Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Tank Envy

One of my gaming friends is still playing World of Tanks pretty seriously.  Last night before our little group started its weekly session of Lord of the Rings: War in the North (which after a couple of weeks of play I'd still highly recommend as a really fun action-RPG romp if you can play it with friends and avoid the bugs) he was talking about his progress in WoT, and that he was just 8,000 xp away from the IS-7, currently the tank at the top of the Russian heavy tank line.  As in a tier 10 tank, as high as you can get in the game.

Hello, I'm the IS-7.  I'll be your bruiser for the evening.
He then started talking about his IS-4, and what a fun tank it is and how it really makes all the other heavy tanks he's played feel pretty feeble in comparison.  My heavy tank experiences have generally felt pretty feeble, so I couldn't argue with him there.  It got me to thinking though -- one of the reasons I started losing interest in WoT was that even though tanks would look like upgrades on paper, when you actually unlocked them and started playing they just weren't much fun, or somehow managed to perform more poorly than the tank before them thanks to being in a higher tier and fighting harder opposition.  That happened to me numerous times and left me feeling like I'd wasted all my time building up to the tank in question.  It happened with the German tank destroyer line, I got up to tier 5 and went "meh".  It happened with the US tank destroyer line, I got up to tier 5 and went "meh".  I'd say maybe I have a problem with tank destroyers, but I actually like the Russian tank destroyers.  Well, so far.  I got up to tier 7 in the US heavy tank tree and was really disappointed by the T29.  I have the biggest gun it can mount and still can't seem to kill much.  To date I still have superior stats with the T1 Heavy, a tank I thought sucked pretty bad.  Apparently not as much as I thought.

So hearing about my friend's experiences with the IS line of tanks shortly had me drifting into the realm of tank envy.  Why did I waste my time with the US heavy tank tree when the Russian one is apparently so much better?!  Not that I could do much about it even if I wanted to, my highest Russian tank is only tier 4, a long haul from tier 7 IS.  If only I could respec . . .

Yeah, why can't I respec?  One could (quite reasonably) argue that the research tree you progress down is no different than choosing a class in a real MMORPG.  If you get halfway to the level cap with a class and decide you don't like it, you're out of luck, you get to start over.  Why should WoT be any different?  Maybe it shouldn't, maybe the way they're doing it is just fine, though one can't help but think that it also serves to drive sales of premium time and xp transfers, something that likely generates more revenue over time than a respec token would.

On the other hand, it's not as if we have characters in WoT, it's just a technology tree.  There's also the issue that keeps shifting things around in the trees but doesn't reset where you've spent your xp, which can lead to some odd and/or annoying shifts to your progression.  The other thing to consider is that a normal MMORPG offers the possibility of different content if you start a new character.  Maybe a new starting zone, new class quests, new abilities, etc.  That's not the case in WoT.  If you start over to unlock a new tank you'll be doing exactly the same deathmatch maps as you were before, and all tanks have the same "abilities", they just have different stats.  You might switch from a slow tank with heavy armor and a big gun to a faster tank with thinner armor and a smaller gun, and doing so will result in a change in your tactics, but it's not as if that T20 can deploy mines while the IS can call in an orbital strike.  They all have a single gun of varying capability and drive around on the map shooting at things.

So should WoT have a way to unspend your xp in order to shift it into new research areas?  I don't know, such a system would certainly be controversial (to say the least!) and run the risk of flavor-of-the-month tanks.  Nevertheless, if such a system did exist I would almost certainly take advantage of it, even if it cost real money to do so.  My time is far more limited than my funds.


  1. Honestly - I'd say no (and I play a lot of MMO's).

    It's easy to get xp - especially up to tier 5 or 6, so all you'd do is level low level tanks, then 'unspend' all the xp you earned across all the trees, and you'd instantly have enough xp to get an IS7, or E100. This way you have to earn your way into the larger tanks, the playstyle of an IS4 for example, is significantly different than an E-50, or a T95 etc.
    I have been playing WoT for a while (since early beta), and since launch have unlocked a lot of high tier tanks, and they all have their foibles. The levelling conditions are pretty fair - you can grind up without spending real money, or you can use real money to convert spare experience on tanks you've maxed out.

  2. Can't really disagree, it'd just be nice as someone who can't really put in the time to level up entirely new trees. I'm pretty much stuck with my T29 even though I don't like it.

    I can say the same about any MMO I've played though, where I wish I could get back the time I spent on a character I no longer enjoy.