E3 2013 Preview: World of Tanks seeks a new audience on XBLA

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It was undoubtedly intriguing when Microsoft took the time during its E3 press conference to reveal that it would be teaming up with Wargaming to release an Xbox Live Arcade version of World of Tanks. The game was announced as an Xbox 360 exclusive, and it'll follow a free-to-play model like it has on the PC for the last several years. According to Wargaming General Manager Jeremy Monroe, getting World of Tanks on Xbox Live Arcade is a milestone for the company, and Xbox 360 fans who've been curious about the franchise will now be able to check it out for themselves.

Like the PC original, this latest version of the game features 15-on-15 gameplay, and the majority of tanks are based on World War II era tanks. There are some differences, however, starting with the amount of content in the game. World of Tanks: Xbox 360 Edition will offer up 60 tanks. While this is a somewhat small number compared to the 225 tanks available on the PC version, new tanks and new content will be added post-launch.

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The user interface in World of Tanks is also laid out differently to feature a more console-friendly look. Additionally, voice-overs for your tank crews direct you to perform certain actions or warn you of any impending danger. These call-outs inform you when you need to take cover from enemy fire, what kinds of offensive tactics you can employ, and so on.

I played World of Tanks for a bit using an Xbox 360 controller, and the whole thing felt pretty natural despite taking a while to get used to. The controls worked a lot like a first-person shooter, and I was told that this design choice was meant to provide a familiar and comfortable experience for Xbox 360 users. Despite my total suckage, I was able to see how dedicated players would be able to master the controls and engage in frantic battles with others.

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Wargaming is approaching the free-to-play model in an interesting direction on the Xbox 360. Despite the fact that Xbox Live requires a fee, World of Tanks will be playable by Silver members for a period of seven days. At this point it's hard to tell if the game will entice people who don't use Xbox Live to shell out the cash for a subscription, but it's still quite impressive that Wargaming was able to convince Microsoft to go in this direction.

As of this writing, World of Tanks is only confirmed for Xbox Live Arcade, with no plans yet revealed for the PlayStation Network. Wargaming is really hoping to draw in a new audience of console fans with this latest move. If you've yet to play World of Tanks and have a genuine interest in the series but don't have a PC that can run the game, perhaps the Xbox Live Arcade iteration will be worth checking out come summer.

Want to talk about indie games, Kirby, or cheap pizza? Follow me on Twitter @dr_davidsanchez.

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