World of Tanks 1.0 is now live across the game’s North American, European and Asian servers, bringing with it a raft of new improvements and 29 completely reworked battlefields. Whether you’re a die hard, lapsed player or newcomer, here are six reasons to get on board with the latest evolution of the massively multiplayer online tank shooter.

1) It’s the product of eight years of evolution

Eight years seems like a mighty long time between the initial release of a game and it’s 1.0 overhaul, but according to Alexander de Giorgio, Regional Publishing Director for Wargaming APAC, the reality is that World of Tanks is a game that’s been in constant motion and evolution since it first launched in 2010. “We see World of Tanks as a living thing,” says de Giorgio. “It’s been going now as a service to players for eight years, and that means a constant stream of updates, of new content, of new game modes, and sometimes things that didn’t work, which we had to roll back. This is a constant experience of running a game like this, and so in that kind of mindset, eight years is like nothing. It just kind of comes along, it just happened.”

Thus when the development team began the process some four years ago of building the 1.0 version of the game, they set about reconfiguring the baseline architecture of the game to give it the best possible foundation for the future.

“When the decision was made to build our own engine and to really rebuild the game basically from the ground up, that seemed like an obvious choice to be 1.0,” explains de Giorgio. “So, once that decision was made, that was the easy part. Then it was actually, okay, now build the engine and once you’ve built the engine, that was all well and good, but how do we integrate that engine into the game which is still running live on servers 24/7? How do you bring that in, without it impacting the existing players?”

“So that whole process took another year, until we were at the stage where it really felt like, okay, this is a new game,” says de Giorgio. “1.0 was a way for us to say, here’s a chapter, closing. And now the next chapter, is starting with CORE, with this new engine.”

2) Its CORE engine brings bealism to the battlefield

The visual difference between World of Tanks 1.0 and its previous incarnation is night and day. The obvious enhancements to water, terrain, clouds and foliage make for battlefields far more immersive than ever before, and a new lighting system brings all that added detail into stark relief. A photorealistic skybox with clouds that drift on the wind, screen space reflections on water surfaces that reflect and refract objects, explosions, smoke and shadows, and over 100 different tree types are just a few of the differences the CORE engine affords, in addition to being much more flexible for the development team to tweak and adjust moving forward.

“Flexibility was really important to us,” explains de Giorgio. “For example, say we want to make changes to the map, maybe map geometry. In our old engine, it was a very complex thing to do that. In our new engine, it allows us much more flexibility there, to deform terrain, deform buildings, these are things which fundamentally change the gameplay, and now we can do that, and test it and see if it works and then either scale it back or not, very quickly. So it allows us to iterate even faster, and my hope is that, going forward, we’re going to be able to iterate in terms of new changes and new end dates even more effectively than we did in the past. And that’s something which, in the industry as a rule, is becoming an expectation, and is becoming as a result an expectation for players.”

The CORE engine has also been built in a way that new technologies can be easily integrated with it in the years ahead.

“We tried to build something which had a much more modular kind of approach to the architecture, where we could say, ‘Oh, look, this new type of technology has come out, like hardware tessellation or like a bloom effect and log rays and all these kind of things, they’re really cool, how do we integrate them into the game?” says de Giorgio. “Before, it was a headache, you know, developers trying to figure out how to do it without breaking something. Now it’s like, oh, we can just plug it in and it works, and we can move on. Less time spent on developing backend, more time spent on developing front-end content, which is obviously where we want to be because that’s what players actually really pay attention to.”

3) You don’t necessarily need a new PC to run it

With cryptocurrency miners currently driving up the cost of graphics cards, some players might be wary of getting onboard with World of Tanks 1.0 under the expectation that a hardware upgrade is in order if they want to run the new CORE engine. But the good news is that even if you’re an existing World of Tanks player who’s been running the game for years on the same hardware specs, World of Tanks 1.0 is designed to be exceedingly scalable – imperative since it remains a free to play game seeking as wide an audience as possible.

“The ability to optimize across a huge variety [of systems], from small laptops to super-high-end gaming rigs is crucial for us,” says de Giorgio. “We want everyone to be able to play it, and we want someone who has spent the money on those expensive rigs to be able to take full advantage of it and have all the bells and whistles. But someone who wants to play the game on the machine that they have, they don’t want to spend any more money on it, they can still do so, and still have fundamentally the same experience.”

The bottom line is that while those with beefier rigs might be getting the more realistic experience, in a gameplay sense the battleground is still a level playing field.

“One of the reasons [the development of 1.0] took so long is that we wanted to make sure that in terms of gameplay, it’s the same gameplay,” explains de Giorgio. “If a map strategically worked in a certain way, it still works the same way.”

4) Glacier is the perfect showcase for the CORE engine

While the bulk of the maps in World of Tanks 1.0 are recreations of existing arenas, Glacier has been built from scratch using the new CORE engine. This brand new Sweden-set map isn’t based on any specific locale or historical battle, since Sweden was a neutral state during World War II. But in this instance, historical accuracy can be damned because Glacier is one of the most jaw-dropping theaters of war yet to be featured in World of Tanks.

Around a third of the map is covered in ice, with abandoned ships and dilapidated village remnants lodged in it, and to the northeast is a hulking aircraft carrier that provides an elevated spot to provide coverage for your team in the center of the map.

From the reflections in the ice to the deformation of the snow under your tank treads, if you want to see the CORE engine at its present best, Glacier is the perfect showcase.

5) Its soundtrack elevates the action

With the 1.0 update, every map in World of Tanks comes with its own signature soundtrack for the beginning, duration and culmination of each conflict. Each piece of music has been crafted using instruments and motifs unique to the region of each map, from the arabic sounds of El Halluf and Sand River to the Bach-inspired classical stylings of Ruinberg. Over sixty pieces of music may seem like overkill in a game where often the only thing you can hear is your own heartbeat pounding in your ear canals, but evidently the team behind World of Tanks don’t do anything by halves.

“Our general approach to these kinds of things is if we’re going to do it, let’s have fun with it and enjoy it, and really make it something that’s impactful,” says de Giorgio. “But I think a lot of it is subliminal and a lot of the things that we’ve done both graphically and sonically is in those small details which you wouldn’t pay attention to, but once you see them, you’re not going to accept them not being there.”

“When you’re in the middle of battle, all your senses are keyed into what you’re doing, and particularly in the kind of environment we’re trying to create in the game, it’s all about being in the moment, and lining up that shot, getting the kill, trying not to get shot, and sound has a huge impact there.”

Thus it wasn’t enough for the team to simply make the new soundtrack evocative of certain geographical regions of the globe, but to enhance the actual moment to moment experience as well. This led to the team scrapping a lot of the initial soundtrack early on because although it was being created by the right musicians with the right instruments, it wasn’t quite fitting the action on screen.

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27.03.2018

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