A look at Obsidian's new tank combat effort!
I'll be honest: Vehicular warfare games have never really been my cup of tea. So it follows that I wasn't expecting to have that great of a time with it. Boy, was I wrong.
Armored Warfare feels like the combat systems from War Thunder and World of Tanks had a baby. I say that in the best possible way. World of Tanks is home to a slower playstyle due to how the reticle aim works, while on the other hand War Thunder has much faster pacing and target acquisition is much quicker. Armored Warfare hits the sweet-spot right in the middle. Tank movement feels nimble, yet there still is that "weight" you expect from operating a box of steel death. Swinging your turret around toward the enemy feels great. The pacing of the rotation feels balanced between arcade and simulation; not too fast, not too slow. On the most-basic level, Obsidian has found a great balance between fun-to-play and believable simulation.
At long last there is a tank game that actually gives a clear advantage to smaller tanks, rather than throwing them at you as lame starter tanks. These smaller tanks are significantly faster than their burlier counterparts. I had plenty of times during the short play test that I found myself darting behind houses quick enough that it saved my steel (for the moment, at least!). It felt good to be in a tank that I could really see the advantages of using. With that being said, I do enjoy playing larger tanks just because I really enjoy big explosions.
The game adopts a carbon-copy of the World of Tanks basic, two-victory game mode, which is primarily a deathmatch with the ability to capture the enemy team's base as well. The games are fast-paced and typically done within ten to twenty minutes. You have the ability to leave the match after you die and hop into another tank in your garage to keep the fun rolling. I like that they adopted this from World of Tanks as it forces the player to master different tanks while allowing them to keep playing non-stop.
I do like the game, but it isn't perfect (keep in mind that it is Early Access, though). Let's start with a very specific part of the monetization model. I have no problem with the business model; what I have a huge problem with is certain tanks only being accessible through real-money purchase. This sets an incredibly dangerous pay-to-win precedent. I didn't get that vibe at all from any of the game's other systems. However, the fact that it's there troubles me, and should trouble others looking to invest into the game.
The game's graphics are pretty sweet, but I would say there is room for performance improvement. It looks good, but not anything that should push your rig over the edge. This is why I think the game should run better than 30 FPS even on mid-range systems. I had some hiccups on certain maps where I couldn't seem to pull my frames out of the gutter. It was a minor annoyance, especially for Early Access, but one I hope they address before the public gets their hands on the game.
The sound is also another issue to me. Most of it is passable, even pretty damn good, but when it's bad, it's obnoxious. The LAVs in particular have their shells sound like tearing off a band-aid. It got to the point that both my buddy and I made comments about it while playing. It's a shame because it really serves to take players out of the moment.
The last strange thing about this build of the game is some of the physics. I like that you can run over fences, cars, and other obstacles that tanks should be able to flatten. The problem is that it's completely unsatisfying because of how the physics function. Running over a fence just yields a hole. There's no mangled fence below you, no distortion on where you broke the fence off from the rest, it feels quite drab. And the cars, oh THE CARS. If you tap them going about .5 MPH they full-on EXPLODE. It was great for a laugh every time I did it, but I really felt like there should be modification to how that functions. Let me roll over cars, don't turn this into a Michael Bay film.
In closing, I'd like us to keep in mind that this game is in the beginnings of Early Access and has a ton of room to grow. I didn't talk about a shortage of maps because I believe there will be more by release—a place for the game to grow. It says a lot that I prefer it over World of Tanks and War Thunder even in its young state. With more time to flesh itself out and erase any semblance of pay-to-win, I think that Armored Warfare will be a great addition to the vehicular combat genre.
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