I’ve been meaning to put this particular article set together for sometime but I needed to get a few other articles out of the way first so here goes.
Based upon the changes that have been made recently, and changes that are being promised or tested, I see this game growing within the next year and likely plateauing. The increase will come with the CV changes, which I’m hoping will bring forth a better balance for that ship type, as well as the change in meta. However, it will be this change in meta that will also cause the game to plateau and quite possibly, decline once more. This should be no surprise as it has been the history of this game from the beginning – player participation ebbing and flowing with changes and content introductions. Quite frankly though, these changes could not happen at a better time than while school is out, as much as I hate to admit that. However, I digress and do need to get back to the reasoning for my prediction, at least for the current year.
I foresee the player base fluctuating with the changing meta in the current months and a noticeable increase in not only the player base but CV’s in game with the upcoming rework. Further, as the current meta change has already arrived while the CV rework is on the horizon (somewhere), it will have laid the foundation that will quell the influx of new players post-rework and possibly even negate it.
With the promise of reworked CV play, more players are bound to return as well as bring in new blood to this very good game. Carriers offer a flexibility that no other ship has or is even capable of and can make a great difference in battle when played correctly. However, the current skill cap required to play them well becomes prohibitive for many – couple that with the reported issues with AA and the number of those that wish to play CV’s dwindles. Considering also that unless they have a particularly spectacular game, high tier CV’s tend to come away at a [credit] loss even if the team wins. The XP gain has also been reported to be sub-par compared to some of the other ship types. Further, the glaring disparity between IJN and USN CV’s throughout the tech tree can make playing some of the USN CV’s that much harder when they are tasked to fight their IJN counterpart. These issue, amassed with the complexity of controls and necessity to multitask, are discouraging to both new players and those that wish to continue to play CV’s in their current state. So with a rework that is promised to fix some, if not most of these issues, I do foresee an increase in both CV players and an increase to the player-base overall.
The changing meta, largely due to the influx of radar and high arching HE shells from the new USN light cruiser line, has already began to show its ugly head. Radar equipped cruisers, largely USN, have been very passive in the games that I have played in recently with their island camping and lack of desire to even go after or even flush out destroyers. They much prefer to stick to their spot and lob HE over the hills at the distant ships. Sure, chip damage can make a difference if it can be capitalized upon, but allowing a Destroyer, even a low health one, to roam the seas can end in disaster for the team. Further, sitting in a static location when you have the ability to provide AA cover for your team is not doing you or your team any good. The smart CV captain will avoid you, but as the rest of your team moves and hopefully progresses, they become vulnerable. This meta has also changed the DD dynamic within games as well – more radar has lead to less destroyers; certainly less destroyers that wish to push a cap. For whatever reason though, maybe due to the lack of destroyers, I have seen an increase in Carriers. When you used to see a carrier in high tier games once in every 10 or so games, I would say that statistics is moving closer to 3 per 10. This is great if you have the better CV player on your team, but not so great if they are woefully out-skilled by the enemy. When games are often won or lost by the team with the better DD(s) and or CV, this shift has made cruisers far more valuable, particularly in the AA and anti-destroyer roles. These changes with the meta will no doubt, in my opinion, cause a plateau and possibly negate the influx of players that may come in with the CV rework. Even though these changes are occurring now and the rework is for the future, the foundation has been laid, and with a very large selection of AA capable ships, quantity will matter much more than quality in terms of an single ships ability to provide AA.
Looking beyond the current promises and happenings within the game, I believe the game will continue to have it’s valued and loyal players for some time. This is of course conditional on certain previous events not being repeated and Wargaming being able to extrapolate those less than ideal decisions to the future in hopes of preventing more. Many of us, myself included, want to see this game succeed and progress – bettering itself as it ages, much like a fine Scotch. So far, they have done a great job in listening to the community at large, correcting issues and their own mistakes. Far better, in my opinion, than they did with World of Tanks, for which we are all grateful. Bumps along the road aside, so long as they continue listening to the community in bettering the game, World of Warships will do well.