The free-to-play arcade tank battles of World of Tanks [official site] today get a whole lot bigger with the official launch of a new 30v30 mode. Grand Battles is its name, and grand battles is its game. Along with bringing a higher playercount -- double the regular high of 15v15 -- Grand Battles packs a large new map, Nedelburg, suited to megafights. Only Tier X tanks can join in, mind, so it's not open to everyone.
Wargaming explain the lay of the land:
"Nebelburg is a 1.4x1.4km summer map with mixed terrain and designed specifically for Grand Battles. It offers enough space for all 60 players to maneuver. The middle area, dominated by a hill, is well suited for scouts. Heavy hitters and TDs can use the buildings and streets of the town in the west to their advantage, especially in close combat. Hilly areas in the east lend ample tactical opportunities to medium tanks and others that perform well on uneven terrain, thanks to solid gun depression and turret armor."
It doesn't just plop all players together in one big rumble either.
"Each team of 30 is divided into three groups of 10 players. To ensure kickstarting a battle without wasting time to regroup, we tied the spawn positions within these small groups to vehicle types. Well-armored tanks roll out on the front lines ready to rush towards the enemy, while SPGs stay behind the main push and cover the group from the rear. The rest of the squad spawns in the middle, including heavy tanks that didn't get into the first line. Lastly, Platoon players start a Grand Battle within one line."
Curiously, the mode is disabled by default for people with slow computers. Big battles mean bigger system requirements, so they're trying to ward off people with crudboxes. They can change an option to play, but it's a clear warning that it will probably suck.
Grand Battles launch with patch 9.20, which also include a load of vehicle balance changes.
Wargaming have experimented with 60-player battles before. Frontline mode hit the test server earlier this year, having teams of 30 attack and defend positions across sections of a huge map, but has yet to graduate to full permanent mode.