Some Hard Facts: Back to the Future – Part 5

Links to part 1, 2, 3 and 4.

Thanks to TollhouseFrank for making the article and giving me permission to post it here.

Hello ladies and gents! This is the last in the Back to the Future mini-series where I have gone over year by year (since 2012) the changes and patches to this game.

So, what is the future going to hold for Salt Mining Simulator? Will the chicken-littles that cry “the sky is falling!” after every patch be right? Will one of the upcoming patches in 2016 kill this game? Read on and find out!

Patch 9.14 Physics model changed/updated for the 3rd time. The 2nd change was not very big at all, but this one was. What was so different with physics this time versus when it was introduced in 8.0? You could now roll your tank/be flipped over. Before this patch, you could tip over onto one track at about a 45-50 degree slant only, but never all the way over. This was met with skepticism at first, and even a bit of derision, but soon people started to appreciate some of the new things you could do with these physics, and the hilarious incidents that could be had with them.

If I am not mistaken (and if I am, I apologize), this is also the patch that introduces to us the handbrake maneuver. This is another small, yet huge addition to the game. It lets people use their highly mobile tanks (or even big fat tanks) in new ways.

Those-Who-Shall-Not-Play-Vanilla once again are maddened. The old FMOD style of audio was replaced by the new Audiokinetic WWise. For a long time (up to 2-3 patches for some soundmods), favorite mods like Gnomefather’s and a lot of 6th sense sound mods became just plain unavailable while the mod programmers learnt to figure out how to work with the new sound engine.

In the meantime, WG has spent a lot of time and money implementing new sounds for most guns/engines/tanks/environmental-things in the game. They even put out videos showing how they recorded the new sounds (both inside the vehicles and outside of the vehicles) so that the game is much more immersive as you move the ingame camera around, both out of the tank and inside it.

For new players, WG has simplified things a bit and made all tier 1 tanks have only 1 research (typically a gun) needed before you can research any tier 2 off of it. Some seal clubbers are not happy now (especially with a lot of tier 1 tanks losing favorite ‘seal clubbing’ guns).

WG has taken flak in the past for being slow with adding UI improvements to the game, but this one is a huge step, as they added in the ability to show Max Render Range, Max View Range, and your Current View Range on the minimap. Before, you had to use mods (Usually the XVM mod) to get this functionality. This is actually what got me out of using mods aside from the garage carousel mod (until that was actually added into the game as standard, recently).

Patch 9.15 The way vehicle characteristics/statistics were presented is changed in the garage. We are now given a lot more detailed information than we had before. We are also now able to preview vehicles ingame with upgraded modules, even if we haven’t researched/unlocked them yet.

More UI improvements like the base capture bar were made a lot better than they used to be. A warning was now added to the game whenever it reaches 2 minutes and 1 minute left in the match. 16x and 25x zoom in sniper mode was now added to the game – no more need for mods for these. The minimap also now defaults to showing the last known spotted location of enemy tanks – another XVM mod that XVM is not needed for anymore.

The physics update from the prior patch brought some unintended consequences that WG fixed, like too high self-damage going down steep hills, decreasing chances of rollover (this REALLY helped scouts), and fixing an issue where tanks would get ‘stuck’ as if they were glued while side-by-side with another tank or a building/object.

The Pitchfork and Torch Emporium sees the writing on the wall and starts to downsize as Rampage Mode (Steel Hunt/Domination) are removed from the game this patch. The witch hunts still continue for a few weeks, but the fever does slowly die down. T-22 drivers still feel the effects nearly a year later, as the peasants pull out their pitchforks and relight their torches every time one is seen in a pub match.

Sales at the Emporium also start to drop even more drastically as the WTF E100 is removed from the game and replaced with the Grille 15. A bunch of underperforming premiums/reward tanks see buffs to various parameters and the T22 sees some massive nerfs.

This patch also sees a bunch of maps have areas made inaccessible that were previously able to be mountain-goated as they made the maps very unbalanced. However, the mountain goats prevail and still find new areas or new ways to access the old areas.

Patch 9.15.1 Another small patch that brings a huge change. WG has changed from Action Script 2 to Action Script 3. This breaks many, many, many mods. Again, Those-Who-Shall-Not-Play-Vanilla riot by posting negatively on the forums and reddit and in general showing much pain in the gluteus maximus.

Patch 9.16 Our first Swedish tank is introduced to the game in the form of the tier 6 premium Strv. The Paris map is introduced to the game finally, after more than a year of teasing by WG. Though my google-fu has been failing me, I believe this is the patch where WG added in the multi-row carousel for tanks in your garage. This made me (and many others with 60+ tanks in garage) happy. (Seb: good work WG for putting useful mods ingame!)

Spotting/visibility mechanics change. After 6+ years of one mechanic, we now have a new one, where spotting checks are much more frequent, and no longer can super fast tanks cross areas in the distance and not be spotted until they are already almost out of sight. They now get spotted a lot quicker thanks to the quicker spotting/polling checks from the servers, and something that used to be taken for granted for stealth reasons, is now gone. Gameplay is changed a lot in all sections of the games, from pub matches to strongholds to CW to WGL.

This patch also brings to us a very wanted by a large swath of the playerbase (me included, as I constantly saw the abuse of cross-team revealing of positions, toxicity, etc.) removal of cross team chat in matches. Some people hate the change, but overall, it has been seen as a very positive change by the majority – especially in the several polls since then by WG where they keep seeing positive reaction to that change.

No longer just an NA server thing, Vehicle Recovery comes to all servers for the first time, and if you have sold a premium tank in the past, you can now recover it, assuming you meet certain conditions (like having the silver equivalent in your garage to ‘pay’ for it back, a free slot, and depending on how long ago it was sold).

There are more improvements to the sounds in the game, and in general, they are well received. More and more people are starting to leave behind sound mods (other than 6th sense sound mods) and starting to go with the built-in sounds.

Patch 9.17 The Swedish tree is added to the game. Initial claims of OP heavies gives way to people not liking them because everything they can do (other than the impenetrable hull down turret), the T57 Heavy and AMX 50B both do better.

The Swedish TD’s are seen as very unique, and the playerbase seems to be currently in a very love/hate relationship with them. You either love them or hate them, and there currently seems to be no middle ground.

Well, we have now been brought up to the current year in World of Tanks, and yes, I know I haven’t covered the most recent patch, but it was put out this year in 2017, and this post was about 2016. The game is still going strong, still growing (yes, even on the NA server, we are gaining back population slowly), and the future looks good.

Don’t let the naysayers, doomsayers, soothsayers, and other negative people try to convince you we are doomed or this patch or that patch is going to be the end of the game. There looks to be several years of life left in this game, and I honestly would not be surprised if WG in the future (say 5-6 years down the road) brings out a successor to WoT with a much better game engine.

[Seb: I would also like to tell everyone that we are the ones who make WoT what it is. Our opinion matters enough so WG won’t pull other Rubicons again, and if they do, that they are reverted. Never lose hope for WoT!]