World of Tanks' second round of Beta testing is underway this weekend, and runs until Sunday 10th. Is it worth checking out? If you're interested in playing a different kind of multiplayer shooter, I think so.
The game first appeared on PC in 2010, and this year was ported to Xbox One. I've invested quite a lot of time in both versions, but most recently have been playing the Xbox One iteration, which I reviewed in August of last year and liked a lot.
It's basically a strategic shooter that pits two teams of 15 against one another. The objective is to either completely wipe out the opposition, or capture their flag by parking next to it long enough to gain control of it. What makes World of Tanks' action intriguing is that it's not like an arcade game where you go in guns blazing – do that and you're likely to get wasted in short order. Instead, it's more a game of sniping and cover, where you need to think like a real tank commander, play conservatively, and pick your targets carefully. Since most tanks can only shoot one round every few seconds, you need to make every shell count, and use cover as much as possible to avoid getting nailed by the opposition.
There are five different kinds of tanks to drive, and each has its own strengths and weaknesses. Heavy tanks are slow, but can absorb a lot of fire, while medium and light tanks are far more mobile, but generally have weaker armor. Tank destroyers have a good balance of armor and offensive capabilities, and artillery have devastating firepower, but almost no armor to speak of. Each has its own role to play on the battlefield, such as moving to forward positions to spot the enemy (light tanks), flanking and support (medium tanks), main attack (tank destroyers and heavy tanks), and long-range support (artillery). It all adds up to tactically interesting gameplay that can be quite tense and exciting, despite the generally slow cadence of the action.
As you play battles, you garner experience that can be used to upgrade your existing tanks with new parts, such as better engines and guns, or indeed buy new and more powerful vehicles. There's a huge array to choose from, including American, German, French, Russian, Chinese, British, and Japanese tanks – most of which are from the World War II period.
A good reason to play this weekend is that anyone who logs in will receive an M22 Locust Light Tank with special PlayStation camouflage, and a T1E6-PS with an elite paint scheme for use with their account when World of Tanks goes live. Any progress you make will also carry over to the release – which is another nice bonus.
The only potential drawback to downloading the World of Tanks Beta is its rather chunky 28 Gb size. However, you don't need to download the entire game before you can start playing: Fortunately beginner levels load first, and you can get stuck in while the rest of the game completes in the background.
If World of Tanks Beta sounds like an interesting prospect, you can find out all the details here. I hope to see you in-game!