World of Warships Review

This ship has seen better days
  • Developer:
  • Publisher:
  • Release Date: 17 September 2015
  • Time played: 18 hours

As a father of a young child and working full-time, I don't get as much time to play games as I used to but I keep convincing myself that one day it'll be totally awesome because my child will be old enough to play with me (at least that's the theory, she'll probably be sick of computers by then and would rather never see one again). Anyway, until that time I have to be mindful of how much gaming I do and more importantly find games that suit my current circumstances. This is why I usually play games like Battlefield 4 or short, point 'n' click adventures since I can still feel like I've achieved something in a fraction of the time. This also means I don't tend to like open world, sandbox games or MMOs and... am I going to get around to reviewing World of Warships (WOWS)? Yes, yes, I'm getting there.

Anyway, my friends who have a bit more time to play games (or at least try out new ones) came across World of Warships and since they're awesome friends, they realised that in order to get me to play multiplayer games with them, like Battlefield 4 it had to be a game that was easy to pick up, play for a few minutes and yet still feel like I've achieved something, or at least had fun with. They believed World of Warships ticked all these boxes and since the game is free-to-play, the only thing I would waste by giving it a go is my Internet quota.

So is World of Warships a worthwhile game for those with a small amount of gaming time? Is the game worth playing considering the market is saturated with free-to-play titles, port, starboard and centre? Steady as she goes, dear reader!

Gameplay (4/5)
WOWS is quite simple to pick up and provided you know how to play FPSs, you shouldn't have any problems. Your ship is controlled with the WASD keys and the mouse; the WASD keys control which direction your ship steers as well as its acceleration/deceleration, while the mouse controls the direction your turrets face as well as their elevation. Clicking the mouse button fires your guns and that's about it!

Of course, there's a bit more to the game than the simple explanation I offered above, but that should be enough to get you going. There are a few other crucial commands (such as the SHIFT key pulling up binoculars, the number keys corresponding to different weapons, the "R" key repairing your ship, etc.) but as I've mentioned already, the layout shouldn't be too dissimilar to what you'd expect while playing an FPS.

Usually you will play on a team of ships versus an opposing force of equal number. The objective is usually to destroy all enemies or control sectors on the map in order to win a points victory. Sounds easy enough, but unlike FPSs your projectiles are firing over a longer distance, tend to move slower and tend to arc more than a bullet. Consequently, I like to think that the game is a bit like an artillery game, such as Worms but only in 3D, and on the ocean, and er… without worms.

Games tend to be pretty quick and are over within 10-15 minutes. If you managed to get some hits on enemy vessels or even sink a few, you'll gain experience points which you can then use to either upgrade your ships or unlock new ones. There are four classes of ships to unlock (destroyers, cruisers, battleships and aircraft carriers), each with their strengths and weaknesses, and there are ship trees for several navies (although as I type up this review, only the Japanese and American navies are fully fleshed out).

So the game is easy to pick up and each match tends to be pretty quick – perfect for gamers who have busy lives and are short on time (or have many interruptions)!

So the game is easy to pick up and each match tends to be pretty quick – perfect for gamers who have busy lives and are short on time (or have many interruptions)! However, this game is Free-to-Play so there has to be a catch right? Is the game full of grind? Is it pay-to-win? These are valid questions.

In terms of grind, I definitely can feel it, since I'm only at Tier III and I've only just unlocked my first battleship! I've yet to unlock my first aircraft carrier because the ship tech tree forces you down a certain path where you have to unlock different classes of ship first before giving it a go. To some degree, I can appreciate what they're doing in that it's forcing the player to learn the ropes with potentially "easier" ships before using ones which are harder to master. However, it doesn't help if you're already a veteran player that has already made his/her mind up about which is your favourite class and have to go through the whole process again for another navy. However, if grind was the only big problem with WOWS then that's not too bad considering it's a Free-to-Play game after all; you still at least have the choice to acquire things for free besides the obvious shortcuts involving real money. And on the topic of shortcuts using real money, is WOWS "pay to win"?

I have to be honest that personally, I can't definitively answer this question as I've never played PvP in WOWS, which is where "pay to win" would become an issue. It's definitely not "pay to win" for the PvE component (which I've enjoyed with friends) because you're fighting against bots anyway that mirror your side exactly in terms of its composition. From the players I've interviewed though they (thankfully) say the game isn't "pay to win" but that the grind gets even worse with higher tier ships. Basically, once you get to higher tiers your rewards from battles are sometimes not even enough to cover the costs of re-arming and repairing your ships! Usually you'll have to play with lower tier ships in the meantime to generate enough "income" to maintain your higher tier ones! Or (of course) you could pay real money to speed up the process.

So grind is still probably the biggest issue with the game but this is pretty commonplace with the MMO genre.

Sound (5/5)
There's actually not too much in the way of sound effects besides the guns firing, explosions going off and the ship creaking after taking damage – but I suppose that's all you really need and they all sound authentic enough. Would've been nice if they had a foghorn although I suspect if it were introduced it would be prone to abuse…

Music (3/5)
The music in the game might work well in an 80s action flick thanks to the wailing guitars and the high adrenaline synths but it sometimes feels out of place in a naval game set in WWI/WWII. There's even a track in there that sounds a bit like the Mass Effect theme (hmmm now there's an idea, a Mass Effect naval space battles game!).

Graphics (4/5)
Wargaming have done a good job in faithfully restoring the ships and there's quite a lot of detail in the models. The animations are great too from the smoke billowing out of the funnels (in-sync with however fast you're travelling) to the concussive effects on the ocean whenever a battleship fires a broadside. The textures used when the ships are damaged however seem to be rather low-res and the trees on the islands look like cardboard cut-outs, but I guess you can't have everything :). There's also a distinct lack of ship customisation options such as decals or paint jobs (although maybe that's the point of the Premium ships).

The animations are great too from the smoke billowing out of the funnels (in-sync with however fast you're travelling) to the concussive effects on the ocean whenever a battleship fires a broadside.

Replay (3/5)
I'm of two minds about this, hence the above score. While I've definitely played quite a bit of the game in the past few weeks I've only really ever played it when friends were online as I'm not motivated enough to play MMOs by myself unless they have some kind of storyline or campaign to follow, which World of Warships doesn't. Also, as already mentioned, the game is a bit grindy so it takes a while to get enough XP to unlock new ships and I'm only at Tier III at the moment! Whether I continue to come back and play World of Warships in the future is consequently dependent on whether my friends continue to do so and whether the grind becomes intolerable or not.

Polish (4/5)
The game's interface is pretty intuitive, the only issue I had was actually trying to figure out how to setup divisions with your friends since you have a "Create Division" button at the top of the screen but clicking on that only doesn't show your contacts list. Instead, you have to go to the contacts list in order to invite friends to a division. It's also quite easy in World of Warships to sell your Premium ships by accident (which occurred with one of our contributors). This can be quite an expensive mistake as some premium ships can go for over $60 USD. Thankfully, in the case of our contributor, his ship was reimbursed but apparently you only get one chance to do this with otherwise if you happen to do it again, it's bye bye real money.

Score – 8/10

If you want an action-packed, multiplayer game that allows you to unleash your inner naval captain, what are you waiting for? World of Warships is free and it's worth giving a shot. Continued enjoyment with the game would depend on whether you can tolerate the grind or not but I suspect that's the point with a lot of Free-to-Play titles, including World of Warships.

World of Warships is available from these retailers:

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[ LINK: Official World of Warships Website ]