Updated: With World of Tanks rolling onto Xbox One, and with a PlayStation 4 version of the game in the works, we thought we'd assemble a beginner's guide for all those newcomers heading fresh to Wargaming's explosive MMO-shooter. If you're looking for some handy tips to help you survive that little bit longer, we've got you covered.
Pay attention to the game mode
The current map and game mode will be displayed during the loading screen in breaks between games, yet it's often overlooked what mode is currently being played. Destroying all of the tanks from the other team will always guarantee victory, but it often happens that the superior team loses simply because their zone is captured while they're out on the hunt. There are three game modes, and they all feature 15 vehicles on each team:
- Standard Battle: Each team has its own base, and teams must either occupy the opposition's base, or wipe out the enemy team. If the timer runs out before either outcome, it's marked down as a draw.
- Encounter Battle: Both teams are fighting for a single zone on the map, and after starting in roughly the same area, the race is on to see who can either control the neutral capture point, or take down the opposition.
- Assault: One team defends a capture point while the other attacks. The second tam has ten minutes to take out the defenders, which pushes the action forward and requires decisive teamwork.
It may sound like a simple thing, but it pays to know what's going on around you and plan accordingly. At the very least, it's best not to simply drive straight into the thick of the action, but rather head into combat equipped with a plan, and an idea of what role you intend to fill on the team.
Get to know the maps
Until you've unlocked the heavy tanks or slower hunter tanks, use your time to get to know the many maps. This is almost easier when using the light and medium tanks because of their relative speed, and it's an excellent opportunity to to find strategically important positions and work out the quickest way to access them, and where your opponent might be vulnerable should they occupy these places on the map.
Like all multiplayer shooters, learning the maps will give you an edge over less experienced players, and when battling against someone who knows the terrain, if you don't know the best hiding places or vantage spots, you're going into an encounter at a disadvantage. There's already a healthy selection of maps, so make sure that you start learning the layouts as early as possible. Knowing a good starting spot with a handy escape route can be the difference between life and death.
Use your team and pay attention
Pay attention to level of your opponents in each match. If you play against tanks two levels higher than your own war machine, you must play defensively and where possible use heavy equipment. Scouting or staying close to a higher tier tank on your team will help preserve your life for longer.
Whether you're playing alone or in a small group: observe the early movements of your team and then decide how to proceed. Beginners often settle themselves in with the largest group, because they feel they're the safest there, but often these large groups have to stop for several minutes during first contact with the enemy, and can potentially suffer lots of damage to a relatively small number of enemies.
When in big groups the danger of enemy flanking manoeuvres increases, and more dangerous still, the enemy might possibly even break through your lines elsewhere, unhindered and heading straight for your base.
Keep moving and pick your shots
If you press the left stick your tank will move forward automatically and you can focus on your shots. It's much harder to hit a moving target, so it pays to keep moving when possible, unless of course you've find an excellent hiding spot. The tanks are also most heavily armoured at the front. So try to flank, and hit your opponents where it'll hurt them the most, while keeping your own tank facing the right direction.
That said, it's hard to avoid frontal assaults. It pays to try and take out the treads first - thus rendering your opponent paralysed, leaving them exposed and out of cover. Try to be at a slight angle to your opponent as it increases the chance of enemy fire bouncing. Try and target your enemy's weakest points, things like machine gun towers. Frequently tanks have additional weaknesses, and you can also kill the tank crew with targeted hits.
Always remember to repair
On the higher levels Repair Boxes and Med Kits are essential, but even in the beginning you should definitely save up some money for these consumables whenever possible - otherwise you will quickly lose what would otherwise be winnable battles. It pays to be prepared.
Make sure you're always keeping tabs on your health. If you're taking hits get out of the line of fire if possible, and live to fight another day. That may sound like stating the obvious, but a surprising number of people are prepared to go down fighting. If you can preserve your life you should, even if you just head back to your team's base and go on guard, it could make all the difference.
Experiment with armour types
Try each of the five different tank types to see which style of play is most fun for you. Are you best at the back with the big guns, or scouting our enemy positions with a lighter option. Each tank has its own function and requires a different approach, so get to know the various roles on the battlefield, find a specialism, and get good at fulfilling that role.
Light Tanks - Extremely vulnerable but able to shift it around the map faster than any other class. Light tanks scout out the battlefield, marking enemy units, and looking for weaknesses in the enemy line. A good scout is worth its weight in gold.
Medium Tanks - Faster than the heavies, but more vulnerable as a result. Our advice is to buddy up and take the fight to your enemies with a co-op partner or two, thus you'll have the mobility to react to most situations, and the firepower to do decent damage.
Heavy Tanks - Sure you've got the big guns, but you're also vulnerable to faster opponents and flank attacks. Make sure to keep your more sturdy front-end facing the action and you'll live much longer.
Tank Destroyers - The sniper class of World of Tanks, and just as is the case with snipers, once you've got a kill you've got to relocate. These are powerful guns, strong head-on but still vulnerable to a flanking manoeuvre, so don't stay still for too long.
Self-Propelled Guns - What the SPGs lack in armour, they more than make up in firepower. You might be extremely vulnerable when controlling one of these thanks to thin armour and long reload times, but you'll also pack a hefty punch and have great range.
Decisions in the zone
If an enemy tank is in your zone, there is a timer counting down to your impending doom. Now you must decide what to do, whether you either enter the zone to stop the timer, or find a good spot outside in order to shoot the attacker from a safe distance. Also, you will reset the conquest points previously gained this way.
There's also things to consider if you're the attacker. Might there be heavies hiding out of sight just waiting for you to starting taking the capture point? Capture points are generally quite exposed, and it can be nerve wracking to sit and wait while the timer counts down, so it's worth checking your surroundings to make sure that you're not about to fall victim to a surprise attack.
A ramming attack is a genuine option, but the circumstances have to be right for it to be worth the risk. For starters, if you're in a light tank just... don't. Unless you're up against another light tank (and even then it's not really advisable) you'll come off worse. If you're in a heavy tank and you get the opportunity to smash into a light or medium enemy, then do so, as your extra mass should be enough to destroy their armour and get the kill.
The Controlled Impact skill will increase your ability to damage enemies, and decreases the damage done to you in a ramming attack. However, even with this skill it's still always best to take note of your opponent's circumstances and act accordingly, most notably by disabling tracks and giving yourself time to roll into position. Just be careful, even if you're in a more powerful tank and the ramming attack is successful, you can still do damage to yourself, so don't attempt it if you're low on health.
Pick a side
One way of minimising damage received is to show your enemies as little metal as possible. While using hilly terrain is one way of moving in and out of firefights, there is a much more effective method.
Corner fighting involves positioning your tank around scenery that will protect it from enemy fire, but leaving you in a position where you're still able to get shots off. In such an encounter you'll have some parts of your vehicle showing, but it should always be the more heavily armoured part. Ideally you'll be facing your opponents diagonally, as this gives your adversary less to aim at.
Certain tanks with sturdier turrets might also be best assuming the "hull down" position, which leaves the more vulnerable parts of the vehicle protected from fire. Finding a place on the map that allows you to position your tank like this a surefire why of making yourself harder to kill.
There's different tank trees to climb, and because of the game's free-to-play setup, this can take time. There's plenty of choice, perhaps an overwhelming amount of choice for newcomers. Our advice is to pick a side that you're interested in and advance up that tech tree before moving onto others.
Of course, if you know your tanks there's probably a model that you're particularly interested in adding to your garage, in which case follow that tech tree until you've unlocked the one you want. You can also buy certain tanks using real world currency, as well as purchase boosters that speed up your progress.
There you have it, a selection of good beginner's tips to get you started on your tank career. Best of luck!