For the past two years, naval shooter World of Warships has held a special Halloween event in which the game's early 20th-century setting is traded for an alternative steampunk universe. This year the Halloween game mode will feature an exciting new class of warships: submarines. Starting November 1, everyone will be able to test their underwater skills against the evil Halloween fleet and try to defeat end boss Rasputin once and for all. So far submarines have been a class that's been absent from World of Warships, so will these silent killers from the deep make it into the full game?
As Marek Tučan, associate publishing producer at Wargaming, explained to us, that will depend on player feedback from the Halloween event. World of Warships currently has four classes that have been balanced toward each other: destroyers, cruisers, battleships and carriers. The addition of submarines must not upset the balance of the game too much, despite the fact that the community has requested their inclusion from the early days of the game. That's why the developers have decided that submarines will be very vulnerable, their torpedoes can only be fired one at a time from a reloading canister, and (in accordance with reality) they will run out of oxygen and need to surface after being submerged for a limited amount of time.
During our preview session for the Halloween event, we found the sub's controls to be identical to that of the other ships in the game, with the addition of depth levels which you control with the F and C keys (to go up and down respectively). Submarines are basically blind in the water unless they go up to periscope depth or fully surface - the top two depth levels. First-off we picked the Barracuda which has both torpedoes and two gun turrets (classified as secondary armaments) on top. The controls for the submarines work very well and we cannot imagine WoWS players having any difficulty controlling them. The Barracuda allowed us to attack stealthily with its forward-firing torpedoes, as well as surfacing to use the secondary deck guns. While on the surface though, we noticed that any incoming shells will hurt badly so this is only viable if your enemy is preoccupied elsewhere.
Next off, we tried the Gerfalcon which has freezing torpedoes in the front and damaging torpedoes firing from the back of the sub. This was a more nimble submarine that required a completely different playstyle from the Barracuda; fire a freezing torpedo from the front, dive under the enemy ship and surface again to fire torpedoes from your aft-side. It's this kind of fast submarine that can seriously impact the game's current playstyle as it allows you to dive in and out while remaining mostly undetected. In any case, the subs seem to work well and are enjoyable to play. However, we didn't feel very vulnerable when submerged, because the depth charges dropped by the enemy ships don't come very close; as long as you steer clear of the aft of enemy ships they can't really target, let alone hurt you.
It's therefore unclear how depth charges will work effectively as a counter to submarines for other classes, if submarines are added to the full game. If player feedback is positive, Marek Tučan told us they might add submarines to World of Warships "sometime in 2019". If included, submarines will be built around three pillars: the anticipation while stalking other players and the tension due to their fragility, the necessity to surface regularly, and the satisfaction from scoring a kill after careful planning. Tučan told us that "Wargaming is already studying historical accounts from both sides" of the war regarding submarine warfare. He couldn't tell us anything about which nations would receive submarines first, but the Halloween subs are already inspired by historical subs. For example, the Barracuda, with its secondary guns, was inspired by the British M-Class with its 305mm forward-facing gun turret and the French Surcouf submarine cruiser with its 203mm rotating guns. These two ships alone illustrate that there's a lot of interesting submarines to add from different nations.
Concluding, the Halloween submarines are a fun addition to this year's event. The developers will first be introducing a rework of the Aircraft Carriers in the game which will replace the top-down view with a third-person one from behind the aircraft. Submarines would only be worked on at some point in 2019. In our view, they would definitely be a fitting addition to the full game, as long as the depth charges are worked out properly as a counter for the other classes. For those who can't wait, we suggest watching the cinematic classic Das Boot one more time.