Destroying your enemies in World of Tanks will be a much more visually satisfying experience in 2014.
The studio is planning on overhauling every aspect of the online multiplayer tank-combat game’s graphics, according to a blog post on its website. Both the vehicles and the maps in the worldwide hit will look far more realistic because of the changes. World of Tanks is one of the most successful free-to-play games of all time. It has over 75 million players, and it had 1 million battling at once for the first time on Jan. 19. It’s also gaining significant traction in the competitive world of e-sports.
“Everything will become more detailed, clear, and more realistic,” says the game’s art director in the latest developer diary from Wargaming.
World of Tanks features over 300 armored vehicles from World War II, including some that never actually made it to production. Team battles take place in various historical battlefields. When it officially released in April 2011 in Europe and North America, vehicle models were made of about 8,000 polygons each. The current vehicle models have more than twice as many. But in 2014, they will make a major leap toward realism, improving to 50,000 to 100,000 polygons each. This is important because “high polygonal detail is needed to smooth all the roundish surfaces to the point where they don’t resemble a pencil anymore,” according to the art director in the video.
To go along with the much improved models, Wargaming is also bringing more realistic textures to World of Tanks thanks to 3D scanning technology and advanced texture mapping. “Joints, texture, small details — everything is transferred to the in-game model of the vehicle,” says a 3D artist in the video. “In some cases, our vehicles look more like the real vehicles of their time than examples of those vehicles sitting in museums.” He says that the purpose of the new material textures is to “let players understand the size and weight of the vehicles — to give you that feeling that your tank is a massive chunk of metal.”
Vehicles aren’t the only part of the game getting a texture overhaul. The maps are getting facelifts as well, with the goal of improving their atmosphere. Wargaming will also give the environments new effects to make them seem more real. For example, the fire effect of a burning tank has been redone to bend and curl realistically.
Another major addition will be weather effects such as wind, rain, and snow. The visibility conditions in rain and snow will have a large effect on gameplayw and will change unpredictably. Other tested effects, such as thick smoke from destroyed vehicles and nighttime maps, were scrapped either because they interfered with gameplay or because they lowered they made the game run too slowly.