Second Gen Tank Shenanigans In Armored Warfare

Probably an objective

“It’s not so much that we’re competing directly. We want to take things forward a bit for the genre and do the second generation type of this game.”

I’m speaking to Matt Festa, senior designer on Obsidian’s tank-based strategic shooter Armored Warfare about the differences between his game and – just to pluck an example out of the air – World Of Tanks.

At first glance the two seem pretty similar. I mean there’s the whole “joining a team to fight using tanks” thing, but also in terms of the interface. I haven’t played much in the way of World of Tanks but on dropping into a match of Armored Warfare, the garage screen where you select your vehicle and so on felt very familiar. Once in-game the vehicles fulfill expected roles, for example front-line tanks like the Challenger 2 deal and absorb damage but are weak in terms of spotting and camouflage while artillery hang back and fling projectiles, dealing massive damage from afar.

Festa acknowledges the influence of Wargaming’s title but adds that there are points of difference between the games.

“We’re huge fans of World Of Tanks – a lot of us are players with thousands and thousands of matches so it’s definitely something we’ve referenced a lot. I think one of the main things which are going to set us apart is the PvE. It’s this mission-based mode which I think is going to be different from anything offered by the competition. These modes are going to be more about the AI and there’s going the be a lot of different types of objectives.”

In the PvE game I played, the primary objective was to take out three ammo depots which could be found randomly placed in bunkers across the map. A secondary bonus objective was to take out the SAM turrets dotted around which would take out an incoming aircraft after five minutes had elapsed.

The reasoning behind having a strong PvE component is to cater to players intimidated by the idea of jumping into PvP matches with players with more experience and expertise. According to Festa it can either offer a less daunting introduction to the mechanics and tactics which you can transfer to PvP or it can just be your entire game.

“The PvE should hopefully make it easier to ease in and if people don’t like PvP at all they have the option of playing the whole game and all the vehicles purely in PvE,” he says.

There’s also the matter of that Challenger 2 I mentioned earlier. It’s the British Army’s current main battle tank and thus an excellent demonstration of the fact that Armored Warfare features modern fighting vehicles and technology.

“Certainly the fact we’re doing modern vehicles is a big deal,” says Festa. “We’re focusing on adding new things – guided missiles is one example . Smoke grenades also adds an interesting dynamic. Players can create their own cover instead of just using map cover either if they’re in trouble or if there’s a strategic plan. We’re also playing with a lot of mechanics for modern equipment that will add digital elements into the game.”

Demand for smoke grenades is actually a recurring request on World Of Tanks message boards because of the extra strategic options smoke offers so it’s interesting that Armored Warfare will be taking that up. I’m picturing Counter-Strike at this point but with massive tanks rather than nimble bodies.

Festive

“Probably a third thing that’s a good example is we’re shooting for something a little more narrative-driven. It’s not going to be a story per se but certainly the dealers [from whom you buy vehicles and receive missions] are going to have backgrounds and the missions you’re getting and the context of those missions is going to be within the context of a world conflict that’s going on.”

From talking to Festa it sounds like Obsidian are marrying a number of the campaign aspects from the most recent Wargame titles – Red Dragon and European Escalation – with the PvP of World of Tanks and adding contemporary vehicles and combat technology.

“We’re hoping that some of these more co-operative and casual elements will attract additional players in the US and Europe. Wargaming in particular has had great success in Russia [Wargaming CEO Victor Kislyi told Graham “In February we took 1.1 million concurrent users in Russia alone. 1.1 million Russians were playing at the same time, which is actually 2% of Russia’s male population.”] and they’re still kind of struggling with success in the United States and Europe so we’re also hoping that’s something we can specifically target – those audiences more directly.”

A large part of trying to target the North American and European audience will be keeping an eye on what works across all regions and what doesn’t.

“A good example is monetisation,” says Festa. “Monetisation in Russia, a lot of the data shows [relates to] prestige and in China i think it’s pretty similar. Things that are bought for money – when the player has them it’s considered prestigious that they’ve spent money. Like, ‘This guy is pretty serious about the game.’ In the US people who pay money like that are called wallet warriors. It’s pejorative.”

I call this one

The trick will be in working out what makes sense in both territories. “That’s been tricky and trying to isolate those kind of things to make a more global product is a big part of it. Obviously Wargaming and World Of Tanks have been pretty successful globally but we’re hoping we can change the trajectory of that and get more of the Western market.”

Armored Warfare will be in closed beta early in 2015.

19 Comments

  1. padger says:

    ” Things that are bought for money – when the player has them it’s considered prestigious that they’ve spent money. Like, ‘This guy is pretty serious about the game.’ In the US people who pay money like that are called wallet warriors. It’s pejorative.”

    Interesting distinction. But odd, really.

    • Gap Gen says:

      I admit that in War Thunder I shoot planes with idiot paint jobs first, often at risk to my own plane.

      • Serenegoose says:

        I often give my planes and tanks idiot paint jobs, just so when I shoot people down there’s a moment of ‘I got shot by someone who looks like a complete idiot, good grief’ and that pleases me immensely.

    • Ny24 says:

      That’s why World of Tanks has a separate Chinese server. On the Chinese one you get Power for Money, on the European you get Vanity mostly. They had to do it this way, otherwise players wouldn’t go with it.

  2. Smashbox says:

    I hope those closing remarks are supposed to be in quotes!

  3. Eightball says:

    I like a lot of World of Tanks (and I still play it too much) but I really want AW to succeed. World of Tanks feels like Wargaming accidentally made a hit game, and have ever since been trying to figure out how to continue developing it and have no idea on how to do so. The devs also don’t seem to even play their own game, and the QA is nearly nonexistent.

    I want AW to be World of Tanks but:

    1. sexier modern tanks (hopefully less paper tanks from the fevered imaginations of soviet and nazi design bureaus)
    2. developed by people who played a great but flawed tank game and looked to fix its flaws
    3. written in a game engine from after the fall of the Berlin Wall

    • Nastee says:

      I agree. Tanks still very much feels like the beta I started playing over four years ago. I’ll be playing it for years to come, but I want a competitive knock off like AW to explode on the NA market like Tanks did in RU.

    • battles_atlas says:

      Completely. They lucked out with game that happened to offer a slower-paced tactical FPS in a manner no one else had done and since then have spent most of the time fucking things up. I spent a good two years on WoT before a combination of the Soviet-era approach to customer service; the complete cynicism of the updates that would release a massively OP tank every few months and nerf it a few months after that, in time for the next one; and the introduction of increasingly stupid fantasy tanks (the Waffletractor was the nail in the coffin), killed my love of it. Not played for nearly a year, and after watching an update video the other day it seems like nothing much has changed since.

    • Gurrah says:

      Been playing WOT since closed beta, and believe you me I’ve got my fair share of criticism for the game, but they don’t coincide with yours.Saying the game is the same it was in beta is just ludicrous. They’ve overhauled the entire engine, are reworking all the maps and constantly adding new ones. Every online game needs to tweak and balance after a patch has been released, sure there are tanks that seem overpowered at first but for me the joy in WOT is playing around those perceived strengths and learn the minute details of the vehicles. The only real gripe I have is their making gold ammunition available for credits. This decision really brought me to a point where I was close to calling it quits forever, but I’ve learned to live with it and enjoy the game for what it is. And saying they made a surprise hit and making it sound like it’s a bad thing is a bit mean in my opinion, yeah, they did something no other company tried before and they succeeded, so much so that we’re now expecting AW which I am really looking forward to because it’ll cover the period WOT does not. Win/Win if you ask me.

      • Eightball says:

        >Saying the game is the same it was in beta is just ludicrous.

        I never said that, and I didn’t mean to imply that. Somebody else says it feels like the beta, which I disagree with. On the whole it is significantly better than it was at launch. Part of that was after very vocal campaigns by segments of the playerbase and against initial resistance by wargaming staff. After denying problems profusely for months they turn around and implement player suggestions in one area. Then they go back to denying other problems.

        But to WG’s credit, they have made some good decisions. Reducing the tier spread from beta, making premium ammo available for credits (instead of being pay2win), most of the new UI upgrades.

        >And saying they made a surprise hit and making it sound like it’s a bad thing is a bit mean

        I don’t care if it’s mean, I think it’s the truth. There was a huge niche open where WoT landed, but that same opening means they got (and get) away with things a more populated niche wouldn’t allow.

      • Nastee says:

        Some context to why I think the game still feels beta to me: the chat. the personification of the MM into some kind of entity that can be touched physically, the “rare” crashes that get fixed every patch.

        The game engine is creaky. I’m willing to play within the confines of the game (even excel at times), but I am tired of seeing 80’s soviet ideology foisted upon me like it’s the end all, be all of online gaming.

        The moderated chat in tanks is reminiscent of the BBS chats of yore. I fit in, but only just. If you’re willing to put up with a teenager’s raging power of chat, the game is great.

        Edit: The irony of promoting an R rated movie while treating all their players like kids in chat.

  4. Pulstar says:

    Unfortunately this one doesn’t seem to do much to differentiate itself from its main competitor. Heck even the aim reticules aren’t unique to each vehicle!

  5. Monggerel says:

    Here’s a list of what I want from this game:

    1. A Campaign in the vein of Mechwarrior: Mercenaries, set in a post-tankpocalyptic world where the stocks are up, the interest is down, all America’s rivers are going dry, and Chris Avellone is drunk again.

  6. StoneMason says:

    In my mind the only thing that makes armour interesting is the way it interacts with other force types on the battlefield, infantry, arty, air.

    This, World of Tanks and Warthunder Ground Forces? No fun unless I’m worrying about infantry anti-armour teams in every piece of close terrain

    • Behrditz says:

      Im pretty sure War Thunder is going to be adding infantry in some form, as they keep putting in keybinds for things like bow guns and other anti-infantry weapons that would never be used against other armor. Also they already have planes integrated into the tank game, so that a plus.

  7. gorice says:

    “It’s not so much that we’re competing directly. We want to take things forward a bit for the genre and do the second generation type of this game.”

    What an absolutely wonderful way of saying “we’ll blow them out of the water”.

  8. Chiron says:

    World of Tanks has taken a huge chunk of my gaming life the last few years, its just so easy and the matches are always varied.

    Is it a good game… well, yes and no… it does what WG need it to do and keeps people hooked, grinding and working towards the bigger better deal, but there have been several “tweaks” over its lifetime that have really messed around with how well you do, from autoloaders capable of shredding your tank to paste in 4 quick shots to changing the maps so that the physics implementation is now useless, every map is now mostly about fighing in a specific lane and ways to actually hide removed. The player base is also insanely toxic, full of racism, sexism and some very poor players indeed.

    I’m hoping Armoured Warfare can replicate that easy in, easy out gameplay and manage to remain somewhat more consistent in its design.

  9. WinTurkey says:

    Damn it, why can’t developers just take my $60 and give me a multiplayer tank/airplane game without the grind?