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#GDC 2013: Hands-on with an early version of World of Tanks Blitz

Something clanking this way is coming

Product: World of Tanks Blitz | Publisher: Wargaming | Genre: Action, Strategy | Networking: wireless (network)
For: iPad   Also on: Android, iPhone
World of Tanks Blitz iPad, thumbnail 1
Having proved you can successfully make a game about tanks - redefining the term 'success' in the process - Wargaming is now pointing the tracks of its massive World of Tanks franchise at mobile devices.

But given the tongue-in-cheek comments of CEO Victor Kislyi that 'mobile games are for pussies', it's taken the ambitious approach that this will not be any sort of cutdown experience.

World of Tanks Blitz will be as close to the World of Tanks experience as it can be.

Heavy metal

Of course, there have to be some changes, most notably in terms of the control scheme, which moves from a keyboard and mouse to touchscreen.

Playing a pre-alpha build of the game at the Game Developers Conference 2013, it seems like Wargaming - via its Dava Studio in Minsk, Belarus - is on the right track.

It's gone for a standard virtual stick approach with movement controlled with a fixed position virtual stick on the left hand side of the screen, while the camera (and turret) is controlled by moving your thumb around on the right.

Note, the turret's rotation is independent from the camera, and in the build of the game we played, there was a strong auto-aim feature, giving the gameplay experience an almost arcade feel.

Also on the right hand side of the screen is the fire button, while zooming the camera is triggered by a binocular button. This replaces the scroll wheel zoom of the PC game. Another neat touch is if you zoom on an enemy tank, the camera will automatically zoom in further.

Things that go bang

As for the gameplay, we played on a small map, which showed Wargaming's proprietary 3D engine tech is already working well on iOS.

We were playing on iPads and an iPad mini in a 2 vs 2 battle.

The mobile version (iOS and Android) will support up to 7 on 7 battles, down from 15 vs 15 on PC. That's due to technical issues such as processor performance and device memory.

Another restriction is World of Tanks Blitz will launch with around 80 tank types (compared to over 230 on PC) and three countries - USA, Germany and USSR. Again, there are another three available on PC.

Partly this is to ensure the initial mobile download isn't too big, but Wargaming will be looking to add additional tanks and countries as it updates and supports the mobile game.

But in terms of other details, there's plenty to still be announced.

Of course, the game will be free-to-play, support Wargaming.net's online portal in terms of player ID, offer social aspects in terms of team-based play, and we expect it sometime in 2013, but there's no confirmation of any release date just yet.

We should get better idea of the final version of the game, and have more hands-on time, during the E3 show in LA in June.

Reviewer photo
Jon Jordan 29 March 2013
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