In what was once said to never be introduced into World of Warships is now seeming to become an inevitability – the arrival of submarines. To some, this comes as no surprise and is welcomed, while others are disappointed in the fact that this is setting a bad precedent in terms of future changes to the game. Whatever your opinion on the matter, the success of last years Halloween game mode gave Wargaming all the info they needed to go forward – subs can be fun and just maybe balanced. So to get to the meat of the matter, here’s what we know.
First off, we know they’re coming. The current plan per the Dev Blog post outlines their plan as follows: Closed Testing, Open testing on separate server, live server testing in separate game mode and finally, be introduced as a new class available to play in other game modes (implied)1. The testing progression here appears to be a result of lessons learned from what both worked and failed with the CV rework tests back before 0.8.0 – things that are still being tweaked as of the writing of this article. Paying particular attention to the statement, ” this final configuration stage will last for several months” offers some hope in the fact that they want to get this as right as possible the first time. Something we will likely all be thankful for.
What we also know from the original Dev Blog post is that the two nations that will be represented first are the Americans and the Germans. This is of no surprise to any follower of naval warfare for the last century as these two nations had, at the time of WWI and WWII, utilized submarines the most. While they were certainly not the only ones, they have some of the best documentation both for types and engagements. More to this, from another post on the World of Warships site2, we can see that, similar to the new CV rework, only tiers 6, 8, and 10 will be present for the two nations which should reduce some of the grind and perhaps add to some of the balance(?). Further, it was mentioned that the Soviets will also be represented from the get-go with the Japanese to follow later – what about the British?
Depth & Diving
From the second article, we can see mentions of the gameplay and counter play, to this new class. Initially, we can see that there are 3 different depths in which we can dive (or not) – surface, periscope, and underwater. Each offers something different in how the boat behaves so far as Oxygen (O2), offense and detection. While surfaced, your submarine will not use any oxygen, will be able to fire it’s torpedoes like you would on a destroyer, but will have no concealment buff, though will likely still be best at tier. While at periscope depth, you will have access to the ‘Ping’ ability and be able to fire your torpedoes which now have special abilities (I will discuss these later), will have your concealment reduced by 50% (cut in half), but you will now be using your oxygen. Finally, when you’re underwater, you cannot be detected by any surface ship, including surfaced submarines, but can still be ‘proxy’ spotted (within 2km) by other subs that are either at periscope or deeper depths. Nothing is mentioned about being detected by the hydroacoustic consumable. Further, while fully submerged, you will not be able to fire your torpedoes but will have access to the automatic hydrophone feature, which will allow you to determine the rough distance and direction of targets within its range. While short, medium, and long range differentiation’s are mentioned, no specifics as to distance are noted.
Unlike the Halloween event, submarines appear to only have torpedoes as an offensive tool, so no secondaries. Your torpedoes will function the same as those of a destroyer when you are fully surfaced – you can use the lead assist function on a locked target, the torpedoes will travel in a straight line until the end of their range where they ‘die’, and are subject to the torpedo protection mechanic. While you’re at periscope depth though, you can ‘Ping’ locked targets and try to hit the bow and stern points that will be designated. Based upon the infographic in the above mentioned article as well as gameplay from Gamescom, you will need to launch the torpedoes first, then have to lead the target for the ping to hit properly. Once you hit the first target, your torpedoes will now start to track that ship to some degree. If you manage to hit both ship targets, not only with the torpedoes lock on target, but will ‘dive’ in order to detonate below the keel of the ship, thus ignoring the torpedo protection. In theory, your torps will now do full damage to unsaturated sections of the ship. However, for each ping your sub emits to track a target, enemy ships will be able to hone in on your location and find you so use sparingly or at the very least, accurately.
The article from the World of Warships post also mentioned brand new consumables unique to submarines. These are as follows:
- Maximum Depth: allows you to dive deeper than the standard “Underwater” level and avoid taking damage from depth charges.
- Snorkel: increases the time to conduct an attack. When activated, the submarine stops spending oxygen and starts accumulating it instead when at periscope level.
- O2 Regeneration: increases the time a submarine can spend underwater.
- Enhanced Active Sonar: increases the effectiveness of sonar pings.3
While both the Maximum Depth and Snorkel consumables seem pretty straight forward in their description, O2 Regeneration and Enhanced Active Sonar seem less so. For O2 Regeneration, we don’t know at what rate you will regenerate O2, the consumables duration, and if it can only be activated on the surface (I would assume so). While with Enhanced Active Sonar, we don’t really know what or how the effectiveness of sonar pings is effected. I would assume it will make it easier to hit a target, but I can also see it making the torpedo tracking more effective as a result of pings – only WG knows.
It appears that any ship or plane can attack and damage a sub so long as they are either surfaced or at periscope depth. If the submarine is fully submerged, only destroyers with depth charges can damage them. Though the article is a bit unclear how this works, when paired with footage from Gamescom, it can be assumed that once a sub is detected, and within 4-5km of a destroyer, the destroyer will see a series of ‘capture’ points (for lack of a better name), similar to those in Ranked Sprint that have a time limit. However, once you get within one before it expires, another appears that is smaller (narrowing the field). After this occurs at least 3 times, the destroyer will automatically drop depth charges that do significant damage. Given their apparent small health pool, this could lead to a quick demise for a sub that is detected within range of a destroyer.
It’s unclear if this ship type will be difficult to balance or not, like CVs are. What is clear is that WG has done their homework in conceptualizing the mechanics of this new ship type as well as learning from the CV Rework ‘issues.’ This is certainly a good thing as this will certainly be the make or break for, what I’m assuming, will be a significant number of the remaining players after the CV Rework. If it goes well, it will certainly drum up a renewed interest in the game for both current players as well as those that left post-0.8.0. However, if it tanks once it goes fully live (in the wrong balance direction particularly), I feel it will be the ultimate death of this game. Only time sill tell. Stay tuned for more updates!