Who the hell thought that action RTS is a good idea in World of Warships?!

The unique selling point of World of Warships is that it’s slow. It’s an FPS game where your avatar is not a soldier or alien robot, but a warship. However that’s just cosmetics, you could mod the client to reskin the ships into anime girls, the shells into soap bubbles, the water into a grassy park and the islands into candy houses and it would be the exact same game. The devs actually reskinned them into spaceships for an event:
space

What makes it different from dime a dozen FPS-es is that your travel time is long and your change of momentum is slow. You can’t spin around instantly, turning back a battleship can take half minute and even for a fast destroyer it’s around 10 seconds. Same with aiming your guns. If you notice an enemy in PUBG on your left, you can shoot him as fast as you can turn your mouse. Aimbot cheaters do it instantly. If a warship appears at the left of your battleship, entering your view distance while you were shooting forward with your front guns, you can shoot this ship in about 12 seconds with your front guns. Depending on your luck (which side they were turned as forward as possible), the rest of your guns will fire at it in 10 or 40 seconds. Oh and probably the ship is a destroyer and your guns are loaded with AP. Unless the destroyer captain is a noob or a friendly saves you, you are dead but it’ll take about a minute before you get the death screen.

What can you do between the 30 seconds gun reloads? You can plan where you want to be 5 minutes from now and predict where the enemy will be. This game play appeal to an audience. Not as big as Overwatch or PUBG, but it’s clearly there. Probably World of Warships playerbase have bigger overlap with Civilizations than with Team Fortress.

World of Tanks has artillery, World of Warships has aircraft carriers. The main purpose is to prevent camping or stacking. These units can hit from afar, from a direction where your cover doesn’t defend you. The bigger you are, the easier. Without them a battleship/heavy tank blob with a pair of cruisers (medium tanks) to counters destroyers (light tanks) would be undefeatable.

Gameplay-wise both of them has a top-down view where you see the whole map and can select targets. Probably most premade WoT team leaders play arty to have a clear view and not much to mind their own tanks. Same should be for World of Warships carriers.

But some less then genius dev figured out it would be great to have a high-APM action RTS included into a game especially designed to cater to players loving slow and strategic. To make it worse, it doesn’t even appear until Tier 6. Before that, you just send your squadrons to a location, then click on an enemy and they attack on their own. Your time is spent analyzing the strategic situation and placing your 3-4 squads.

In higher tiers, you have up to 7 squads and they have manual firing mode. Bombers drop in a much smaller circle and torpedo planes in a much smaller spread if you manually drop, but you have to predict exactly where the enemy ship will be when the bombs/torpedoes land. Which would be fine if you had one squad instead of 7. But the most annoying is fighter strafing. Historically you strafe ships to kill crew. In the game you strafe air and kill everything in the path, but of course you have to manually target, not slow ships, but fast enemy planes. To make it worse, the fighters are designed to commit a dogfight, once they engage, they can’t disengage, no matter what command you give them. Except strafe. It’s probably a bug, because it doesn’t work if the fighter was intercepted, you first have to give it the order to attack the plane that it’s already fighting with and then strafe out of combat. Oh, and when there are T5 and T6 carriers in the game, the T5 cannot strafe at all and completely lost to the enemy T6.

This creates a broken situation: a carrier player who has higher APM can absolutely dominate the enemy carrier player and then single-handedly win the game. In this sense, carriers are overpowered, yet most players don’t switch to carriers, because they hate that gameplay. If they’d like it, they’d play Starcraft instead! Ergo, the few players who ended up in World of Warships and good at high APM can single-handedly win games, aggregating the whole playerbase. There isn’t one issue that makes the Warships players as angry as the broken carriers.

The developers promise complete redesign, realizing that a nerf wouldn’t help. Unless they nerf the carriers into total uselessness, the battle will still be mostly decided not on sea but above it. If one battleship player is 10% better than the opposite, he’ll sail away from a duel with 10% HP. If one carrier player is 10% better, he’ll destroy all the enemy planes in 5 minutes, then he is free to massacre ships.

Of course redesigning the feature is easier to say than done, that’s why it’s still broken years after implementation. However I can fix it over 5 minutes: remove the damn manual targeting! That’s it. Bombers should only drop using click-auto-drop and fighters should just click-attack and stay locked in fight until one squad dies, like it is in Tier 4 and 5. Then the better carrier player will have more planes, more hits on ships but not all-or-nothing and no more oneshotting battleships from 100% HP. Carrier would matter, but wouldn’t be all-deciding.

I won’t stop playing carriers, I’m working on a strategy how to defeat enemy carrier players who have higher APM than me (it’s obviously not “increase your APM”). It will probably be a great guide, but it’s not fun to play. I hate action RTS games, it’s the genre I haven’t touched since high school playing Command and Conquer. But challenge awaits.

As for interesting, fun play, I’ve found my new love:
newlove

After I realized how much I like this gameplay, I read up on them and found that the Japanese destroyers fit the least to my playstyle. So I said goodbye to my Mutsuki (commander will be retrained to carrier, because I prefer Japanese carriers) and…
usalove

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Author: Gevlon

My blog: https://greedygoblinblog.wordpress.com/

11 thoughts on “Who the hell thought that action RTS is a good idea in World of Warships?!”

  1. Funny, historically carriers displaced battleships, and indeed carriers won the battles and wars almost single-handedly. Of course this would make for a terribly balanced gameplay. But still, funny, game is historically accurate. Best carrier wins.

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  2. POSSIBLE DOUBLEPOST: due to apparently wordpress-google integration bug. Apologies if so.

    There is an identity issue in RTS genre since the original Starcraft, where strategy was starting to get replaced by tactical skirmishes with premium being put on individual control of increasingly more complex units.
    The thing about real-time STRATEGY from its inception was that players never got to actually implement the STRATEGY part. The closest we ever got in terms of real-time was “choose region to invade” in Westwood games.

    For one reason or another, real-time games tend to gravitate towards the strategy of “amass troops and crush the enemy through sheer force”. One of the reasons for that is that implementing any other form of strategy in a modern RTS setting requires signficant twitch skills.

    Some sub-genres of RTS (specifically, Tower Defense types) got somewhat closer to the idea of real-time strategizing, but these exhausted themselves pretty quickly as well.

    In terms of WoWs, this identity crisis of RTS translated into the design of RTS-inspired warship, where individual control of the planes was somehow considered a proper way to go forward. I guess the notion that a cruiser commander shouldn’t have to concern himself with individual planes flew over the WoWs game designer’s head much in the same way as the notion of strategy not being reducable to tactical skirmishes flew over the collecltive RTS designer’s heads.

    Ultimately, the problem with a game modelling strategic choices is that it is very hard to even describe a game on a strategic level more than one or two moves long. The best source of these descriptions to this day are memoirs of military commanders and politicians, and these are both long and somewhat boring – definitely not prime game narrative material in the current game design meta.

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  3. CVs aren’t broken for their damage (which is only some 10-20% more than a good battleship) but for their spotting. They can completely shut down enemy destroyers and cruisers by providing spotting for their team. People are aggravated (not aggregated 😉 ) because of that. Losing against a CV isn’t a big deal, as 50% losses is the norm anyway. Being permanently spotted in a DD or some cruisers means the player can’t even try to play.
    They are also blatantly p2w, as the premiums are simply stronger than line ships. It doesn’t hurt that much, though, as the whales that spend $50 for a slightly better ship usually aren’t the type of a person that would actually learn to play them.
    The change to remove team spotting for planes would remove most of the problems with them.
    If you want to focus on strategy rather than APM try the US cruisers – they are extremely reliant on great positioning and have massive DPS but die quickly if you make a mistake. A very good line to learn to play.
    PA destroyers are very similar to American but they have different torpedoes and an option to swap smoke for radar (viable at T10 only). I swapped from Gearing to Yueyang when they arrived as my DD of choice (they also have high average win rate in current ranked season). German DDs have hydrolocation, extremely powerful at T10, but they are countered by Yueyang.
    As for BBs the American are probably the best overall package. Very accurate guns and decent AA make for a great line of ships.
    You can shoot me a PM (StawekC) if you want to division sometimes.

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  4. @Maxim: probably the only way to make a real RTS is to give the units AI and you can only give them strategic commands (attack that objective, hold the line) and they carry it out as they can. You should not be able to micro-manage them.

    @Stawek: carriers can be everywhere, unlike battleships. A battleship often has nothing to shoot, the carrier always have. It can jump to a pressed lane, sink ships and either win, or withdraw without chance to die.

    I absolutely dislike cruisers and suck with battleships. But destroyers clicked instantly, especially the American with short range guns and good brawling ability against enemy destroyers. If I get to higher tiers and get good winrate, I will post the strategy.

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  5. If you ever watch other players’ videos on youtube I would recommend looking at some videos of Flamu/Flambass. In the past I would have recommended iChase/Notser as well.

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  6. @Gevlon
    Yeah, that’s the obvious idea. Medieval Warhammer series RTS attempted something like that. Blood Omen did it most successfully, but the gameplay still was pretty stiff 😦

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  7. The only games I would consider real RTS, are the Paradox EU IV et.al. At slower speeds APM has no baring and all that really matters is your stratigic decisions.

    Another game that comes close is Ultimate General: Civil War, the units have AI and you can as you described only set objectives (command divisions). There is an option to micromanage, but at least there is an option not to. It also has increadble depth for an RTS and even with micro it requires a lot f stratigic thought. It is literally impossible to make a doomstack and just ovewhelm the enemy. Its only SP though.

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  8. What brought me to your blog was the promise of good strategy outweighing reaction time or hours of in game time investment. As a parent and professional, I can’t compete with dank, 360 no scopers playing mobile fortnight during studyhall.

    But give me a game where I can leverage intelligence and deliberate, thoughtful decision making, and im all in.

    Instead of Starcraft, I play Total War, or Crusader Kings.

    Instead of counter strike, escape from tarkov (lone wolf hide and seek from PUBG carries over well since you carry loot from game to game).

    Have you seen fractured space? Its a slower capital ship moba. Would love to read your impression.

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  9. APM based RTS worked great initially because there was no APM. All you had to do was set the difficulty lower and the AI enemies would go slower. You could then just set it higher if you got better at the APM part… or not.

    This is where PvP RTS fails miserably. APM becomes the only driver if it is available. It’s the same as a MMO with an “economy” if that “economy’s” fungible fungible currency can buy power.

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  10. Well written article. You make me want to try out carriers… Damn, which means that I would have to invest more time on WoWs..
    What do you think about implementing airplane/pilot exp? Instead of manually micromanaging every squad, pilots should get exp after every battle and then over time attack more precisely orevade more successfully or whatever…
    Destroyers who have been spotted should seek the company of AA ships to get rid of the spotting aircrafts… I don’t think that DDs should be able to go anywhere, only where they can evade being spotted.

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