World of Tanks Blitz is a free-to-play 3D multiplayer action tank shooter developed by Wargaming Group Limited, originally releasing for iOS and Android mobile devices in May 2014. I was honestly surprised the game has been around this long and looks as good as it does on my iPhone 11. It’s a portable version of the popular PC game World of Tanks and World of Tanks Blitz later released on Steam in November 2016. The game focuses on 7 vs 7 online multiplayer battles utilising over 300 iconic tank vehicles from eight world nations, all within 26 unique battle arenas.
The battle arenas are small open areas with multiple forms of obstacles to use as cover, as well as numerous destructible objects like fences and trees, and both teams start at opposite ends of the battlefield. There are two game modes to play, the first has the objective to either eliminate all 7 of the other team’s tanks, or to capture the base. The second game mode is supremacy which is similar to the base gameplay however there are multiple bases to capture and your team needs to hold as many bases as they can, raising their overall cap points. Destroying enemy tanks gains points for your team while also taking points from the opposing team. At a maximum of 7-minutes per game, these are great battles when you have some spare time either commuting somewhere or on breaks.
There are a number of tutorial games that you play where you select your first nation and first tank, of which I chose USA and the Tier 1 M2 Light Tank. After each match you earn points to purchase component upgrades or even new tanks. I upgraded the weapon and armour of the M2, then was able to purchase the M3 Stuart. I don’t have much knowledge of army tanks so the numbers and names didn’t mean much to me, though I did recognise some of the names and images from playing games like Call of Duty of Band of Brothers.
There are four classes of tanks in the game – light, medium, heavy and tank destroyers, as described on the World of Tanks Tankopedia:
Light tanks are the eyes and ears of the team. Use your superior maneuverability to spot the enemy, radio back to your team, and duck back quickly under cover before your opponents even know what happened.
Medium tanks are incredibly varied in their armor, speed, and firepower. Tailor your strategy to individual tank models and you’ll find yourself taking on different roles from scouting, support or even front line attacks.
Heavy tanks are heavily armored and loaded with powerful guns. As a heavy tank you’re a force to be reckoned with.
Tank Destroyers are well-equipped machines meant to take out enemy armor from long distances completely unseen. Find a good hiding spot, switch to sniper mode, and eliminate easy targets from across the map.
The controls took me the most time to get used to, to the point I still haven’t really mastered them on my iPhone 11. I am almost as clunky as the first time I played as you need to control the tracks with your left thumb and rotating the weapon and aiming with your right thumb. Thankfully there are green directional arrows which help you to aim the tank in the desired direction. I imagine it would be a bit easier playing on an iPad with the slightly larger profile and viewing area of the game screen. It’s all a bit cluttered on my iPhone 11 and my big thumbs, but still looks great, runs smooth and I was still able to rack up some good kills to earn XP. Some of the weapons take a long time to reload as well, so you quickly learn to shoot, move/find cover whilst reloading, aim/shoot, rinse and repeat. The early tutorial games are quick simple and then the difficulty ramps up as you start to upgrade your tanks and queue up with far more experienced players.
There is a wide variety of customisation available using combat XP earned by playing the game. Whether you win a battle or get killed part way through, you’re always earning XP – you just earn more for helping your team win and staying alive. I liked that even if you die in a battle, you can go back to your garage to choose another tank and get back into the next battle while the first is still playing out. You’ll get notification of whether your team won or lost, and the XP you earned. You also earn various types of boosters, both through mission rewards as well as obtaining them through loot boxes. Being a free-to-play game, real money purchases are prevalent in this game, as are loot boxes. You receive a number of free loot boxes per day based on timers. Boosters range from earning more currency or improving in-game performance. Booster packs can also be purchased for real money in the store.
You can earn many of the items in the game store through gameplay, however it would take some time to earn enough gold and XP to do so. The allure of just throwing down $17.99 for a 30-day subscription to earn 7500 gold and 30,000 free XP is quite attractive for a new player, providing you have that disposable income. There are also tank/garage packs such as The Desert Valentine II and the AMX CD Liberty packages for $7.99 and $22.99 respectively. The developers need to make money somehow, and these purchasable tanks can still be taken out by gamers who haven’t spent a cent. It’s more a factor of speeding up the time to unlock those tanks that would ordinarily take a lot of gameplay and XP earned.
World of Tanks Blitz is constantly being updated and at the time of writing this article, the latest update 7.1 added a Yukon battlefield, vehicle changes, new camouflage and other improvements. There are also seasonal and regular events to add a bit of a change of scenery and gameplay. The most recent update has been Gravity Force currently running from July 21 to July 25, 2020. Players get to fight in the moon’s gravity and float over the lunar surface on the Sea of Tranquility map. Only tier V-X vehicles are allowed in this mode and given the low gravity, you take less falling damage but the recoil from shots fired is much more noticeable. It’s these types of in-game events, where the developers break away from the standard gameplay that’s been around for years, that keeps the game fresh and exciting.
Overall I really enjoyed the authentic tank warfare gameplay and ease of use despite it being a 6-year old game. World of Tanks Blitz is game that you can play in short rewarding bursts and is one of the better mobile games I’ve played in recent times. Whilst there is an in-game store where you can use real money to speed up progression, most things can be unlocked through gameplay, albeit a lot of game time is required. Still, each tank has it’s strength and weaknesses, and a good team of 7 can outflank, outmaneuver and outgun the enemy with strong tactics and communication. There are a plethora of customisation options as well as varying tank types to suit your play-style, and regular in-game events keep the game fresh for new players and veterans alike.