From the Depths: Five things to love about World of Warships


I guess it’s time to admit it: After nearly three years of daily play, I have no choice but to come to terms with the fact that World of Warships is my main game. As someone who enjoys MMOs and does not enjoy the way most free-to-play titles are monetized, this is no small thing. But with this amount of focus, the flaws in the game design and monetization tactics do tend to catch my critical eye, and my From the Depths columns typically focus on these “cracks in the foundation,” so to speak.

But since it’s the holiday season, I’ve decided that it’s time for a happier look at the game. After all, you don’t play a game for three years if it has no redeemable qualities! In fact, at its best, there is no other game that quite compares to the Warships experience. Here are some things I’ve found World of Warships does well.

It marries the strategic and arcade aspects of combat

For every player who may have been lured into trying the game based on the chance to helm historical battleships or by the chance to try a free-to-play game, many have stayed based on the unique mixture of slow, strategic movement/positioning and hard-hitting, brawling, ambushing arcade shooting.

It’s an experience that is unmatched by any other PvP title. Occasionally, a player will complain about the lack of simulation aspects in the game, but there’s only so much realism that can be injected before a war game starts to feel like a set of military procedures. I’ll go out on a limb and suggest that the battle is more exciting than the minutia of logistics required to support said battle.

On the flip side, the game does include many mechanics such as ricochets, over penetrations, concealment/spotting, damage over time, and healing that bring enough realism so as to not feel too much like an arcade shooter. Success in PvP also depends much on whether you understand the characteristics of both your ship and the enemy’s, as many ships have special talents that could turn the tide of an engagement. Going in blind is a recipe for disaster and is the bane of many inexperienced players.

The art department carries

The mantra “the art department carries” is a joke that sprung from the playerbase and has been adopted by the official community team on live streams throughout the year. Indeed, in the three years that I’ve been playing the game, graphical improvements have been constantly introduced. Most recently, reflective effects and snow/sand have been added to the decks of ships. These effects are map-dependent based on the climate and weather conditions present in the match.

Other improvements include changes to the ship’s behavior in rough water conditions, updates to funnel and turret smoke effects, a reworking of the entire American destroyer tech tree, and a slow progression of graphical enhancements on the maps themselves. Perhaps most impressively, for the release of submarines Wargaming needed to develop the underwater areas for every map currently in the game, complete with rock formations, seaweed, and occasional sea life. As many issues as the submarines have caused in the game, I’m glad to be able to occasionally submerge and enjoy the undersea environment that I’m sure consumed much of the art department’s time.

Dockyard events are solid now

I’ve previously detailed how Wargaming failed hard on its initial attempt at the dockyard, but eventually revamped the concept into something that players could accept and enjoy. Granted, there is an amount of FOMO salesmanship involved. Players can spend real money to progress as far into the event as they want or finish it completely if they want to be the first kid on the block with a shiny new toy. But doing so will set you back a few hundred dollars.

So I’d recommend simply spending the minimum amount to unlock the final phase (and the ship) or simply playing through the event for free to collect the stage rewards. The delayed gratification of watching your ship be built over several weeks makes the payoff feel that much sweeter. At its best, the dockyard is an opportunity to get a higher-tier premium ship at a discounted amount if you’re also willing to do a bit of grinding. Plus, a fancy shipbuilding animation!

Historical warships

Granted, Wargaming has strayed pretty far from the days when only real historical warships were available in the game, but I understand the need for gameplay variety. What other games out there allow you to helm the likes of the USS Texas or mighty Yamato? War Thunder is one option, but that game doesn’t focus solely on ships, and the sheer number of historical options in World of Warships dwarfs any other game that purports to be a competitor.

Unfortunately, some of the most famous warships were released in such a broken state that they are no longer available for sale. The USS Missouri and Musashi are prime examples of this problem. Wargaming has “solved” this by making the ships available only via rare random container drops. While good for balance (and revenue), it’s a shame that these historical ships are no longer available to the playerbase at large. Oops, there I go delving into the negative. Moving on!

Holiday (aka snowflake) events

One of the most anticipated events in the game happens twice a year: once during the winter holidays and once for the World of Warships’ launch anniversary. It involves playing each ship in port (tiers 5-10) once to gain in-game resources like coal or steel. Rewards can be collected once for each ship. The picture on each ship icon that indicated whether a ship had been played used to be a snowflake, so this event is still colloquially known as the “snowflake event.”

The event is a good opportunity for collectors to dust off old ships they seldom play, and the prizes are generous. Longtime players are rewarded accordingly, as the merits scale with the number of ships owned/played. It’s not often that loyal longtime customers are favored over new business, so this is a welcome mechanic.

Whether you’re the captain of a historical battleship or a feisty pirate queen on the deck of a smuggling vessel, the high seas are the final frontier of many MMOs! Join the MOP team here in From the Depths for occasional voyages into all the ocean-going MMOs of the moment. Just don’t sink our boat!
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