Probably the most notable thing about the 8.11 update that is currently in Public Test is the fact there are no new tanks included for general release. I must admit I am struggling to think the last time that happened. This makes the update much more tightly focused on gameplay changes.
Without having tanks to easily identify this update, I imagine it will probably be remembered for the introduction of a new battle mode: national battles. The idea here is simple enough – each team entirely consists of tanks from one nation. Chinese and Japanese tanks currently will not take part in this due to their limited tech trees. So to, no doubt, will platoons which mix tanks of different nations. On one level this is not really all that big a change. The battles will be fought under standard battle rules, so what is really going on here is changing the nature of a team lineup. There has been a lot of discussion as to implications for balance here, in particular focused it seems on whether Tier VI will be over-run with KV-1S avalanches. While I think there may be some balance issues thrown up, I otherwise am content to wait and see. I am neither very excited, or against, the prospect. It is a cute idea, and if it adds a little variation it will be a good thing.
There is also a new map being added called Windstorm, another Arctic map with a mix of urban and rural. It sounds like fun. They are also removing a map from the game entirely – Port. Port was never a map I particularly looked forward to playing, even though I have had a few really good games on it. It always felt quite easy to play hideously wrong. Apparently there have also been a few amendments to Highway, Erlenberg, Redshire, and North-West. Finally in a cosmetic change a winter version of Himmelsdorf is being release, and a different version of Ruinberg with lots of background fires. Both apparently look excellent.
In terms of actual gameplay probably the biggest change is the rebalance to most Tier X tank destroyers. This essentially consists of nerfing their alpha damage, and their dpm to varying degrees. I put this ultimately down to a consequence of the artillery nerf had the impact of a lot of players switching from arty to the next best thing. I wonder if perhaps in 3-4 years’ time the entire tank balancing will come full circle.
There are also quite a few quality of life little improvements coming in this update. An icon to help you notice if you have been put on fire, and the ability to mass retrain the crew. You can disable the automatic camera switch to the tank that kills you (if it is spotted). Also the ability to right click on the tank in the garage and go directly to that tank’s statistics.
They are also introducing some new medals, two for ordinary battles and five exclusively for team battles. Along with the medal changes they are, in effect, removing the Sniper medal. Sniper medals already earned will not go away, they will just be put into a unique category and no more will be earned. I can understand this on one level – it is by far the easiest of the Battle Honours to get, but even so I consider it a shame and is probably the only item in this update that I am unhappy with. Albeit, not that unhappy. On the flip side in the post-battle results we will apparently now be told which sort of Mastery badge that particular battle was worthy of, even if we have already earned that level. While a purely cosmetic change, I must say I rather like it.
All in all this is a fairly small update, all things considered, but not an insignificant one. It will be interesting to see how National Battles work out, and the new map, but I have no particular interests here other than to see this game hopefully improve.