Time presses on, and 8.5 has now been out for almost two weeks, which for me has translated into something like 150 matches or thereabouts. Long enough, one might think, to form firmer impressions of the update, except for me it is very difficult to form an opinion on one particular part to the update – the new map. I have played Pearl River the grand total of once. From that one play through I got the impression of a complicated map that is going to make a lot of folks look like idiots. Fortunately in my one play through I was not one of them. Nevertheless, I have the gut feeling it will need to be reworked as I feel many players will find it a quick way to an early wreck.
While Pearl River was the only new map offered, the Assault game mode made a return to Sand River, and it is rapidly turning into my favourite Assault style map. The entire setting has been radically overhauled, with the defender’s base now situation roughly in square J6. There are several valid approaches to both defence and offence, and because of that ridge roughly G4-6 the defenders do not automatically have the terrain advantage. Usually I am finding a tense battle takes place at a ridge of sand around G1, while a more freewheeling fight occurs on the eastern side in the box F8 to H0. The Assault mode also returned to Malinovka, but to be honest I am struggling to see much difference. It still plays exactly the same, and it still feels like the defenders have the advantage.
As for the new tanks in the offer, given I have played none of them I can only comment on what it is like to face them. The Indien-Panzer appears to be quite popular, and certainly it can do its fair share of damage. The VK3001D and VK2001D have not really done anything to properly mark them in my mind, and neither has the Aufklärungspanzer Panther (what a mouthful!). In contrast I have come up against quite a few of the new low-tier Soviet lights. The T-70 and T-80 in particular seem like they could be effective little beasts, and in particular seem quite bouncy.
As for premium consumables being available for credits – to be honest so far it has not made any difference to my gameplay. I am still waiting for them to appear in a special offer. The changes to the camouflage system – cheaper temporary camouflages – I very much like. In particular I am finding myself buying a week’s camouflage on a particular tank, and then playing that tank over the course of that week. The next week I might play a different tank, and camouflage that. So far I am being a little discerning in what I acquire camouflage for though, much as I like the KV-5 I think a camo on it would be largely wasted.
Overall I think the update is holding up to be quite solid. I wish I had seen more of Pearl River, but I suppose I will just have to wait and see.