World of Tanks: Patch 8.0 Preview

Patch 8.0 promises to bring to World of Tanks one of the biggest gameplay changes since the Closed Beta fixed tank-teleportation: semi-realistic physics. Currently on the live servers, the game plays in the traditional video game sense, with invisible walls, impassible ridges, and rivers that served as boundaries. Upon on the launch of 8.0 players will be able to careen off edges, climb mountains, and drown themselves in every river.

This means that many of the maps that have been unchanged for the past three years will now be extremely different. Many maps like Sand River and Lakeville have had their hills or dunes smoothed over to better account for high-speed tanks. More debris have been added to the city maps like Ensk, Ruinberg, and Himmelsdorf to create more interaction between terrain and tanks.

With falling, damage is currently being applied based on four factors: Tank size, distance fallen, suspension, and angle of descent. It is possible to make huge jumps with tanks like the T62-A that have superior suspensions and only have your tracks broken or damaged instead of taking health loss by simply angling your jump for minimum distance fallen. On the flip side, the T-50-2 can barely take any fall without exploding.

Driving through water while submerged is similar to driving through Swamp terrain that you might encounter on Karelia or Swamp. However, after 10 seconds of being submerged, your tank will explode. It is possible to cross some of the more narrow rivers, and perhaps even the ones on Erlenberg, but costly if you fail.

With realistic falling and drowning, though, comes a degree of realistic driving. When you drive across rocks, trees, or even train tracks, instead of simply going over them you will be slowed down. When taking sharp turns it's even possible to send your tank drifting, and with practice can be done reliably to maintain speeds. Most tankers attempting this maneuver, however, will simply coast to a stop and be turned into swiss cheese.

New tanks: British invasion and Russian lowriders

The premium tank added for non-supertesters this patch is the ‘Black Prince’ Matilda, a variant of the Matilda with a more box-like turret. While I have discovered that it does not perform as well as the current Matilda, it does use a British medium crew. If you have an interest in going up the British lines when they are launched (expected sometime shortly after 8.0) buying one and starting to grind up skills on the crew would give a significant head start.

To follow up the latest trees, the second line of Russian tank destroyers has been added. Fans of the SU-152 from the beta and the T-54 in it’s current form will be able to appreciate the SU-122-54. It retains speed similar to the T-54 and a playstyle identical to the SU-152. I managed to play it in T10 battles and still felt like I could make a difference against most tanks. It may become the new E-75 for those seeking an enjoyable T9 grind.

The Tier 10 Destroyer, however, is based on the hull of the Object 261, an artillery piece. It’s frontal plate is thicker and it is very low to the ground with a high top speed. The gun reports one of the highest damage per minute (DPM) rates to date of about 3300. The greatest weakness is that it is an open-topped vehicle and is easily wrecked by artillery. It may find a spot in the hearts of die-hard Russian tank fans, but it is unlikely that it's the next T110E5.

Cosmetics: Finally giving bonuses and taking all your gold

Players who now spend either credits or gold on formerly-meaningless camouflage for their tanks are now rewarded with a 5% bonus to the statistic if they have the proper paint equipped. Instead of giving “adaptive camo” to tanks, you can buy a skin for each map archetype. The skin will change automatically to match the map you are on, which unfortunately heralds the death of leopard-print Maus’ on Arctic Region.

Players can now also purchase pre-made signs and emblems to put on the sides of their turrets, one on each side. Nationalistic phrases can be found for each countries tanks, along with flags of most countries in the world for players to impart some of their own national pride with. While meaning little for gameplay, having “Captain America” emblazoned on the sides of your tank with an eagle and American flag will do wonders to enrage the more politically sensitive players.

New Look Tanks: Bloom, bloom, and more bloom

To say that the new graphics, sound and engine are a step up is an understatement. While Wargaming might design poor maps, they made sure that they are goddamn beautiful to look at. There is now bloom everywhere you could care to look, dust and smoke clouds that do not murder frame rates, and surprisingly detailed environments for a free-to-play game. Overall, the experience is much smoother with higher frame rates and performance across the board. Players will see maps in a completely different view, as all maps now have new lightboxes. To match these graphics, the developers have used their historians and field experts to create sounds that would be similar to ones you might hear while driving an actual tank. While not exact, they did a very good job of getting it close. And no, the default tank crew voice pack is still awful.


Balance: Tricking you into shooting more gold

For lack of a better term, shots now "bounce" more. With normalization of all APCR (usually gold) and standard AP rounds, those who do not aim carefully will receive less lucky penetrations and find shots bouncing off armor where previously they would have been guaranteed hits. This means Wargaming has increased tank survivability, while adding new tanks that use bigger, more expensive gold shells. Very clever, Wargaming. Tanks with meaningless armor like the 50B now are able to bounce rounds off their strange looking turrets which makes them slightly more effective than they used to be.

A full list has not yet been made available, but so far these are the changes that have been noticed:

- IS-6 is receiving a boost to engine power: Much needed for a very mediocre premium tank

- T110E4 turret armor nerfed heavily: Removed viability as a front line tank in Clan Wars, still playable in a more conservative manner.

- Pz4 loses it’s top gun: A needed change to bring it more in line with tanks of its tier. The gun, however, has been buffed up to match its new tiers.

- Many slight gun angle increases on most tanks to account for physics.

- E-100 made usable: The gun now has the same accuracy of the IS-7, and its HP has been brought up to 2700. Now potentially a useful tank for newer clans, despite its weak lower plate.

- T-54: Another lower-end gun has been added, which is reported to be similar to the Type 59. The cost of researching has been reduced as well, which brings a much needed breath of fresh air to the unfortunates stuck grinding the current T-44.

- AMX-50B gains 100 hp: Yup. Severely underwhelming. So much more is needed to make this tank desirable over a Batchat.

- Batchat 155 receives “mobility nerf”: Can’t say unexpected, artillery isn’t supposed to be able to outrace most mediums

Overall, the 8.0 patch is set up to be a great success. None of the beta testers have reported their operating systems being deleted by the new engines and the ability to exclude Encounter and Assault maps from the random rotation will be seen as a great gift. Without the constant frustration of Assault Malinovka and Sand River my own blood pressure is guaranteed to drop points. None of the tanks added threaten to guarantee wins like the T110E5 of old and some of the older vehicles long mothballed are getting some much needed love.

The question that remains will be if Wargaming can pick up their map creation and continue bringing proper balance to vehicles. Basing balancing decisions off of statistics gathered from all games may give the best sample size, but it leads to perceived “overperforming” of tanks that are designed to go toe-to-toe with each other and in their own right, dominate the land they drive compared to lower tier tanks. Hopefully what they can do to other T10 tanks will be taken into consideration as well.