a completely hopeless fight. But until then you have to suffer with the worst matchmaking I have ever seen. I could not do it, and gave up before then.

Final Verdict (40/100): World of Tanks had the potential to be fun, but threw it away with one of the worst examples I have seen of how 'f2p' is in fact not free. Unless you enjoy pain, you WILL have to pay to get past the awful grind and there's pay to win elements all over the place. If you go into it accepting this fact, you can have some fun with it. If you think you're going to get a fast, fun action game with tanks free of charge, you should avoid this. Do not be fooled by the easy grind and fair matchmaking at very low tiers; it's a sucker ploy to make you think the whole game will be like that. This could have been a great game had they just charged $50 from the start, and done away with most of the bs.

+Combat can be a blast when you get a fair matchup
+Lots and lots of tanks to try out
+Low system requirements
-Soul-shattering grind
-Intentionally bad matchmaking (not in a skill sense, but in a 'your tank will be absolutely useless this game' sense)
-Obvious Pay to Win elements
-Typical F2P community


Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 07/05/12

Game Release: World of Tanks (US, 04/12/11)


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