PAX East 2015

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6 - 8 March 2015 | Written by Maxxum

Coming away from our preview and discussion of's latest showings, specifically the Xbox One update for World of Tanks, and the upcoming World of Warships, I had two thoughts: Firstly, I can't think of a gaming company that does as much historical research as, and secondly it must be very difficult to repeatedly come up with new ways to make blowing things up so much fun. is clearly very good at both, as their memberships continue to rise and set records.

As part of each press session, we receive assets that showcase the latest graphics and screen-caps that's developers have created - I'll be sharing them with you, but I wanted to talk about the game-play first because I've never been to another hands-on during which I took more notice of the game-play than I did the graphics or environment. That's not say to that the latest graphics update for Xbox One isn't distinctive - rather, I was so impressed with the strategic and chess-like nature of World of Warships that the intellectual stimulation was more notable than my base desires to run over a tree or shoot a tank shell through a house using the new gaming engine in all it's HDR glory (it will also soon be possible to shoot the trees, or drive through a house with a tank).

Here are some of those pictures I promised:

What they don't/can't show is our reaction to the new graphics during the demonstration with Chris Stott, Associate Producer at Those of us in the room were looking for things in the new environment to destroy because the explosions were noticeably more realistic. The improvements aren't at all incremental, they're substantially better: fields can visibly be seen being windswept, track links on armor render independently and react to individual surfaces, and rivets on tanks are individualized for that extra touch of reality.

These are all great things for World of Tanks players - the latest demonstration from that interested me the most however was the World of Warships hands-on. After showing us the aircraft carrier combat during the demonstration, I asked (read: insisted) one of the floor community managers let me use an aircraft carrier instead of a battleship. Chris had mentioned that they were concerned the ship combat would be too slow, but it seemed to me that they've already struck the right balance.

Given that the aircraft has no defense but anti-aircraft guns and planes (only useful for offense), I kept my ship as far away as possible from the other players - so, from the beginning I was already feeling that anticipation a player gets when they know that if they get discovered, they're done. As I sent my planes out to attack, I wondered how they would fare against the other ships as they too had AA guns. If my opponents realized that a player on the map was using an aircraft carrier, would they come looking for me...? Thus began the chess game.

To keep other players from guessing my location, I would change the approach angle of my planes while moving my aircraft carrier away from the position I had when I launched my planes. All of this is happening a pace that's not too quick, but not too tedious - the pace is such that if you make a mistake you'll know it in time to realize that your opponents have just capitalized on your error.

Planes are equipped with only bombs, torpedoes, or guns (which can be used against enemy planes but not ships), and it can take one or more flights to and from your carrier to destroy an enemy vessel, during which at any point you can be discovered and destroyed. If I'm beginning to sound partial to aircraft carriers, it's because I am. I didn't have a chance to play one of the battleships, but as my planes flew over them I could see which players were trying to evade my attacks, and which ones were trying to counter my moves - so, I can only guess what they were experiencing, but as I heard one of the players shouting on the other side of the screen as my torpedoes were moving towards his ship, I believe I can fairly say that he was having much fun as I.

The World of Warships closed beta test is taking sign-ups, I encourage you to join.

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