Well, the test server for 8.4 is up with the accompanying patch notes. The main outline of the update is as was previously announced: the introduction of the British TD line, the addition of three lower-tier German light tanks and the bumping of three other German lights tanks up a tier, four maps being reworked, a new Soviet premium tank destroyer, and a new player tutorial.
Well we now have some more detail of course. All the above is essentially correct but some of it can now be expanded upon. The introduction of the British TD line stands as is. The German light tank line re-organisation (involving moving the Panzer II Luchs, VK1602 Leopard, and VK2801 all up a tier) involves a fairly heft nerf for the VK2801. This makes me a little sad as I was going to acquire the VK2801 shortly, but now I will wait until after the patch as that way I will be able to enjoy the tank for what it will be, and not mourn it for what it was (like I do with the Panzer IV). Along with the tier VI SU-100Y Soviet premium TD a new Tier VI SPG is being added in for “testing” (presumably super-testers) which is the Sexton. This is being assigned to the USA tree, which will raise some eyebrows since it is not technically an American tank, but rather Canadian. However, clearly USA in reality means North American – apparently Russians do not realise folks like Gank are different from their southerly cousins
Along with Steppes, Fisherman’s Bay, Ensk, and Live Oaks being reworked while Serene Coast and Dragon Ridge are being taken out of the regular rotation. Dragon Ridge is easy to understand – too much action was always concentrated in a small fraction of the map – the entire western half only rarely had any activity in it. Serene Coast could turn into a campfest very easily – but in a heavy tank I always found an aggressive push into the rocks (from the south) would generally find a way to tip the scales. I think perhaps because the other team found me an impossible target to resist shooting at, which ultimately always lit them up to snipers/artillery. If I recall correctly I once won a Patrol Duty medal on that map with a KV-5 doing just that.
In further map news the Assault mapmode has been disabled for Westfield and Malinkova. Assault mapmode has had a very troubled history. The funny thing is I actually think – with a team with even the slightest amount of co-ordination, or even just being alert to what team-mates are doing – I think the attackers have the advantage in both maps. Especially true for Malinkova assault in fact since there are plenty of forests on both sides for attacking snipers to set up shop and then a scout can move forward and light up targets. However, generally it does appear that the average quality of players on a random team is just not up to the task, especially on higher tiers. In lower tiers it does not matter so much. At this rate though I think it means that Sand River and Siegfried Line will be the only assault maps remaining in the rotation, which really is indictment enough of the current design. I say this with sadness because I have had some great fun on these maps.
There is also a report of “Game of Visual fixes” for three maps: Cliff, Prokhorovka, and Abbey; and also mention that the roads of Ruinberg, or more specifically the craters, have been reworked. So all in all there are a lot of map changes in this update. I would imagine we will see even more reworking of reworked maps as players (inevitably) find interesting ways to turn an advantage.
There are then a whole bunch of bug fixes and the like which I am not going to list, and a few more minor edits. The introduction of the British TD line is clearly a big deal – I am looking forward to them, but in many ways what is going on with the German light line is more intriguing as it offers some glimpse into what Wargaming might be intending for the US and USSR light lines that currently terminate in the M24 Chaffee and T-50-2.
As is usual I will not be on the test server. Just not my thing. I presume though this means we are looking for an early-mid March release for 8.4, depending on if they have a second round of testing.