STAFF REVIEW of World of Warships: Legends (Xbox One)

Tuesday, May 21, 2019.
by Adam Dileva

World of Warships: Legends Box art, best known for World of Tanks (WoT), is no stranger to military combat games. Obviously World of Tanks is what put them on the map and gathered quite a following, but that wasn’t everyone’s bag, myself included. I’ve played World of Tanks a bit before, but could never sink a lot of time, or money, into it and get myself hooked. This seems to have changed though with their most recent console release, World of Warships: Legends.

If you’ve played World of Tanks before, you’ll know what to expect from a Wargaming title, yet there’s more here than a simple boat reskin. Just like their other games, World of Warships is a free to play title, meaning there’s no cost of entry to play, so there’s no harm in checking out if it’s something you’ll enjoy. Take to the seas with dozens of warships, historical commanders and a ship load of torpedoes. Let’s see if they’ve blown this one out of the water.

Like WoT, there’s no real traditional campaign. Instead, you get bite sized skirmishes, with matches usually lasting 5 to 15 minutes depending on a variety of factors. Each level has its own unique layout, as some have much more open water, whereas others are littered with dozens of small islands that need to be navigated, or used strategically for cover. To win is simple; either capture all the enemy territories or defeat all of the enemy ships, as there are no respawns. The majority of the time you’ll be fighting to the last ship standing, but capturing is a completely strategic and viable option if the opportunity arises.

You may have noticed that the original World of Warships released on PC just short of 4 years ago, so what makes Legends so different? Simply put, it’s not just straight PC port, as there are quite a few differences, the main being that Legends was built from the ground up and tuned specifically for console users.

Best of all, the controls translate very well to the controller, as there’s no crazy or overly complicated button commands to remember or that needed to be ‘dumbed down’. Controls are quite simple, with a button to increase or decrease speed, aim, fire and switch firing modes. Navigating your ship is intuitive, it simply takes some getting used to remembering to start to steer very early, as giant Battleships turn as quickly as a house on a good day. This simplicity meant that I was able to concentrate on the gameplay and think strategically rather than fighting against or trying to remember specific controls in the heat of battle as a swarm of torpedoes heads my way.

Developers have managed to find that sweet spot of arcade versus simulator. I found WoT a little too hardcore for me once you started climbing the tiered ranks, but I haven’t had that same feeling here with Legends yet. If you want to jump in for a quick match or two and only have a half hour to play, that’s possible, or if you want to binge for an 8+ hour session, there’s nothing stopping you either.

You’re given daily and weekly missions to work towards for extra rewards, on top of other campaigns and missions for special loot boxes and XP bonuses. Yes, this is a free to play game, so there needs to be a way for them to make money, and while there are certain pay to win aspects, they didn’t feel as completely overpowered as they did in WoT, but more on that shortly.

As you begin you’ll have three factions to choose from: USA, Japan and the UK. You’re not tied to a specific choice, so feel free to try them all, as each have their own line of ship progression, strengths and weaknesses. It’s said there will be more nations coming in the future as well, so there’s always something to look forward to.

You’ll begin with a Cruiser, a medium strength ship that has decent shielding, firepower and speed. As you progress you’ll gain access to Destroyers and Battleships as well. Each has their own specific type of playstyle that they’re best suited for, so make sure to give each of them a fair shot and see what you enjoy the most. Myself, I’m a Cruiser all the way.

Destroyers are your most quick and agile, as they can be sent out for recon and also pack some nasty firepower with their torpedo barrages, but have very little health. Battleships are on the other end of the spectrum, as they have a massive amount of health and shielding and can fire all of their cannons quickly, but if you aren’t accurate, you’ll be a sitting duck as you wait for the slow reloads and even slower maneuvering abilities. Cruisers are a happy medium of in between, which is why I tend to gravitate towards them. I can hold my own in a firefight, but also maneuver in and out quickly enough if needed. It’s all a preference, and each plays completely different.

If you’ve played the PC version you’ll notice that the popular Aircraft Carriers are absent, but developers has said that it’s more of a when than an if, of when they’ll be coming to Legends. They want to do the game right and make sure it’s balanced before bringing it over to console, which I can appreciate.

Legends progression feels much more streamlined than in World of Tanks, maybe because there’s only 7 tiers of ships and 3 types, but it wasn’t nearly as confusing either. You begin at tier I, obviously, and are the weakest and slowest of the bunch. These act as like a tutorial of sorts, as you learn how to properly maneuver and play strategically. Win a few matches and you’ll earn XP, allowing you to gain a Tier II ship, where you get your first Destroyer. Again, win a handful of matches and level up to Tier III and you’ll gain your first Battleship. From here on you can focus on whatever ship line you want to, or all of them should you desire, all the way up to the top Tier VII monsters of the seas. It will take some time and dedication to reach Tier VII without putting any money into the game, but it is possible, and fun to do so.

Not only will you unlock new ships, but you’ll be able to purchase new parts and blueprints for your ships to improve their stats as well. As you level even further, you’ll also be able to unlock commanders, each of which is historically accurate and adds a whole other level of complexity and strategy to your loadout. Each commander has their own specializations, such as firepower, torpedoes, maneuverability, etc, and as they level up with their own XP pool, you can upgrade them and unlock new perk slots as well. There’s a lot of depth to it and you’ll need to choose wisely which commanders you want in which ships to suit your playstyle. It’s not overly complicated and every option feels purposeful, not simply thrown in just because.

This is where the free to play aspects come in. Like their previous games, you’re able to spend real money for certain perks, bonuses and even ships should you desire. While this isn’t needed in any way, it sure does make life much easier and the grind less arduous. You can purchase individual Premium Ships, which can only be bought with real money (a Dubloon currency within the game), and these are obviously much better stat wise than others in the same Tier. While this seems overpowered, it didn’t feel as unbalanced as it did in World of Tanks, where Premium users generally dominated without fail.

You can purchase other bonuses, XP boosts, coins, commanders and more, and while some will cry “pay to win”, it feels much more complicated than that. Sure, having a top tier ship will be nice and help, but you’ll still need to know how to properly use them and strategize. Just because you dropped over $100 for the Ultimate edition with a half dozen Premium ships doesn’t mean you’re going to go into matches like Superman and destroy everyone and everything. The bought bonuses are obviously nice, but they aren’t required.

Matches are 9 versus 9 and can be played single player versus AI or online with friends against the world. Form a division with your friends, a party/group, and easily go from battle to battle with one another. Much like WoT, when you’re dead, you’re able to leave the match as it continues and start another with a different ship, as you’ll be given the rewards when the initial match finishes, so there’s no downtime needed if you don’t want there to be.

Most impressive was Legends’ visuals. While the water effects may not be on a Seas of Thieves level of realistic, the water effects are done quite well, as you can see waves coming from your ship as you engage your engines. While the default is zoomed out so you can see much more all around you, if you do zoom in, you’ll notice there’s a massive amount finer detail to the ships themselves, as you can see each cable line, turrets rotating, smoke stacks and a ton of other small details that is quite impressive. With HDR lighting, the levels themselves are quite impressive as well, and 4K support is on the way as well.

If you have a great sound system, crank up the bass and sub and smile every time you fire a barrage from your Battleship, or clench those cheeks as you narrowly miss an oncoming torpedo as your warning systems are going crazy. Turrets have that metal grinding and squeak to them as they rotate, and when you hit landfall, you know you messed up from the audio alone. While I did end up playing my own music over top eventually, the smaller audio details are quite impressive when you take the time to notice them.

I honestly figured that World of Warships: Legends would essentially just be a reskin of World of Tanks (but on water obviously), but came away quite surprised. I gave up on Tanks eventually due to the grind and complexity, yet don’t feel that at all here. Even though I’m still working towards the Tier VII’s I want to have, I’m able to hold my own now that I’ve put a good amount of hours into it and have developed a few good strategies with a buddy that also plays.

I came away quite impressed with the amount of fun I was having with the dozens of historical ships and finally being able to lead my shots many kilometers away from my enemies. Suited for the hardcore or casual, World of Warships: Legends has no barrier of entry aside from having to wait for it to download. It’s free to play so there’s no harm in giving it a shot, and you don’t feel as forced to sink money into it as you do with World of Tanks.

Overall: 8.5 / 10
Gameplay: 8.5 / 10
Visuals: 8.8 / 10
Sound: 8.5 / 10


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