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World of Warships Submarines Preview: New Vessels and A Whole New Meta

World of Warships Submarine Torpedoes

After years of waiting Wargaming has finally revealed the long-awaited new ship class for its popular online naval combat game World of Warships with a new cinematic trailer, gameplay video, screenshots, and more. We had the opportunity to visit Wargaming's Austin studio to get the very first hands-on experience with the new submarines and this expansion of the core gameplay does much more than just add more vessels.

Submarines have been the single most requested feature from players since World of Warships launched four years ago. In that time, the game has earned more than 30 million active accounts that average 3 hours of play per day. That's 102,325 years of playtime so far from player base but who's counting? As an ever-evolving experience, the World of Warships naval game has grown to feature over 300 ships across 10 different nations and 40 maps, and now, that all changes. Submarines change everything.

Related: World of Warships: Legends Preview, Release Date, and Patch Notes

2019 has already been a busy year for World of Warships, from a Carrier Rework to wild limited time events that included space ships and a battle royale, and now the core game is seeing one of its biggest changes ever. Submarines will be playable in a test phase in the next few weeks and this fall will be host to a PvP event to let players try out subs from the first three nations:

World of Warships Submarines Screenshot USA Cachalot
USA' Cachalot

  • The United States: the Cachalot (Tier VI), Salmon (Tier VIII) and Balao (Tier X).
  • Germany: the U-69 (Tier VI), U-190 (Tier VIII) and U-2501 (Tier X).
  • USSR: the S-1 (Tier VI), L-20 (Tier VIII) and K1 (Tier X).

During testing, gameplay and balance elements will be tweaked, to be followed by additional subs from other nations in the future (the Japanese fleet are first up), and after that we'll see the introduction of additional researchable and premium ships.

How do Submarines Actually Work in World of Warships?

Submarines allow players a unique type of gameplay that's broken down into three stages. Subs can move on the surface like another others ship, or they can submerge to periscope level where they slow down and can still fire torpedoes (and take advantage of an all-new feature on this front called the acoustic pulse). Once you take a submarine below the water surface however, you start expending oxygen. Going to stage 3, fully submersed in deep underwater, takes the most oxygen and slows the vessel down substantially.

Note: using the acoustic pulse to target an enemy vessel or specific section of their ship also reveals the submarine’s position on the minimap for a short period of time.

World of Warships Submarines Screenshot USSR S-1
USSR's S-1

Being fully submersed is a trippy and entirely new experience in World of Warships, completely moving away from the traditional two-dimensional grid to being literally beneath it all. You can still see other ships, and land-masses that get highlighted, but you cannot use the spotting mechanics. You'd have to manually communicate any recon intel to your teammates via chat. There's not much to see when underwater and it's unusually peaceful and clean looking from a HUD standpoint as you navigate.

The submarines change the meta and the rock-paper-scissors formula of gameplay in several ways by expanding the amount of ship classes from four to five. Subs are meant to be pack hunters that are great against larger, slower ships. When in "stage 2" or the periscope depth, players can launch an acoustic pulse as they fire their torpedoes to have them home in on a target. This can only be done at periscope depth, not when fully surfaced or submerged.

World of Warships Submarines Screenshot Underwater
Fully submerged with a submarine in World of Warships

Their weakness however is the fast-moving destroyer which gets new gameplay features too. When a destroyer sees a submarine go fully submersed, they'll see a ping show up in the water. By approaching that area, their destroyer will automatically begin deploying anti-submarine mortars and depth charges. Only destroyers can do this and they do a large amount of damage to subs. As for balancing, similar to carriers, Wargaming will setup the matchmaker to have a certain/ideal amount of ships by class. So where 4 cruisers, 4 destroyers, and 2 carriers maximum may be the maximum for each class, or at least the target, submarines will have a similar max.

Notes on Submarines:

  • Press "C" to dive and "F" to surface between the three levels.
  • Subs start at higher tiers as you'll notice.
  • There's no sub vs. sub combat.
  • Subs are pack hunters.
  • Do not immediately submerge when seeing a destroyer.
  • Submarines are fastest when fully surfaced (and this is when they can slowly refill oxygen)
  • One of the upcoming premium submarines will be the Japanese I-58
  • Submarines will be fully integrated into World of Warships in 2020.
  • It's possible certain battleships get depth charges to deal with submarines in the future. "Never say never," is what we were told.
  • It's unlikely submarines will come to the console-based World of Warships: Legends

Submarines have the least amount of hit points and are generally slow, but pack a bunch with their powerful torpedoes when used tactically. The ability to launch surprise attacks or hold choke points in key areas on the map is an exciting and different one and the feeling of navigating the game's maps with these subs is a fun, and exciting one. And intense.

Submarines Add Other New Features to World of Warships

World of Warships Submarines Screenshot Germany U-69
Germany's U-69

We've talked about the three stages for the submarines (surfaced, periscope level, submerged), their acoustic pulse targeting mechanic, and the new depth charge/mortal mechanic for destroyers, but there's more! When fully underwater, submarine players will lose sight of their enemies in battle. In this state however, there's yet another new mechanic called the hydrophone.

This is what we referred to when describing being able to see land masses visually when underwater. The hydrophone allows uses to determine the direction to the nearest enemy ships and visualize their surroundings when diving, actively helping them with their spatial awareness.

Gameplay and more information are set to be revealed during Gamescom 2019. And many more subs are in the works. Check out the below gallery to see concept images of the works in progress:

Click the button below to view this gallery.

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