World of Tanks: Update 1.0: Join the Beta!

Source: WoT EU Portal

Download the Common Test client here

Ever since we started working on a new graphics engine, HD maps, and new sound, we wanted you to hit “Battle!” one day and say that it both looks and plays fantastically without qualifying that with: “Good for an eight-year-old game.” This moment has finally come! Update 1.0 enters public testing today. So you can literally hit that button and roll out in HD maps, listening to immersive ambience and new original tunes. And that’s not all. Not only are we opening the remastered experience that World of Tanks 1.0 is to all of you—we’re inviting you to become part of this massive makeover.

In this article, we’ll call out what’s on tap for you at this point in testing, what will be added in the upcoming weeks, and what you can expect when the update in its entirety hits live servers in March. Let’s dive straight in!

Realism Redefined

Before we explore the update, let’s take a minute to discuss where the game we all love is at right now. It’s been over seven years since we opened World of Tanks to you. The gameplay holds up well (which is largely thanks to your continued support and feedback through the years) and there’s never a dull moment with hundreds of battles raging at any given second. But does it meet the graphic quality bar for this day and age? Hardly. It looks exactly how a game from 2010 would look. That’s the sad truth.

We’ve been working relentlessly for years to bring it to modern standards. The team pumped up the game’s looks several times over the years, from switching to a new graphical renderer with realistic shading/lighting models through to integrating the Audiokinetic Wwise sound engine. However, technology was moving a lot faster than we possibly could, and the BigWorld engine simply couldn’t keep up with it. So we brought client engine development in-house and created a solution tailored to the game’s needs: the Core engine. It redefines the game’s looks using the latest technology for graphical content processing and rendering, and has enough capacity to let us advance graphics in tandem with technology.

Core took us three years to develop and optimize so that there’s no adverse effect on performance. Another year went into overhauling the game’s maps, recreating all in-game content from the ground-up. Now, we’re finally ready to roll it out for you to test.

Why are we focusing on remastering the graphics?

In fact, we’re fighting on several fronts. The team is neck-deep in the trenches, with fixes to the preferential matchmaker, several new national trees and modes in development. Not to mention a few maps that cry for major redesigns and a few more that are waiting their turn to get reworked into HD.

We know how hungry you are for new maps and that’s exactly how we feel, too. And we’re working to fulfill the promise of expanding the map roster as we speak. A number of totally new locations have been through several Supertests over the last year, and teams around the studio are now processing your feedback. They’ll move forward from level design to balancing and polishing Minsk, Studzianki, and the new Asian map we’ve Supertested lately. Although they won’t get into 1.0, we’ll give you a guided tour of them this month in a series of overview articles.

As you can see, we’re steadily moving forward on all of these, and new graphics and sound is something we’re ready to get out for you all to check. They don’t disrupt the work on other key issues or mark the final step in improving the game’s visuals. Instead, they mark a major experience uplift and lay a technological foundation for further improvements.

Graphics Settings

As the game switches to the new engine, graphic configurations will be reset to default. So you’re likely to notice changes in the visuals and performance when playing for the first time. Follow this guide to tweak your settings and update drivers, and things will return to normal.

The interface of graphics settings is subject to change with the 1.0 update release.

If you’re playing on Normal settings, you might have to switch to Low or Minimal. Worry not; it won’t affect the framerate. As for the picture quality, you will instantly notice an injection of extra realism and detail even with Low settings. We worked hard to optimize stability and framerates, reduce the memory load, and give you the headroom to enable extra effects. So you’ll be able to enjoy new graphics and sound even on mid-range and older PCs, while high-end rigs will let you explore remastered visuals to the fullest.

Want to see it with your own eyes? Check it for yourself with the enCore program. With it, you can test your system to see how Update 1.0 will perform on it.

Click here to check out enCore

Multistage Beta Testing

Reproducing a better-looking version of the original World of Tanks has been a massive endeavour, and we’ve turned to you for help many times. New graphics have been through a number of iterations and focus tests. Thousands of you joined us in fine-tuning HD maps in Sandbox. Now, we’re entering the final and most crucial stretch in overhauling the way the game looks and feels.

From music and atmosphere to big reworks on select maps and a complete visual redesign on others to destructible props and effects—how World of Tanks looks now is effectively new. At the most basic level, it’s the good old gameplay laid over a completely new visual world. And as any new game is about to be released, it calls for something more serious than the usual Supertest/Common Test framework.

That’s why we’re running a Beta test instead:

  • It’ll see us test new content in batches, keeping a close eye on performance and your perception of changes.
  • It’s open to everyone so that we can collect enough feedback and data to make necessary tweaks.
  • It’s divided into several stages, allowing us to identify issues and address your feedback with quick-fixes right away.

We’re going to engage with you on forums and in social media to see what you like and what you don’t like; then, make immediate improvements and outline a list of bigger issues that require more time to fix.

Why release new content over multiple stages and not add all of it right away?

The last thing we want is rushed and messy testing, and this framework allows a more focused approach. By releasing content in batches, we can test it in a controlled environment, identify issues, and address them with quick-fixes.

Besides, waiting for a regular update to download and install is hardly convenient. Now just image how big an installation it would be, if almost three dozen HD maps, the new soundtrack and ambience were there right from the start.

We’ll use a similar approach when releasing Update 1.0. You’ll be able to pre-download it well in advance and hit the battlefield when the day comes. No delays and long hours of waiting.

Beta Stage 1 Scope

Here’s a rundown of the graphics and sound enhancements you can explore starting today:

29 maps reworked in shiny HD: The switch to the new Core engine led to a complete graphic overhaul with every object being recreated from the ground up using new technology. Zooming in lets you count the leaves on a tree and discover how each is unique in foliage, size, and shape. Wide expanses stretch well beyond the map border. Modifications to how terrain and water are rendered give a depth and sense of place to aged locations. You can roll out, gloriously destroying smaller objects thanks to Havok technology. Photorealistic skyboxes and moving clouds give maps a more dynamic feel. And global illumination technology adds harmony to the picture, accurately simulating how light reflects and refracts between different surfaces.

Seeing is believing, and you can take a glimpse at HD maps right now in the screenshot gallery below. Enjoy it here, or, better yet, hit the battlefield to see new graphics, technology, and effects in action.

Keep in mind, though, that it may be too much to absorb at once. So take your time to familiarize with remastered landscapes and let it sink in before jumping to conclusions. Also, stay tuned for a guided tour of the new graphic technology. We’ll explain every improvement in detail over a series of image-heavy articles during the Beta.

Gameplay improvements to select maps: The majority of HD maps didn’t call for level design changes and offer pretty much the same experience, but with greater visual fidelity. On the other hand, Erlenberg, Kharkov, Steppes, Ruinberg, and Fisherman’s Bay were considered problematic because of visible imbalances. They underwent prominent redesigns to end camp fests, ensure both teams have equal chances for control of the territory, and deliver an enjoyable experience for each vehicle class. In the next few weeks, we’ll walk you through changes to them, explaining how these changes should address imbalances. Now it’s your turn to give them another try and tell us if it worked. If not, we’ll keep on building on the initial changes with more redesigns until we get it right.

Four original music themes: The first Beta stage is primarily focused on graphics. However, we couldn’t help but offer you a sneak peek of the new soundtrack. Further on, each map will get its own music composition with a unique loading screen music theme, a dynamic battle overtune that evolves and changes depending on what’s happening on the battlefield, and a closing theme for the battle results screen. By the way, that last track you hear will depend directly on the match outcome with unique music for a win, draw, and defeat.

Immersive ambience: The full scope of ambient sounds is getting reworked to give each map more realism. Now, you can literally hear a living, breathing world around you, disturbed by the sounds of conflict. Gunshots and explosions don’t sound the same in a forest, village, or urban area. They echo from mountains and across the fields. So what you hear depends on where you are, where fire is coming from and which obstacles it encounters along the way. Just like in real life. Even shells! Pay attention and you’ll notice that each shell whizzing past now has its own sound.