I stress that the CV redesign is still very much a work in progress — anything discussed here is subject to change.
My relationship with aircraft carriers in World of Warships hasn’t been a good one up to this point. When the game was announced and I heard they were including aircraft carriers, I was concerned. I knew my history. I knew why aircraft carriers largely came to replace artillery warships and I knew that balancing game play wasn’t going to be easy. Still, I did love my naval aircraft and I would be lying if I didn’t say I was excited at the prospect of getting to play the Illustrious-class whenever the Royal Navy CVs got introduced. Suffice to say, I was disappointed with what was on offer when I did try it. It was visually unappealing. I hate RTS gameplay at the best of times and this didn’t have any draw for me. Combine all of the balance issues during Beta (Closed and Open both) including asymmetrical matchmaking and I didn’t have a very high opinion of CVs during those early days.
Over time this would develop into a health respect for those players who could make CVs not only work but dominate. I recognized good game play when I saw it (even if I was categorically incapable of doing it myself) and I spent many long hours watching iChase, Farazelleth and Femennenly make a mockery of my own paltry attempts. At best, I only ever managed to become a zero-sum CV player, primarily through the long hours spent on reacquainting myself with CV game play each time a new aircraft carrier premium came up for review.
This makes me an ideal candidate for Wargaming’s CV rework. While not ignorant of CV gameplay, I abstain from it given the choice. The rework is aimed specifically at players like me in the hopes of recruiting more of people with similar perceptions into giving aircraft carriers another go. I’m very happy to be a part of the CV rework and I’m eagerly looking for game play that will hold my interest. For me there’s the added layer of wanting to understand and appreciate the small details of the new carriers to facilitate doing reviews of the inevitable avalanche of premiums that will come soon after its launch.
Enough of the preamble, though. Let me get to what I like and don’t like about the CV rework:
- It looks visually spectacular.
- Flak dodging is fun. The damage it does is very meaty and it feels rewarding to avoid it and punishing when you fail.
- Setting up attack runs feels rewarding.
- The ability to launch multiple attack runs is a nice feature.
- The UI needs work. You cannot see your CV consumables while controlling aircraft.
- Speaking of not being able to see, it’s very hard to keep situationally aware while flying around. The camera controls are bad.
- This awareness leads into problems setting up attack runs. It’s very difficult to setup for an attack on an enemy that’s unspotted. Good luck engaging a destroyer that a team mate isn’t spotting for you.
- AA seems concentrated in the AOE flak-bursts. The damage-over-time-effect once you get past that first net doesn’t feel especially substantial.
- Enemy CV interaction is all but non-existent.
- There’s a lot of time spent just flying from the carrier to the target with nothing else to do.
- Nothing is balanced at this point.
I cannot stress enough just how much work there remains to make the CV-rework a success. Balance isn’t even on the table at this stage — forget worrying about what they’re doing with Graf Zeppelin or Ranger; they’ve still got to work out the kinks in the fundamentals. And I stress this: Wargaming does not have the fundamentals worked out yet.
IMO, all focus should be on making sure players can remain aware of their situation, track targets and make attack runs comfortably. Those three elements, before anything else, need to be worked upon and knocked out of the park. You cannot begin adding challenges and barriers to being able to track a target and line up an attack run upon it until the core mechanics are intuitive. Right now, they’re not. The camera is a pain in the butt and feels sluggish. You have no awareness of what’s going on with your aircraft carrier while controlling attack planes. You cannot tell which ships are engaging you with long range flak. It’s only once these fundamentals are addressed can they comfortably move onto other issues, like anti-aircraft mechanics, damage over time concerns, etc.
Overall? It’s an interesting first pass. But that’s how I’m looking at it — it’s a first pass. It hasn’t sold me on the concept but it doesn’t have to at this stage. When they finalize the fundamentals and begin looking towards balance performance, I’ll be a lot more judgemental.