World of Tanks Patch 9.0: If it ain’t broke, we broke it!

Yesterday saw the release of a major update for World of Tanks.  Patch 9.0 or “New Frontiers” (they’re naming patches now?) introduced new HD graphics, reworked maps, some changes to the in-game sound and a new game mode, Historical Battles.  After spending 40 minutes or so downloading the 2.6 gigabyte patch, I was eager to fire the game up and check out the changes.

The first thing I noticed was the dramatic change to the garage.  The cramped old garage has been replaced with a massive warehouse structure.  The garage sound effects have been changed as well, and not for the better.  Things are definitely noisier in the new digs and someone saw fit to introduce the sound of some unseen grease monkey dropping a large piece of metal, which makes an incredibly loud and startling clanging noise.  Who thought that was a good idea?  The tank models also look odd.  The M103 (pictured below) is one of the new HD models, but the tanks that haven’t gotten the new HD treatment look oddly plastic and shiny.


Once I launched into a battle, I definitely noticed a change in the graphics.  I don’t know if it looks better, but it definitely looks different.  An unwelcome change is a big drop in frame rates.  On a mix of medium and high settings, I used to get around 45 frames a second.  With the same settings in 9.0, I am often struggling to get 30 fps.  Wargaming had said in the pre-patch hype that frame rates would improve but that’s not my experience.

The new sounds aren’t exactly a step up, either.  The sound of a tank exploding has been replaced by what sounds like someone hitting a large pillow with a wiffle ball bat.  It’s not BOOM so much as PAFF.  The sound of the tank’s engine idling also seems to cut out here and there, making me wonder at times if my tank has run out of fuel.

The graphical and sound oddities are actually the least annoying things introduced by “New Frontiers.”  The winner for Most Frustrating New Feature are the crashes to desktop.  The new Historical Battles game mode is apparently very crashy, but I haven’t tried it out yet.  I did encounter several crashes during Random Battles, however.  Normally, if the game crashes on you, you can start WoT back up and you will be loaded back into the game.  After a crash in 9.0, WoT attempts to load you back in but crashes again.  You are effectively forced to sit the battle out and can only successfully restart the game after the current match has ended.  I was in a battle with my Nashorn and crashed out.  With me unable to get back in, my immobilized tank was eventually the last member of my team left standing.  Apparently, the last tank on the enemy team was also a crash victim and the game ended in a draw with two driver-less tanks staring out into space.

I don’t know how long it will take Wargaming to fix the issue, but it brings up serious questions about what happens when people start crashing out of Clan Wars or tournament battles.  With gold prizes or land on the global Clan Wars map at stake, will Wargaming suspend competition until a fix is released, or will we play on and risk losing meaningful matches when players CTD and can’t load back in?  So far, that remains to be seen.

Wargaming has a bit of a checkered history when it comes to botching releases, introducing bugs and generally breaking things while introducing features nobody asked for or wanted.  This patch, however, takes the cake.  The game looks weird, the sounds are lame, the new game mode is widely reviled by my clanmates and there are crashes galore.  If I had a rating system for WoT patches, “New Frontiers” would earn 5 Steaming Piles of Shit.

~ by schlippo on April 18, 2014.

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