The following is a review of Enterprise, a ship provided to me by Wargaming. This is the release version of the vessel and these stats are current as of June 29th, 2017.
It’s about time.
Quick Summary: An aircraft carrier with enormous hangar capacity and deep fighter reserves. She’s held back by low tier aircraft, weird torpedo drop patterns and an overspecialization for nuking German battleships. Cost: $59.99 USD with a port slot. Patch and Date Written: Patch 0.6.6.0 to 0.6.7 June 10th to June 29th, 2017.
Enormous hangar capacity of 96 aircraft.
Option of using AP bombs which can (easily) land 8,000 damage citadel hits on enemy battleships per bomb.
AP Bombs are easy to use with a very accurate auto-drop function.
Balanced 2-2-2 flight groups — a rarity with American carriers.
Fast reload time of her aircraft squadrons for an American carrier.
Good anti-aircraft defense.
Good anti-torpedo protection.
Has access to the 6th upgrade slot.
Makes German Battleships cry.
It’s not only a Yorktown-class, it’s freakin’ CV-6!
Aircraft operate in 5-plane squadrons instead of the usual 6 for American carriers.
Enterprise’s aircraft are all tier VII instead of tier VIII, making her fighters especially difficult to use effectively.
Drop pattern of her torpedoes is enormous and clumsy, making it difficult to land more than 1 or 2 hits per drop.
AP Bombs have limited reliability against anything other than battleship targets and are all but useless against destroyers.
Her hangar reserves have nearly half their capacity dedicated to her under strength fighters.
Largish surface and aerial detection ranges.
I can’t believe it took Wargaming this long — almost two years past the start of Open Beta to get USS Enterprise into World of Warships. Well, she’s finally here. The hype surrounding this ship on the North American server has been extreme. I have received more messages asking me when this review will be out more than any other ship in the past. I’m happy to finally deliver.
GrafZeppelinKai from the World of Warships wiki team will be joining me to provide a look into the history of this auspicious vessel.
Dive bombers engaging an enemy Bismarck.
Enterprise comes with the option of what type of bomb to load on your Dive Bombers — an HE or AP bomb. These are selected from the modules tab and they’re selected the same way you would a researched component but without an attached experience cost.
Enterprise also has the same number of upgrade slots as a tier 9 or 10 aircraft carrier, giving her one more than Shokaku or Lexington.
Damage Control Party
Module Upgrades: Six slots, standard aircraft carrier upgrades.
Premium Camouflage: Tier VI+ Standard. This provides 50% bonus experience gains, 3% reduction in surface detection and 4% reduction in enemy accuracy.
Your build is going to be pretty standard.
In your first upgrade slot, take Air Groups Modification 1. You want that extra 10% dps to your aircraft guns.
In the second slot, it’s Air Groups Modification 2. Don’t neglect your fighters — they’re a huge part of playing Enterprise well.
In your third slot, take Air Groups Modification 3. This will give your Dive Bombers and Torpedo Bombers comparable hit points to other tier 8 attack craft.
In slots four and five, take Damage Control Modification 1 and Damage Control Modification 2. This will give you a little extra fire and torpedo protection.
Finally, take Concealment Modification 1 in your final slot to help you sneak about.
Flight Control Groups: Two fighter, two torpedo plane, two dive bombers.
Base Squadron Sizes: Five aircraft for each squadron type.
Hangar Capacity: 96 aircraft with 43 fighters, 25 torpedo planes and 28 dive bombers
One thing that will immediately stand out with Enterprise is that all of her aircraft squadrons run at five planes instead of the usual six of American carriers. This provides an accelerated reload time of all of her squadrons compared to Lexington, though she still lags well behind Shokaku.
Similar to Kaga, Enterprise is the second premium carrier to use down tiered aircraft. Her fighters are the F6F-5 Hellcat found on the Ranger at tier VII and the stock Lexington at tier VIII. Nearly half her carrier capacity is given over to these fighters which means, down tiered or not, they form a crucial part of Enterprise’s designed role. Functionally, she will have a very hard time running out of fighters. Even with upgraded squadrons of six planes each, you will have to lose five full squadrons before the new ones you launch will be below full strength. I’m not saying it can’t be done, but you’re going to have to go out of your way (or go full potato) to do it.
Enterprise really broadcasts how unfriendly a carrier she is to inexperienced players with these fighters. They’re slower than contemporary aircraft with less planes per squadron, less HP and less DPS. Enterprise’s Hellcats will be outfought by enemy USN fighters (she can almost hold her own against a Shokaku) and they won’t kill attack planes fast enough to save a beleaguered ally. Proper use of the strafe mechanic is key and this will really ramp up the learning curve to be successful with this ship. If you struggle to make use of strafing to engage not only enemy attack planes but to out play other fighters, it will be difficult to enjoy a lot of success with her Hellcats.
You’ll often feel that you’re fighting a losing battle to win air superiority with Enterprise, but the presence of your fighters is paramount to pushing your attacks through and chewing up the enemy reserves. Enterprise has the hangar capacity to pull it off, but it will often feel like an exercise in frustration to wrest away air superiority.
Like Kaga, Enterprise has her own, unique drop pattern with her torpedo bombers. This is done in two lines, with two torpedoes in the front and three in the rear. Casualties come from the rear most aircraft first, starting from the outside and working their way in. Enterprise does not carry very deep reserves of her torpedo planes with a total of twenty-five on board when the match starts.
At first glance, Enterprise’s torpedo planes are largely disappointing. Their drop pattern is enormous and easily avoided. The torpedoes themselves run a parallel course and do not converge or diverge in the same manner as Japanese or other American carriers respectively. About the best thing that could be said about these torpedoes is that they can cover a large area when it comes to flushing out ships hiding in smoke.
However, the large gaps from her individual salvos are mitigated with Enterprise’s second torpedo plane squadron. A stacked drop may provide sufficient density in the pattern to make dancing to the torpedo beats a real challenge. This by no means makes Enterprise’s torpedo planes “good” — they’re not. But used in this manner, they’re at least functional. Wargaming clearly didn’t want to make Enterprise outright overpowered with normal USN CV drop pattern with two torpedo squadrons, especially when combined with the outstanding damage potential of her dive bombers (see below). As a result, we have this rather unfortunate drop pattern which on its own isn’t very exciting but is no doubt an important balance mechanic.
One of the oft spoken downsides to Enterprise’s attack planes — their low hit points, can largely be mitigated by giving her the upgrade Air Groups Modification 3 which isn’t available to Shokaku or Lexington. This bumps up Enterprise’s 1,510hp torpedo aircraft up to 1,736hp per. This compares very favourably to the 1,710hp found on Lexington’s TMB-3s, giving Enterprise’s attack planes only slightly less overall survivability due to the 3 knot difference in top speed and having one less aircraft per squadron.
In summary, Enterprise’s torpedo planes take skill to use effectively. Stock, they’re terrible. Once upgraded with the proper module, they have an acceptable level of survivability little different from Lexington’s. Individual drops are easy to avoid so it’s imperative they be used on either vulnerable targets or that you stack or cross-drop with your squadrons. On a per squadron basis, Enterprise will not be doing as much damage as other CVs with her torpedo bombers and you’re unlikely to be able to a delete an enemy ship at will. However, they form an important component of her strike package.
Reference Mahan (104m long) for scale. If you find the gaps between Enterprise’s torpedoes look punitively large, it’s not just you: they’re enormous. Enterprise has arguably the most ineffective torpedo drop pattern yet seen in the game per individual squadron. Coordinated drops with both of her squadrons are needed to land an acceptable number of hits per sortie. However, even with such tactics, it will be incredibly challenging to cause catastrophic levels of damage to a target in a single pass. You’re going to have to do a lot of work to get the same damage output another carrier might manage with less effort.
Part of the explanation of Enterprise’s lackluster torpedo drop pattern resides with the damage potential of her dive bombers. She’s the first carrier to be given the option of using armour piercing bombs and it really feels like her damage output has been balanced around their inclusion. As such, Enterprise is one of the first carriers to where dive bombers aren’t playing second fiddle to torpedo planes when it comes to damage output.
Now, Enterprise may still use HE bombs — these may be selected in port before starting a match through the list of upgrades available for the ship. These bombs have the same performance as those found on Ranger and Lexington — she’s just dropping one less bomb per sortie with Enterprise’s reduced squadron sizes.
Things change when she uses her armour piercing (AP) bombs. These weapons cannot start fires. They can ricochet if they strike a surface at less than a 45º angle. Effectively, they count as a 305mm AP shell being dropped vertically onto the decks of her targets.
These weapons detonate for up to 8,000 damage each on a successful citadel hit, giving the maximum damage potential for a fully upgraded, six plane squadron at 48,000hp. The auto-targeting area is oblong, almost conforming perfectly with the dimensions of a Bismarck-class battleship. A manual drop reduces this by 10% easily ensuring all bombs will land atop of her decks but I found this to be generally unnecessary — left to their own devices, the bombers were accurate enough to ensure 2/3s of their ordnance landed against most targets. Citadel hits are commonplace, especially German Battleships, making hit point recovery through their Repair Party consumable from such attacks problematic. Realistically, you can expect between 10,000 to 30,000 damage per bombing run against most battleships.
And this is really the best target for Enterprise’s AP Bombs — enemy battleships (especially German ones). The performance of the bombs becomes suspect, at best, against any other targets. They will land nothing but 800 damage over penetrating hits against destroyers. Against cruisers, their performance is a mixed and unreliable. Some targets, like Moskva, are as vulnerable as Battleships. Others, not so much. Enemy Shokaku can only take citadel hits to small sections over her overall length. Lexington takes even less, making it nearly impossible to land anything more than 800 damage hits per AP bomb.
Like Enterprise’s torpedo planes, her dive bombers greatly benefit from taking the upgrade Air Groups Modification 3, which puts their hit points per aircraft better than those of Lexington, though it’s worth keeping in mind that there are less aircraft per squadron giving the flight an overall smaller hit point pool.
Air Group Performance
A lot of undue fuss will be made about Enterprise’s tier VII aircraft, but I’ve found their tiering to be largely irrelevant for her attack planes. Air Groups Modification 3 gives her comparable survivability for her bomber squadrons. Enterprise’s Hellcats are really where the struggle is found and yet she can hold her own against a Shokaku with the proper skill setup. It really comes down to which CV player can better manage her planes. However, it’s worth saying that Enterprise cannot stand up to Lexington’s Corsairs.
When Enterprise takes AP bombs, she’s really choosing to specialize in damaging enemy battleships over all other targets. Her wide torpedo salvos already damage her ubiquity in engaging targets like destroyers and the ammunition selection of her dive bombers will remove any pretense of being able to threaten them.
Enterprise can deal big damage numbers in a game, but like any ship that focuses primarily on farming damage against enemy BBs, I don’t find these damage totals to be nearly as effective as those from other carriers. Enterprise struggles to assist in neutralizing destroyers — a key component to stealing the initiative from the enemy, especially in early stages of a match when they’re often operating beyond the smothering flak umbrella that’s so dominant in high-tier game play. This specialization doesn’t necessarily make her better at killing enemy battleships than other carriers — it just gives her a different method of doing it when she takes AP bombs. A battleship would be just as dead from taking a double stack of Shokaku torpedoes chased with dive bomber fires.
Fighters are under-strength, but between an enormous hangar capacity and proper skill setup, she can hold her own against a Shokaku. Good luck against an Air Superiority Lexington, however.
AP armed Dive Bombers are a fun gimmick and are very effective against battleships — not so much against anything else. They are super easy to use, however, and are a good fire and forget weapon.
Enterprise’s torpedo bombers are much harder to use efficiently because of their enormous and ineffective drop pattern. Stacking the squadrons or using cross-drops is key to ensure hits but she will not output more damage than a Lexington with her torpedo planes or compete with the effectiveness of a Shokaku’s torpedoes.
Enterprise’s fighters have an uphill battle ahead of them in every match. Don’t dismiss them out of hand, though.
Secondary Battery: Eight 127mm guns in single mounts, four to each side.
Enterprise’s secondaries aren’t anything special. She has eight single mounts of her 127mm guns, four to a side with four mounted forwards and four aft. They have a 4.5km range and are immediately forgettable.
Top Speed: 32.5 knots Turning Radius: 1070m Rudder Shift: 13.1s
Maximum Turn Rate: 3.14º per second.
Enterprise truly is a fleet carrier with her decent (but not great) top speed. This will largely keep her out of trouble, at least until her team goes belly up. Like all carriers, her turning circle is enormous which in turn leads to a horrible rate of turn. You’re not going to be dodging much in Enterprise, but I don’t think anyone really expects her to.
Durability Hit Points: 51,400 Maximum Protection: 21mm + 102mm through the bow to a transverse citadel bulkhead.
At 51,400hp, Enterprise has the exact same hit point total as Shokaku when she’s fully upgraded. This pales compared to the enormous Lexington which has an advantage of an additional 5,900hp. Enterprise is very lightly armoured overall, with her thickest steel plates being found in transverse bulkheads protecting her citadel fore and aft, with most of everything else being sandwiched layered compartments between 19mm and 40mm thick.
For HE protection, Enterprise isn’t well set up to resist damage. Her flight deck is 25mm. Her flight hangar is armoured at 38mm, but there are large sections of her hull that are 19mm to 21mm thick.
One thing she does boast over other carriers is excellent torpedo damage reduction at 28%. With Damage Control System Modification 1, this increases up to 30%. This is the second highest damage reduction for any CV in the game behind only the tier 9 Essex.
Concealment & Camouflage
Base Surface Detection Range: 14.6km
Air Detection Range: 13.8 km
Minimum Surface Detection Range: 10.7km
Minimum Aerial Detection Range: 10.4km
As high tier American CVs go, Enterprise isn’t out of the ordinary when it comes to her concealment rating. For surface/aerial detection, Lexington comes in at a whopping 17.5km / 15.0km surface detection range. Ranger came in at 14.2km / 13.3km and Essex at 14.9km / 14.4km, so she’s right in the ballpark of what we would expect. The combination of modules and Captain Skills can bring this right down to an acceptable level and it’s not like she’s going to be up close where the action is anyway.
So her stealth rating is not bad, but it’s not great either.
AA Battery Calibers: 127mm / 40mm / 20mm AA Umbrella Ranges: 5.0km / 3.5km / 2.0km AA DPS per Aura: 64 / 185 / 180
Enterprise has respectable anti-aircraft firepower, though it is primarily built around personal defense. It pales compared to Lexington’s own strength of fire and she’s especially lacking in long-range firepower needed to blunt strike aircraft. Enterprise does have the carrier version of Defensive Fire, this may thwart a clumsy carrier-sniping attempt but overall, her anti-aircraft firepower isn’t sufficient to keep her safe from multiple strikes. At best, you can hope to make such attempt expensive.
An Enterprise captain cannot be complacent.
Bad drop. Only two out of six bombs hit this North Carolina due to a hasty aim.
Enterprise conforms to most of the skill choices for strike-squadron aircraft carriers for the American navy but with one catch. Your core skill build should be the following for the first 11pts:
Take Aircraft Servicing Expert at tier 1. Also take Dogfighting Expert right away before moving up to tier 2. The order isn’t particularly important, just take both before moving on.
Follow this up with Torpedo Acceleration at tier 2.
Next comes Torpedo Armament Expertise at tier 3.
And finally take Air Supremacy at tier 4.
This all should look pretty normal, especially for players that normally play Japanese carriers. The importance of Dogfighting Expert is paramount for Enterprise. This will bump her fighter DPS when she engages planes from Shokaku or Lexington, bringing it up to a maximum of 68dps when combined with Air Groups Modification 1. Lexington’s Corsairs will have 69dps.and Shokaku’s Shiden have 77dps.
From there, take the usual assortment of skills that help carriers. Concealment Expert should be at the top of the pile. AA guns skills, Advanced Fire Training, Basic Fire Training and Manual Fire Control for AA Guns are nice but not amazing on Enterprise. Emergency Takeoff is situational — you’re likely dead anyway if it comes to this, but if you have the points to spare, go for it.
Welcome to Hell! To succeed with Enterprise, new players must master fighter strafing. On top of this, they also have to have a good grasp of manual torpedo dropping — except this is hard-mode manual torpedo dropping, not regular ol’ easy-mode of torpedo dropping with Lexington torpedoes. To top it all off, they also have to keep an index of high AA firepower ships in their heads from tiers 8+ otherwise their planes will evaporate when they’re not top tier before they drop. This all just to do an acceptable level of damage.
For the veteran knowing when it’s acceptable to sacrifice planes to make a drop on a high-value target is difficult. Managing Enterprise’s reserves to win this war of attrition efficiently is key. Trying to juggle your fighters against forces that can outrun and/or outgun you isn’t fun. And finally, getting her ordnance on target is always a challenge, particularly when it’s not just sniping dumb, lone battleships. Then comes the question of juggling damage over time effects versus with fires / floods or eschewing that and going for AP bomb drops instead. There’s so much to know for small but appreciable gains in performance!
This is not a new-player friendly carrier … and carriers aren’t new player friendly to begin with. This is worse. This is an expert’s carrier and they may not want to bother with the amount of work needed to make it excel.
I’m happy to see they went with what amounts to a historical load-out of Enterprise’s air groups. I just wish that had a more positive effect in game play.
I totally get why the torpedo drop pattern is enormous. No one wanted to see two carrier flight groups dump double-USN torpedo strikes and make CV-6 overpowered. They’re just not that fun to use though.
German Battleships: Beware!
Enterprise isn’t broken. She’s not a bad ship either. In the right hands, she can be a very good tier 8 carrier. Her tier 7 fighters, with the right skills and consumables are workable. They’re not doing you any favours, but you can make them work. Being downtiered with her attack planes doesn’t matter. I personally feel that only having 5 aircraft per squadron is more of an issue than them being tier 7. Access to the 6th module slot largely mitigates this flaw.
Her dive bombers are actually a lot of fun. It’s very satisfying to drop bombs and see them do as much as 30,000+ damage to an unsuspecting battleship. I’ll be honest — her torpedo planes are not great. It takes two squadrons to do the job of one of Lexington’s squadrons. And even then, they don’t do the job as well, at least not with a whole lot of cleverness on behalf of Enterprise’s player. I understand why they’re like that. If they had any tighter of a drop, they’d be too good. So fine, I can swallow that especially given that her dive bombers spit out so much damage on select targets.
I think Enterprise’s greatest flaw is also her greatest strength. She’s built to make battleship lives miserable and short and she’s damn good at it. Meta wise, this will make Enterprise will probably end up with some respectable average damage totals because of this preferred enemy type, but I fear that she’s not as versatile as other carriers when it comes to engaging other ship types.
The argument will be made by some that Enterprise does not up-tier well. This is fine. Neither Lexington or Shokaku. When she’s top tier, the lives of ships like Bayern, Scharnhorst, Gneisenau, Tirpitz and Bismarck are going to be especially bleak if they don’t run with air cover protecting them. German Battleships are finally going to be collecting all of those citadel hits they’ve been dodging since their release, and that makes me smile.
I would have to say that, overall, I am pleased with the end product Wargaming has produced. I was doubting for a time that they would be capable of producing a premium aircraft carrier that wasn’t polarized between being absolutely worthless and ridiculously overpowered. Enterprise strikes a very good balance, all told (even if she’s a nightmare for inexperienced players). I can’t say how the consumer will respond — Enterprise is not the next best and brightest star in the game. She won’t be the flavour of the month, not with her current stats.
As difficult as this review process was, Enterprise is a welcome addition to the game in her current form.
Would I Recommend?
Let’s clear the air: Enterprise wasn’t a fun ship for me to play. I hated playing her. I don’t want to play her again. This entire testing period was an exercise in extreme frustration and one of the most negative experiences I’ve had yet as a Community Contributor. I’ve tried to remain as objective as I could through this review and not let these bad feels get in the way of covering her merits and flaws objectively. I don’t think I was entirely successful in that, and for that I apologize in advance.
For PVE Battles How well does the ship maintain profitability in Co-Op modes and how does she fare against bots?
Mouse: Enterprise isn’t going to be a big credit earner in Co-Op battles, though she doesn’t have any overhead costs to worry about except repair and rearming fees. She can do just fine against bots. She doesn’t have the big “delete anything” punch of Shokaku, though. Still, she’s pretty profitable even without a premium account, so I’ll give her a green light here.
GrafZeppelinKai: I was able to perform well with Enterprise against bots. As I didn’t have to worry about enemy fighter strafes and I was able to autodrop my AP bombs, it made micromanaging my aircraft more simpler. I could see this as a benefit for newcomers to CVs.
For Random Battle Grinding:
This includes training captains, collecting free experience, earning credits and collecting signal flags from achievements.
Mouse: Tier for tier, Saipan is the better boat. It’s hard to recommend a tier 8 carrier when the tier 7 carrier is just so much better. If you don’t have access to Saipan and you’re looking for a trainer and credit earner, don’t get Enterprise. Get a Saipan. So again, a big nope.
The only way I could really justify it here is if you really hate German Battleships and want to pee in their cornflakes.
GrafZeppelinKai: She will not be forgiving to newcomers here. Enterprise counters certain targets well and will naturally fall into a specialist role. This means players will have to have a greater understanding of proper target selection; something that only comes with experience.
For Competitive Gaming:
Competitive Gaming includes Ranked Battles and other skill-based tournaments. This also includes stat-padding.
Mouse: No, Shokaku is better at nearly everything short of landing citadel hits with bombs.
GrafZeppelinKai: Although I’m very curious as to see how AP dive-bombers will alter the current meta, I feel her decreased effectiveness in engaging cruisers and destroyers means she isn’t as versatile as her tech-tree comrades.
If you enjoy ship history or possessing rare ships, this section is for you.
Mouse: Absolutely here. It’s the USS Enterprise!
GrafZeppelinKai: To quote Pigeon_of_War: “Mother. F***ing. Enterprise!!!”
For Fun Factor:
Bottom line: Is the ship fun to play?
Mouse: I didn’t like her, but I hate carrier game play, so that probably isn’t the most objective answer you’re going to get. Her AP Bombs are fun though and I do have to say, it’s very cathartic to land regular citadel hits on German BBs with them.
GrafZeppelinKai: Although I’m a terrible CV driver, the AP bombs have really intrigued me and I enjoyed learning how to use them. The feeling of watching the enemy hitpoints melt is therapeutic.
What’s the Final Verdict?
How would the ship rate on an Angry YouTuber scale of Garbage – Meh – Gud – Overpowered?
GARBAGE– Grossly uncompetitive and badly in need of buffs. Mehbote – Average ship. Has strengths and weaknesses. Doesn’t need buffs to be viable, but certainly not advantageous. Gudbote – A strong ship that has obvious competitive strengths and unique features that make it very appealing. OVERPOWERED – A ship with very clear advantages over all of its competitors and unbalancing the game with its inclusion.