Up until now, MMO shooter World of Tanks took its title quite literally. All armoured fighting vehicles in the game were on tracks, as any 'real' tank should be. Over the past few years Wargaming has added large numbers of new tanks to the in-game roster, to the point that you're now often facing 'Project XYZ' and other prototypes during a match. Recently, it seems Wargaming has decided to add more gameplay variety to their games, having also completely reworked aircraft carriers for their World of Warships game. For World of Tanks, a whole new vehicle class has been added with the latest 1.4 patch: wheeled vehicles.
The new wheeled vehicles start off in the French tech tree. Starting at tier VI and continuing up to tier X, the vehicles are modelled in great detail. With all the added camouflage and paint effects, the new vehicles look very realistic. Our own favourites are the tier VI Panhard AMD 178B with its classic World War II look, and the tier X Panhard EBR 90 with its long gun. Their main focal point is their unparalleled speed. The game already featured some very fast light tanks, but the wheeled vehicles take this to a new level at the expense of protection and viewing range. The higher tier vehicles also feature a speed mode that can be toggled to boost acceleration and top speed at the expense of a larger turning radius. To help players use the high speeds, the wheeled vehicles feature a unique auto-aim that's activated when right-clicking close to an enemy, combined with increased firing accuracy on the move.
During our gameplay session, Cezary Biernat (eSports Manager) and Steven Favret (PR Manager at Wargaming) explained that the wheeled vehicles are "designed for active spotting" and "best suited for hit-and-run tactics. [You] spot wounded enemies, finish them off and disappear again to the safety of your own line." Generally speaking, "the main benefit is speed, while the main disadvantages are your fragility and the fact that you bump into buildings all the time. But it works if you do manage to break an entrenched enemy line; it's glorious what you can do."
Our own experience is that they're indeed a lot of fun to play on open maps such as Malinovka, where the wheeled vehicles' path is unobstructed and they can use their full speed. Driving around at 80 kilometres an hour is too fast for most heavy tanks or tank destroyers to successfully take aim at you, let alone score a hit. It's possible to just circle around them and hit them from all sides. When we asked whether it's not going to cause frustration for existing tanks to aim and hit such fast-moving vehicles, Cezary Biernat replied "that's the point of it [...] if you think about the rock-paper-scissors, it's not the slow heavy tanks that should be dealing with them. It's up to the light and medium tanks to shield the slow lumbering heavies that cannot take aim at them so quickly."
France was picked as a starting point because it's a nation historically known for various successful wheeled armoured fighting vehicles. In reply to our question about whether wheeled vehicles will be added with every (other) update from now on, Steven Favret replied: "Definitely no, [but] you can expect for sure more wheeled vehicles in the future, but we have no specific plans about implementing new wheeled tanks. We'll focus on seeing if it works first."
There are also no plans yet for "which nations it will be and at which tiers". For now, they're a fun experience that adds to the existing playstyles in the game, and we think that additions like this one will help keep World of Tanks interesting for players after ten years of existence.