World of Tanks 8.2 Preview

What's new in 8.2?

Following on from the introduction of British tanks in 8.1, patch 8.2 features a brand new Chinese tank tree, featuring 17 tanks. Five new American tanks will also be introduced in this patch, all of which are quite interesting; they are all prototypes and some of them feature auto-loaders and oscillating turrets. 
Additionally, there will be three new Premium tanks, a British tier VI heavy, a British tier VII tank destroyer and a French tier VII heavy.
Other additions and changes include:
  • Performance optimisations with trees and water.
  • Some much needed and player requested UI changes with the tech trees.
  • Fallen trees will now feature in the camouflage and visibility mechanics.
  • A module repair speed indicator.
  • Bug fixes relating to shells disappearing after hitting spaced armour.
  • More map optimisations for four maps: Prokhorovka, Redshire, Erlenberg and Ruinberg.

Are these Chinese vehicles or just imports with Chinese livery? 

With a quick look at the Tech Tree, we can see that it's some of both.
Prior to the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949, the Chinese bought (and occasionally captured) tanks from several countries. This is reflected in the eclectic mix of tanks that makes up the lower tiers of the Chinese tree. Familiar names include the American M5 and Soviet T-34. The tree is also graced by the game's first Japanese tank, the Type 97 Chi-Ha.
After the civil war, Communist China was initially supplied with imported Soviet tanks, reflected by vehicles such as the Type 58 (a renamed T-34-85) and the IS-2. Later models were built in China and frequently redesigned, leading to the slightly dubious claims of being original Chinese designs. The existing premium Type 62, for example, is an adaptation of the Type 59, which is itself merely a Chinese produced T-54. Another such example is the WZ 111, which started life as the IS-8 on Soviet drawing boards.  On the other hand, the tier VII and VIII T-34-1 and T-34-2 are both based on the T-34-85, but have been modified so extensively as to qualify as legitimately original designs.

What's the verdict? 

If you like existing Soviet tanks or the existing Chinese premiums, you should feel at home in the higher tier offerings of the Chinese line. Unsurprisingly, both the mediums and heavies handle much like existing Soviet tanks. Meanwhile, while the lower tiers will feel like bland repeats, Tier III features the Type 97 CHI-HA, the game's first Japanese tank and a unique offering in its own right. At such a low tier it could be worth picking up simply for novelty's sake.
To take a cynical view on things, this tree does smell of a marketing drive. China is likely to become one of the largest markets in the world of free to play micro-transaction games, if it is not already. While there are more interesting tanks from other countries that had more historical significance (such as the unfinished British tree), I expect the Chinese market would be more excited about driving an actual Chinese tank, regardless of it's actual origin.
In any case, here is a nice video from Wargaming to get you in the mood for Chinese tanks.

Americans with autoloaders? 

There are some unusual additions to the US tank tree coming. Some of them are strangely Gallic in design. They are the Т21 and T71 light tanks, the T69 and Т54 medium tanks and the T57 heavy tank.
Here is the new US tech tree.
Little is known about the higher tier tanks in the new line, other than that they historically featured auto-loaders and oscillating turrets in the style of the french AMX 13 and 50 lines. The tier VIII T69 packed an auto-loader with a whopping nine round drum. The tier IX T54E1 sported the same nine round auto-loader in a similar turret, but mounted on the chassis of an M48. And, finally, the T57 packs an eight round drum, and is supposedly better armored but slower than the similar French AMX 50B. As always, Wargaming has the final say when it comes to actual implementation and may sacrifice historical accuracy for balance. To access the new line on the day of release you'll need to have researched the M7.

The Old Gang

The new Premium tanks in 8.2 are certainly interesting. The big question mark is the TOG2, which stands for "The Old Gang". This Maus-sized beheamoth will be in-game as a Tier 6 tank. Its armament, the famous QF-17 cannon, was one of the most reliable Allied anti-tank guns of the war, and will no doubt provide this vehicle with formidible firepower. On the other hand, the tank historically topped out at about 14kph and was protected by a mere 76mm of armor. Those stats would make it slow and badly protected compared to other tier VI tanks, so it remains to be seen how Wargaming will make it a compelling purchase.
In direct contrast to the TOG2 is the tier VII British AT-15A tank destroyer. While it will also be slow, it won't lack for defenses - as a predecessor to the A39 Tortoise, it was designed as a casemate style assault vehicle to break through heavy fortifications and therefore sacrificed mobility for thick armor. Few specifics are known about its stats, although it is also expected to have the QF-17.

Image courtesy of wotnews
The final tank is the FCM 50t, a French tier VII heavy. Not much is known about this tank other than it's mobile, has no autoloader, has a crew of five. As a sour point, it's also rumored to have a cost of 12,500 gold, similar to the Tier VIII premium heavies.
Finally, a vicious rumour that a fourth Premium might appear in 8.2, the T1E6. A tier two Cunningham? How can anyone refuse?!

I don't give a toss about any of that, so what does 8.2 offer me?

You're in luck! 8.2 adds additional performance optimisations, UI changes (including my personal favorite, a module repair speed indicator), and an ambiguously worded fix which might solve the 'ghost' shells problem. Additionally, four more maps have been updated for the new graphics engine.

That was fast!

Has anyone else noticed that the rate at which Wargaming is pumping out new content recently? While the British and Chinese trees have been in the works for some time, the rate at which new tanks, both free and premium are being churned out, along with the optimisations and map revisions is in stark (and welcome) contrast to this time last year. 
Currently there is no specific release date, but 8.2 is slated for sometime in December.
QA manager by day, avid World of Tanks and EVE Online player by night. Having worked on AAA MMO titles in the past, I bring the perspective of both the gamer and former games industry professional.