So, a year has passed since I first downloaded this game and saw for myself what all the fuss was about. Time for a retrospective post, perhaps, to gather one's thoughts regarding the whole process of getting used to this game, and then the quest to "git gud." I'll never be a unicum, and frankly that isn't my goal with this game anyway, but it is enough to know that after three thousand plus games, things are beginning to click into place and progress on this most holy of crusades (heh) is definitely being made—albeit slowly.
RNGesus: First of all, World of Warships was my first hands-on experience with a Wargaming product, and more importantly, the first game I ever played that was so dependent on random-number generation. Computer RPGs such as Knights of the Old Republic and Mass Effect, while based on various predetermined systems, generally had either an "attack the thing, hit the thing" or "point at the thing and shoot, get a hit" mechanic that, while it was entirely possible for an attack to miss or be ineffective, it was within the context of a single-player experience and it was usually readily apparent why the attack missed or did minimum damage. This game isn't like that, and even a year into playing it, I'm still not sure this is the best way to have a naval combat game (and it is definitely not the way to run a tank game, which is why I never started playing WoT and only barely touch Armored Warfare anymore). With the new detailed damage indicator, it's even easier to see how much this has an impact on the game—why would an AP shell do no damage even if it penetrated the target? Skill can only go so far in overcoming such arbitrary randomness, and I do hope that steps are taken in future to rein it all in a little bit.
Matchmaking: Not much to say that hasn't been said already by other, more known and respected forumites, though I am pleased with the new system so far. Just like many others, I would welcome a skill-based matchmaker, and sometimes wonder why WG doesn't simply license one if they don't have the resources to develop it in-house, it is at least understandable why they don't pursue this option.
The learning curve: Boy, what a journey it has been! Sometimes I wish I could just take the first thousand games I played and expunge them from the record stat-wise, even if that meant taking it on the chin progression-wise, because I really was that bad. Perhaps this was because of my lack of experience with Wargaming products, or else the result of inexperience with such RNG-based mechanics, but it wasn't really until I began to approach the 2,000-game milestone that I started to fully comprehend just how much of a potato I really was. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't necessarily an exemplar of the Dunning-Kruger effect, but it is amazing just how blissfully unaware of stats one can be in games like this, and how they can measure your performance for good or ill. Which brings me to...
Player statistics: Even now, having passed the 3k marker, I have no illusions with regards to my abilities, and really only use statistics to measure my own progression as a player. The occasions where I've deliberately looked up another player's personal stats can be counted on one hand, and always in response to said player coming at me—for whatever reason—and trying to bash me with my own stats for something that may have happened in game. I don't care one way or another about other folks' stats, and would certainly never use them to make aspirations upon another player's position on an issue relating to the game. Folks who do that are, frankly, being disrespectful in my eyes, not to mention logically fallacious. However, I will admit to feeling a certain measure of relief upon seeing someone else's publicly-displayed stats (e.g., in their signature) and realizing that they are inferior to my own—anyone who doesn't is either a liar or a far better person than I am (honesty is the best policy).
Those special "derp" games: You know what I'm talking about, the games where you assess the situation, decide upon a course of action that would seem appropriate to the circumstances and how the battle is likely to unfold, and then proceed to execute it, only to fall at the first metaphorical hurdle and lose a few teeth stat-wise. Even the super-unicums have those games, whether they will admit it or not, and if I was to be honest with myself and anyone else (which is the point of this entire post), I am grateful for them. They serve to remind us that we are only human, and that as Qui-Gon Jinn said, "there is always a bigger fish." Fighter pilots of a certain era will even admit, in those rare fits of candor, that there are only two types of combat pilots out there, aces and targets—and that anyone can be either at any given time.
The state of the game: A lot has changed in World of Warships since I started last year, certainly, and while I've been somewhat vocal about a few, this game for the most part has done pretty well for itself. Sure there is a long way to go in its development, but all evidence points toward the developers taking their time and at least trying to get things right (arguments about Russian bias notwithstanding, but more on that later, perhaps). If the last year has taught me anything, it is that nothing in this type of game should be taken for granted, and that games of this nature do take time to mature, like a fine cheese or wine. I am looking forward to being a part of this process, however small, because despite the hiccoughs and foibles here and there, the game continues to be a generally fun experience.
Future prospects: I think a lot of potential exists for this game to shine in its own right and be just as successful as World of Tanks, but near as I can tell from having played World of Warships and watched quite a large number of WoT videos, that there is a certain overlap between the two, both design-wise and culturally. To be frank, I think a lot of the "meta" from that bloody tank game has migrated to this one, and it isn't for the better—particularly when high-tier battleships and cruisers try to use islands like heavy tanks and tank destroyers use terrain features. I've even come up with a couple of ideas as to how this might be addressed, which I will outline in a later post. The fact that Wargaming are introducing sandbox servers, as a way of finding methods by which to revamp the gameplay of WoT, is highly encouraging.
- The downside: Not everything is sunshine and bunnies, obviously. Perhaps my biggest gripe with Wargaming as a whole (and yes, I realize this is hardly unique), is their lack of transparency. This manifests itself in a number of ways, from the fact that some key stats are kept hidden, to the way the company tends to react to its own mistakes and treat those who may or may not be responsible for them (I never knew Gunlion, but it doesn't take a moral genius to see that he was hardly guilty and didn't deserve what he got). I tend to approach hot-button issues with a skeptical air, trying to keep myself from jumping to conclusions though this isn't always successful, with the goal of letting things get sorted out as they should and to not let one's emotions rule one's reaction. Take the issue surrounding the Arizona for example: in the final analysis, I think we (including myself) made a bit more out of this issue than perhaps we should have, but the evidence that we the playerbase could dig up did point toward there having been a stealth nerf at some point. I deliberately chose to shift the arguments I myself engaged in toward a different point: the lack of transparency. But enough about such things...
Overall, I am glad that I decided to invest the time and effort into learning this game, and despite an issue here and there with one of them, I don't regret spending the money for various premium ships, gold, and other items. Certainly I wish that I had taken up the offer to buy into the closed beta with one or more of the various premium ships being sold during that time period, and not because one might have been overpowered. I think I could have benefited greatly as a player from the experience of having participated in the pre-release testing, though I won't pretend that this would have been to any kind of mutual benefit—I certainly wouldn't have been able to give much in the way of constructive feedback.
In the final analysis, I honestly feel that I am starting to achieve some sort of breakthrough with this game, that despite all the bumps in the road and rogue waves in the sea, I am becoming a better player. It certainly helps that I have found a band of friendly fellow captains to talk to on Teamspeak, and though I'm not a clanner by nature, having folks to talk to about the game and its many related topics is always a good thing. It's even more fun when the opportunity to division with them comes up; I've had a few pretty epic (by my standard) games in division, both with and without the benefit of voice communication, and look forward to more. Perhaps, someday, I will possess the skills necessary to pull off the occasional team carry, but it's not as though this game will become any less fun without them.
After all, I am an optimist.
Edited by Goodwood_Alpha, 09 July 2016 - 11:29 PM.