Hands-on with ‘World of Tanks’ as it assaults the Xbox 360

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When it comes to free-to-play gaming, there are few titles that can claim to have done it as well as Wargaming.net’s World of Tanks. Millions of users have played it worldwide, but it is still just beginning to catch on in America. With the move to the Xbox 360, that could rapidly change.

Until recently, Wargaming claimed that it was happy with the PC market that it was dominating. Its CEO told us that there weren’t enough consoles to justify it. It appears that may have been a bit of misinformation leading up to the unveiling of the game at Microsoft’s E3 press conference.

Developed by Wargaming Chicago, the former Day 1 Studios, the game will retain it’s free-to-play status, and continue to find new ways to monetize itself. Expect plenty of microtransactions, big online games with 30 people playing at once, and an addictive new multiplayer for people as one of the biggest free-to-play games in the world heads to the Xbox 360. We went hands on with it at E3.

Story/Concept

enemy-base-capAn epic tale. The question of story in World of Tanks is a moot point. You have a bunch of tanks trying to blow each other up. What more do you need to know?

The format is the same as the PC. You download the client at no cost, and then you have a wide selection of tanks you can choose from. They are all from the World War II era, or thereabouts. The game prides itself on the realistic models, and each model has its pros and cons.

Upgrade away. As you play you earn points that you can spend on your upgrade tree. Choosing multiple tanks to upgrade is a smart move too. Once your tank is destroyed, you can save money and wait for the game to end, hopefully until your side wins and you earn a bonus (although you can leave the game and still receive the bonus, as the game will track you). Alternatively you can hop into another tank form your garage and rejoin.

Gameplay

29Dominate. The maps will allow 30 people to play in one game, split into two teams. The game is about dominating points. You can always destroy the other team as well, of course.

The controls are the big change between the PC and the console. The controller works well though, and it’s a natural fit. The right thumbstick controls the turret, while the left is movement. Simple and logical.

Wait for your shot. Your primary weapon is a single, rechargeable cannon. Your best bet is to mark your targets and team up on enemies. If you go solo, you can attack head on and hope to get through their armor before they get yours, swing around to the back and fire where the tanks are the weakest, or aim for the tracks to immobilize the enemies.

Maps aren’t that big, so the action is generally fast. The type of tank you choose will determine the type of play. Some are fast and weak, others are slow and powerful, and then there are the balanced. It just depends on the style you want.

Strategery. It really comes down to strategy. This is not a game for lone wolves, you need teamwork to really get the most out of it. You can try to go it alone, but not only is it difficult, it just isn’t as fun. Working as a unit makes for strategic options that are unique to the game.

Presentation

sniper-mode2No flash, but substance. The game looks good. It isn’t flashy, and it is limited in the scope, which is fine. The Xbox version isn’t quite as good as a good PC, but the difference isn’t all that noticeable, and it takes nothing away from it.

Takeaway

Bringing one of the premier free-to-play games in the world to the Xbox 360 is a big deal. It creates an avenue for the new financial model to show itself off for console fans. There is a reason World of Tanks has been played by over 60 million people. Odds are you’ll soon be able to add a few more to that number.

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