With Armored Warfare, Obsidian Takes Aim at World of Tanks

War. War sometimes changes.

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When I recently saw Armored Warfare, Obsidian Entertainment’s upcoming online tank action game, it was hard not to think the obvious: “Isn’t this just World of Tanks?”

Later on, when I played a team-versus-AI match using a Soviet T-80 (coincidentally, everyone on my team chose the same offensive powerhouse), it was still hard not to think it. Tank shoot-em-ups are hardly new to video games, but World of Tanks’ mix of vehicular warfare, persistent progression, and customization is very much its own. I really enjoyed the Armored Warfare match, during which programmer Anthony Davis offered real-time hints, having driven plenty of tanks during his own days in the United States Army. He also entertained me with an anecdote of a buddy who was court martialed for driving his tank at 80-odd miles per hour. But I wasn’t convinced that Armored Warfare could escape World of Tanks’ looming shadow.

Sun glare, brought to you by CryEngine 3.
Sun glare, brought to you by CryEngine 3.

Rich Taylor, Armored Warfare’s project director, begs to differ, and he’s ready to show the world that the game is not just a clone of another highly successful game. “The time period really is something that makes Armored Warfare special,” Taylor tells me. “Technology in the battlefield has continued to evolve over the last several decades, and by placing our game within the modern era, we can integrate new mechanics, weapons, and ideas that build off of these advancements. In addition to the time period, we are also hard at work bringing cooperative scenarios to players that allow those less interested in the competitive player-versus-player environment to still enjoy the thrill of collecting, customizing, and commanding modern military vehicles.”

Armored Warfare will feature tank destroyers and other hardware in addition to its more traditional tanks.
Armored Warfare will feature tank destroyers and other hardware in addition to its more traditional tanks.

Taylor also rightfully points out that team-oriented vehicle-centric games have a storied history, going all the way back to games like MechWarrior, so World of Tanks is hardly the be-all and end-all of the genre. Nevertheless, it’s hard to differentiate yourself when the competition is so similar. Obsidian, however, has a history of crafting standout worlds that inspire a player’s investment. And Taylor thinks the developer can do so, even in a game as seemingly straightforward as this.

“There are ways of creating a compelling narrative without spelling things out directly for players,” says Taylor. “There are characters that players will interact with in the course of managing their base and vehicles. Things these characters say or data contained in their profiles can reveal aspects about the narrative that have not been written out explicitly. Expect to see a lot of references and hints to the larger story scattered throughout the various interactions users will have with the game. Details in the maps as well will reveal aspects of what is taking place in the world in our setting as we take advantage of visual storytelling techniques. We feel like we can implement and reveal the narrative in a way that it is unobtrusive to players who aren't interested in it while being there to discover for players who are.”

Cloudy, with a chance of death.
Cloudy, with a chance of death.

What impressed me most while I played was how beautiful the CryEngine-driven game looks. World of Tanks certainly can’t compete with Armored Warfare on a visual level; every detail begs to be admired, from the tanks’ dirty treads to the rivets that dot its chassis. I can’t speak to whether the machines handle like their real-life counterparts, but Army veteran Davis assures me that the developer is nailing the feel while still keeping the action as snappy as it can. Taylor concurs: “Anthony has been with Obsidian for a lot of years and it's been great to have him aboard for this project. Having Anthony's insight from his time in the service has been a great asset in helping us build authenticity into the experience. He regularly shares with us comments about what tank crew members would see, say, and based on his experiences of serving in the M1 Abrams and the M1A1.”

I’ve never been in an M1 Abrams, and I suspect that most people that play Armored Warfare will never have been in one either. But I bet that many of them will have played World of Tanks, and I’m anxious to see whether those players think this apple fell far enough from the tree. I’ll at least have an inkling when Armored Warfare enters its closed beta period later this year.

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Clovergirl227

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Not many games can claim to be completely original. Almost all of them have lifted ideas from titles that came before and WoT is certainly not innocent of that either. Still, I hope Obsidian can bring new experiences to the game. If there is one big thing WoT lacks is a sense of realism and scale. It feels, as intended, very arcade and fast paced- things that are not something I like as much as a more simulated experience. War thunder captures the feel of arcade and realism perfectly by splitting game-play into three modes, and it works flawlessly for everyone. It's also hyper competitive to the point it spoils the fun. I don't like playing a game whose audience thinks anyone with a 0.1% lower win rate than they have are "noobs," despite many scores I seem bashed are well above average.


Anyways I hope it's well made- I just can't wait to drive an M1 and maybe a Sherman- my favorite tank of them all. Modern warfare should be an interesting theme.

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Unfallen_Satan

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I am concerned with the emphasis on narrative. The preconception of modern armor warfare is the US M1 taking Iraqi second gen tanks to school and, lesser known in the West, the poor performance of the T-80 in Grozny. There is no famed Panther/Tiger vs. T-34/IS rivalry to fuel the romanticism of modern tank combat. Obsidian will have a challenging task building a compelling narrative focused on tanks in a world that, despite superior technology, has grown out of hardcore tank-on-tank action.

I love Obsidian's narrative style in its RPG; I even like Dungeon Siege 3. However, I hope Obsidian doesn't use the same approach in Armored Warfare. Modern professional soldiers in a war are not adventurers on a journey. The kind of nuanced personal struggle and shaded world view that worked so well in SWTOR 2 and FO: NV will not work in this game.

Unless, of course, this game will include a narrative component surrounding a single tank crew on a morally challenging battlefield like Kosovo, with a fictitious but realistic setting and plot. But that sounds too different from this game.

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Unfallen_Satan

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Actually, I think Obsidian should make a game like that, maybe through partial crowdfunding, if they generate enough enthusiasm with Armored Warfare. Even one modern tank is flexible enough and tough enough to survive a lot by itself, allowing a SP or co-op experience that can include everything from frontal assault, to sniping (with the main gun), to evasion and survival, to some other gameplay involving computers and tactical maps. Stretching reality a bit you can add some progression and customizabilty to the tank too. They can even add battle damage to force the player(s) to rely on low-tech skills in some segments. I expect a reasonably accurate if streamlined model of the tank's interior and the operation of each of the crew. If it's too hard to render first person view both in tank and out, the dismounted narrative segments can be done through cutscenes and dialogue choices. Maybe if Amored Warfare succeeds...

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Takeno456

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The reason WoT works is because of the time period. The way tanks fought back then allows for a more interesting form of game play. Modern tanks do not fight it out like that very much any more. Range is a huge factor. The few modern conflicts that have actually had opposing tanks fighting each other were usually at long range and it was very quick combat. Many times the tanks could only hit each other because of the computers being used. Its not point and shoot any more and the trailer is making the combat out to be that way. Seems like they are trying to shoehorn in old style combat into modern tanks.

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Jaxith

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I could never get into WoT. I played it after playing MechWarrior Online, and the whole time I felt like I was playing MechWarrior except I wasn't having any fun. I just liked the feel of the controls in MWO better. And the fact that it involves mechs, and blowing an arm or a leg off an enemy mech felt much more satisfying than blowing out tank treads. It's just a much more satisfying experience overall to me.

That said, if Armored Warfare can deliver a compelling tank battle game, that sounds like a good deal to me. I just hope it doesn't feel like WoT, for my above mentioned reasons. The games are going to look similar just due to the fact that they involve tanks, but maybe they'll feel different. That's my hope at least.

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Stag_Lee

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But.. If the author played the game and is drawing comparisons to Wot, why is there no mention of the cover and spotting mechanics?? Are they taken from WoT (where tanks are invisible until a spot check is made, based on cover variables and such), or is it just like normal FPS, where if something is in the distance, it shows up on your screen? This is likely the most defining aspect of World of Tanks and should probably be mentioned.

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Kevin-V

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<< LINK REMOVED >> Because I only got to play one match, and therefore can't make comparisons of every detail after playing for four minutes.

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Boddicker

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Obsidian isn't dead to me, but they're definitely on my shit list now.

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Romayo83

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hmmm maybe I should finally try WoT I downloaded it months ago and never even started it up once. Though visually this game looks great so far!

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Smosh150

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Just watched the trailer, hopefully the game will focus more on long range combat than this up close 20 meter range combat that is shown.

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Hurvl

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Another war game? Come on, Obsidian, you went from using farts as a weapon to this? Good thing there are several other companies doing something more interesting.

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Gallowhand

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<< LINK REMOVED >> They are still making Pillars of Eternity as well, which should be a good RPG.

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Barighm

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Obsidian? I had to look at that title twice. Yep, it says Obsidian. I half-expected a tanks RPG.

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Unfallen_Satan

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<< LINK REMOVED >> I read an earlier article, so I know of this game, but after I read the dev comment, I did expect a tank RPG, of sort, ah, I mean tank game with narrative.

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Jaxith

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@Barighm A tanks RPG actually sounds pretty cool to me... It doesn't seem like this is it though.

...Also, I did a double take myself upon hearing Obsidian. I definitely did not expect that.

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Smosh150

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If only this was made by the devs who made Steel Beasts, not enough good tank sims out there and the one exceptional one is outdated a bit and incredibly expensive. I don't mind playing an arcadish one though, I just love my full simulation tanks.

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Unfallen_Satan

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<< LINK REMOVED >> Too hard. Although most fighting aircrafts have only one pilot, I don't know any fighting vehicle with a crew of one. Good luck getting a group of 3-4 strangers in a pick up game to work well enough together to keep a tank functional and the experience fun. :)

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Smosh150

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> And this is where AI comes in, it works in Steel Beasts and it could work in this, granted it won't be as good as real people, but it still is not that difficult. Though it is still wishful thinking, either way it may be fun, if it is better than ARMA 2 rolling thunder events I will be very pleased at least.

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Smosh150

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> In some cases yes, basically you play as the commander with the ability to switch to any crew position, for most people they just take control of the commander and gunner spots while giving the AI orders at the same time. Steel Beast is the tank sim that most countries use for their military, ofc I don't think that the game needs to be full on sim like that, but I just wanted it to have some realism such a realistic penetration/speed/ranges etc.

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Unfallen_Satan

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<< LINK REMOVED >> I am unfamiliar with the gameplay of Steel Beasts. Does the AI take over the rest of the tank crew as you assume one role?

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NoahRoalson

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Well, if they can pull this off then it will give WoT some healthy competition aside from WT. Just put that CryEngine to use correctly because it could put WoT to shame if it use optimally.

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gamingfriendly

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<< LINK REMOVED >> War Thunder is slow as **** in bringing patches and new content out they have been touting tanks since last year.

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Zhern

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I can't wait to play this, love WoT and I will play this!

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Pyrosa

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I don't get why Obsidian is making this...

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Gallowhand

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<< LINK REMOVED >> A lot of developers are looking towards online games with micro-transactions. The revenue for World Of Tanks in 2013 was around $370 million. If Obsidian only attracted 5 percent of that, they could fund another couple of games.

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