Wargaming Kicks Tank Porn Up a Notch for World of Tanks on Xbox One

Wargaming Kicks Tank Porn Up a Notch for World of Tanks on Xbox One

Disclosure: Wargaming made this article possible by providing airfare and hotel stay to the writer.

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We went hands on with the Xbox One version of World of Tanks and discovered a surprisingly lovely experience.

Later this year World of Tanks comes to Xbox One, bringing console gaming's most successful free-to-play game to the newest generation. That's not an overstatement, either. With something like four million unique players, 60 million hours logged, and an average play session of four hours, Tanks is unmatched in the free-to-play console space. More than a simple transition or port, Tanks on Xbox One will be a bridge: The first game to have cross-compatible play between console generations. That's enabled by changing nothing but graphics and continuing to support both versions for the foreseeable future, as well as working alongside Microsoft for continual support and fast patching. The team at Wargaming Chicago-Baltimore has been working hard, but not crunching, to get the game done on time and in players' hands. I had the privilege to go speak with the team in their home lair of Chicago, getting a look at what development on the title is like on a day-to-day basis and taking about five hours of hands-on time with the working development build of Tanks on X1. What I found was a team that loves their game, their fans, and wants people to love what they love.

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The game has only a few minor tweaks between versions - though again, the mechanics are completely identical to enable cross-platform play. Of course, this is still the slightly tweaked and sped-up version of the popular PC game. As multiple developers at Wargaming told me, the foreign offices rely on the Americans' console development expertise to make the game work, letting them tweak what they need to. The X1 version does bring a few new features, though. Practice mode will enable any tank for use, new graphics and models bring depth to the world, a bigger and lovelier garage showcases the new models, and a new team training mode with zero restrictions on what players bring to the fight enables dream-team matchups between tank generations. In action, this means that despite the graphical changes between versions Wargaming has done their best to be sure that no console has advantage in a fight. "We will be supporting the 360 version into the future," said Wargaming Chicago-Baltimore general manager Mike McDonald, implying that as long as players were there then there'd be support for that version. "This is a long term investment that we have with these players and this community." I could tell it was important to the team at Chicago-Baltimore to engage their fans, as multiple team members brought up unprompted something they'd added that fans requested, or the idea that they want to add fan suggestions in every single patch. Much of that attitude in practice seemed to be focusing on social features for the console versions: Twitch support, team training to support tournaments, and having the free to play experience be very engaging before they ask a player to spend money.

That doesn't mean nothing changes between versions, though. Just like there have been minor tweaks to the 360 version of Tanks in the past year, from gameplay to graphics updates, there's more to come with the X1 version. Playing the X1 version felt like a whole different game, though. Even watching it run alongside the 360 model, even swapping between the two mid-game, it was clear that though they're the same something about updated visuals brings a whole new level of reality, of visceral feedback, to piloting a hulking metal monster. Not everything was perfect, though: The unfinished version I was playing did have the occasional stutter, and not nearly everything was ported over yet. If you've got a problem with Tanks already, or don't like its playstyle, well, this isn't going to do anything to win you over unless you're a visuals nut. Because though it's compatible, though it's nearly identical, it's better because the Xbox One version brings something new to the table. You know what I'm talking about: A whole new level of Tank Porn.

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Upgrading the game to a next generation console was a matter of surprises for the team at Wargaming Chicago-Baltimore. "We knew how to develop a 360 game last time around, but we hadn't done Xbox One before. We had to re-tackle all the old problems in a whole new way," said TJ Wagner, Wargaming's head honcho on console Tanks. On the other hand, once they put it together, much of the game "just worked." After all, it wasn't like they had to re-develop the game mechanics. But when they started looking at art, well, that was going to take longer. "About five times longer," said Wagner. "We went from something like 20 to 100 hours a tank - which was sort of unexpected." That was going to take a lot of time, so they started getting to work on what they could do without the tank artists. Adding things like volumetric smoke, fully three dimensional trees and bushes, HDR lighting, a fully 3D skybox and terrain vistas, and dynamic weather and clouds were small touches that serve to make the whole game more lovely. Wagner in particular spearheaded getting some of this into the game: "We looked at pictures from the gulf war of oil wells on fire, and we thought, let's do that." The result is gorgeous, with smoke building over time from burning tank hulks the longer they sit on the field.

Upgrading graphics and environments was definitely on the list, and many maps went through several iterations. Just rolling through Abbey, perhaps the best known of Tanks maps, the newly more destructible buildings and the fully modeled trees were a gorgeous improvement. Little touches too, like flowers and butterflies flitting about, made me want more to take a tour of the map and less fight other tanks.

Sound design got a complete overhaul, I learned, sitting in the one-man sound studio of designer Brendan M. Lewett. "The alert sounds are the same... and that's it," he said. "We went out and recorded a bunch of field sounds of the precise tanks we're modelling, thanks to this guy who literally runs a website called driveatank.com." I asked him how challenging that was, how getting a rumbling multi-ton vehicle's individual noises to sample right was difficult or not. "It's a challenge," he said, "we put foleys on individual parts, we pointed shotgun mics right at specific pieces to grab the sound of a tread creaking or turret traversing." They'll also be doing all new explosion noises as well, setting off some tannerite explosives and recording the sounds every hundred meters out to about a kilometer so that players can hear far-off explosions as realistically as possible. All of those parts formed a sort of "bucket" of sounds, Lewett said, that can be used to construct sounds even for tanks that there's not a working model of anymore. Working with Wargaming's historical experts, Lewett intensifies or tweaks the sounds to be more authentic. "I just wish I could get the sound of precisely what a tank sounds like blowing up, or when it's impacted," said Lewitt, "but there's some things you can't do with priceless historical relics." Either way, he'll be taking a trip to Texas before release to fire some actual tank guns at decommissioned hulks for nearly what he wants. "All in the name of realism, of course," he said, grinning.

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Finally, the game's models are receiving the biggest upgrade for the Xbox One. Andy Dorizas, Wargaming Chicago-Baltimore's senior artist, shares my passion for tank porn. He told me about the new models and took me on a tour of what they look like: 2k textures on top of 80k polygons per tank - but they're designed at 19 million polys per tank and scaled down. "I'm not tired of looking at tanks," said Dorizas, "because this time we had no real limits. We could design as much as we wanted." Much of what had to be texture in the 360 version is now individually modeled. Shovels, buckets, fuel tanks, and other things strapped to the tanks' sides aren't texture anymore, rattling around and clattering as you drive. Even individual nuts and bolts are now their own model. The fully articulated treads deform, rising and falling as you drive over small rocks and bumps. Textures have been overhauled, adding the tiniest details like where a driver's boots would've swept away the dust on a tank's surface as he got in, or where repeated use on the older tanks would've worn down the paint over time. As Dorizas put it, "We can make these tanks feel like they've really been moving through the environment you see in the game."

And that bears out in play. The tanks are more realistic looking than ever, the graphics add richness to the gameplay, and it's more pleasing than ever. Those who're interested in seeing the blooms of smoke and clash of metal can look forward to World of Tanks on Xbox One in the third quarter of this year.

Permalink

Now console players can be ripped off by that grind-fest

Nurb:
Now console players can be ripped off by that grind-fest

That's the definition of F2P, it just matters if the overall experience is fun or not. I'm a huge WW2 geek, but I can't figure out if I want to get involved with WoT or not. I was completely anti-F2P when it came out, but I play Hearthstone now, so F2P can be fun if it's done right.

If its anything like 360 version its going to be small battles with awful controls and overall far worse experience than the PC version. I guess we will ahve to wait and see

Nurb:
Now console players can be ripped off by that grind-fest

They could before. The game was released for Xbox 360 couple years ago. Stated reason for why no PS3 release was: "Sony didnt allow us to do what we wanted with the game".

deathmothon:

That's the definition of F2P, it just matters if the overall experience is fun or not. I'm a huge WW2 geek, but I can't figure out if I want to get involved with WoT or not. I was completely anti-F2P when it came out, but I play Hearthstone now, so F2P can be fun if it's done right.

I think you are underestimating how much of a grindefest WoT is. The game is very much grind heavy and pay to win even if in theory you can get anything for ingame credits. good luck shooting golden bullets that ignore armor with silver, though. Oh and if you dont want to have miserable experience in high tier battles premium is pretty much a must. Unless your one of those 0.1% unicums that are going to win no matter what.

Strazdas:

I think you are underestimating how much of a grindefest WoT is. The game is very much grind heavy and pay to win even if in theory you can get anything for ingame credits. good luck shooting golden bullets that ignore armor with silver, though. Oh and if you dont want to have miserable experience in high tier battles premium is pretty much a must. Unless your one of those 0.1% unicums that are going to win no matter what.

Eh, it's only a grindfest if you make it one, since contrary to popular belief among the newbies, getting to tier 10 doesn't actually change anything other than your ability to participate in clan wars and gaining the ability to play a specific tank if you so desire. And if you're participating in clan wars, you're one of those good players, because otherwise you might as well be trying to destroy their tanks with a claw hammer.

Now, I'm not saying it's a perfect game, it has plenty of flaws, but it's definitely not the worst F2P model out there. I mean, personally, I tend to spend most of my time in TV-VII, where there's a wide variety of tanks and fewer of which feel gimped.

deathmothon:

Nurb:
Now console players can be ripped off by that grind-fest

That's the definition of F2P, it just matters if the overall experience is fun or not. I'm a huge WW2 geek, but I can't figure out if I want to get involved with WoT or not. I was completely anti-F2P when it came out, but I play Hearthstone now, so F2P can be fun if it's done right.

Have you played War Thunder? I'm also a WW2 geek and I think that as a game War Thunder does a significantly better job, and there is no "Golden Ammunition" to ruin the balance in the favour of paying players.

Strazdas:

I think you are underestimating how much of a grindefest WoT is. The game is very much grind heavy and pay to win even if in theory you can get anything for ingame credits. good luck shooting golden bullets that ignore armor with silver, though. Oh and if you dont want to have miserable experience in high tier battles premium is pretty much a must. Unless your one of those 0.1% unicums that are going to win no matter what.

The most important thing I learned in my thousands of battles in WoT before I dropped it - battle levels above VII (VIII if you happen to own what's imba there at there moment) exist only to force people into buying premium farm and golden tanks. And maybe to visit them one or twice in a week when you get tired of playing levels IV-VI, aka "the only ones you should actually play, preferably when you got lucky and saw ahead of the coming balance clusterfuck".

LittleMikey:

Have you played War Thunder? I'm also a WW2 geek and I think that as a game War Thunder does a significantly better job, and there is no "Golden Ammunition" to ruin the balance in the favour of paying players.

War Thunder also does a significantly worse job at balancing (yes. Balancing worse than Wargaming. It's possible) even without the golden ammo. Also they really know how to fuck up matchmaking, server stability and gameplay variety.

Oh, and it's even more (A FUCKING LOT MORE) of a grindfest on it's higher levels. Wargaming and SerB personally may be a bunch of... mercantile people, but I will never forgive Gaijins for all those hours of my life burned in attempts to grind me a Yer-2. Fucking whores.

At this moment, if one wants cool air combat he should try Aces High II or IL 2 Shturmovik: Battle of Stalingrad. And if one wants cool tank combat - welp, he can go fuck himself.

JaceArveduin:

Strazdas:

I think you are underestimating how much of a grindefest WoT is. The game is very much grind heavy and pay to win even if in theory you can get anything for ingame credits. good luck shooting golden bullets that ignore armor with silver, though. Oh and if you dont want to have miserable experience in high tier battles premium is pretty much a must. Unless your one of those 0.1% unicums that are going to win no matter what.

Eh, it's only a grindfest if you make it one, since contrary to popular belief among the newbies, getting to tier 10 doesn't actually change anything other than your ability to participate in clan wars and gaining the ability to play a specific tank if you so desire. And if you're participating in clan wars, you're one of those good players, because otherwise you might as well be trying to destroy their tanks with a claw hammer.

Now, I'm not saying it's a perfect game, it has plenty of flaws, but it's definitely not the worst F2P model out there. I mean, personally, I tend to spend most of my time in TV-VII, where there's a wide variety of tanks and fewer of which feel gimped.

I spend most of my time in tiers 5-8 as well, but it definatelly can get grindy even then. And youd be amazed how many bad clans play in clan wars, especially now that there is abundance of land. Though a lot of tournaments/competitions are now also available for lower tiers too, which is nice.

The gold ammo problem still very much exists even in lower tiers though.

LittleMikey:

Have you played War Thunder? I'm also a WW2 geek and I think that as a game War Thunder does a significantly better job, and there is no "Golden Ammunition" to ruin the balance in the favour of paying players.

There is no need for golden amunition. "historical specifications" ruin the balance well enough on their own. When you look at spec sheets some tanks are going to be way overpowered, even though in reality it was mostly a case of expensive, hard to repair and significantly outnumbered that is completely ignored in war thunder.

Marxie:

War Thunder also does a significantly worse job at balancing (yes. Balancing worse than Wargaming. It's possible) even without the golden ammo. Also they really know how to fuck up matchmaking, server stability and gameplay variety.

Wargaming had their share of problems. its just that they had years to learn from them, something Gaijin doesnt have, resulting in far inferior service.

Nurb:
Now console players can be ripped off by that grind-fest

Ripped off? WoT is one of my most-played 360 games of the last two years and I think I've paid a grand total of about £5 for the privilege - and that was for some purely cosmetic decals and an extra garage slot or two, so certainly not "pay to win".

As for grind-fest - yes, yes it is. At around Tier 6 the levelling progression goes vertical. But hey, some people like grinding, and regardless, most of my favourite tanks are either Tier II chucklewagons or Tier V-VI.

Strazdas:
The game is very much grind heavy and pay to win even if in theory you can get anything for ingame credits. good luck shooting golden bullets that ignore armor with silver, though. Oh and if you dont want to have miserable experience in high tier battles premium is pretty much a must. Unless your one of those 0.1% unicums that are going to win no matter what.

Most of my regular tanks have "premium" equipment and at least a couple of clips of special ammo, all bought with silver, and I get by just fine... and with over 3 million silver accumulating. I find my postgame silver only usually dips into the red if I've had to burn a Large Repair Kit to get me out of a sticky situation, but on average I come out ahead. Unless you play solely very high tiers, or regularly get wasted in the opening moments of the game, I don't understand how you'd ever really run out of ingame currency.

I suppose F2P games will always attract some people who want instant gratification (racing along a tech tree to unlock the best tanks straight away, for example) but just practising at the game and getting familiar with how tanks handle will beat a noob with flashy ammo every day of the week.

Looks beautiful, I would love to play it. Why don't I again? Oh yeah, because the devs made the stupid decision to go all-PvP, multiplayer only. No single player campaign.

Batou667:

Nurb:
Now console players can be ripped off by that grind-fest

Ripped off? WoT is one of my most-played 360 games of the last two years and I think I've paid a grand total of about £5 for the privilege - and that was for some purely cosmetic decals and an extra garage slot or two, so certainly not "pay to win".

As for grind-fest - yes, yes it is. At around Tier 6 the levelling progression goes vertical. But hey, some people like grinding, and regardless, most of my favourite tanks are either Tier II chucklewagons or Tier V-VI.

Strazdas:
The game is very much grind heavy and pay to win even if in theory you can get anything for ingame credits. good luck shooting golden bullets that ignore armor with silver, though. Oh and if you dont want to have miserable experience in high tier battles premium is pretty much a must. Unless your one of those 0.1% unicums that are going to win no matter what.

Most of my regular tanks have "premium" equipment and at least a couple of clips of special ammo, all bought with silver, and I get by just fine... and with over 3 million silver accumulating. I find my postgame silver only usually dips into the red if I've had to burn a Large Repair Kit to get me out of a sticky situation, but on average I come out ahead. Unless you play solely very high tiers, or regularly get wasted in the opening moments of the game, I don't understand how you'd ever really run out of ingame currency.

I suppose F2P games will always attract some people who want instant gratification (racing along a tech tree to unlock the best tanks straight away, for example) but just practising at the game and getting familiar with how tanks handle will beat a noob with flashy ammo every day of the week.

You are, by your own claim, playing tier 5-6 tanks. those tiers are considered the most profitable tiers in the game. no wonder you dont have trouble with silver. try playing tier 8-10 and see how that works out.

I wouldnt mind grinding so much if some tanks wouldnt be quite misserable. And its not hard to beat a noob with flashy ammo. Its when you kill half of the enemy team alone because the rest went lemming train to one side and still get negative silver because tank repair costs are enormous that it becomes an exercise in frustration.

Disclosure: Wargaming made this article possible by giving the writer their very own tank. Unethical perhaps, but totally fucking sweet!

I haven't played this in eons, so my beautiful King Tiger has been rusting away in the garage for God-Emperor knows how long. If only I could spare the money to upgrade her and avoid the grind....

Also: did they ever give crews their own national languages when speaking? I think the only way I could endure another 10,000,000 "We just dinged them!" quotes would be to hear it in anything other then English, so I could pretend it was something better.

I just want to say: Thank you guys so much for the disclosures.

Strazdas:
Its when you kill half of the enemy team alone because the rest went lemming train to one side and still get negative silver because tank repair costs are enormous that it becomes an exercise in frustration.

Second most important thing I learned in my thousands of battles in WoT before I dropped it - in a random battle, you don't have just 15 enemies. You actually have 29. That's the right mindset for this game :3

Marxie:

Strazdas:
Its when you kill half of the enemy team alone because the rest went lemming train to one side and still get negative silver because tank repair costs are enormous that it becomes an exercise in frustration.

Second most important thing I learned in my thousands of battles in WoT before I dropped it - in a random battle, you don't have just 15 enemies. You actually have 29. That's the right mindset for this game :3

Hah, thats true. Though usually there is at least 1 or 2 guys that try.

Strazdas:

You are, by your own claim, playing tier 5-6 tanks. those tiers are considered the most profitable tiers in the game. no wonder you dont have trouble with silver. try playing tier 8-10 and see how that works out.

I wouldnt mind grinding so much if some tanks wouldnt be quite misserable. And its not hard to beat a noob with flashy ammo. Its when you kill half of the enemy team alone because the rest went lemming train to one side and still get negative silver because tank repair costs are enormous that it becomes an exercise in frustration.

I used to play Tier VIII Heavy and Arty quite regularly, and actually ground Arty all the way up to Tier X (spoiler: underwhelming), and IIRC I only really lost big bucks if I got destroyed with no kills.

Heheh, brainless team mates are the bane of any MP game. Try to platoon up with a few friends maybe? I always play solo so I just resign myself to taking the rough with the smooth. Look on the bright side, if your team mates are drooling idiots, it means more XP for you...

Batou667:

Strazdas:

You are, by your own claim, playing tier 5-6 tanks. those tiers are considered the most profitable tiers in the game. no wonder you dont have trouble with silver. try playing tier 8-10 and see how that works out.

I wouldnt mind grinding so much if some tanks wouldnt be quite misserable. And its not hard to beat a noob with flashy ammo. Its when you kill half of the enemy team alone because the rest went lemming train to one side and still get negative silver because tank repair costs are enormous that it becomes an exercise in frustration.

I used to play Tier VIII Heavy and Arty quite regularly, and actually ground Arty all the way up to Tier X (spoiler: underwhelming), and IIRC I only really lost big bucks if I got destroyed with no kills.

Heheh, brainless team mates are the bane of any MP game. Try to platoon up with a few friends maybe? I always play solo so I just resign myself to taking the rough with the smooth. Look on the bright side, if your team mates are drooling idiots, it means more XP for you...

Did you play before arty nerf or after it? the gameplay is night and day between the two. Before it was awesome, now it makes me depressed. (they overnerfed and made it too much luck-based. Full aim on standing target, miss 4 times in a row, are you fucking kidding me. But of course chat is full of "Arty noob").

Did you play with premium? because it sounds like you did.

Yeah, i platoon with friends from time to time. when you got 3 good players its much more likely to actually work. still 3 vs 15 or in some cases vs 27, is hard. especially when you get thrown into battles vs 2 tier higher tanks that you cant penetrate at all if they position correctly (luckily most dont).

Actually it does not mean more XP to me. If we loose, we loose 50% of our XP to enemy team. If we win but perform poorly, we get less xp for team based performance (damage, spotting, etc). It would only mean more XP if otherwise the teammates would steal my kills, and this seems to happen only in those battles where it finishes before you can even arrive at enemy base, without stops. It sadly works both ways, there were times where i was the only one left 1 minute in. how the hell they managed to die so fast i cant comprehend.

 

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