So Wargaming.net have released 7.4 on the public test server, and also the patch notes. There are a various minor adjustments and bug fixes of course, but this is also a patch with four quite major gameplay components, and one cosmetic component.
The first of the gameplay components is the addition of tank destroyers and artillery to the French tech tree. Currently the French tree has been a two-line affair, now it is being filled out. This does not have any immediate impact on me as I have no intention to start driving French tanks anytime soon – other of course than seeing them on the battlefield. That I am looking forward too – a new set of vehicles to learn how to play against (and with) in the field. Also added are two new premium tanks (tanks you pay real money to get). Like the above, these are tanks I currently will only see in my sights, and not in my garage.
The second gameplay component is the addition of two new maps – and here I am still getting the hang of the last two maps introduced in 7.3. New maps are good, I have decided, not only because they bring something new to the game – it takes a while to work out the “better” ways to play the map. It is also good because it means in any given game session one is less likely to get the same map again and again.
The third gameplay component is by far the largest: the addition of two new sets of victory conditions for the Standard Random battles. Currently each side has a base on one side of the map, and the victory condition is either capture the opposing base or destroy all enemies vehicles. Now in addition to this standard victory condition we will have Attack and Encounter, though they will only be compatible on certain maps.
In Attack one side will be the defender, and the other the attacker. The attackers need to either capture the base or destroy all enemy vehicles. Otherwise the defenders win. It will be possible on seven maps. My gut feeling there is a chance this may be too easy for the defender, but until one actually plays several matches there is no way of telling.
In encounter there is one base between the two teams, and the first team to either capture the base or destroy all enemy vehicles will win. This will be activated on nine different maps, and looking down the list of maps there is one there for certain which I am sure will cause a fair amount of moaning: El Halluf. To be fair, there are plenty of moans possible on other maps depending where the base is put, but in El Halluf I don’t think the location of a central base matters. El Halluf is a map of a valley between two ridges. The teams start on the ridges, and it can be quite tempting to hide behind cover and snipe at the opposing side – which half the time is also hiding behind cover. With the base doubtless between these two sides I think it will only encourage this behaviour. On the other hand, smart teams will find a way to exploit that inactivity. Surrendering the initiative to the enemy does not always work.
The cosmetic change is the addition of new medals. I quite like this, even though it is only purely cosmetic.
I am certainly looking forward to the new battle modes. I am rather expecting them at first to be a blood-bath as it will probably take players (myself included) a few goes to get the hang of it. Especially older players have had the ways of playing the maps – especially the older maps – ingrained over hundreds of battles on each map. I guess it might take a few blood-baths for things starting to change. All in all though this sounds like it will be a very good patch indeed.