There's never a dull moment at our development studio, and the beginning of March has certainly been no different! While the Game Balance Team are neck deep in processing battle stats and your feedback from the Sandbox, some of us flew off to GDC 2017 to pull the curtain back on several monumental changes coming your way in the near future.
Today, we’re walking you through what was just revealed at GDC 2017. We’ll begin with features rolling out in the next update: the improved matchmaker and Tier X light tanks. Then it’s time to get the latest news from the Sandbox test and a glimpse at a completely new mode, Ranked Battles. Let’s get to it.
Two months after the initial reveal at WG Fest, we are excited to talk more about major fixes to the matchmaking system. This time, we’ll talk about it in greater detail.
If you look at the current system, it can create 8/5/2 teams, where the two vehicles at the bottom have little to offer against tanks in the middle and at the top. And they rarely get to engage with their brethren from the opposing team: there are just two of them on each side. Pretty vulnerable to all the other vehicles, they’re likely to get destroyed rather fast.
The improved matchmaker puts an end to this imbalance and a few other upsetting scenarios, with a system of patterns and rules. At the heart of the system are three setups: three-, two-, and single-level battles. As for the other rules, they tackle some of the most common queries popping up in the community:
- Eliminate frustrating scenarios where vehicles in the middle and at the bottom of the list are outnumbered by those at the top (just like the one we described above), as well as minimize instances of getting matched at the bottom of the list way too often during a series of battles.
- Ensure a balanced vehicle spread for each team, including the restriction of no more than three arty per side.
- Provide an enjoyable gaming experience for platoons by letting only one-tier Platoons into Random Battles.
- Reduce the instances of map dupes.
The matchmaker analyzes the queue (the number, types, tiers and battle tiers of vehicles in it), and then creates teams based on the speed-vs.-optimal-setup principle. Simply put, it balances getting you into action quickly and creating a perfect match. If the search for the “perfect” match will leave you queueing too long, these rules will be relaxed in order to get you into a battle faster. The longer the wait, the bigger the step-away the system takes from the “perfect” patterns: 3/5/7 and 5/10. This way, you don’t get tired of waiting and always end up with a setup optimal for the current situation on the server. Now, let’s take a closer look at the three scenarios.
If there’s enough variety in the queue and you aren’t playing in a Tier I–II vehicle, you’ll get into the most frequent setup: a three-level battle with a +/-2 Tier matchmaking spread. Having analyzed vehicles waiting to hit the battlefield, the matchmaker will use the 3/5/7 pattern or one of its variations to build a team.
|Position in the list||Most frequent vehicle rotation|
You’ve most likely been in a two-level battle with a +/-1 Tier matchmaking spread before. With the improved matchmaker, we are formalizing this setup and, most importantly, imposing clear restrictions on when it can occur.
- Firstly, this rule applies to low-tier vehicles (Tier I–II). In this particular case, it’s designed to create favourable conditions for newcomers.
- The second case is for situations when the vehicle variety in the queue doesn’t allow for a three-level battle, and we wouldn’t want to keep you waiting long to get into action.
Here, the matchmaker will use the 5/10 pattern or one of its variations to assemble teams. Just as with three-level engagements, the longer the wait time, the more the pattern will differ from 5/10. And there will be no battles where vehicles in the middle of the list are outnumbered by those at the top.
|Position in the list||Most frequent vehicle rotation|
Finally, when a large amount of same-tier vehicles are queueing at a given moment, it can result in an excruciatingly long wait time. To get you into battle quicker, the revised matchmaker will create single-level battles where all vehicles are of the same Tier.
Along with the three setups we just described, the matchmaker will receive several new mechanics, all aimed to elevate the playing experience by resolving issues that you reported to us:
Getting into the top/middle/bottom of the list. If you are at the bottom for a few battles in a row, you are likely to get in the middle/top for the next one, regardless of whether you play in the same vehicle or choose a new one during this series.
Vehicle spread. The difference in the number of light tanks, arty and TDs between the team can influence the battle outcome before it even begins. That’s why, when building a selection for a battle, the matchmaker will begin with these three. Teams will be assembled starting with light tanks, then SPGs and finally TDs so that each includes an equal number of these three classes. One note: the team setup also depends on the queue sizes and how each class is represented at a given time. So, the two teams won’t always have all 5 types.
Arty. To prevent arty from spoiling the gaming experience, we’ll limit the number of SPGs per team to a maximum of three per side. Recently revealed in the Sandbox, this limitation was well received by the tester community and proved to have a positive effect on gameplay. It’ll make its way to live servers soon.
Platoons. Another frustrating scenario that has to stop is getting matched against tanks that are 3+ tiers higher than yours. Currently, it often happens with multilevel Platoons. Let’s say, you are playing in a Tier V tank, join forces with a comrade of yours who chose a Tier VIII vehicle, and end up facing off with Tier IX–X vehicles. That doesn’t sound like much fun. The improved matchmaker will allow only one-tier Platoons into Random Battles, solving this issue for good.
Map rotation. Currently, you end up on some maps way too often, and playing the same, let’s say, three maps over and over again is frustrating. It can even get to the point where it discourages you from playing on. The improved matchmaker reduces the number of unfortunate events like that with new logic. It analyzes maps that tankers from the two newly created teams played over the last 10 battles. And then, it places them on a map none of them have seen in the last few sessions.
Light tanks were initially designed as support fire vehicles that would always work alongside others, rather than a standalone battle unit. And so they remain in the game of today, often resulting in frustrating setups. If you take your light tank collection for a ride once in while, you often find yourself matched against vehicles that are a good three tiers higher than yours. For example, when playing in a Tier VIII light tank, you might face off against Tier IX–X vehicles—and you won’t be at the top of the list, which isn’t your most desired setup.
To fix it, we’ll stretch light tank branches to Tier X, making the +/-2 Tier spread a norm for them, just as it is for other classes. They’ll still play as support vehicles focused on scouting, but with greater firepower.
We’ll also rebalance all light tanks to ensure that renewed branches fit into the confines of the +/-2 rule. It should erase abrupt changes in gameplay within one branch. Vehicles that currently reside on Tier VIII will move up a tier, with the only exception being the Chinese Tech Tree. It will see a completely new light tank at Tier IX: the WZ-132A.
Hitting the battlefield at Tier X will be five completely new light tanks: the XM551 Sheridan (U. S. A.), T-100 (U.S.S.R.), Spz. 57 (Germany), WZ-132-1 (China) and AMX 13 105 (France). Here’s a quick look at them:
Tier X light tanks will sport the class’ trademark compact size and outperform their brethren at Tiers VIII–IX thanks to unparalleled mobility, a better view range, bigger HP pool, greater penetration power and damage per hit. When approaching their balancing, our goal was to give each combat parameters that would facilitate classic light tank gameplay, while bringing increased versatility to the table.
Sandbox Second Iteration Results
We hit the ground running this January with the second iteration of Sandbox. We’d like to offer a huge thank you on behalf of the entire World of Tanks team to everyone who has joined and contributed their thoughts! The feedback that we received was extremely helpful in determining what worked and why, as well as what didn’t, and how we can improve on it. Here’s a quick rundown on results.
Phase 1. Changes to accuracy, damage falloff, and alpha damage
The revised shot distribution within the aiming circle reduced the number of “unbelievable” shots. However, the accuracy with full aim went down as well, which is anything but what we wanted. So, we’re heading back to the drawing board with this one.
The testing of damage falloff brought a larger issue to the forefront. The results show that it won’t work the way we want it to (i.e., encourage heavies to shorten the combat distance), unless we significantly rebalance HEAT shells. It’s a major decision that would affect the overall gameplay and most likely come with balance tweaks to other shell types as well. We will return to it after thorough calculations and modeling, while the current changes won’t make it into the game.
As for the alpha damage revision, we are still comparing player behaviour on all vehicles that went through changes. It will take some more time to draw final conclusions. From what we see now, scaling 120 mm gun damage to the damage rating of 122 mm guns resonated with testers and showed good results. We’ll return to further refining it after analyzing all the data. The changes to high-caliber gun damage per shot still require a bit of work.
Phases 2–3. Comprehensive changes to artillery
Progress with arty is going well. The feedback and stats we collected on Tier X vehicles showed that the suggested changes created better gameplay dynamics, and added to the fun. So, we expanded the vehicle pool, adding Tier VIII and IX tanks to the mix. In the coming weeks, the team will be watching closely, monitoring your feedback and reviewing logs of data to see how recent adjustments affect their gameplay, and make further tweaks (if necessary).
Head over to the Sandbox Blog for a detailed report and a lowdown on Phase 3:
New mode in development—Ranked Battles
For quite some time, you guys have wanted an arena where you can truly test your mettle, facing off against players who are in a similar standing. Today, we’ve got a message for you: Ranked Battles is on the horizon so you’d better be polishing your skills.
Exclusive to Tier X vehicles and divided in seasons, Ranked Battles will let you prove that you’re the best of the best in 15-vs-15 combat. The more successful you are in battle, the higher your standing will be in a special Ranked Battles ladder. And we aren’t talking just victory; it’s going to be more about your contribution to the battle outcome. If you put in a great performance, yet your team loses a match, you move up the ranks anyway. So, climbing the ladder is all on you! And as you progress, the competition goes up as well. Yes, it depends directly on your position in the ladder as the matchmaking will pit players against those of a similar rank in a separate queue. If that’s not enough, a stellar performance in battle and during a season will net you some exciting rewards.
Unlike everything else we mentioned in this article, Ranked Battles is still in the early stages of development. We hope the notable highlights we just shared got you as excited as we are about it. There’ll be a lot more information coming your way when we move closer to rolling it out.
Finally, this year the game will see significant graphical improvements with a number of great new features that we’re excited to bring to you. And as it often is with graphics, we’d rather let you see what’s in store with your own eyes:
This year, we are going to overhaul the game’s core, while also enriching it with new gameplay options—the reveals at GDC being a large part of this. We hope you are as excited as the rest of us to dive feet-first into playtesting improvements when they arrive. We’ll continue to keep you updated on specific times and dates as we get closer to testing and everything is ready to head out the door.