WoT Corner; Patch 9.16 Notes
WG is working a new patch for WoT and that’s (mostly) good news. 9.16 will be the next update and it’ll bring a couple things players have been wanting. It’ll also bring a controversial chat change and a couple content additions. Better yet, we’ll get an introduction to the new Swedish line in the form of a premium tank. Of course, what it doesn’t address is also interesting considering the amount of effort WG has made in the last half a year talking about rebalance and the state of the Meta-game. We’ll cover that last, first what are we getting exactly?
The initial notes for the super test are here. Of course it’s early and some of these things can change but overall the new update isn’t exactly changing the face of the game, it’s more of a gradual improvement which is the company’s MO the last half a year or so.
Probably the most important gameplay update is a small improvement to a critical game mechanic. Spotting in WoT has always been a source of contention for players. In general it actually works pretty well and certainly adds spice. Essentially you can use cover to hide and you can use your own spotting ability and bonuses/perks to see hiding tanks. In the past players have felt the system’s been plagued by bugs, some real and some imagined. For example very early on fast tanks would warp across the screen, even if spotted, as the interaction between the rendering and spotting was poor. To some extent that can still happen and it looks like WG has tweaked it looking for a fix.
The short video on the super test notes page shows an example where a tank moves at a high rate of speed from right to left. In the past you would sometimes not actually see the tank until it was well past the wall that was obscuring your view. It would in essence “appear” out of thin air. This has been a long standing complaint with the player base. Of course your system and ISP combinations can exacerbate these kinds of situations but it appears the company has taken a shot at fixing their end. Not exactly an admission of error, but I guess baby steps are at least something.
So that’s a good thing for gameplay, the next change is more debatable.
Without doubt the most controversial change is the removal of global battle chat. This means players cannot chat across teams during the game. There’s no doubt it was sometimes toxic. In addition enemy positions were occasionally given away. I have to say though, after tens of thousands of battles, I’ve never once felt the ability to chat was the actual problem. But we live in a world where feelings get hurt too easily and the permanently offended have a loud voice. WG stated they received “quite a bit of community feedback” that the chat was a negative for the game. I’d love to know what the definition of quite a bit is, as I suspect it’s a bit less of an issue with numbers and more of an issue with the company headache of policing the chat. In other words, the toxicity of battle chat is not so much an issue of customer relations and more of an issue of company workload. They decided the headache was not worth keeping it in the game. I think that’s a shame because WoT is a hard core PvP game and a little banter adds spice to the competition. Unfortunately we’re unlikely to change their minds on this one.
Now for the good news, bad news, part.
The next game addition is both a great thing and another head scratcher. The player base, especially those with a lot of tanks, has asked for a multi row tank carousel for years. For some reason I will never understand they refused to make this very simple addition. The good news is they’ve finally decided to add it. But in typical WG fashion it comes as a half measure. I hope they reconsider and make more rows, but for now the notes say it’s only a two row carousel. There’re mods out there to make it two to four rows. Four is about the max you’d want that can still fit on the screen. I can’t comprehend why they would limit it to two and not allow a selection of two to four. But I’ll say it’s great to see movement on what should’ve happened two years ago and would’ve been a slam dunk with little effort.
I always say content is king and the new patch brings a couple additions to the content.
The first content is the preview of the Swedish tank line. I know, I didn’t realize they had tanks either!
Take it easy my Swedish friends, I’m just kidding. After exhausting most of the possibilities of the major nations WG is looking to expand into less well known areas; the next line is apparently the Swedes. The tank is called the Strv m/42-57 Alt A2. Catchy isn’t it? Like several of the past nation roll outs the new tank is a premium, a tier 6, and will be available for a while before the rest of the line makes an appearance. So you’ll have to drop some coin to play the Swedes for now. Usually people buy the early premiums to start training crews. But this thing only has 3 crew members like some of the French line. So I’m unsure how well that will work. But a new line is a great addition.
We’ll also get a new map called Paris. I’m assuming it’s based on, Paris. New maps are of course great additions to the game. Variety is the spice of life and all that. However, it must be noted that they’ve removed more maps lately than added. The net result is we’ve fewer maps overall. Some of the maps removed were actually pretty good, and in fact some of them were better than current maps. How WG decides which maps are removed is a profound mystery. In a few cases it was good riddance, but in more cases the same people who complained and got global chat removed complained about maps they felt were bad. In most cases the maps were fine, but the players couldn’t be bothered with figuring out spotting and positioning.
Ok, that was some pure salt, but I’m still smarting from the chat removal.
Paris appears to be another channelized brawling map. Most players are content to drive up a channelized flank and play punchy face. The finer points of scouting, spotting and positioning are too difficult. Thus we have a large collection of corridor maps and only a couple vision and map control maps remain. Perhaps Paris is in fact a vison and map control map, but the pictures indicate it’s a city map with corridors and little use for spotting and scouts. Take the good with the bad I guess.
We’ll also get some new mini maps with the next update. I’m on the fence here, I like that they make little improvements to the game, but I’m not convinced making new mini maps is really important. Still, we’ll get some cleaner mini maps so the majority of players can ignore them as they usually do.
Those are the big picture contents of the patch, and of course it begs a larger question. Whither the long promised rebalance efforts?
About five months ago there was a well-advertised meeting with players and WG developers. There were some videos and eventually a new sandbox server was announced. The intent of all this was to admit that the core game balance was in need of attention. WG said they were going to work less on the window dressing and more on the core issues the game faces. I think if you consider the things this patch has you’ll note a marked absence of balancing work.
What happened to the rebalancing effort? To be honest I didn’t really believe they were serious. I suppose it’s possible they’re taking it slow and I’ll be proven wrong. But think of it this way. If balancing was such as issue they made it top priority, why is there no movement? In fact, they took a step backward.
They recently made available the single most OP tank they’ve released since the original iteration of the Type-59. The Skorpian, a tier 8 German TD is essentially, both the best medium and best TD at tier 8 (in one tank) with extra credit making and crew training. It’s hard to imagine exactly what they were thinking here. We thought there was a push to work on balancing and we get a new tank that is the epitome of what’s wrong with the game. It’s a glass cannon with no drawbacks. Faster than many tier 8 Mediums, extremely accurate gun with incredible handling. Supposedly the balancing factors are no armor and bad view range. Except those balancing factors don’t matter in the current Meta. This shows a fundamental misunderstanding of their own game. Armor doesn’t matter because premium ammo and artillery negates most armor anyway. So not having armor simply doesn’t matter. Players will gladly trade the gun and mobility for any limited value armor brings. It has a poor view range, too bad view range as a balancing factor is a nonstarter. Corridor maps and the fact you can rarely do your own spotting and not be spotted yourself make a slight disadvantage in view range an incredibly situational drawback. It hardly counters the tanks other strengths. Lastly it has a turret, which makes its versatility well above any of the traditional case mate TDs. Yes, the turret traverses slowly, but that’s not even close to a balancing factor, it’s a slight disadvantage of little note.
The bottom line here is that supposedly game balance is important to WG, but their actions show it isn’t, or they don’t know what balance is.
I’ll end on a positive note at least as far as WGNA. Their community guy MeatheadMilitia is pedaling hard and making some progress in customer interactions. The specials and sales lately have been robust. The missions are finally becoming pretty good. This is a great development. Sadly, I think the above mentioned issues are detracting from the positive influence on the player base his efforts have. First and foremost they need movement on game balance.
Joe Granducci is a student of politics and military history. He is a life-long gamer and a former fighter pilot. Reliving his wasted youth, and starting his second career after retirement he enjoys reading, movies and computer gaming. Joe plays way too much World of Tanks, and you can follow him on Twitch here or his YouTube channel here. If you like what you see follow all of the NerdGoblins at NerdGoblin facebook and twitter @thenerdgoblin