In World of Tanks, you play a 20th-century tank on a team of other players. The fifteen of you roll out across the landscape, peeping out from rocks and buildings to shoot at the enemy team. This sounds like a simple (and tiring) premise, but it’s so much more than just a point-and-shoot game with tanks: it’s a fantastic blend of strategy, action, and graphics.
And, you know what? It’s incredibly fun even if you have no interest in tanks. I started playing this game with zero interest in tanks. In fact, I still have zero interest in tanks. It wouldn’t matter if this game were about, like, riding atop oversized rats or driving construction vehicles or something; it’s just an amazing game. Here’s why:
Strategy is involved (but it’s not a strategy game).
You enter the battlefield with one goal: to win the game. You can either capture the enemy’s base or destroy all enemy vehicles. Neither of those options is as easy as it sounds; if you drive too fast across the land to get at the enemy base, it’s likely you’ll be seen and shot down (“yoloing”). If you don’t trek out at all and stay near your own base (“camping”), you’re probably not helping destroy the enemy. You need to find a balance between yoloing and camping – but it depends on a lot of factors, including what tank you’re using.
On the other hand, this is not a strategy or turn-based game; it is a live, action game where you’re shooting at other tanks. You’re not spending hours puzzling over strategy, but you’re not just mindlessly shooting, either – and that’s one of the things that makes this game so great.
Many short-term and long-term goals exist.
The short-term goal, obviously, is to win the game. But whenever you play a game, you get XP (proportional to how well you performed in battle). That XP lets you buy better tanks, which allows you to enter more challenging battles. If you were just endlessly battling with no larger goal, the game would eventually become tiresome. (And even if you buy the best tank offered, you can always start playing with a new line of tanks – if you’ve exhausted the German line of tanks, for example, you can start anew with the Japanese line.)
There are great graphics.
Oh, how this game makes me wish I had a decent graphics card. When graphics are on the “high” setting, you can see individual blades of grass, detailed houses, and deep shadows. Look at the image on the right – that’s a screenshot from the game! I’m tempted to hang it on my wall.
The battles are short.
We’re not talking hours-long battles, like in Starcraft – we’re talking battles that automatically end when fifteen minutes are up (and usually end much sooner). So, when you’re waiting for a friend, pizza delivery, or phone call, go shoot some tanks.
The other players are generally nice.
Whenever you play an MMO, you run the risk of seeing profanity, insults, and sexism in the chat box. With World of Tanks, I’ve found only about one in ten games has that particularly “chatty” player – and you can easily report them. (Also, during two years of playing this game and having a fairly feminine username, nobody’s been sexist towards me.)
The game is absolutely free. What’s the catch? You can spend money on upgraded ammo and more experience points, but it’s non-essential. The game is fully playable without spending a dime, and the vast majority of players don’t pay. (In other words, it’s not one of those games where it’s virtually impossible to progress without the moolah.)