This year’s seen us fix the game’s core, resolving long-standing issues with the matchmaker, arty, and light tanks, and revising vehicles to establish unique gameplay narratives for classes within each nation. We’re finished with fundamental changes to the first three, but there are a few improvements waiting to be made (the most crucial of them being Premium vehicle and Tier VIII matchmaking). Vehicle rebalancing is a much longer journey, but we’re steadily moving forward with your help and feel ready take on the next mission: enhancing World of Tanks’ visuals and gameplay.
Our focus for 2018 is delivering greater visual and sound fidelity, enriching the game with new vehicles and new ways to experience tank combat, as well as new fun-fueled events. We just dropped some juicy details on the game’s future at WG Fest 2017, and wanted to share them with everyone who couldn’t pop over to Moscow for an intimate gathering of a few hundred thousand fellow tankers.
One of the biggest newsbeats at this year’s WG Fest was the announcement of Update 1.0, which is less than three months away! Slated to hit production servers in March, it reimagines the game with a new graphics engine and over 25 ultra-realistic maps.
This impressive revamp has been over four years in the making. It all began from our desire to bring the game’s visuals to modern standards, and was continuously fueled by three things: your feedback, technological progress, and performance optimization. We wanted to give the game a modern look, while also ensuring you can enjoy it on your rig. Simply tweaking the original engine to improve the game’s looks just wouldn’t cut it: technology evolved rapidly, and the BigWorld client engine simply couldn’t keep up.
Much like we all do in a battle, we needed to plan a few steps ahead. In our case, it called for a solution that would support the latest technological advancements while having enough capacity to let us advance graphics in tandem with it. Also, we needed a technology tailored to World of Tanks. Hardly any graphics engine (both now and then) would fit these three requirements. So we brought client development in-house, created something specifically for World of Tanks, and named it for what it was: CORE, as it’s literally at the core of everything you see in game.
What might look simple on paper definitely wasn’t that way in real life. It took our team three years to make it happen. Another year (and a crew of several hundred people) was needed to overhaul the game’s maps, recreating all in-game content from the ground-up using the latest technology for graphical content processing and rendering.
Terrain textures, a water rendering system, skyboxes, a lighting system, shadows—we went over every single map element, redesigning them to add greater depth, beauty and realism to battlefields. Each map now has a distinguished flare and provides even deeper immersion thanks to a variety of new and improved technologies and effects.
- Vast expanses: We designed miles upon miles of outland so you can see beyond a map’s borders like you would in the real world.
- Realistic terrain: The new graphics engine let us blend 16 textures so that terrain looks truly volumetric, detailed down to the smallest blades of grass.
- Soaking and responsive water: Tanks and any other environmental object that interacts with water get wet, just like in real life. When a vehicle crosses a river, it disrupts water as it moves, and firing a shell creates circularly spreading 3D waves over its surface.
- Rich volumetric flora: Foliage reflects the seasons, and trees no longer resemble flat images. We added a good amount of volume to them and designed over a hundred unique trees and several variations for each ecotype to add diversity.
- Photorealistic skies: We added moving clouds and created photorealistic skyboxes for every map to give them a unique and dynamic feel.
- Advanced lighting: The lighting system features realistic shading/lighting models, environments, improved dynamic shadows and global illumination technology that accurately follows the natural lighting laws of physics, adding harmony to the picture.
- Destructible objects: The reworked maps get long-awaited Havok® Destruction technology. So now you can gloriously crash environments, rolling over them as you rumble into battle.
- Post-effects: Bloom, god rays, chromatic aberration, and screen space reflection effects improve image quality and clarity of detail.
We injected maps with extra detail, while also trying to keep gameplay-defining elements where they were for most maps. It’s a tough balancing act, but we believe that a few rounds of testing with you will get us there. At the same time, we used this opportunity to fix gameplay issues you reported to us over the years about Fisherman’s Bay, Ruinberg, Pilsen, Erlenberg, Steppes, and Kharkov. For example, Fisherman’s Bay is getting a more balanced frontline. It will offer both teams equal chances at pushing key directions. The middle area on Erlenberg is getting a solid makeover: it’s much easier to read now, with visible lowland, denser forests, and fewer environments that have little tactical value.
The enhancements didn’t end with visuals. We teamed up with over 40 composers and musicians from all around the world and recorded over 15 TB or rough audio data to improve your immersion in battle with authentic sound.
Starting with Update 1.0, music will resonate with the map setting, creating a unique atmosphere for each battlefield. Kazakh musicians will play traditional musical instruments as you roll over Lost City. Arabic composers will bring their musical aesthetic to Sand River, Airfield, and El Halluf. Gregorian chants will echo on Mountain Pass.
You can sense map’s unique “character” well before the action begins with unique loading screen themes. Then, the sound will change depending on what’s happening to your team in-game.
So, what stopped us from adding new maps and sound the minute they were ready? A few things. First of all, graphical advances naturally up the pressure on your rig, which wasn’t in our plans. We put in extra work to optimize stability and framerates on mid-range and older PCs, reduce the memory load even further and give you the headroom to enable extra effects.
- A special procedural virtual texture was introduced to deliver realistic landscapes with no added pressure on performance.
- The Adaptive Shadow Maps technology calculates shadows from static objects and saves them in a special reusable shadow texture, reducing the load on the graphics card and processor.
- Graphical subsystems were reworked using streaming technology to reduce the overall memory footprint of graphics.
- The heavy-on-performance reflection generation process was replaced with the Screen Space Reflection algorithm, significantly lowering the load on the graphics card.
- We implemented multi-resolution particles to smooth out FPS drops when multiple particle effects are being simultaneously rendered on screen (e.g. explosions and fumes).
Besides, it was technically impossible to add redesigned maps in batches, we had to switch to the new engine for it, and it doesn’t support old graphics. Now imagine having several maps in rotation and playing them over and over. You’d get sick of them quite soon, regardless how sleek they look.
However, that’s all in the past. With several optimization iterations, a few internal tests, and another round in Sandbox (thanks again for joining us there!), we’re nearing the finish line. We’re already 25 maps down, and almost ready to go! “Almost” stands for several more internal and open tests.
Our mission to fine-tune maps and the sound system shouldn’t prevent you from exploring the reimagined game—not to mention how excited we are to let you in and hear your thoughts! That’s why we created a special demo program, World of Tanks enCore. It gives you some early hands-on time with the enhanced visuals and music. There’s a prerecorded battle you can replay to look around the redesigned maps. While you take in the sights, World of Tanks enCore will test your game station and tell you how the overhauled game will perform on different configurations.
Head here to check if your system’s ready for the reimagined World of Tanks:
Before this massive experience uplift, we’ll be treating you to a new line of Soviet heavies, while also revising the nation’s TDs and medium tanks.
Following your feedback from Supertests, the SU-100 line is getting reshaped into assault TDs. Mobile and bouncy, they’re destined for mid-to-close combat. It’s where they can angle to deflect shells and leverage maneuverability to perform quick assaults, dismantling enemies with high-DPM guns.
Although we’re still working out the final setup, you can expect several big comebacks and a major reshuffle at Tiers IX–X:
- The SU-122-54 gets removed. This famed TD with its traditional turret placement felt like an upsetting step away from the line’s underlying concept. Not to mention its brittle armor and low HP pool that often prevented it from fighting on par with its Tier IX peers.
- The SU-101M1 and SU-101 return to Tiers VII and VIII, respectively.
- The Object 268 Variant 4 will replace the Object 263 at Tier X, while the latter will move to Tier IX. This combination performed well during Supertests, and we’d like test it once again with you.
The upcoming revision will form three MT lines, each built around a certain gameplay style.
- A new mini-line researchable from the T-44: The Object 430 will move down to Tier IX, making room for the Object 430U (Tier X) and forming a new mini-line of well-armored assault MTs with high alpha.
- MTs with rear-mounted turrets: The Object 416 stays at Tier VIII, followed by the Object 430 Variant II at Tier IX and an all-new Tier X MT with tough turret armor and gameplay that feels like a natural progression up the A-44 line. It will be added after 9.22.
Initially, we were planning to remove the Object 416 and build a line from two MTs with rear-mounted followed by another two with traditional turret placement. However, Supertest results and your feedback pushed us to come up with an alternative setup: the A-44 → Object 416 → Object 430 Variant II → New Tier X
- Assault MTs down the T-44 line (Т-44, Т-54, Т-62А, Object 140) remain unchanged.
Update 9.22 will add two alternative HT mini-lines.
- Three new HTs with rear-mounted turrets will make their debut at Tiers VIII–X: the IS-2Sh → Object 705 → Object 705A. Researchable from the KV-13, this bunch take after the IS-7 in the speed and armor departments and offer original gameplay that feels like a blend between the Kpw. VII and the IS-7.
- The relatively lightly armored T-10 didn't really fit well between the durable IS-3 and IS-7, which didn’t stop it from gathering quite an army of fans. Powered by your feedback, it stays at Tier IX and gets its own mini-line headed by yet another newcomer that will be added after 9.22.
Premium Vehicles With Preferential Matchmaking
We’re also looking into Premium tanks with preferential matchmaking. They often fail to compete on par against their researchable peers that underwent significant improvements. Standalone tweaks won’t solve the problem. That’s why we’re working on a complex solution to revitalize them without disturbing the game balance. We’ll discuss it in more detail when we have something solid to show you. It will take us more than a few months, but we all agree that a problem like that should be addressed without rushing.
We showed you three new modes this year, but only one of them, Grand Battles, was released. Ranked Battles and Frontline will follow suit next year. And while it’s too soon to talk details about Frontline, we can brief you on the next Ranked Battles Season.
To ensure the launch Season promotes healthy competition, we’ll tweak some of the format’s key mechanics:
- Chevron-earning: We’ll move from only rewarding chevrons to players on the winning team to rewarding them to the top performers of both teams. Tankers on the winning team will get more chevrons, of course.
- Rank system: The system stays the same as in the 2nd Beta, but we’ll increase the number of ranks to smooth the progression curve.
- Defending your rank: This new mechanic is designed to ensure your ranks don’t “burn” upon a few unsuccessful battles. Instead, you’ll be able to prove you still deserve the ranks you’re holding by defending certain ranks in battle.
- Duration: There’ll be fewer stages than in the 2nd Beta, and they’ll be longer. Players won’t need to play through the night to level up over a weeklong stage. We want players to focus on putting on a great performance rather than playing the required number of battles.
It’s been a year since we last treated you to a new nation, but we’re determined to fix it in 2018 by expanding the roster with Tech Trees from two European countries. There’ll be a time and place for a first reveal, but we left you a few clues in the 2018 preview video. Check it out and share your ideas on the forum.
New Ways to Earn (and Spend) Bonds
We’re staying true to our promise to add more ways to get and spend Bonds. Right now, you receive them with every Epic Medal and Battle Hero achievements earned in Tier IV-X vehicles, in Tier X Random Battles and Grand Battles. Engaging in the ongoing campaign on the Global Map also lets you earn Bonds and exchange them for tanks. And we don’t plan to stop here—we’re considering making customization items and vehicles available with Bonds and plan to add even more ways to acquire this new currency in 2018.
Next Phase of Customization
Update 9.21 laid the groundwork for a more sophisticated customization system, and evolving it is high on our priority list for 2018. Here, we’ll focus on three things: adding new styles, bringing new mechanics to tiers VI–IX, and developing 3D customization items.
There is a salvo of activities on the way to crank up the tank action to the max next year! From atmospheric quests like Leviathan’s Invasion to marathons with a wider list of rewards, including Bonds, customization items, and of course tanks. We won’t pass on the chance to revive the football mode next summer, either. So get ready to polish those boots and throw on your kit!
Stay tuned for more details, and on behalf of the whole World of Tanks team, thank you so much for all of your time and feedback on the game!