2020: A Year To Forget
As I am going into the seventh year of playing the game I cannot believe where we are, what shape the world is in, and how the game has reflected the year.
We started off with hope for a new season format and new ways to earn tanks to play. Valor ops was great and just what most of us wanted from World of Tanks Console. And then things changed …
Summer Slam Season came along and players had no idea how much would be altered the remainder of the year. The whole feel was different. The garage became a wrestling ring featuring a tank in the middle with a crowd waving signs, cheering and shouting.
That lost me. I understand the game needs resources to keep going and a partnership with professional wrestling must have provided something financial, but I still have no idea what that was. A game about mid-century war machines was replaced by intro music, fireworks and spandex outfits.
Not being a WWE fan, I couldn’t find motivation to play. The rewards were nothing I wanted and the theme made no sense, so I skipped it.
For the first time in six years I didn’t play World of Tanks. Right at the time the world shut down I lost interest in a game I played daily. And so it went for months, so much so that emails from WarGaming offered war chests if I would only log into the game.
I did not.
After a summer vacation from WoTC but not being able to have an actual vacation because of Covid-19, it was announced that the new season was coming. Hope springs eternal, and once again my thoughts turned to playing tanks.
Only to have hope crushed by the season of Hot Wheels!
Seriously, Hot Wheels-themed tanks with a racetrack garage and car engine sound effects. A game thought to appeal to an older group of players was thrust into the toy aisle.
Again there was sound financial logic for this, but for a lot of players their hole became deeper. I was shocked, but at least toy cars are more tolerable that spandex-clad posers. Still, the idea of chromed-out tanks with glowing lights did not interest me. I played World War II-era tanks I liked and ignored the outlandish as much as possible.
The game was still the game I had enjoyed for years and I could deal with the theme.
And then the bottom fell out.
Players were promised the biggest update ever for WoTC. There would be graphic improvements, a fourth equipment slot, new systems for crew and tank management, and a garage …
I guess we should have been worried at that vague description. In reality not even the wildest dreams of the biggest doubters and worriers could have conjured what occurred.
At first even the season’s theme seemed promising: WoTC action heroes, with ’80s movie characters Snake Plissken, John Rambo and James Braddock. Each had a themed tank that looked like it belonged in the game. Of course, why Snake was paired with a Russian tank is another question. But it was a better idea for a video game about tanks, and it was something I could work with.
The server rest happens, the world wakes up and WoTC is a new game!
But not in a good way.
Game developers tried to beef up the graphics or made the crew management different, but basic mechanics were fundamentally changed so it did not even feel like the same game. Maps were unreadable and in a different screen position. The heads-up display was replaced and the so-called fourth equipment slot was just the old system of identifying targets. Take the equipment off and players got nothing back while losing the ability to identify information about friend and foe alike.
Enemies were outlined in white, if you could see them. Teams had gone from green and red identification to orange and blue. Icons that since the beginning had been used to identify tank types were replaced by one universal symbol — ^ — that meant nothing and didn’t really matter because as a player you couldn’t see anything that was happening.
The game was burned to the ground and replaced. Even the “garage” was replaced with a visage of a hellish wasteland.
In one awful day game designers did something I never thought possible: They united players in hate-filled rage. Players who seldom agreed on anything stood together during the WoTC stream and voiced the anger and frustrations the Version 6.0 update brought.
Most importantly from my perspective, it drove Pork Chop Platoon tankers to look for other games. Most nights before the update you could find 10 to 15 people playing, but this mess left few of my fellow pigs in action. It was too much, it was too fast and it was not what players wanted in the game.
Changes have been made and are helping, but the players like myself put years into the game and need a lot more to trust and want to be back in the game.
WarGaming will do what it believes is in the best interest of the business. That is what it is. But for sure the game and the version 6.0 update was what the crappy year 2020 deserved.
It was a mess and got worse before it slowly (hopefully) began to get better.
–The Average Tanker–