Submarines Bring Underwater Terror to World of Warships
Post by KostaAndreadis @ 01:46am 22/08/19 | Comments
The latest class to arrive in the waters of World of Warships, brings stealth and the deep sea hunt to the popular online multiplayer game.
World of Warships has always brought a cinematic flair to its battles between large sea vessels spanning many decades of naval history and World Wars. From large hulking Battleships to nimble Destroyers to larger Carriers. By not diving below the surface or having something silly like jet engines propel ships into the air like Star Destroyers, a level playing field added an almost boardgame or tabletop feel to real-time skirmishes.
From ships located in key strategic positions, landmarks and islands obscuring viewpoints and providing cover, to objectives laid out neatly; everything existing on the surface. A very shiny and shimmery one at that. It’s one of the reasons the pick-up-and-play nature of World of Warships has led to tens of millions of players joining in on the fun since its debut in 2015.
Of course, the game’s arcade-style action and ease of play is not about to change anytime soon, but the arrival of a new class – the Submarine – presents an interesting challenge. “Submarines will take on their historical role as stealthy hunter killers in World of Warships,” Artur Plociennik, Executive Producer working on World of Warships explains. “They will become the class that has the best concealment and they will also become the class that is most fragile. In a sense they will dethrone Destroyers from both of those spots.”
“World of Warships has always brought a cinematic flair to its battles between large sea vessels spanning many decades of naval history.”
Submarines also add a new dynamic. For one, the stealth-based nature of the sub means going below the surface for the first time. Sneaking up on enemy ships and then firing off a barrage of torpedoes to take them out long before they can react. Or even realise what just happened. Quite literally, the addition of submarines adds a new dimension to World of Warships, the ability to dive below the surface.
“This paints a picture of a new class,” Artur continues. “One that’s going to focus on strategic positioning and risk management. A very specialised class too, because the submarine is the only class or ship able to make use of that third dimension below the water. A place where there are no direct interactions with any other classes. Because of that we've had to develop diving mechanics, and other things that we didn't have before.”
Although very different to every other type of ship in the game, how submarines work or behave is thankfully still straightforward and simple. Whilst still following rules already set. All ships within World of Warships have a detection range, and with subs being relatively small with the ability to dive below the surface this means another ship will need to be within close range to spot one. That said, the submarine’s overall mechanics, controls, and playstyle - and by that same token dealing with a sub as an enemy - presents an entirely new way to play.
A submarine mini-game within the game.
The submarine in World of Warships has three depth levels, the first sitting above the surface, the second at periscope level, and the third fully submerged and ready to fire. The deeper it goes the slower the submarine moves, with an oxygen meter introduced to limit pure invisibility; forcing players to use the vessel strategically and come up for air from time to time. Of course, going underwater doesn’t make a submarine completely invulnerable from attack, as faster ships like Destroyers will be able to track them by following and staying within detection circles to mimic the process of triangulation.
“The submarine in World of Warships has three depth levels, the first sitting above the surface, the second at periscope level, and the third fully submerged and ready to fire. ”
Once overhead depth charges will automatically drop into the water, with a few precise hits taking out the deep-sea threat.
And it’s here where the visual side of the equation matches the above in terms of new. Going below the surface as a submarine you lose almost all visibility and are instead presented with dark and murky waters, the ominous glow that comes from sonar positioning, and muffled sound effects. All coming together to present a muted story of intense battles happening above, amplifying the claustrophobic nature of being trapped in an underwater tin can. The creaks and strains of the metallic submarine shell can be heard in the sound design - with the music giving off the sort ominous dread and sense of tension found in popular culture and films like Das Boot, The Hunt for Red October, Crimson Tide, U-571, and others.
This is something felt deeply with the development team, where the fantasy of becoming a submarine captain is more military thriller than all-out war.
Going underwater also raised the question – what lies beneath? Which forced the development team at Wargaming to think about the seabed, ocean floor, underwater landmasses, potential obstacles – stuff that hadn’t been a part of the map design until the submarine concept began to take shape. As in the maps didn’t feature or consider any underwater geometry at all. At a high level the size of maps won’t change, with the main challenge being, well, map out what exists below the surface. For every single map.
“The major challenges are modelling and texturing everything underwater and designing any pathing if it's necessary,” Artur tells me. “Currently we're finished with two maps out of 40, so we still have a lot to do in terms of texturing and modelling the underwater surfaces. The plan is to put them into testing to see whether we want to have anything more significant underwater. Like creating underwater mountains that would kind of funnel submarines into very specific places.”
“The fantasy of becoming a submarine captain is more military thriller than all-out war.”
“Right now, that's not really a priority,” Artur confirms. “Another thing we might need to do is to look at map design as it is right now for all of the maps and to see if we unintentionally left some spaces that don't fit any other ship, but might fit a submarine for additional access points. So, there might be like some space in-between islands where only a submarine might fit.”
After going hands on with submarines and the mini-game of playing Hunter against a Destroyer, the experience as per its very nature feels new and unlike anything we’ve encountered in the game to date. Going underwater not only fulfilled that lifelong fantasy of being control of a U-boat but offered a tense game of cat-and-mouse; one that would play out against the backdrop of an epic sea battle. There’s still a lot left to be worked out, consumables and items specific to submarines, balancing speed, damage numbers, and seeing how it affects current play.
The addition of submarines and deep-sea combat to World of Warships is something that has been on the cards for years, especially when viewed in the context of providing the ultimate naval warfare experience that draws from history. With the development team at Wargaming now well versed in just what makes for a rewarding match, introducing a new class right now presents both a major milestone and a major shake-up. A risk that isn’t lost on the team. And submarines won’t simply drop into the game with a simple patch or update either. Like a sub leaving port the plan is to ease into uncharted waters, beginning with player tests and balance changes before betas and even more community engagement. Only after all of that will subs go live, and then we can all dust off our best Sean Connery playing a Soviet submarine captain impression – all Scottish.