Naval warfare arcade World of Warships has certainly been busy lately, but not all of the recent changes nor announcements have been well-received. The naval MMO is in an interesting position in that Wargaming is trying to continually develop new ships with distinguishing features without completely upsetting the balance of a PvP-centric game. Easier said than done.
And it’s not as if Wargaming was completely oblivious that the captain skill changes would have some negative effects. At the time, we reported on the controversial nature of the update, and player testers had been complaining about the PTS build for weeks. Even more suspiciously, the PR email sent out to press outlets chose to highlight the cosmetically reworked dragon port, mentioning the captain skills only about halfway through the communication, despite these changes obviously having a greater impact on player experience.
But it wasn’t until a few weeks into the live build that Wargaming admitted to the extent of the unintended consequences. The new “deadeye” skill that rewarded battleships for firing on foes while remaining undetected was causing a great majority of battleship captains to hang around the back of the map, waiting to snipe an unsuspecting cruiser, despite objectives being located towards the center. For cruiser captains, the threat of getting blapped by a battleship they couldn’t even see led to fewer and fewer cruisers being played at all. The result of the introduction of deadeye (and the simultaneous nerf to brawling skills) was a passive, boring playstyle that discouraged active engagement. Not a great move for a PvP game.
Even worse, two of the premium (purchasable with real money) ships most heavily affected by the secondary skill nerfs had previously been discontinued for sale, creating a FOMO-style demand for these ships. Unfortunately for those who’d rushed to their wallets, the ships were then changed in a way that fundamentally changed their strength and playstyle.
In today’s dev blog post, Wargaming has announced additional changes to the captain skills, including the complete removal of the deadeye skill for battleships. The blog post goes on to state that players who have specced into deadeye will get a free captain skill reset once update 0.10.4 goes live. While this was expected and hoped for by the player base, it appears that players of the other three classes of ships (cruisers, destroyers, and aircraft carriers) will have to pay for skill resets despite captain skills for those classes also being adjusted.
While the captain changes should help with the camping playstyle that’s become prevalent in random matches, they likely do little to bring back the engaging, brawling playstyle that certain ships were once known for, nor will this put money back into the wallets of those who were fooled into buying those ships thanks to the discontinuation of sale announcement.
Wargaming has promised continued balance enhancements for individual ships going forward. We certainly hope that brawling battleships are being included in those conversations. However, balance is only going to become more difficult to achieve as World of Warships continues to try to differentiate its ship lines with new and interesting skills, such as airstrikes, and new classes like submarines and hybrid aircraft/surface ships.