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Premium Ship Review - AL Littorio
LittleWhiteMouse posted a topic in General Game DiscussionThe following is a review of Azur Lane Littorio, the tier VIII Italian battleship. This ship has been provided to me by Wargaming for evaluation purposes -- I did not have to pay for this thing. To the best of my knowledge, the statistics discussed in this article are current as of patch 0.9.6.1. Please be aware that her performance may change in the future. So first some bias warning: Wargaming has pissed me off with AL Littorio. You're going to see a lot of negativity in this (blessedly short) review. The worst part is that I'm partially muzzled with NDAs on explaining why I'm mad with Wargaming. I have to be very careful here, but I'll tip-toe and disclose as much as I am able. Weeks and weeks ago, I was play-testing the tier VIII Italian Battleship Impero. Impero, like all test ships, was a Work in Progress -- with any and all of her performance characteristics subject to change at Wargaming's whims. She appeared superficially as a clone of Roma, the tier VIII Premium Italian Battleship but she was armed with SAP shells instead of HE Shells, she had improved agility but her reload was three seconds longer. Finally, she had access to an Italian cruiser Exhaust Smoke Generator. While I cannot comment on how she performed, there was nothing out of the ordinary with receiving a test ship with new and novel game play features. What was out of the ordinary was the trio of mistakes Wargaming would make regarding Impero. The Three Blunders MISTAKE THE FIRST: Impero was called "Impero (AL Littorio)" in Wargaming's internal documentation. When I first saw this, the hype was real. I do so enjoy crossovers. But internal documents are internal documents and subject to NDA so I wasn't going to spread this far and wide. "But how is this a mistake?" you ask. Well, dear reader, according to Wargaming, Impero wasn't meant to be labelled such. MISTAKE THE SECOND: Wargaming accidentally leaked a Supertest announcement: So the above oops was unfortunate but it might not have been so bad if it didn't contain this second element. When new ships are issued to testers, Wargaming messages the individual testers. This contains not only the itemized list of everything that has been credited to accounts, but it also provides links where feedback can be submitted. In or around the second week of April, this message (found below) was sent out accidentally to non-testers. Now Wargaming's "typo" was spread far and wide: MISTAKE THE THIRD: Wargaming failed to notify anyone that Impero was not AL Littorio. With the leak, Community Contributors could now discuss the upcoming Azur Lane crossover. While Impero's performance was (and remains) strictly off the table, her name was now tied to Impero's stats because of this leak. If Wargaming intended to separate the association between the two, they missed their early opportunity to do so with clear communication. This is when you start seeing me include AL Littorio instead of Impero in graphs and charts like this one for Odin's review back in early June: The "AL Littorio" is actually what Impero used to do. Impero, as designed during this test phase, doesn't exist anymore. For the current AL Littorio performance, look at Roma on this chart. The only problem, of course, is that Wargaming didn't think to correct all of the "AL Littorio" feedback they were receiving in place of Impero's. Now I stress that what abilities Impero had were all transitory -- Wargaming could change her however they wished, throwing everything out on a whim. But this does not diminish the fact that Impero's performance was tied to the AL Littorio name in the hearts and minds of testers, to say nothing of the attentive members of the community who were following her development through what snippets they could acquire. Divorcing the notion that AL Littorio and Impero were one in the same should have been high up on the priority list, but apparently this miscommunication slipped through the cracks. It wasn't until the official announcement on the Japanese World of Warships / Azur Lane collaboration stream that this fact came to light in the most jarring way possible. Who doesn't love getting important information from a third party source? AL Littorio was not getting Impero's performance. She was just going to be a Roma-clone in almost every respect. Mouse's Mistake So I have found myself the perpetrator of spreading misinformation. What's extra-frustrating is that the new "lack of preview" system the Community Contributor program has in place is meant specifically to mitigate this sort of thing from happening, but it went and happened anyway. While I reported Impero's performance accurately at the time, it was under the label of AL Littorio which is patently false. Let me be crystal clear: AL Littorio is not Impero. AL Littorio does not get Impero's SAP shells instead of HE shells. AL Littorio does not have Impero's 33 second reload. AL Littorio does not have Impero's Exhaust Smoke Generator. AL Littorio does not have Impero's improved agility. AL LITTORIO CLONES ROMA'S IN-GAME PERFORMANCE IN EVERY WAY THAT MATTERS. AL Littorio is a boring ol' clone of Roma in all respects but one: you can't buy a Makoto Kobayashi "Beer Can" camouflage for AL Littorio and received (much) improved economic gains. So... lesson learned: Going forward, I'm not going to include any test-ship data in any of my graphs and charts, pertinent though they may be to the community discussions going on at the time. Hopefully this will nip any of these miscommunication SNAFUs on Wargaming's part in the bud. I hate to leave stuff out but at the same time, it's not worth having my readers misled. For my part in this whole mix-up, I am truly sorry. I cannot properly express how mad I feel. The lack of clear information from Wargaming, the air of deliberately misleading me through withheld information, pisses me off to no end. I feel very much disrespected, especially when it came to light that, according to the game files, Impero is AL Littorio after all. I was jerked around -- there's no other word for it. I wasn't worth communicating to regarding Wargaming's intentions for the project. No one saw fit to make sure that I was being properly informed. They effectively put the onus on me to fact-check them on EVERYTHING they disclose, no matter how inane. To say that my trust in them is horribly shaken would be an understatement. And best of all, they pulled another Graf Zeppelin / German Destroyer swapperoo -- changing everything at the last minute without telling the CCs first. So not only am I very much a part of the whole spreading of misinformation, I wasn't given the opportunity to undo the damage in a timely manner. The NDAs on these ships have only just been lifted with the ships going on sale with the big ol' butt added on that Impero's performance is still off the table. Yay. Now, as I have said, Wargaming is free to change test-ship performance however they like. They MUST be allowed to try out new things. Sometimes this results in some real gems making it to the live client. For example, Haida's success story could not have come to pass without this level of experimentation. However, for every Haida there are ships like Duke of York where the concept gets axed at the eleventh hour, potentially never to see the light of day again (we STILL don't have a ship that matches the original Duke of York's play style). While I suspect the information collected with Impero may end up shaping the Italian battleship line in some shape or form, Impero's test-ship game play isn't replicated in AL Littorio. I must stress that this is only a suspicion that Impero's performance may re-emerge with the Italian tech-tree battleships. I do not begrudge Wargaming's need to change test-ships. However, if they want me to produce content about these ships, they must appreciate that jerking me around does not make for a happy Mouse. Roma in 2020 Roma hasn't changed much since I first reviewed her two and a half years ago. She's a ship I very much want to like but she's held back by two elements that are difficult to overcome. For those unfamiliar with Roma, her performance summarizes to the following PROS and CONS: PROs Dispersed armour layout with thick upper hull, amidships deck armour and an extended belt, all resistant to HE damage. Good gun handling with fast turret traverse. Phenomenal muzzle velocity and energy retention, giving her fast shell flight times over distance. Great AP penetration power over range, especially for guns of her caliber. Good concealment with a 14.9km surface detection range which can be reduced down to 11.7km. CONs Soviet-style high-water citadel. Short ranged for a tier VIII battleship at 18.1km. Horrible dispersion on her main battery guns. Her high-velocity, high-penetration AP shells consistently over-penetrate cruisers. Her 381mm AP shells cannot overmatch 27mm+ hull sections found commonly on many cruisers within her matchmaking. Awful HE performance with low alpha strike, poor fire chance and mediocre module damage. Large turning radius, mediocre ship rotation rate. Roma are AL Littorio are flanking battleships. The idea is that they're able to get into a forward position and hammer the enemy with crossfire. However, this is where those aforementioned problem-elements come in. The first is that their guns are horribly inconsistent. Their gunnery dispersion is just horrid -- behaving just often enough to give you hope that you can land hits on a crucial shot only to troll you when you need them to behave. Out of all of the ships in the game I have so far mapped dispersion for, Roma has the worst I've seen. It's really bad. Adding to this gunnery inconsistency is the double-feature of struggling to land anything but over-penetrating hits on the flat broadside of cruisers. Roma' and AL Littorio's AP shells are simply too fast and have too much penetration -- they punch clean through cruisers rather than exploding within them unless targets are pretty far away (12km to 14km depending on the chubbiness of the ship in question). Finally, her 381mm caliber means that they can't overmatch the 27mm hull sections found on many tier VIII+ cruisers. American and German cruisers that bow in can bounce their AP for days. Their HE shells are terrible so they don't pick up the slack. The second issue is one of being too easily detected. Back when I first reviewed Roma, carriers were largely a non-issue. Now they're commonplace. Assigning "concealment" as a battleship's strength is a bit of a hard sell when aircraft can undo this even accidentally, without actively trying to keep Roma lit. This means taking up forward or flanking positions is a no-go and simply guarantees you'll be focus fired. AL Littorio and Roma aren't without their merits, though. The punch on their guns really is phenomenal. You can reliable citadel most battleships up to maximum range (provided their citadels are exposed and they're giving you a broadside to shoot at). Their armour layout is super tanky, lacking just the full-on ice-breaker bow to make it perfect. Unlike Soviet ships, they're not shackled with horrible surface detection and agility either, so provided no one's looking, they can redeploy effectively. All things told, AL Littorio and Roma are balanced Mehbotes. I just wish their gunnery was more interesting. Final Evaluation So AL Littorio is Roma with an Azur Lane camouflage. She is a worse Roma, as a matter of fact -- as I said, you can't fork out money to get Roma's beer-can camouflage. AL Littorio is only worthwhile if: (a) you want Roma and (b) you don't have Roma and (c) you never intend to buy Roma's Makoto Kobayashi camouflage because you're allergic to fun and pope hats.