Update 1.0

1. Update 1.0: Join the Beta!

Updated

Ever since we started working on a new graphics engine, HD maps, and new sound, we wanted you to hit “Battle!” one day and say that it both looks and plays fantastically without qualifying that with: “Good for an eight-year-old game.” This moment has finally come! Update 1.0 enters public testing today. So you can literally hit that button and roll out in HD maps, listening to immersive ambience and new original tunes. And that’s not all. Not only are we opening the remastered experience that World of Tanks 1.0 is to all of you—we’re inviting you to become part of this massive makeover.

In this article, we’ll call out what’s on tap for you at this point in testing, what will be added in the upcoming weeks, and what you can expect when the update in its entirety hits live servers in March. Let’s dive straight in! 

Realism Redefined

Before we explore the update, let’s take a minute to discuss where the game we all love is at right now. It’s been over seven years since we opened World of Tanks to you. The gameplay holds up well (which is largely thanks to your continued support and feedback through the years) and there’s never a dull moment with hundreds of battles raging at any given second. But does it meet the graphic quality bar for this day and age? Hardly. It looks exactly how a game from 2010 would look. That’s the sad truth.

We’ve been working relentlessly for years to bring it to modern standards. The team pumped up the game’s looks several times over the years, from switching to a new graphical renderer with realistic shading/lighting models through to integrating the Audiokinetic Wwise sound engine. However, technology was moving a lot faster than we possibly could, and the BigWorld engine simply couldn’t keep up with it. So we brought client engine development in-house and created a solution tailored to the game’s needs: the Core engine. It redefines the game’s looks using the latest technology for graphical content processing and rendering, and has enough capacity to let us advance graphics in tandem with technology.

Core took us three years to develop and optimize so that there’s no adverse effect on performance. Another year went into overhauling the game’s maps, recreating all in-game content from the ground-up. Now, we’re finally ready to roll it out for you to test.

Why are we focusing on remastering the graphics?

In fact, we’re fighting on several fronts. The team is neck-deep in the trenches, with fixes to the preferential matchmaker, several new national trees and modes in development. Not to mention a few maps that cry for major redesigns and a few more that are waiting their turn to get reworked into HD.

We know how hungry you are for new maps and that’s exactly how we feel, too. And we’re working to fulfill the promise of expanding the map roster as we speak. A number of totally new locations have been through several Supertests over the last year, and teams around the studio are now processing your feedback. They’ll move forward from level design to balancing and polishing Minsk, Studzianki, and the new Asian map we’ve Supertested lately. Although they won’t get into 1.0, we’ll give you a guided tour of them this month in a series of overview articles.

As you can see, we’re steadily moving forward on all of these, and new graphics and sound is something we’re ready to get out for you all to check. They don’t disrupt the work on other key issues or mark the final step in improving the game’s visuals. Instead, they mark a major experience uplift and lay a technological foundation for further improvements.

Graphics Settings

As the game switches to the new engine, graphic configurations will be reset to default. So you’re likely to notice changes in the visuals and performance when playing for the first time. Follow this guide to tweak your settings and update drivers, and things will return to normal.

The graphics settings interface is subject to change with the 1.0 update release.

If you’re playing on Normal settings, you might have to switch to Low or Minimal. Worry not; it won’t affect the framerate. As for the picture quality, you will instantly notice an injection of extra realism and detail even with Low settings. We worked hard to optimize stability and framerates, reduce the memory load, and give you the headroom to enable extra effects. So you’ll be able to enjoy new graphics and sound even on mid-range and older PCs, while high-end rigs will let you explore remastered visuals to the fullest.

Want to see it with your own eyes? Check it for yourself with the enCore program. With it, you can test your system to see how Update 1.0 will perform on it.

ENCORE  

 

Multistage Beta Testing

Reproducing a better-looking version of the original World of Tanks has been a massive endeavour, and we’ve turned to you for help many times. New graphics have been through a number of iterations and focus tests. Thousands of you joined us in fine-tuning HD maps in Sandbox. Now, we’re entering the final and most crucial stretch in overhauling the way the game looks and feels.

From music and atmosphere to big reworks on select maps and a complete visual redesign on others to destructible props and effects—how World of Tanks looks now is effectively new. At the most basic level, it’s the good old gameplay laid over a completely new visual world. And as any new game that is about to be released, it calls for something more serious than the usual Supertest/Common Test framework.

That’s why we’re running a Beta test instead:

  • It’ll see us test new content in batches, keeping a close eye on performance and your perception of changes.
  • It’s open to everyone so that we can collect enough feedback and data to make necessary tweaks.
  • It’s divided into several stages, allowing us to identify issues and address your feedback with quick-fixes right away.

We’re going to engage with you on forums and in social media to see what you like and what you don’t like; then, make immediate improvements and outline a list of bigger issues that require more time to fix.

Why release new content over multiple stages and not add all of it right away?

The last thing we want is rushed and messy testing, and this framework allows a more focused approach. By releasing content in batches, we can test it in a controlled environment, identify issues, and address them with quick-fixes.

Besides, waiting for a regular update to download and install is hardly convenient. Now just image how big an installation it would be, if almost three dozen HD maps, the new soundtrack and ambience were there right from the start.

We’ll use a similar approach when releasing Update 1.0. You’ll be able to pre-download it well in advance and hit the battlefield when the day comes. No delays and long hours of waiting.

Beta Stage 1 Scope

Here's a rundown of the graphics and sound enhancements you can explore starting today:

29 maps reworked in shiny HD: The switch to the new Core engine led to a complete graphic overhaul with every object being recreated from the ground up using new technology. Zooming in lets you count the leaves on a tree and discover how each is unique in foliage, size, and shape. Wide expanses stretch well beyond the map border. Modifications to how terrain and water are rendered give a depth and sense of place to aged locations. You can roll out, gloriously destroying smaller objects thanks to Havok technology. Photorealistic skyboxes and moving clouds give maps a more dynamic feel. And global illumination technology adds harmony to the picture, accurately simulating how light reflects and refracts between different surfaces.

Seeing is believing, and you can take a glimpse at HD maps right now in the screenshot gallery below. Enjoy it here, or, better yet, hit the battlefield to see new graphics, technology, and effects in action.

Keep in mind, though, that it may be too much to absorb at once. So take your time to familiarize with remastered landscapes and let it sink in before jumping to conclusions. Also, stay tuned for a guided tour of the new graphic technology. We’ll explain every improvement in detail over a series of image-heavy articles during the Beta.

Gameplay improvements to select maps: The majority of HD maps didn’t call for level design changes and offer pretty much the same experience, but with greater visual fidelity. On the other hand, Erlenberg, Kharkov, Steppes, Ruinberg, and Fisherman’s Bay were considered problematic because of visible imbalances. They underwent prominent redesigns to end camp fests, ensure both teams have equal chances for control of the territory, and deliver an enjoyable experience for each vehicle class. In the next few weeks, we’ll walk you through changes to them, explaining how these changes should address imbalances. Now it’s your turn to give them another try and tell us if it worked. If not, we’ll keep on building on the initial changes with more redesigns until we get it right.

Four original music themes: The first Beta stage is primarily focused on graphics. However, we couldn’t help but offer you a sneak peek of the new soundtrack. Further on, each map will get its own music composition with a unique loading screen music theme, a dynamic battle overtune that evolves and changes depending on what’s happening on the battlefield, and a closing theme for the battle results screen. By the way, that last track you hear will depend directly on the match outcome with unique music for a win, draw, and defeat.

Immersive ambience: The full scope of ambient sounds is getting reworked to give each map more realism. Now, you can literally hear a living, breathing world around you, disturbed by the sounds of conflict. Gunshots and explosions don’t sound the same in a forest, village, or urban area. They echo from mountains and across the fields. So what you hear depends on where you are, where fire is coming from and which obstacles it encounters along the way. Just like in real life. Even shells! Pay attention and you’ll notice that each shell whizzing past now has its own sound.

2. Update 1.0: The Second Beta — HD Garage, Glacier map, and Music

Updated

Beta Phase Two for Update 1.0 is here! If you haven’t tried it out yet, there’s never been a better time to join the Beta, get hands-on with 1.0 and help fine-tune the update! Here’s what to expect:

Garage — Now with People and In Stunning HD!

The Garage has received a major renovation. The old Garage has been knocked down and now your tanks will been shown in all their glory amongst Mother Nature.

Located deep in the forest, you might notice there are a selection of vehicles dotted around the garage, including:

  • A Disassembled Panther
  • M26 Pershing
  • T-44
  • IS-2

Tanks are par for the course in any Garage, but there’s something you’ve never seen before — people!

The crew have set up camp and can be seen wandering around, sitting by the campfire or even chopping logs to fuel the fire. Crew members certainly bring a whole new level of atmosphere to your Garage.

At present, the crew cannot be interacted with. Come on, they’re busy guys after all and have jobs to do, they don’t need to be bothered!

I Need a Hero

There’s one tank you will notice in all its glory, the Hero. Displayed behind your selected tank, the Hero will change intermittently and just like your tanks, you can interact with it in great detail. By simply clicking on the Hero in the background, the camera will fly over and this tank will take the foreground and all its vital information will be displayed.

Also, at the bottom of the screen, you will notice the “PURCHASE” button, which if you click on, you will be sent to the Premium Shop. We would ask you to test out the feature properly to make sure that it works correctly. Don’t worry, you will not be buying anything and no in-game currency will be taken from your account, this is simply to see if it is working as intended.

Get Closer Than Ever Before

With the previous Garage, the maximum distance you could get away from the tank was 12m. Now, you can zoom out even further (perfect for viewing the gigantic Japanese super heavies).

You can also zoom in further than before so you can see a level of detail, you’d never noticed before especially if you’ve ever had trouble reading the script on a gun.

If you are inactive for a period of time, the camera will go to work and flyover the tank. This can be disabled or tweaked in the settings.

Also, when using the Garage, parallax scrolling is now in effect (meaning the screen moves with your mouse). If this is something that brings on motion sickness for you, don’t worry: the effect can be turned off in the settings as well.

Glacier

The latest map to be added takes you and your tanks to Scandinavia. Battle in the midst of ships lodged in the ice with these steel behemoths forming the very landscape around you.

The active zone for light tanks. Thanks to the landscape and terrain, you won’t be left out in the open. But be careful, those pesky tanks might be hiding up by the carrier.

Tank destroyer spots. Good viewpoints, often with concealment, and even with a thinly armored vehicle, you can still do some damage.

There’s a large number of small shelters that won’t protect you from enemy artillery fire here and bushes. It’s a perfect spot for the mediums and not a bad location for tank destroyers either.

Tank destroyer spots. Good viewpoints, often with concealment, and even with a thinly armored vehicle, you can still do some damage.

In the case of a successful enemy advance to the center, take position on top of the aircraft carrier. By controlling the aircraft carrier, your team can help your heavies break through. Even by locating yourself by the sides of the carrier, you can help support your team in the center.

Designated spot for heavies. The perfect place for the heavies to fight, covered from artillery fire, there’s a plenty of options to maneuver amongst the blocks of ice and frozen shipwrecks.

1. The active zone for light tanks. Thanks to the landscape and terrain, you won’t be left out in the open. But be careful, those pesky tanks might be hiding up by the carrier.

2. Tank destroyer spots. Good viewpoints, often with concealment, and even with a thinly armored vehicle, you can still do some damage.

3. There’s a large number of small shelters that won’t protect you from enemy artillery fire here and bushes. It’s a perfect spot for the mediums and not a bad location for tank destroyers either.

4. Tank destroyer spots. Good viewpoints, often with concealment, and even with a thinly armored vehicle, you can still do some damage.

5. In the case of a successful enemy advance to the center, take position on top of the aircraft carrier. By controlling the aircraft carrier, your team can help your heavies break through. Even by locating yourself by the sides of the carrier, you can help support your team in the center.

6. Designated spot for heavies. The perfect place for the heavies to fight, covered from artillery fire, there’s a plenty of options to maneuver amongst the blocks of ice and frozen shipwrecks.

Music to Your Ears

A large-scale project for the World of Tanks team, the new soundtrack was recorded by the Prague Symphony Orchestra and aims to create military “tank” music that is as authentic as possible for each map. Drawing inspiration from the music all across the globe, the music aims to match its locale. There certainly are some great tracks with hidden references in, see if you can find them!

Take a Listen!  

Encore

Don’t forget to test your system to see how well Update 1.0 will perform with the EnCore program. After all, we’ve optimized graphic processing so you can enjoy it on lower settings.

ENCORE  

3. Update 1.0: Remastered Graphics — Part One

Updated

Graphics are the backbone of creating a realistic battlefield from the ripped steel of a destroyed tank to the fauna and flora dotted around the map. Water, terrain, clouds, trees and more all individually combine to make up the most genuine battlefields created with the help of the new graphics engine.

In the wake of this major visual uplift, we invite you to take a closer look at how Update 1.0 will redefine World of Tanks looks through this three-part series. Today we will focus on the clouds in the skies and shadows.

What Makes a Game Look Realistic?

We all know graphics include: buildings, plants, other small objects but there are also some components you don’t see and they can be the most important. The lighting is a prime example —without proper lighting, everything just looks murky and details are lost—or terrain—without it, your tanks would just fall through the map! Sky and water also play their own parts—without them, it would just be dark and gloomy.

Our goal here is finding a perfect combination of all of these elements to really capture a realistic view of the battlefield. At the same time, we put about as much work to ensure you can enjoy the view with no adverse effect on performance.

Check how Update 1.0 will perform on your PC right now with enCore!

ENCORE  

It’s easy to detail (and notice) what has changed graphically with 1.0 but the sheer scope of the process is enormous. So before we delve deeper into improvements, let’s take a quick detour to go over key pillars that make Update 1.0 what it is—a major game remaster—and the steps we took way earlier.

  • Preparatory work: Update 9.15 added the support for DirectX 11 to mainly improve performance on computers supporting DirectX 11 (you can guess we were already planning the future of updated graphics).
  • Technological platform: At some point we realized that the BigWorld client tech was too old to allow for major advancements. So we created the new graphics engine to kickstart the process of improving the visual world and add technological capabilities that were previously unavailable.
  • Content redesign: The majority of content for every map was recreated from the ground up using all the technologies that this new engine supports.
  • Optimization: To ensure everyone can see new visual world, we reworked the graphical subsystems and processes to reduce the footprint of graphics on your rig. In other words, optimized framerate and stability so everyone and anyone could enjoy the new graphics.

The work on graphics won’t stop with Update 1.0. We want to continue fostering and embracing latest technology, and this is just a big step towards that. Now that we have a robust foundation, we’ll continue building on the remastered game’s looks during 2018 and further out.

That’s it for a quick detour. Now onto the juicy details!

The Sky is Always Changing

With the power of photorealistic skyboxes, it’s always sunny in Prokhorovka. Skies looked rather artificial before but now clouds move with wind flow and the sky changes color depending on the lighting.

The lighting itself has affected more than just the skybox and its clouds, just take a look at how the flora has now come to life.

There’s a Light That Never Goes Out

Lighting is one of the most important components of graphics. It affects how textures look, how shadows are formed and more importantly, the lighting interacts with all other components of the visual design of the game.

The global illumination technology, which was added with the addition of the new graphics engine, results in all objects interacting as if it were reality. Take a look for yourself, we certainly hope you can see the difference:

We integrated SpeedTree 6 with heavy modifications to fit the requirements and needs of World of Tanks and significantly changed the interaction between flora and lighting. Just take a look:

Delving even further, the technology calculates the interaction of light between objects. For example, light passing through a colored translucent surface will create colored shadows on other surfaces.

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With light, there must be shadows…

In the Shadows

World of Tanks has many features which aren’t immediately evident, but significantly affect the atmosphere and realism. For example, shadows. If they are performed qualitatively, the game will look more natural.

Adaptive Shadow Maps calculates shadows from static objects: buildings, stones, trees, etc. and stores them in a special reusable shadow texture. This reduces the load on the processor and graphics card. Moving objects (machinery, falling trees, and more) will get improved dynamic shadows.

The new graphics engine with shadows interacts with particles effects. That means steam, dust and smoke now have semi-transparent shadows. For example, when your tank travels in the shadow of a mountain, there will no longer be an unnatural glow coming from the track dust. Instead, the dust will absorb the shadow of the mountain and be illuminated as a machine and other nearby objects. And, finally, we applied the material shadow effects which will help to more accurately convey different material’s depth.

4. Update 1.0: Remastered Graphics – Part Two

Updated

To make a map as realistic as possible, it’s vital that the graphics engine really make the landscape shine. Terrain and water are two of the key elements in World of Tanks for making great battlefields so let’s go into further detail to see how it’s all changing for the better.

Terrain: It’s One of Many Layers

With the new graphics engine, we increased both the geometric and textural detail of the landscape. Even the tiniest elevation is more noticeable—and all the small things: grass, leaves, and stones. The level of detail is much more than you’ve ever experienced before in World of Tanks.

Virtual texture has been used to increase the level of detail while keeping the performance at a similar level as before—it allows for improved blending of textures. When standing still the terrain will not change, however moving will result in new textures being generated gradually between frames.

Greater detail is achieved through tessellation technology—meaning that the volume and complexities of various objects are better realized by adding more triangles to the geometry, dramatically increasing the overall level of detail.

Outland: More Changes on the Horizon

Another goal is to increase the rendering of the terrain to the horizon—in simple terms, all the details beyond the map’s limits. As you may have seen on the Sandbox server, it looks impressive. Maps may seem familiar with a foreign twist. Space is no longer limited, for example:

  • Prokhorovka – No longer limited by space constraints, the battle takes place in the midst of the endless steppe of Russia
  • Himmesldorf – Clashes on this summertime map are transferred to the heat of the city battles in Danzig
  • Mountain Pass – The natural landscape now becomes part of the mountain range found in the North Caucasus

For all this to be possible, we have developed a special mechanism for Outland—drawing terrain up to the horizon. On some maps, Outland covers more than 1000km2! So what does this mean for performance? The entire process is not demanding, for example: with standard graphics, we use a snapshot of objects outside the map in 360 degrees. This allows for the atmosphere to stay the same, just with a little less dynamism.

What's Next

We’re still striving to improve performance and increase the number of objects using tessellation in the foreseeable future. This not only means greater realism for terrain, but tanks with a lot of smaller details.

Plans are also in the works to increase the interactivity of the terrain. The foundations are laid: the terrain is already interacting with the tracks and shells, which leave behind traces. But for now, this is only seen by the player and his impact on the battlefield.

Simply put, all the above elements combined to make it looks so realistic, you might have a problem distinguishing the game from the photo.

We’ve covered the terrain, now onto what lurks below.

Water: New Wave

We have developed technological tools that make three forms of water possible: calm for the lakes, current for the rivers and waves for the sea. Along with this, we also implemented a new technology for drawing reflections in water—Screen Space Reflection. Not only are objects reflected but also explosions, shots, smoke and shadows. And all of this will take less resources than before!

Remember how water surfaces were flat and you had to use your imagination to make it seem realistic? With the new engine, ripples will form and waves will crash on the shore. Rivers will no longer just be a flat water texture unless driven through, there is now a noticeable rocking on the water.

If you look at the crest of the waves, you can see that the lighting affects it: the peak becomes slightly bluish and foam is formed with the current.

https://sg-wotp.wgcdn.co/dcont/fb/image/wot_pc_water_final_result.jpg

When moving through water or firing, currents form and show signs of shots. It was discussed to add a feature to put out a burning tank by plunging into the water, but unfortunately it could result in tanks sitting in water throughout a battle because people wanted an economic solution to fire extinguishers.

As you can see the water looks so realistic that after the heat of battle, you might just want to submerge yourself.

5. Update 1.0: Graphics Optimization and Settings

Updated

Moving to a new engine was a long and complicated affair as we had two key objectives: make sure the graphics were both improved and optimized. With 1.0, you will immediately notice the graphical improvements and wonder what strain it might put on your rig. Well, with hard work and dedication, we’ve managed to keep the minimum and recommended system requirements unchanged.

What does this mean? If you’re playing on an older computer (the game has been played on PCs a decade old), no fear, you will still be able to enjoy improved graphics. To get the most from your rig, make sure to run the auto-detection feature when starting the game, more on that later…

How Did You Manage to Keep the Same System Requirements?

  • Virtual Texture
  • Water
  • Adaptive Shadows
  • UI Optimization
  • Revised Tank Track Calculation
  • Advanced Tree Model System
  • Level of Detail Switching
  • Optimized Particle System
Virtual Texture

Now, we can pre-calculate all this heavy blending, save it as a Virtual Texture, load it in advance and only show when necessary. Besides, we no longer need to do material blending in the tessellation stage. So we use tessellation (the arrangement of shapes closely fitted together) without a significant performance drop.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

The terrain itself is a very complex substance that consist of numerous materials: grass, sand, stone… you name it. In the most complicated cases, we blend eight materials in each pixel every frame, which impacts heavily on your GPU. Previously the terrain was rendered every frame.

Water

In the past, we used a “brute-force” approach to create reflections in the water, duplicating scene render from the direction of the reflection. Is it the most efficient way today? Not really. The new graphics engine lets us improve on it with Screen Space Reflections.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

We combine Screen Space Reflections with Parallax corrected reflection probes that store pre-computed reflection data. One added benefit, this new approach adds fidelity to the water as now we reflect exactly what we see instead of simplified reflections as before.

Adaptive Shadows

Shadows are known as the heaviest graphical option in terms of resources. But not in our case! We use an approach similar to Virtual Texture to avoid extra load on performance.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Most of the shadows are calculated when first loading the map and are only re-calculated when the level changes. That gives a great boost in performance and allows for correctly illuminated objects even on low-end hardware.

UI Optimization

The interface went through a major optimization too to reduce the load on performance and memory consumption.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

3D scenery covered by the opaque UI elements (the minimap and damage panel) is no longer rendered, which saves on GPU performance.

Here’s some simple tricks:

  • Increase the mini-map and make it opaque to boost your FPS.
  • Try increasing the size of the game areas under the opaque interface. In some cases, depending on your PC configuration, this might give you a better frame rate.

 

Revised Tank Track Calculation

Client-side track physics used to be calculated per vertex of the track triangle. Let’s put it in numbers; the sheer number of calculations went up more than 10,000. And it’s just for one whole tank tread. Obviously, it was anything but efficient.

WHAT’S CHANGED?

Now track movement is calculated per track segment (~100 calculations per average tank tread). While increasing performance, this optimization does not affect visual quality. It reduces the GPU load, whilst the tracks display a natural and realistic movement.

Advanced Tree Model System

Update 1.0 introduces advanced billboards system for trees.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Trees are baked into billboards (flat rectangles with textures) with all of the information including depth and lighting data. Thanks to it, we can switch trees to billboards much closer to the viewer (and you won’t notice the slightest difference!).

Level of Detail Switching

The level of detail is adjusted depending on the distance from your camera to an object and your settings. The closer you are to the object, the more detailed it looks. Move away, and the opposite occurs. In the same vein, there is no need to draw every crack in a wall in detail if it cannot be seen.

WHAT’S CHANGED?

With the transition to the new engine, the adjustment occurs as smooth as possible over a short period of time so there’re no jarring transitions between the different levels of detail. The cherry on top, this seamless transition doesn’t require extra resources.

Note: To do all of this with standard rendering, we had to abandon the use of zero (the best quality) level of detail. The difference in quality between this and the next best is practically indistinguishable, but this decision allowed us to keep the minimum system requirements the same.

 

Optimized Particle System

Remember how a few simultaneous explosions resulted in a FPS drop or even worse—freezing? We made sure it doesn’t happen again by adding particle multi-resolution rendering.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Now, with a few explosions, high resolution effects are displayed only along the edges, and the interior is rendered in lower resolution. This switch is practically unnoticeable, but saves a lot of performance in critical moments.

  • Virtual Texture
  • Water
  • Adaptive Shadows
  • UI Optimization
  • Revised Tank Track Calculation
  • Advanced Tree Model System
  • Level of Detail Switching
  • Optimized Particle System

Now, we can pre-calculate all this heavy blending, save it as a Virtual Texture, load it in advance and only show when necessary. Besides, we no longer need to do material blending in the tessellation stage. So we use tessellation (the arrangement of shapes closely fitted together) without a significant performance drop.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

The terrain itself is a very complex substance that consist of numerous materials: grass, sand, stone… you name it. In the most complicated cases, we blend eight materials in each pixel every frame, which impacts heavily on your GPU. Previously the terrain was rendered every frame.

In the past, we used a “brute-force” approach to create reflections in the water, duplicating scene render from the direction of the reflection. Is it the most efficient way today? Not really. The new graphics engine lets us improve on it with Screen Space Reflections.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

We combine Screen Space Reflections with Parallax corrected reflection probes that store pre-computed reflection data. One added benefit, this new approach adds fidelity to the water as now we reflect exactly what we see instead of simplified reflections as before.

Shadows are known as the heaviest graphical option in terms of resources. But not in our case! We use an approach similar to Virtual Texture to avoid extra load on performance.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Most of the shadows are calculated when first loading the map and are only re-calculated when the level changes. That gives a great boost in performance and allows for correctly illuminated objects even on low-end hardware.

The interface went through a major optimization too to reduce the load on performance and memory consumption.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

3D scenery covered by the opaque UI elements (the minimap and damage panel) is no longer rendered, which saves on GPU performance.

Here’s some simple tricks:

  • Increase the mini-map and make it opaque to boost your FPS.
  • Try increasing the size of the game areas under the opaque interface. In some cases, depending on your PC configuration, this might give you a better frame rate.

 

Client-side track physics used to be calculated per vertex of the track triangle. Let’s put it in numbers; the sheer number of calculations went up more than 10,000. And it’s just for one whole tank tread. Obviously, it was anything but efficient.

WHAT’S CHANGED?

Now track movement is calculated per track segment (~100 calculations per average tank tread). While increasing performance, this optimization does not affect visual quality. It reduces the GPU load, whilst the tracks display a natural and realistic movement.

Update 1.0 introduces advanced billboards system for trees.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Trees are baked into billboards (flat rectangles with textures) with all of the information including depth and lighting data. Thanks to it, we can switch trees to billboards much closer to the viewer (and you won’t notice the slightest difference!).

The level of detail is adjusted depending on the distance from your camera to an object and your settings. The closer you are to the object, the more detailed it looks. Move away, and the opposite occurs. In the same vein, there is no need to draw every crack in a wall in detail if it cannot be seen.

WHAT’S CHANGED?

With the transition to the new engine, the adjustment occurs as smooth as possible over a short period of time so there’re no jarring transitions between the different levels of detail. The cherry on top, this seamless transition doesn’t require extra resources.

Note: To do all of this with standard rendering, we had to abandon the use of zero (the best quality) level of detail. The difference in quality between this and the next best is practically indistinguishable, but this decision allowed us to keep the minimum system requirements the same.

 

Remember how a few simultaneous explosions resulted in a FPS drop or even worse—freezing? We made sure it doesn’t happen again by adding particle multi-resolution rendering.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Now, with a few explosions, high resolution effects are displayed only along the edges, and the interior is rendered in lower resolution. This switch is practically unnoticeable, but saves a lot of performance in critical moments.

6. Update 1.0: Remastered Graphics Part Three

Updated

Graphics are vital to making the in-game world and locales as realistic as possible and a perfect of mix of elements can make you feel like you’re almost there in the midst of battle.

Join us as we continue the walk through visual enhancements. Today, we explain how the new graphics engine will change flora and objects and trust us, you won’t want to miss out on these visuals captured in-game!

Flora: Small Details, Big Changes

The flora of World of Tanks changes completely with Update 1.0. Trees become more detailed and look just like in the wild. There’s more than just a handful of tree types: over 100, to be more precise. Whether you’re exploring the tangled routes of sunny suburbia dotted with pine trees, making your way through snow-caped spruces or meticulously picking your next target whilst hiding among widespread oak canopies — different trees and plant types help diversify the locales and give each map a unique footprint.  

Grass now loads in faster and shadows look more realistic giving maps like Karelia and Mines an extra dimension of realism. On top of that, all these trees and plants react to what’s happening in a battle, whether it be firing a shell or adjusting your hull. Worry not, this will not give away your position, these effects will only be seen by you. See for yourself in the video above.

The Future of Flora

This is an ongoing process so we are still working on certain elements. We will work on physics and animation: currently the trees do not fall as naturally as they would in real life. It is even possible that improvements will allow trees to influence gameplay, such as using a felled tree to hide your weakspot.

Objects – The Architecture of World of Tanks

Factories, small buildings, bridges, fences, stones and more—all of these objects create the atmosphere of World of Tanks and affect gameplay. Previously, we were limited in the number of textures to create these objects as it would negatively impact performance. But now…

The new graphics engine allowed us to increase the number of textures and increase their detail. Now artists have a greater opportunity to create new objects and improve their appearance. The best part: it doesn’t affect performance!

To avoid issues with performance, we used “streaming”. This technique is used to stream textures and geometry of various quality when required: The level of detail will depend on the distance between it and your tank. The further away you are, the easier it will be for your computer to process it.

For tanks, there will also be some additions. First of all, there are effects of water, dust and snow and as the tank moves around, dust, mud or water can appear on the tank itself.

7. Level Design Improvements: My Sweet Fjords

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With Update 1.0, an entire smorgasbord of elements, from maps and graphics to music and much more, are being completely revamped and Fjords is no different. After receiving a huge redesign, here’s a sneak peek at the improved summertime map and rationale behind the changes.

Imbalances

  • The CQC Club: Almost all battles took place at close quarters (marked on the image as zones 1–4). As a result, tanks which are less suited to brawling had little to offer to their teammates.
  • Where’s the Camo?: A lack of hiding spots limited your influence on the course of the battle (marked as zones 5 & 6).
  • Shoot Straight: A lack of obvious positions to shoot directly across the map. In the city (zone 8), the street planning and blocks were difficult to orient and caused issues in search for the aforementioned positons. In addition to this, zone 7 was available to light tanks, but getting to this position was difficult and used by very few tankers.
  • The Monotony of Fjords: The map was perceived to be a corridor with heavy tanks taking zone 1 (and rarely making it to zone 4) and medium tanks duking it out in zones 2–4. There was no room for maneuvering light tanks save for the field in zone 9, and their effectiveness was extremely limited for this position.
  • Rain Down on Me: From zone 10, artillery could rain down on zone 1. However, fire support wasn’t possible from zone 11.

In addition to visual enhancements, we tried to fix imbalances where lights and TDs could be left out in the cold in terms of their impact on the battle. The majority of clashes took part at close range meaning those that weren’t fit to scrap were at a disadvantage. On top of that, a lack of hiding spots and positions to shoot from afar across the map made it hard for the aforementioned tank classes. Alongside this, Fjords had a perception of being a corridor map which allowed little influence for light tanks on either side.

For artillery spawning in the east, their natural position on the map resulted in them being ineffective when laying down support fire on the southern bottleneck when compared to their adversaries.

You can see below a comparison between the two minimaps (new on the left, old on the right) and notice a significant difference with the redesign:

Now you’ve seen it with your own eyes, let’s get straight to the improvements...

Changes

  • We levelled the central field and added cover and vegetation around the edges for camouflage. As a result, tanks fighting from a distance will be more effective and light tanks will be able to scout more efficiently.
  • Added easy entry to the central hill. Both teams can use this to tip the scales in their favor. In addition, we decided to develop this position to give it more importance in battle.
  • Capturing the central hill is risky but the juice can be worth the squeeze. By taking the hill, it gives control of the center of the map and allows for allied support.
  • Changes were made to the structure and layout of the city. Now it will be easier to navigate and allow for certain maneuvers.
  • Artillery locations are now more balanced—no longer will arties be able to fire from the safe space (zone 10 on the old map) at the heavy tanks located in zone 1 of the old map.
  • Tweaks to the terrain across the map make it possible to choose various angles of attack. These routes are viable for all classes, allowing them to move more freely.

Remember how we noted that Fjords was perceived to be a corridor map? Well to improve the map’s gameplay, vehicles that provide fire from a distance will now have more influence in the end result and light tanks can carry out their duties more effectively.

A new addition to the map is the central hill. By controlling this point, the pendulum can swing in either teams favour as it can be used as a locale to lay down support fire. With these additions, the bottleneck brawling will become less widely seen and open up the battle to all tanks.

Artillery positions have become more balanced meaning that teams spawning in the west can no longer take advantage of raining pain from above from the safe haven in the north.

 

8. Update 1.0 – New Glacier Map

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Soon your tanks will be battling it out on a new battlefield set amongst the snow-capped mountains and thawing atmosphere of a winter Sweden. With a collection of ships permeating the frozen bay and remnants of a former Scandinavian village, Glacier certainly adds its own character to the map pool. Let’s take a closer look!

Overview

  • Mode: Random Battles (only Standard Battles format)
  • Size: 1000x1000
  • Vehicles: Tiers IV–X

The map isn’t specifically based on any locale or any historical battle (due to Sweden’s neutrality during World War II). The key element is its charming winter setting. Besides, if you’re looking for a bit of variety, Glacier certainly makes for a breath of fresh air.

Glacier might not be set in any particular era of time but the conditions signal the end of winter on Sweden’s coastline. The cold atmosphere is beginning to thaw and soil and terrain is starting to penetrate the white snow and permafrost. Roughly a third of the map is occupied by the sheet ice across the bay and the former village is down to its bare bones; ruined houses and felled trees show its inhabitants have long gone.

Featuring the staples of any winter map, such as blocks of ice and compacted snow, the map does contain some rather distinctive architecture. They include ships lodged in the ice, worn-down ship propellers, an entire smorgasbord of ship parts and the focal point of the map, the aircraft carrier.

Gameplay

The active zone for light tanks. Thanks to the landscape and terrain, you won’t be left out in the open. But be careful, those pesky tanks might be hiding up by the carrier.

Tank destroyer spots. Good viewpoints, often with concealment, and even with a thinly armored vehicle, you can still do some damage.

There’s a large number of small shelters that won’t protect you from enemy artillery fire here and bushes. It’s a perfect spot for the mediums and not a bad location for tank destroyers either.

Tank destroyer spots. Good viewpoints, often with concealment, and even with a thinly armored vehicle, you can still do some damage.

In the case of a successful enemy advance to the center, take position on top of the aircraft carrier. By controlling the aircraft carrier, your team can help your heavies break through. Even by locating yourself by the sides of the carrier, you can help support your team in the center.

Designated spot for heavies. The perfect place for the heavies to fight, covered from artillery fire, there’s a plenty of options to maneuver amongst the blocks of ice and frozen shipwrecks.

1. The active zone for light tanks. Thanks to the landscape and terrain, you won’t be left out in the open. But be careful, those pesky tanks might be hiding up by the carrier.

2. Tank destroyer spots. Good viewpoints, often with concealment, and even with a thinly armored vehicle, you can still do some damage.

3. There’s a large number of small shelters that won’t protect you from enemy artillery fire here and bushes. It’s a perfect spot for the mediums and not a bad location for tank destroyers either.

4. Tank destroyer spots. Good viewpoints, often with concealment, and even with a thinly armored vehicle, you can still do some damage.

5. In the case of a successful enemy advance to the center, take position on top of the aircraft carrier. By controlling the aircraft carrier, your team can help your heavies break through. Even by locating yourself by the sides of the carrier, you can help support your team in the center.

6. Designated spot for heavies. The perfect place for the heavies to fight, covered from artillery fire, there’s a plenty of options to maneuver amongst the blocks of ice and frozen shipwrecks.

The area by the aircraft carrier can turn the tide of battle as you help provide support to push your heavies through and repel a centralized push from enemy forces from the top. Those heav-ies will want to utilize the frozen shipwrecks and blocks of ice located in the north west corner of the map. After all, it’s prime battling and brawling ground with these natural obstacles allowing for plenty of maneuvering options and being a relatively safe haven from shells floating in from above.

The centre really is the place for light tanks with its landscape and terrain but it’s evident that those barriers that are shielding you might just have some enemy tanks hiding behind them too so be wary. For those looking to do damage from a distance or thinly armoured, the north east and south west map points offer great viewpoints to observe the action with a good amount of concealment!

That just leaves the south east… While shelter can be found here, it’s not going to save you from enemy artillery fire so please take note. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth fighting over, it’s a good locale for mediums and with its abundance of bush, it offers a fine position for tank destroyers.

9. Update 1.0: Brand New War Music

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Over the last few weeks, we’ve detailed how graphics are going to be updated and maps are receiving a HD overhaul; now it’s the turn of the new soundtrack. After all, in the midst of battle, it’s not only the visual details that matter, you need to be aurally immersed too.

New Tanking Music

With the new soundtrack, all maps will have their own signature sound. Composed by Andrius Klimka and Andrey Kulik, these 60+ unique pieces of music all come together to form the new soundtrack. Each map has original music for the beginning, duration and culmination of the battle, as well as its own loading screen tune—an introductory musical accompaniment driving through the atmosphere and mood of the map.

Thanks to the dedication of our audio team and composers, each battle will really take you to the in-game locale and add the greatest aural fidelity we possibly could!

When setting about to write each new piece of music, the audio team carefully studied map history and locale. The guys met with historians and level designers—to uncover details of each map which might be missed at first glance. These meetings helped to determine the ethnic and geographical location.

Inspiration

With the ethnic and geographic locations understood, next came the work stage: the composers needed to decide on a set of basic instruments and melodies to use in the composition of each piece, for example:

  • Cliff with its Greek setting is getting a rich variety of local folk motifs and instruments
  • Airfield, El Halluf and Sand River feature a very diverse Arabic sound
  • Mountain Pass received very distinctive vocal tunes and the inclusion of Caucasian folklore

Local Aesthetics

To give the greatest possible aural fidelity, unique instruments were selected which were recorded by musicians all across the globe. But it involved more than instruments… Vocal tunes were recorded as a way of trying to capture the characteristics of the people local to the map’s region. In some cases, well-known melodies were used due to being synonymous with a certain country or locale. Westfield, Fjords, Malinovka, Paris and many more are examples of this.

Then came the hard part; it was all about mixing these sounds together to get one single composition which fit the map.

Musical Geography

There are certain sounds and compositions that are just synonymous with a particular country or region. Utilising this can instantly transport a listener from one side of the globe to another and this thinking was a major part of the new soundtrack. The introductory composition, unique to each map, plunges us into a small, localized world with its own history and mood and for us, this might only be a fleeting moment, but it will remain with its history no matter what.

RUINBERG: The sounds of the classical music against the backdrop of burning ruins on Ruinberg might be extremely familiar to some of you. That’s because it uses Toccata and Fugue in D minor by the great German composer, Johann Sebastian Bach.

 

MINES: When taking to Mines, you can hear Balkan folklore motifs and the composition portrays a moment of calm in the small village surrounded by mountains. This is soon interrupted by the exciting tone showing that the battle still rages on and the fight is about to begin.

 

MOUNTAIN PASS: Nestled in the middle of the stunning Caucasus mountains, a peaceful moment introduces the player to the map. A Caucasian soldier sings about missing his family, his house. But then shots are heard: somewhere in the mountains a battle has started and he must join it. He must go into battle; he has to fight for his country.

 

KARELIA: Church bells and old Slavic epics were the basis of Karelia’s composition. The poetic syllable of these epics are transmitted in the rhythm with classical instruments and vocals.

 

EL HALLUF, SAND RIVER AND AIRFIELD: The musical composition is based on the ethnic music of the Berbers. Arabic music is actually very different for the Middle East and North Africa. And since the battles of the Second World War are mainly connected with North Africa, the composition utilizes the folklore of those living there.

 

No Battle the Same

In addition to the introductory, loading screen tune, the game plays certain music during different parts of the battle based off the current circumstances you and your team find yourselves in.

Close to the end of the battle, each team has a different melody depending on the current outcome of the battle. If you’re winning or close to securing a win, a victorious tone will play to spur you on. If the tide of the battle looks ominous then a more somber tune is played to encourage you and your teammates to take out the enemy and secure the victory.

 

Combat music never repeats itself thanks to the efforts of our hard-working audio team who composed instrumental parts for each sound block. These sound blocks are randomly arranged in sequences, while the soundtracks in each block further adds to its aural authenticity. After all, each battle is different so why should the music be the same?

10. Update 1.0: Graphics Settings Explained

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Subtitles in our supported languages are also available by clicking on the icon in the bottom-right corner.

With an incredible array of HD maps and a new soundtrack, Update 1.0 may just be the biggest and most exciting update in the history of World of Tanks. Powering this epic visual content salvo is Core, our in-house graphics engine that breathes new life into locales with a host of new technologies. As the game switches to the new engine, graphic configurations get reset too. Don’t worry, we aren’t leaving you in the dark to navigate this by yourself. Today, we'll explain how to tailor them to your PC and use auto-detect to enjoy the fierce beauty of tank combat to the fullest.

Brace yourself—we’re going very deep here and there’s a lot of technical information to digest (but it's worth it!). If you aren’t a fan of sifting through thousands of words, you might want to check out the video on settings above and use contents block to navigate straight to the questions that matter the most to you. Let's go!

Run Auto-Detect Test

The test runs in two cases, when you run the game at the first time and when you click “Recommend” in the graphics settings. It assesses the game’s performance on your system through revised algorithms for the processor, graphics card, amount of graphics and system memory and other system performance tests. After running all these tests, the system defines the golden medium in terms of FPS and the quality of visuals for your rig: Minimum, Low, Medium, High, Maximum or Ultra.

Please note new and old presets doesn't correlate because the game's switched to a new graphics engine. Minimum and Low settings work on Standard Definition and Medium and above work on High Definition.

IMPORTANT: SD client offers the same pool of preset options as the HD client, so you’ll be able to enjoy refreshed maps in all their visual glory even if you’re playing on SD client. The only difference is that SD client doesn’t offer high-resolution textures though.

How Does it Work?

The auto-detect system attempts to find the best graphical setting mixed with the most stable framerate. Note that you can see slight changes in FPS after auto-detecting since providing you the best possible picture is its primary goal. Basically, it can suggest an option that will result in FPS changes, but only if they aren’t critical to the game performance.

If you are not satisfied with the framerate after running the auto-detect, you can choose less demanding performance settings, which can increase the overall performance by 30–40% (e.g., choose Medium if you were offered High). Still want to make some tweaks? Then start by choosing the preset option it offers and work from there adjust the settings to your liking.

Adjusting Graphics Manually

Choose the Render

When deciding to adjust the graphics setting manually, you will first be given the option to adjust the render—choosing between Standard and Improved graphics. Both were reworked for HD, the only difference is that Improved support the full spectrum of new technologies and effects, while Standard lacks some.

If your PC runs the game adequately with Improved graphics, we highly recommend using it. If the performance doesn’t fit your needs, you can customize the settings manually in Advanced Graphics Settings.

Tweak Advanced Settings

Some graphics settings are more important than others. Reducing the right settings may get you comfortable FPS without severely reducing the image quality. You should start with special effects—antialiasing, texture and object quality, draw distance, lighting and post-processing. These are taxing, and toning them down can help you boost frame rate.

PCs come in all shapes and sizes, and exact same tweaks might have different effect on different PC setups.

Go through the list below for detailed explanation on each settings option and how it contributes to the game’s looks. Graphics options are grouped starting from the most demanding in terms of FPS to make it easier for you to choose which to disable.

Antialiasing

Antialiasing smooths out rough pixelated or jagged edges in graphics, using different technologies for Standard and Improved Graphics.

  • With Standard Graphics, anti-aliasing is optional and isn’t tied to any of the preset options.
  • With Improved Graphics, anti-aliasing is necessary to give the best picture and is tied to the preset options.

Here’s how the picture changes with the differing anti-aliasing options:

Texture Quality

The quality of textures affects the resolution and type of filtering used. The higher the level of detail, the better. However, please note that this will be more demanding on your rig. Maximum texture quality includes HD textures on the HD client.

Objects Quality

Adjusting the Object Quality settings determines the distance at which an object becomes highly (or less) detailed depending on the movement direction. The higher the setting, the greater the distance from the player the transition takes place. This also has an effect on the visual fidelity of tank tracks. On Medium and lower settings, the tracks of the tank are drawn in a simplified form.

Draw Distance

Affecting the distance at which objects are displayed, this setting only concerns objects not vital for gameplay. For example, the monastery will be a consistent feature on Abbey for all settings, but the fences around the fields won’t.

Why is it important to get the optimal draw distance for your rig? Well, on certain maps, with a lower draw distance, your target might be obstructed without you noticing until you fire.

Lighting and Post-Processing

  • Motion blur and post-processing are cinematic effects like Vignette, Chromatic Aberration, Distortion and Film Grain. They supplement the overall impression of the graphics.
  • The shadow quality was moved from the Main Settings with the release of 1.0, due to a significant optimization of the shadow rendering mechanisms.
  • The lighting quality is extremely important for the overall perception of the picture; it interacts with all other graphical elements. Depending on the quality, the complexity of lighting calculations varies: it is tied to technologies including: Screen Space Reflection, Global Illumination, God Rays, Lens Flare, HBAO, wetting effect and puddles.

Terrain and Water

The performance needs vary from map to map regarding water: maps that revolve around the sea (Fjords, Fisherman’s Bay and Glacier) consume a little more resources that those without.

The terrain has also been completely redesigned: terrain quality have been increased, tessellation support has been added. Tessellation has been designed specifically for Improved Graphics and only works on graphics cards that fully support DirectX 11 (the technology is not available on Standard Graphics because the terrain is simplified to improve performance).

Small pebbles, traces from tanks, funnels from shots all acquire a geometric form with the addition of geometric details to the terrain. This is just a graphic improvement and doesn’t affect the behavior of the tank.

You can switch off tessellation to increase performance when in sniper mode, as well as to ensure tessellation doesn’t interfere with targeting opponents. Here’s how the terrain changes depending on the graphical setting:

Vegetation

The detail of the vegetation, amount of grass and the transparency of the grass when in sniper mode. The vegetation level of detail, other than the obvious, affects the complexity of calculating the wind in the trees (with Standard Definition client, there is no wind) and the higher the quality of grass, the more there will be. You can lower these settings to crank out more frames per second.

The camouflage mechanics work the same regardless of what settings you choose.

Effects

Within the effects settings, you can set the desired quality of explosions, fire, smoke and other similar events. Tuning can be important when in battle as these effects can give out hints of which tanks just fired (clue: there will be clouds of smoke around). Consider the game benefits of effects when adjusting their quality.

Improved physics of destruction, thanks to Havok Destruction, means that when objects are destroyed, fragments remain. With this feature disabled, there will be no detailed destruction and it only works with Improved Graphics and is calculated on separate threads. Consider disabling the feature if your processor is a weak feature of your setup.

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