World of Tanks is a freemium model vehicular player-versus-player MMO that has carved out a unique foothold since 2010. Set in the mid-20th century, it's a WWII military fan delight that's easy to get started. Arcade style controls and a tutorial that isn't overly onerous makes it approachable. It boasts a healthy worldwide community, maintains e-sport classification, and has no shortage of servers or game modes. Don't worry about this one going away any time soon. Ghost town servers you won't find. This gives you plenty of game hours to decide whether you want to invest your hard-earned cash and precious time for the full range of content.
War Games to the max
Some wargames mimic math problems. World of Tanks, however, plays like an arcade style move-point-shoot.
All you need to get started for the PC version of the game is an email address, or Google or Facebook account. Once downloaded using the launcher, World of Tanks opens up to a simple tutorial layout where you learn the basics: how to maneuver, fire your main weapon, and pinpoint weak spots in the enemy tanks' armor. Some wargames mimic math problems. World of Tanks, however, plays like an arcade style move-point-shoot.
The gameplay centers around control of your tank on a map with a certain objective. Players are split up into two teams, typically tasked with shelling one another into oblivion and/or capturing the opposing base within the allotted time. The Standard Battle lasts 15 minutes. Other game modes modify the objective but the concept remains the same. Outsmart, outmanoeuvre, outlast the bad guys... and of course, hit your shots. Reload times are a thing and accuracy counts.
Play in third or first person - although first person makes for a more immersed experience - and drive your tank using W, A, S, D, while aiming the turret with the mouse. Each map has a unique layout that hearkens to mid-century war scenes of ruined European cities, jagged alpine passes, arid African dunes, or white Arctic permafrost. The maps are filled with different types of covers and elevations to make sure your placement decisions affect the outcome. Tank types play a role too. Light, Medium, Heavy, Tank Destroyers, and Artillery are the five classes. Good teams play according to the strengths and weaknesses of each type. The great teams go further and account for the map in their optimal mix.
Be warned, you twitchy FPS veterans, the World of Tanks crosshairs can only go as fast as your virtual turret can spin. Don't expect to execute a lightning fast 180 no-scope on a Panzer that's flanking you. By the time it takes you to drag those treads to a safe position or crank that turret around, you might just be dead. And that's part of the game. It's a more deliberate pace. Many times, simply hitting your opponent won’t do a thing. Certain tanks have armor plating that must be overcome by a precision shot. They aren’t instantaneous either. The shells take time to reach the target and like the Quake Rocket Arena of old, the best snipers know how to lead the target.
The pace and setting have much to do with the community. Any game steeped in WWII military hardware fandom that doesn't reward twitch reflexes will attract an older, male crowd. What this leads to is a fanbase that might be intimidating to newcomers, especially those unwilling to spend money that give the older (and more moneyed players) a clear advantage. Spending money on the game offers you better tanks, upgrades, and consumables. 'Pay to Win' is a common criticism thrown at the game. There are hundreds of ways to spend cash on upgrading your tanks. Another criticism is the learning curve. Unfortunately, a steep learning curve is only natural for a 9-year-old game where competitors have had that much time to master it.
Where can you run this program?
World of Tanks can be played on Windows, MacOS, PlayStation 4, and Xbox 360/One. If you're interested in playing it on PC, you should be in luck. Since the game was launched in 2010, its system requirements don't ask for much modernity. Any PC built in the last 5 years should run it well enough, with a recommended specs of I5-3330 CPU, 4 GB of RAM, and GeForce GTX660 video card.
Is there a better alternative?
The game exists at a crossroads of MMO, vehicular PVP, and WWII genres. Based on it being free to play, there's little risk to trying it (see two sections below). It's worth noting some other games in the space. Its sister titles under the Wargaming umbrella include World of Warships and World of Warplanes. Naval and Air battles, respectively. Other developers' titles to check out include War Thunder, which offers a heavier dose of realism to vehicular combat, while Fractured Space and Dreadnought scratch a sci-fi itch.
It’s a lot of fun and relatively polished for a free-to-play shooter. Having an interest in WWII goes a long way, too. As mentioned earlier, WWII games usually have a niche community, which can be a double-edged sword. Ultimately, take World of Tanks at your own pace and complexity. It can appeal to casual players that occasionally want to pilot their favorite steel beast from the Battle of the Bulge, blasting about for fifteen minutes in a random match before dinner. And, it can satisfy hardcore gamers willing to find the skill ceiling on the international ladder boards and tournaments.
Should you download it?
It's free to play so it's a low-risk choice. If you like WWII tanks, PVP, tactics, explosions, and have a hankering for an MMO with a high skill ceiling, then check it out. However, these sorts of games tend to be the golf of the gaming world - they become the most fun once you've reached a certain level and can experience the full content. You'll have to decide whether the basic gameplay hooks you enough to spend some coin.