As a world of warships celebrates its third anniversary, the team in Saint Petersburg has planned enough for the coming weeks, months and probably years. Sticking to their quarterly updates, there is the arrival of the British Destroyers as a new category of ships to earn and use, new commanders to play with and the kind of long-running theme event that players will be familiar with, but there is also a number of really big changes are coming into play and how threats from above … and below that appear.
One of the thorns on the side of warships is the way in which aircraft carriers have worked since their introduction. Where other classes of ships are directly controlled by the player, with smaller ships rushing forward to explore the cruisers and destroyers behind them, using those islands for cover and concealment, and attempting to position themselves to take the tactical advantage aircraft carriers do not have to worry about that. Currently they can just sit at the back and send wave after wave of hunters and bombers in a map display to capture and catch enemy ships. Their only real counterpart is other aircraft carriers, to the point that having a good player on your side will not necessarily win the fight, but having a bad player can easily lose it for you.
Where Wargaming could have moved the grain wand and castrated the whole class of ships, they instead tried to rethink how aircraft carriers work, giving players more direct control and reducing their focus. Instead of arranging several squadrons at the same time from an overarching RTS-like view, you now have to take the direct control and you can only have one squadron aircraft in the air at the same time. The concept may not be as accurate, but it would have to work to remove the kind of meta game where aircraft carriers would land and bring them back into the same battle that others are dealing with.
Controlling the aircraft is difficult, with every type of aircraft behaving differently when they carry out an attack. There are three different types, with missiles that focus light on damage but are easy to lose and affect a wide area, torpedo bombers that you need to set up your shot and keep your time off for accurate shooting, and dive bombers that you need to think well in the future and have the highest risk. All the while, the anti-aircraft guns of the ship are coming down, putting the numbers of your squadron under pressure, which means that you only get one or two attacks before you have to send more planes over the map. You have to choose your goals wisely to avoid getting out too quickly.
While you are piloting your planes, your ship may be a seated duck and an enemy ship must pass through your allies, an aircraft carrier does not offer much in the field of defense or resistance. Fortunately, you can still move your courier by going to the map and setting a new course and direction. This can also be used to push aggressively forward and reduce the flight time of your aircraft, but again, it is a risk.
But although the threat from the air has been known to players for some time, what lies beneath them has remained unexplored. That changes in the haunted time of the year, with the Halloween event one of the times when warships really break loose and do experiments – that's what I say, but there are already American flag liveries and anime characters in the game for those who want them see. This year it is with the introduction of fictional submarines.
Their design is great, reminiscent of some of the more fantastic designs for the Nautilus in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, but the new gameplay they offer will dramatically change the balance of power in the main game if Wargaming is happy with the concept and pushes further.
Submarines can dive and hide under the surface, giving them a huge advantage in terms of stealth, but they will have to come up and up to release torpedoes. Of course, once submarines emerged in sea warfare, a number of counters also participated, from sonar scanning to depth charges. This can be a fascinating new frontier that makes the battle even more profound, but in the here and now it is a pleasure, accompanied by ghostly livery and monsters living under the sea.
Although it is now three years old, it is fascinating to see how World of Warships can still find important ways to keep evolving and growing, especially with World of Warships: Legends and a more direct spin on the game that will be delivered next year. .