If you’re after a battle scenario experience that is both believable and lifelike, you’ll find few managing to capture things quite like the ‘World of’ series. With World of Tanks proving a global success with eSports competitions, and World of Warplanes an equally suitable experience, it was only a matter of time before we had another ‘World of’ title become available, completing the trio of land, sea and air.
Of course World of Warships isn’t an entirely new experience with PC players having had hands-on since 2015, but for console players the last few months have seen the game quickly rise through the Early Access phase and into a full release. So with that in mind, let’s take a look to see just how the battle on the water transitions to our living rooms.
When it comes to warfare, I have to admit to finding sea-based conflict the most fear mongering. Yes of course being shot out of the sky is a terrifying thought, but with a parachute available to break your fall, chances are you would be okay if you’re not injured by gunfire. Ground based warfare is equally terrifying in that you could have multiple units closing in on you at once, but then you have the small chance of at least running away. In the water however, you’re quite simply a sitting duck – there’s no war-made vehicle out there that can provide incredible destructive power before speeding off into the distance without taking a shell or two. With nothing but the cold, harsh seas surrounding you, that seems by far the worst situation to be in.
During my time with World of Warships: Legends, that theory was only cemented further into my beliefs as I took some of the largest ships into the most open waters around, only to find my exceptionally large guns ripping apart enemy ships before a similar amount of shrapnel was fired back in my direction. This would ensure immediate destruction of my vessel before I found myself sinking to the depths of the sea across the archipelagos of the South Pacific and Alaska.
For now though, I want you to cast your mind away from the poor occupants on board, as we look at what creates the overall warfare experience, as this is a game that not only creates a realistic combat experience, but also an incredibly enjoyable one, even if it is a little repetitive from time to time.
Much like in World of Tanks, the options available to you will depend on your starting vessel selection – Japan, UK, USA – with all the different ships you can choose from varying between 7 tiered classes, all of which can be upgraded and have their loadouts customised.
I found myself fortunate enough to jump into action with some of the Premium ships that can be purchased in World of Warships. One that took my fancy early on was the camouflaged VI Indianapolis Premium Cruiser – if only thanks to its gargantuan size and menacing demeanour – and the reason for that is because World of Warships: Legends essentially consists of a group of players firing the biggest guns ever created into one another. In my mind, what better way is there to start a fight then come steaming in with the biggest ship you can find!
Size isn’t everything though and whilst the ‘World of’ titles are always normally hard fought out slogs, the sea is not a place for hiding. This means the bigger your ship, the bigger the target painted all over you for enemies to hit, not to mention you’ll need to find a much bigger collection of rocks to scamper behind should you need to evade enemy fire.
Choosing a ship doesn’t just come down to size and look however – or even your premium currency balance as many of the free and obtainable ships can pack the same punch if used correctly – and those who wish to come in casually will find just picking a ship and getting on with it is doable. That said, those who invest the time to learn the strengths and weaknesses of each ship will always have the upper hand in battle.
Before you’ve really decided which ship you’re going to use however you first need to decide how you want to play as there are different ship types within the game that each have a distinct role if used correctly. The ship classes come down to Destroyer, Cruiser and Battleship, with each one having their own strengths and weaknesses. Should you wish to run in on a kill-spree then either the Destroyer or Battleships are best suited, and for me that’s where the majority of my time was spent, despite enjoying the Cruisers early on.
Regardless of which class you decide to jump in with, one thing that you’ll need to make the most of are the attachments for your vessel.
The gameplay itself is played from an overhead, third-person viewpoint, similar to that of your typical racer and in ‘World of’ series fashion, the controls prove rather simplistic ensuring players can get straight into the action without too much hassle. The only things you’ll really need to worry about are your speed, your position and the firing of your weapons.
The challenge of it all comes from the fact that due to the slower-paced nature of moving ships across water, any action made can be the tactical genius, or downfall, of your game. Should you go rushing in, chances are you could find yourself ambushed by every other ship on the opposing team as they flank you from the sides, but should you hang back too long, you could miss out on the early battle and find yourself outnumbered later on. To provide an efficient effort for your team, you’ll want to make sure to study just what those around you are doing first, and then ensure you take in the locations of the rocky covers for when the time calls.
Whilst you’d probably expect a game in which movement is slow and clunky to be one of the dullest that you could experience, there is a fascinating art to pulling off the perfect hit and attack in World of Warships. With guns taking time to turn, it can be the angle in which you’ve positioned yourself that can make all the difference. Numerous times I have found myself either being too far behind cover to make that meaningful impact, or too far out of it to scramble when trouble starts to loom. Thankfully, early battles will allow you to learn the shooting distance of your favourite ships and weapons, and from there it just takes time to know exactly how to respond to each situation. When you do manage to pull of a cheeky assault, you certainly feel like you’ve earned it.
As you progress through the game things such as blueprints to improve your ship and various stats can be unlocked and applied, whilst commanders also come into play, bringing with them their own specializations such as varying skills with firepower and manoeuvrability and so on. It brings a nice touch of depth to the game whilst still enabling casual players to have something simple enough to follow.
Like any free-to-play game though, there is always going to be one thing that crops up – the grind – and if your time is limited then without paying out the dosh you probably shouldn’t expect to be working your way up to Tier 7 ships with ease. It’s going to take literally thousands of hours to earn the required XP to reach those dizzying levels. That’s not to say the game is unbalanced though and coming in with an early adopted ship can still see you prove to be a meaningful competitor; just don’t expect to take sail with the finest ships unless you have plenty of time to put into the seas.
Away from the gameplay though and in terms of the the visuals World of Warships: Legends on Xbox One looks phenomenal. From the boat models themselves to the rivets down the side, there is nothing that fails to look the part when it comes to these iconic ships. Even the water in which you spend your time looks and feels satisfying to glide through. There is rarely an occasion in which this game doesn’t have that wow factor.
The same could be said for the audio, and the booming sound quality as you fire off your canons into the distance never fails to deliver. Should you be wearing headphones or have a capable surround sound system installed, then this game is going to sound rather fantastic as you head into battle. Many of the ships sound different too, and whilst each battle will see you doing relatively the same things, the audio is unique each and every time you take to the sea.
World of Warships: Legends delivers another fantastic showing from the ‘World of’ series on console and ensures that players have an engaging and accessible title that can be enjoyed for hours on end. Whilst the store does indeed house many expensive options, those who want to play through without spending a penny can do so successfully all while remaining competitive in the process, so if you’re after a truly enjoyable naval warfare experience then World of Warships is probably going to be the adventure you’re looking for.