Yesterday, Wargaming announced that it will introduce submarines into the gaming during the annual Halloween event. After years of saying that they will never introduce submarines…here they are. From their provided footage, this looks fun so far. They’ve included, hydro, fore and aft torpedoes, and their stealthy demeanor. In their current game mode, they are countered by any ship with guns while surfaced and by depth charges while submerged. But this is a all with in PvE so far, what about if and most likely when they introduce the, into PvP, what are the implications here? Well lets go over some of them, but bare in mind this is only speculation.
The movement of the submarines adds another complexity with depth. Though controlling your depth has taken over the turn lock keys (Q & E) which I personally don’t use that often it will likely create issues for a number of players as far as movement. Further, depth appears to be broken into three different zone over 5 separate depth intervals. The first is surfaced, the second is periscope, and the third is fully submerged where you get a further 2 depths. This leads me to how players might counter them in a PvP or even a PvE environment and the issues that this can and will create.
To start this off, both destroyers and cruisers were often equipped with depth charges historically and in the game, many are modeled as having them as well. The issue that I’ve already heard and read is that destroyers will be the counter to subs, however, due to already having hydro and both having them historically and being modeled with them, cruisers would definitely be able to fill this role as well. However, what is concerning is the extra level of RNG that will be required to make the depth charges effective. As far as aiming goes with regular guns, we just have to worry about and X and Y axis (in a top down view) as to their dispersion. With depth charges, based on what was highlighted, the added Z-axis will decrease their effectiveness considerably as it appears that the detonated at random depths. IF players could adjust their depth, much like changing torp spread from wide to narrow, this could help counter that. Once again though, players would need to be able to make a determination of depth with a currently non-existent UI for such. A suggestion might be some kind of visual change or “ping” pitch or volume when hydro is up similar in concept to the smoke from ships that are moving at certain speeds. Now as a result of attempting to counter subs, players in destroyers and cruisers will now have even more things to consider, particularly their controls and potentially being engaged or engaging the enemy on 3 different fronts (surface, air, and subsurface). If it wasn’t difficult enough to engage 1 or two ships than you can see PLUS aircraft, trying to engage a ship that I can’t see and find their depth and set the depth charges and drop them is ridiculous.
Other key concerns that I have have to do with balance. First off, it appears that they will have very low detectability, particularly while at periscope – depth or submerged – sub 5km perhaps. This will make them very hard to detect with ships. However, other than hydro, the best way to spot them historically was from the air due to their dark silhouette. This would make planes, both those launched from ships and carriers, exceptionally important. So on ships where you must choose between aircraft and another consumable, like radar (which could historically detect subs when surfaced or at periscope depth), this becomes a more calculated decision. Thankfully, they have seemed to balanced them to some degree with very small HP pools, single fire torps only that DO have dispersion RNG, and an oxygen gauge. However, the torps seem to do lots of damage, and being single fired with the subs have a very low detectability, could pose even greater threats to carriers and battleships or any other ship without the means to detect and counter a submerged or semi-submerged sub.
With the introduction of submarines, other concerns arise in terms of things that WG has said they’ll never do. As many of us know, WG has said on many occasion that submarines will never be introduced into the game, yet here they are. Though this is not the first time they have they have gone back on their word, both in this game and in World of Tanks (though two different developers and to be honest, those working on WoWS have done a MUCH better job than with WoT). Examples would be the Belfast and the Missouri, both being better than their tech tree counterpart and further with the Missouri, they said upon its release, that it would be a permanent fixture, yet it is gone. Of course, a concern of note for me along these lines and perhaps you and others, is that they have said that there will never be any ship in the game with bigger guns than the Yamato. Now as the ONLY tier X battleship in the game that actually existed this would make sense and so far they have kept to this as both the paper ships Conqueror and G.K. would have had larger guns than the Yamato but in-game they do not. This is not to say that they can’t completely make something up, as has been done in WoT many times, I just hope the Yamato/Musashi keep their Lolpen status indefinitely without competition.
There was a lot to be said for just the short clips that were shown to announce subs into World of Warships and frankly, needed to be said. Though I can say I look forward to playing with them in special events like Halloween and April Fools, introducing them into the game as a permanent fixture I’m not a fan of. If we think that CV’s (in their current or even purposed form) break the game, subs most certainly will. There is no easy way to fit them in without rebalancing every ship and type. Though perhaps, that is what they are working towards if you have read anything from the Dev Blog this week (watch for our up coming Dev Blog Round-Up if you haven’t) with the changes to – wait for it – hydro for every ship in the game, resulting mostly in buffs. Though we have seen game changers, like weather events, that have been introduced into the game after event testings, I just hope we don’t see any game breakers.