As I look over the options for a new MMO to play (shall I try RIFT, return to Champions, force myself to try more LOTRO?) I’ve been keeping myself busy with two free-to-play titles that have some pretty impressive attributes for being (mostly) free.
Recently I’ve taken to playing World of Tanks and – while I sometimes find myself wishing these tanks had legs, it’s a pretty good time. The theme is well done (WWII era tanks) and the game play is challenging. While most tanks can weather a few hits from one another, one solid shot from artillery can take you out of commission and – Counterstrike-style – you’ll be sitting out to watch the remainder of the match. The control is very tasteful: your vehicle handles like it’s got treads and you have to wait for the turret to turn before you can fire on something. This is especially true with artillery, which has a tight front-end firing arc and the base has to turn toward a target before the turret can hit it. Light, fast tanks for scouting; very light tanks for tank-hunting or long range artillery (SPGs…my favorite), and medium to heavy tanks for in-your-face skirmishing. I’ve only been playing a few days so I can’t really do it justice in a formal review, so I’ll just say that – for free – it’s totally worth picking up and checking out.
One downside to WoT is how it handles friends. Two things, actually. First, while you have a Contacts/Friends list in the game, it doesn’t work “in the field”…only in your shop (where you spend experience and money to upgrade current and purchase new tanks); so far as I can tell you can’t send or receive PMs when driving your tank around. Even worse, without a Premium Account you can’t elect to play games with your friends. This wiki suggests that only one person in a trio needs the Premium account for it to work, so that’s almost a plus. Paying to play with friends isn’t something I’ve seen before, but while I don’t like it I can see it working. I do wish they’d drop the idea, though, and take some notes from League of Legends.
League of Legends is the second F2P title I’ve been playing lately. It allows you to play with your friends very easily, and – like WoT – you earn points as you play which you can use to unlock new units to play with. You can spend money to accelerate this process, but points come in easy enough that it’s almost needless. Now, if you want to spend money (you know, because you like the game and would like to show your support) you can do so. There is one thing that you can get with money that you can’t get with points-earned-by-playing, and that’s decorative skins for your champions. Some of these skins look pretty cool and, honestly, I intend to spend my money on those (just as soon as I can pick a favorite champ to decorate). I’ll give LoL a review in another post; merits it’s own stage-time given it’s tenure and polish-level.
So, WoT: what do you say? How about giving us a fully functional friends list and instead charging us to put tiger stripes and the like on our tanks? You know people will pay for tiger stripes.