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World of Tanks

World of Tanks and Wargaming in 2016

We find out more about Wargaming's plans for the coming year.

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Whenever you hear about Wargaming, you immediately think of World of Tanks. The company has been around for eighteen years, and their first title was called DBA Online. They went on to make a game called 'Massive Assault', a turn-based strategy game which spawned multiple sequels. In 2009 they developed Order of War which was saw them dabbling in the world of real-time strategy.

The fortunes of the studio changed somewhat when, in 2011, they released their biggest game, World of Tanks. It was an instant hit on PC, and since its launch it has been downloaded millions of times the world over. Since this initial success, which Wargaming has obviously been keen to build on, World of Tanks has made the jump to consoles, releasing first on Xbox 360, then on Xbox One, and now it has finally been rolled out on PlayStation 4. Since the release of World of Tanks on PC, Wargaming has also gone on to release World of Warplanes and World of Warships, giving them a presence on the ground, in the air, and on the seas.

So what is Wargaming doing now? Well, they're continuing to support World of Tanks, as well as Warplanes and Warships, bringing new content to the various versions of their World of trilogy. It's an evolutionary process, with new features, updates and game-changing features being layered in one after another, and despite the company's size, this constant iteration keeps them busy. However, there's more to the company than just three games.

Wargaming are a publisher now, not just a studio, and since last year they also have a mobile gaming division, called WG Cells, which is developing multiple titles: Loot & Legends, Fantastic Plastic Squad, and Smash Squad. Even more exciting for strategy fans, they're working on a reboot of Master of Orion, a space-based strategy offering that boasts a number of high profile voice actors, with big names such as Robert Englund, Michael Dorn, Mark Hamill, Nolan North and Troy Baker already on board. If you're eager to check it out, Master of Orion is already available on Steam via Early Access.

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However, at the end of the day, that's just background detail, and not what we're really here to talk about. Let's get talking about tanks, because we went out to visit Wargaming at the Tank Museum in Bovington, Dorset, and not only did we find out more about the company's plans for the coming year, but we also got to see a piece of history. You see 2016 actually marks the 100th anniversary of the tank. The first one ever made was a British tank called 'Little Willie' in 1916. It looks incredibly basic and barebones compared to tanks of today (for example, something like the 'Challenger 2'). Still, even to this day, the first tank is impressive to behold, and thinking back to its first introduction to the battlefield, it would've been a huge morale booster for soldiers on the ground. Tanks have evolved greatly over time, becoming huge machines built solely for war, and they have an increased and larger role in the military today, perhaps more so than they have ever had before.

As it's the centenary of the tank this year, Wargaming is doing big things with their own tanks over the coming months. In the near future, for example, World of Tanks will be getting a big update, when 9.14 finally hits. This particular update will be a biggie for WoT, as it will bring a number of additions and improvements such as refined physics, more HD models, and even improved audio via a new sound engine, Wwise. We saw but a glimpse of update 9.14 in action, but the tanks look noticeably better with more detail. The destruction physics have been improved too, and vehicular movement looks more realistic and fluid than ever before.

The studio are also releasing a new tank tree, based around the Czechoslovakian military. The new Czech tank tree will consist of only two classes, light and medium tanks. There will be three light tanks, the rest are of the medium persuasion. One of the medium tanks is a premium, the 'Skoda T 40'., although this will more than likely be expanded upon in future updates. A new nation with new tanks, on top of the planned technical improvements listed above means that Update 9.14 will be a significant one that regular players can look forward to.

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Moving forward, the PS4 version of World of Tanks released back on January 19, and it has already been downloaded more than two million times. It has proved more popular in Europe than anywhere else. It's success on PS4 is more impressive considering the fact that, unlike its counterpart on Xbox, the PS4 version has competition in the form of War Thunder. The 'British Invasion' also landed on PS4, allowing players to take control of the British vehicles. The update included a number of light, medium, heavy , tank destroyers and artillery - basically all the major bases have been covered.

The timing of the release of World of Tanks on PS4 couldn't have been better, what with it being the centenary of the tank. The 'British Invasion' update also added eight maps to the rotation. Out of those now on offer we particularly like 'Airfield', a map that not only looks very nice with a lot of detail and plenty of atmosphere, but it feels sufficiently different to most of the others we've played on. Purely subjective opinion on our part, but there it is.

With the PC and Xbox versions of the game off in the distance and miles ahead in terms of development and content, some people might be worried that they're going to get a lesser experience. While this new version mightn't be fully stocked just yet, PlayStation players needn't worry too much, because Wargaming has reassured us that PS4 content will catch up with the Xbox 360 and Xbox One versions of the game. If everything goes well they're planning on catching up by the end of the year.

With mobile games and strategy titles in the works, Tanks, Warplanes and Warships on PC, as well as console versions of their most popular free-to-play offering, it's going to be yet again another big year for Wargaming. There are numerous projects in development and horizons are expanding and broadening ever further. As a studio and a maker of games as well as a publisher, Wargaming has adapted and evolved, and they're making sure that its flagship title, World of Tanks, is doing the same.

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REVIEW. Written by Mike Holmes

"On the outside it might just look like big, metallic monsters brutishly blasting away at each other, but there's actually a refreshing amount of tactical depth here."

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