No PvP, tanks

Developer Wargam­ing re­veals a new fu­ture for World Of Tanks

Games Master - - Upfront -

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.

Spec­u­la­tive fric­tion

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.

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