There’s a regiment of reasons why World of Tanks is still - over a decade since its debut - one of the most popular vehicular combat games in the world. Whether or not you’re an army buff, it’s a game that makes you appreciate the thrill of trundling across golden fields and frozen tundra into decimated towns, the fear of enemy shells denting your tank’s heavily plated engine compartment, and the joy of seeing a tank go up in flames because of a perfectly placed shot you fired from thousands of feet away.
In a world where the rise of battle royale games has unearthed a latent craving in gamers for bigger, slower-paced and more tactical online shooters, World of Tanks is a perfect specimen (and has in fact been championing this style of play for years now).
World of Tanks is even getting in directly on the battle royale action. As we write this the game is running its second season of Steel Hunter - its own 20-tank take on the battle royale.
But while it’s fun to fight for the prize of Top Tank in Steel Hunter, the real strength of the game lies in the epic team battles, where up to 60 tanks roll across sweeping landscapes from all over the world, converging on picturesque villages and iconic cities, and wrestling for control of key strategic points on the battlefield.
Every shot counts in World of Tanks, especially as the vast majority of game modes don’t do respawns. This encourages a methodical style of play, where you poke the nose of your tank around the corners of buildings, look for high-up hills that you can not only shoot down from but duck behind, and camouflage yourself in dense foliage. It’s amazing how sneaky you can be inside a 70-ton slab of metal.
It’s exhilarating to have your team whittled down to just two or three tanks, then coordinating to beat the odds and come back to win the battle. There are few feelings quite like the growing dread and escalating intensity of realising you’re the last one standing as you ride amidst the burned-out husks of your fellow tanks, then suddenly hear the enemy trundle through nearby streets.
You’re not just driving a faceless vehicle either. Each tank is manned by a seasoned two-to-six-man crew, who you’ll need to keep alive and healthy throughout each battle. An enemy shell won’t always blow up your tank, but your crew will feel the seismic impact as metal hits metal and your tank gets rocked. Each crew member can get knocked out or killed by an enemy shell, which will dramatically impact your tank’s capabilities on the battlefield.