No PvP, tanks
Developer Wargaming reveals a new future for World Of Tanks
World Of Tanks’ new War Stories update is here to give console players the chance to go it alone.
For console players, it always felt like something was missing from World Of Tanks. Over the years the online vehicle-shooter has only grown in popularity, becoming one of the biggest games in the world (it’s got well over 100 million registered players), but the console and PC iterations have only grown more disparate. Xbox 360, Xbox One, and PS4 players have often complained that it feels like they are being taken for granted, especially as PC players enjoy faster updates and a greater focus on authenticity. And Wargaming listened, finally delivering significant new content designed specifically for the console space: War Stories. “With this add-on to World Of Tanks on console, we think this is going to deliver the ultimate tank experience,” says senior game designer Darold Higa. “It’s an expansion to the existing game. What we are introducing is single-player, co-operative PvE story-driven campaigns. It’s going to be pretty cool because, basically, what we are doing here is giving players the opportunity to experience World Of Tanks without, necessarily, some of the pressure of online play.”
For a game that has always been traditionally associated with multiplayer action, the inclusion of War Stories may seem strange to some. World Of Tanks has, after all, built its success off of seeing 30 players leap into their authentically recreated tanks, engage in combat, hide away in shrubberies, and generally destroy each other in sprawling, contained battlefields torn straight from the annals of military history. But PvE content is, Higa assures us, exactly the thing the console audience has been wanting all along.
On the right tracks
“We discovered we have PvE-only players by complete accident,” Higa chuckles, noting that the narrative-driven War Stories has evolved out of the experimental events and skirmishes Wargaming gave console players in 2016. “We started with PvE skirmishes last year and, honestly, we weren’t sure how they were going to be received. It started off as a low-pressure way to test out a new tank or for players to try out new tactics, but it proved to be massively popular… we had one player that had over ten thousand battles without playing a single multiplayer battle. People actually just want to play the game this way, so this is a group that needs to be served. That’s how we evolved War Stories into what it is now.”
“What we are introducing is single-player, co-operative PvE story-driven campaigns”
War Stories is essentially four separate stories, each of which is comprised of three chapters. It’s still constructed around the same basic framework as the multiplayer experience, with 15v15 tank battles, only now 29 AI comrades and combatants will be directly involved in the action – a system the Chicago-based studio has had to build from scratch.
What’s interesting is that – and this is a huge departure for Wargaming – the focus isn’t just on authenticity. While the first story, Brothers In Armour (based on the Battle Of Romania and available now) is firmly grounded in historical fact, the second will actually take us into the realms of alternative history. Flashpoint Berlin, for example, is a “what if?” match based on the Berlin Blockade, when the USSR blocked the Western allies’ road, rail, and canal access to Berlin. In the real world, airlifts solved the problem, but you’ll be sorting things out in your tank. Another story, based on a hypothetical German land invasion of London, is also planned for the future.
With our hands on the Xbox One X version (the PS4 Pro version was unfortunately unavailable due to server issues), we were given our first introduction to this new side to World Of Tanks. And you know what? It makes complete sense. Being able to sit back, marvel at Wargaming’s admittedly stunning 4K graphical presentation and smooth 30fps gameplay, without having to worry about being blown up by a trash-talking bush, makes all the difference to the experience. World Of Tanks may have started life as a multiplayer-only game, but this clever refocusing speaks to the console ethos, where online and single-player game modes can happily co-exist. War Stories is only the beginning for World Of Tanks on PS4 and Xbox One, and, if what we’ve played is any indication, a fantastic new way to experience Wargaming’s free-to-play behemoth.
Famed composer Inon Zur has created the OST for War Stories – you may know his work from games such as Crysis, Dragon Age II, and Fallout 4.
The narrative is told, largely, through animated comic book panels written by Andi Ewington, and illustrated by artists PJ Holden and Matt Timson.
World Of Tanks is receiving a graphical overhaul, with 4K assets being introduced to give PS4 Pro and Xbox One X owners something to sink their teeth into.