Wargaming.net will be pushing their open beta of World of Warplanes live in just a couple of weeks, but World of Warships is the company’s next installment in their “World of” series, and is more involved that either World of Tanks or it’s airborne counterpart. The game was first announced back in 2011 as World of Battleships, but has since changed to World of Warships as it encompasses many different naval units beyond just battleships. But where Tanks and Warplanes involve you controlling a single unit on a massive battlefield, Warships will have you working together with your fleet to coordinate attacks and defense while in the fog of war.
Boats that shoot. Like World of Tanks and World of Warplanes, you’re not here for the story. If you need some background, think World War II, and you’re in control of a multi-ton floating weapon. Then, point, shoot, and repeat. Like the other games in this series, Wargaming.net is charting the history of naval warfare from big to small, over nine different tiers of customizable ships. There’s no deep, driving campaign here, as everything revolves around online multiplayer battles.
You sank my (INSERT SHIP HERE)! Wargaming.net was showing off some pre-alpha footage for World of Warships behind closed doors at E3, featuring two naval skirmishes. Players can choose from one of four different types of ships: Cruisers, Destroyers, Battleships, and Carriers. While the game hasn’t been completely balanced yet, it will follow a similar a vs. b vs. c mechanic from World of Tanks, and each ship has its own role to play.
Destroyers are fast, maneuverable, and can send torpedoes at targets, but are easy to sink. Cruisers can defend against Destroyers, but are bigger targets for Battleships, and Battleships are good at pounding remote targets and cruisers, but are also big targets themselves. Then of course, come the Carriers, and this is where World of Warships really gets interesting.
Ranged attacks. While the smaller ships have guns that you can control independently of the direction of your ship, giving you a pop-up scope that allows you to aim your main artillery (smaller systems are automatic) at a target and fire. This comes in handy when you’re behind the wheel of a Battleship, whose main cannons have a range of roughly 25 miles. You can send those shells at distant targets, or even blind-fire into unexplored areas in the hopes that you might hit an enemy target. Of course, there won’t be any to shout out “YOU SANK MY BATTLESHIP!,” but you’d still be rewarded with a satisfying explosion if you managed to connect. But to combat the fog of war and to give your fleet an advantage, the Carrier is where the action is.
Carrier warfare. Carriers have the ability to launch scout ships (as do Cruisers) to check ahead and find out if the enemy might be lurking ahead behind an atoll, or along a coastline. But Carriers also have the added ability of launching squadrons of fighters that you can control, albeit in a top-down commander fashion, and not behind the stick like in World of Warplanes. You can steer those planes where you want them to go, trying to flank the enemy or preying on vulnerable ships, while hoping they don’t get shot down. It’s a completely new mechanic, and combined with the fog of war it creates some real strategic moments in the gameplay. Of course, Carriers are also the biggest targets in the game. Remember that scene in Battlestar Galactica where the Galactica was getting completely decimated by three Basestars? That’s what you’ll experience when the enemy finds you, and there’s no Pegasus to come running to your rescue.
Dominate the sea. While the game is still in pre-alpha, it was extremely impressive that these naval battles moved so quickly. Battleships don’t exactly turn on a dime, but somehow each of these short battles felt intense and powerful. Each ship offers up widely different gameplay, and even though the Carrier experience is extremely different and appealing, you’re going to want to hop into a Destroyer every now and then to scoot around and launch death at ships on the horizon.
The ships are beautifully rendered throughout the game, based on the actual blueprints from this behemoths of naval warfare, and the attention to detail through is impressive.
Wargaming.net seems determined to make good on its promise to bring the entire “World of War” to bear on the video game industry, and they maintain that eventually Tanks, Warplanes, and Warships will be combined into a single, massive title that allows players to compete for world domination. But they have managed to craft three beautiful games that will indulge your WWII sensibilities on the battlefield, and we’re hoping that doesn’t mean they are rushing through these to deliver that experience – there’s a lot of War left the wage, and two of these titles aren’t even out yet. The game isn’t due until sometime in 2014, but we’re already hoping that there will be an open beta sometime soon