You can’t deny that developer and publisher Wargaming has seen a lot of success with their ‘World of’ franchise, starting with World of Tanks in 2010, followed by air and sea battles in World of Warplanes and World of Warships (see the pattern here?) in the years after. They have even made the leap from PC over to consoles and mobile with the World of franchise. Their latest campaign has them adding to their console offerings with World of Warships: Legends, available on both PS4 and XBox One. While their first foray into console gaming, World of Tanks: Mercenaries, mixed things up with an alternate reality, WoWS Legends stick to a more historical path. This doesn’t mean we are getting a port of the PC version though. Read on to see what has stayed the same and what has changed. This is our World of Warships: Legends review.
Same ‘ol Same ‘ol
The gameplay is exactly what you would expect from a Wargaming title. You pick from one of three classes of ships – Destroyer (light), Cruiser (medium), or Battleship (heavy), and then head out into the seas to hunt the enemy. Battles are 9v9 matches, with players paired up against others with similar tier ships (+/- 1 tier). The matchmaking system does a good job of balancing out the classes on each side, and battles generally start up in less than 60 seconds. Battles have a 15-minute time limit, but a well-placed salvo from a battleship or a couple of torpedos from a pesky destroyer can end your match before it really gets started. Fortunately, just like other games in the franchise, you are able to queue up a different ship and jump into another battle right away. This ensures the matches are fast, and even if you only have 30-45 minutes to play you will still be able to get several matches in.
The other thing that hasn’t changed is just how invasive the cash shop is. You are reminded at every turn that you can purchase boosters, additional ships, and premium time to speed up your XP grind. Before using the code provided by PR to add the Ultimate Edition to my account, I played for a while without any boosts. Although it has been a while since I played on PC, this version seemed to grant XP a little quicker, but it is still a bit of a grind to get enough XP to hit the next tier and get your next ship. So, like any Wargaming title, spending some real cash can speed up your progression and give you a minor stat increase over the base F2P player, but it isn’t enough to discourage a non-paying player from sticking around.
Same, But Different
While much of the gameplay is the same, many of the game systems have been streamlined. A perfect example of this is commanders. Previously, you had to recruit a commander for each of your ships, then level them up individually by using them in battle. As they leveled up you would assign skill points from a full list of skills available to all commanders. Now you are able to get legends – historical figures that have a skill list based roughly off of their historical strengths. Each commander can be assigned to multiple ships, and assigned skills can be freely switched between battles. Commander XP earned goes into a pool that can be used to rank up any commander, so leveling up a specific commander is much quicker than before.
For those used to playing World of Warships on other platforms, you may find WoWS Legends a little restrictive in its current state. To start, Legends shrinks the nation list back down to just three – US, Japan, and England, with not even Germany making the current cut (the Soviets do have a premium ship available in the Ultimate Edition). Further reducing the available number of ships is the move from ten tiers in the PC version down to just seven in Legends. Gone are the branches like the split between light and heavy cruisers, meaning there is one ship of each class in a tier for a nation, plus a few premium purchase ships scattered about. Also missing currently is the Aircraft Carrier branch though it will be added later after the current ships are balanced. This leaves a total of 50 ships spread across the three nations, plus the premium ships available for purchase. As stated, this could feel limited to players that have access to the 200+ ships available on PC and 100+ on the mobile Blitz version.
Seeing as how World of Warships: Legends is being introduced to a whole new demographic on consoles, it isn’t really surprising they have pared down the list of ships and streamlined some of the game systems. Doing so makes the game much more approachable to new players to the franchise and also reduces the amount of grind to hit top tier. And let’s not forget that the ship list and game systems can be expanded in the future, extending the life of the game and allowing for many opportunities for microtransaction purchases to cut down on future grind.
I often worry about playing a game on console that I previously enjoyed on PC, but WoWS Legends plays well. The graphics are still fantastic, and being able to lounge on the couch while playing on a big screen is as good, if not more enjoyable, as playing on PC. Switching from a mouse and keyboard to a controller was also seamless whether navigating the UI back at the harbor or in the heat of battle. I also believe the streamlining of the game while keeping the core gameplay the same is a perfect fit for console play. It has been a while since WoWS had a home on my PC’s hard drive, but it is sure to stay on my XBox One for quite a while.