At its most reductive, World of Tank Blitz is a modern interpretation of the Atari classic Combat. But this mobile instalment the of tank-based arena warfare behemoth bring flair – and considerate monetisation – to the formula.
A quick tutorial teaches you nuances of manoeuvring your metal death-machine using the virtual stick, buttons, and various drop down menus. It is a familiar system, but one made unique thanks to your tanks methodical pace and cumbersome turning circle.
The goal of the seven-on-seven matches is to either hold a central point for 100 seconds, or wipe-out the enemy tanks. Well-designed arenas offer just enough space and cover to not feel oppressive, while ensuring you never have to search for a fight. This creates a constant intensity with games rarely reaching their seven minute time limit.
Encounters swing between hugely satisfying and rage-inducing, depending on the cooperation of your team. When playing with an organised team it’s hard not to whoop with joy when a flanking manoeuvre works allowing you to blast a distracted enemy from behind. The flip side of this is when you find yourself in an disorganised rabble, and you must watch as your allies are picked off one by one, leaving you fighting a war single-handed.
Our biggest problem with Blitz came from connection issues. When working optimally, the dramatic tank blasting mayhem plays out at a smooth 60fps. Unfortunately, if your internet connection is patchy, you find yourself warping around the map or stuck frustratingly in place. However, even with the occasional issue, the online play was a good deal more reliable than most real-time iOS multiplayer games.
Blitz’s most impressive feat is its use of the free-to-play model. Instead of restricting play with energy systems, Blitz limits the speed at which you unlock its vehicles and upgrades. With a different tech tree for the American, German, and Russian factions, you will have to know your Panzers from your Cunninghams as you choose your tracks and turrets.
As with all free-to-play games these vehicles unlock at good pace initially, but before long you are forced to either enter into a slow grind or start paying to rise up the tiers. However, with the grind so enjoyable, and endless play against lower level tiers on tap, it’s a monetisation system that’s hard to resent.
World of Tanks Blitz is a fantastic online tank blaster that lets you play as much as you like for free, while offering good incentives to invest in its IAPs. This makes Blitz a rare example of a free-to-play game that earns its money before ever asking you to spend a penny.