PvP tank games are deep-rooted in video game history. From Combat on the Atari 2600 to Tron to World of Tanks, gamers have been swiveling their turrets and firing HEAT at each other for decades. What is relatively new are PvP MMOs that are also FTPs (got all those acronyms?) Unfortunately, two of these FTPs, World of Tanks and Tank Domination, have also been PTDs. What is a PTD? Don’t worry if you don’t know because I made it up. It stands for play-then-delete. It means, play a bit, then get it off your tablet, phone or PC without paying a dime. It means, there are too many other FTPs that want to move in. Luckily, third time’s a charm, and Tanktastic is an FTP that will take up long-term residence on my iPad.
At first glance, Ukrainian developer G.H.O.R.’s Tanktastic is similar to the rest of the herd. It has essentially the same interface and structure: create a profile, go to your hangar, pick a tank and join a battle. For faster upgrades, pay money; otherwise, level-up the old school way, by playing the game. Tanktastic’s graphics are also on par with the others — nothing to write home about. The game has a similar selection of tanks, and the controls are standard: virtual joy stick on the left, turret control and fire button on the right. There are both first person and third person POVs.
What sets Tanktastic apart from the other two is in the power of the spawn. In WoT and Tank Domination, there is no spawning after death. If you die, you’re out. You can watch or go back to the lobby, but that’s it. There is no returning to the fray to enjoy the instant gratification of revenging your own death. You’re out and that means you sit and wait, or join a different game. The objective is to enhance realism and encourage team play, but what no-spawning really does is it annoys the gamer like nothing else.
That’s where G.H.O.R. got it right. When you die in Tanktastic, you’re back in the fight in 5 seconds. Gamers don’t want to wait an entire round. Most don’t have the patience to work out a team strategy or wait behind a bush for the enemy to cross its line of sight, which is a passive tactic resulting from no spawning. What tank gamers want is to launch their AP rounds and see the fireworks erupting from their foes’ turrets…again and again. FTP developers must understand that gamers want to play, not wait (or pay money to not wait). If there’s too much in-between downtime, then gamers will move on to the next hot FTP on the block.
Tanktastic also gets points for sparing us the annoying drill sergeant and useless tutorials seen in the other FTPs. G.H.O.R. seems to know what gamers want and don’t want, and Tanktastic is the first PvP MMO FTP tank game that is a PTPA (play-then-play-again) .