The public test for the 8.5 update of World of Tanks has been announced. Given it usually takes a few weeks for public testing to be completed we can probably expect the actual update at the end of this month.
The headline item of the update is the introduction of a second line of German medium tanks. This starts at Tier VI and continues through to Tier X, with the VK3002DB taking the Tier VII slot. This tank is currently researchable from the VK3001H and VK3601H, but these links will be removed. However, these are not the only new tanks being added. There is a Tier VII German light tank making an appearance, researchable from the VK2801, and itself linking into the new Tier VIII Indien-Panzer. Also in the Soviet tree we get three new light tanks at Tiers II, III, and IV, researchable from the MS-1 and leading into the T-34. Finally a new premium tank is being added – the Sexton SPG (which is going to be a British premium – originally it had been slated to be American). Tanks are, of course, the lifeblood of this game, and they get added every patch. I find it interesting how in this update and last update they added low-tier tanks to both the Germans and Soviets, which makes me wonder if we might see the Brits and French get similar treatment in the second half of this year. For the Record has all the current stats of the new vehicles.
One new map is slated to arrive, called Pearl River. It seems like new maps have had only a so-so success rate for some time now – Dragon Ridge and Serene Coast having both been withdrawn in 8.4. Hopefully Pearl River will be better constructed, but ultimately it will take time to see how it plays. Meanwhile Siegfried Line, Malinkova, and South Coast are going to be updated, presumably as part of the ongoing project to update all maps. There are also minor, unspecified, changes and “improvements” mentioned for Redshire, Live Oaks, El-Halluf, Karelia, Sand River, Steppes, and Himmelsdorf.
There are a fairly serious series of gameplay-related changes which finally, totally, removes World of Tanks from the “Pay to Win” crowd (in my opinion, at least). Premium consumables become purchasable with credits, not just gold (though no mention, as yet, of any changes to Fire Extinguishers). More indirectly, non-premium accounts can now form three-person platoons and create tank companies. Credit costs for temporary camouflage are also being reduced, making them a more viable alternative to permanent, gold camouflages. In a final gameplay change, the matchmaker is being amended to try and even out the number of scout tanks per side, clearly an attempt to mitigate some of the consequences of the arty-cap that was introduced before 8.4. I suspect overall this will mean more tanks using camouflage, and more folks ditching one of the basic three consumables and replacing it with a Large Repair Kit to get benefit of the bonus to repair, whilst keeping a small repair kit to repair a critical module. We shall see.
Cosmetically the credit price for inscriptions and emblems is also being reduced – I am sure this is part of a strategy to get people to try them out, with the idea that once people get used to them they will be tempted to get some gold to make them permanent. The same logic is doubtless at work with the camouflages, and it seems to me a fairly sensible path. We are also apparently getting new inscriptions.
Unspecified changes are being made to the after-battle stats screen, which makes me a little nervous. I think the current screen is pretty good – it could be better but right now it operates well. Without knowing what the changes are my cynical self finds it hard not to believe they are going to make it worse 🙂 . There are a few changes to specific tanks also mentioned, but only a small handful and the line that more will be revealed in the final patch notes.
After that you get the usual list of bugfixes and small amendments to descriptions and the like. There does not seem to be very much here of general interest. The two particular points that I noticed was that destroyed tanks will no longer absorb damage caused by HE shells, and that if one vehicle is stacked atop another both will now take damage (I think previously only the lower vehicle did).
Overall this looks like a fairly “standard” update on what we currently know – the biggest item for me is the ability to purchase premium consumables with credits as it is the only thing that really stands out. The rest is the ordinary fare of tanks, maps, balances and fixes. How that will play out long term will be very interesting to see. I do not expect a large number of premium consumables to start being used – at 20k a pop (or 10k if purchased during a sale) – they are just too expensive for that use in random battles. There are possibilities out there, however, and certainly I will stock up on some when the next sale comes around.