Sometimes being the MMOgames trained console peasant has its upsides. Most of the time it’s an unyielding list of games I simply cannot cover and usually boring or expensive ones that I can. Want to play the new Star Wars expansion? Oh that’s not on PS4… Well here's the new Call of Duty. But sometimes it’s a joy, sometimes you get to play Splatoon, sometimes you get to not play Ragnarok 2. And sometimes my darling editor asks me if i want to spend a full weekend playing World of Tanks while watching the end of AGDQ2016.
Yeah, that’ll do me fine.
World of Tanks has become one of my favorites. The two main reasons for this, outside of it being just a damn fun game is either my appreciation and solid nerdiness for all things historical when it comes to the second world war or just how happy I am to not be playing yet another twitch shooter. World of Tanks is where twitch shooting goes to die. In the world of instadeath and MLG sniper head shot montages, WoT is that quiet place in the corner where everyone is watching world at war on the iPhones. Tanks is in its own strange way the spiritual successor to the original Rainbow Six games, a game wherein careful planning and positioning take up the vast majority of the games time. In tanks you are likely to spend more time scouting and looking to preferred combat positions than you are actually firing your cannon. But while this sounds dull, the game has the wonderful habit of using the quite times to ratchet up the anticipation. Combat takes its time to arrive, but when it does it explodes in a well laid frenzie of precise shots and expert manoeuvring.
And finally the game has landed on the PS4, Wargaming deciding to skip the PS3 altogether partly due to it being less relevant these days and mostly because programming for the cell processor is used in some countries as a way to torture prisoners of war. But with the PS4s new PC lite programming environment and any old Microsoft exclusivity deals long dead, it was time for the game to make its way over the the side of the Sony fanboys.
The last beta weekend was, shall we say, not a rousing success. Disconnects were rampant and some menus lead to dead ends only a soft reset would fix. So a month on Wargaming have decided it was time to update the code and give it a second crack. The improvements even within such a small time frame are noticeable. Playing at peak times the netcode seems to have been vastly improved over the last build, though disconnects still reared their heads, they were far fewer in number than before. The game's menu problems have also been seen too with the games tutorials and Training grounds now actually existing and not just being a menu that held you there for ever. A back option has also been added which helps.
The Games option menu retains its B grade from before. Though obviously missing the graphical options I’m used to on the PC build, the game boasts a wide selection of accessibility options including the all important color blind mode. The lack of a dedicated control optimisation suite still sets this back somewhat in this department.
In game we are treated the same old WoT we know and love. While the game is not going to touch the PC and their ability for mounting power, the fact that the PS4 is the most powerful non PC the game has launched on lead me to have high hopes for the franchise. While not quite “masterace” approved, the console is able to push out some high quality graphics when used well, with games like Assassin's Creed, Final Fantasy 14 and Last of Us proving this. So I was a tad surprised when the game actually looked like a downgrade from the Xbox One game.
While the frame rate sticking well to 30 and the reflection tech worked well, the game had massive issues with lighting, color saturation and bloom that were noticeable. Still a very good looking game even on the weaker consoles, the game lacked a lot of its usual charm. Of course it is still better so this could be changed by the time of launch, but as it it is rather odd to be looking weaker on the stronger of the two consoles. The tanks themselves mind still look as crisp and accurate as ever. Fans of the pre-pawn stars History Channel will instantly feel at home within the carefully recreated and modelled tanks and artilleries that litter the game, while no Axis symbols exist (No one wants to play with a Swastika painted on their side anyway) the game remains as useful of a teaching tool for WWII weaponry as it has ever been.
Combat remains 100% intact. The mix of light, medium and heavy base tanks alongside the much more technical and specialised tank killer and artillery mix the combat up well with an emphasis on playing to your role in the greater team environment. Light tanks do the scouting, medium the grunt work and heavy are the slow monsters. Artillery acts as the snipers of the game but is less than useless up close and the rarer tank killer class is pretty much unstoppable but most of them aim...poorly, playing like a Blunderbuss more than anything. The combat remains tight and deceptively slow paced trading off moments of pure excitement in the tank on tank battles with the slow build of getting there, players can rush the field and shoot out among the ruins but usually that will get some crafty sod on a cliff side doing whatever the tank equivalent of a head shot is.
I can’t judge the games store due to the beta, but if the PC and Xbox builds are anything to go by the pay is reasonable with more focus on the premium rewards system than anything else, allowing the player to either pay real money or ingame gold for increased rewards from all of the proving grounds or multiplayer battles.
Overall the Beta was a vast improvement from the last one while the graphical settings leave something to be desired, the game on the whole is still the tanks gameplay of the PC and Xbox. Later builds may bring later improvements to the looks of the game, but for now, its back to the PC to be murdered by artillery.