If you’re a veteran player who has not played for a while, World of Tanks offers its own new set of challenges. Prior to the introduction of the new physics patch, you may have routinely scraped the edges of bridges, lakes, or ravines while maneuvering. It was never a problem, since invisible walls kept your tank on track, leaving your hands free to use the (terrible) chat interface, or whatever.

Today, if you stop paying attention by a lake you’ll end up drowning in it.

After the jump, change kills.

The new physics enables some great moments (such as when a ramming attack knocks an enemy into a lake) but requires equally great adjustments. Many “safe spots” are no longer safe, and many maps need to be relearned. The introduction of physics also resulted in a significant rebalancing of the gun depression and elevation angles of a number of tanks. The net impact of these changes is positive, but an experienced player coming back to the game after a long break is going to find that there are a lot of adjustments to be made. Especially since the same lack of good information that makes it hard to start the game also makes it difficult to return from a prolonged absence.

For example, players who left the game before the 7.2 update missed the introduction of a wide range of new secondary skills for tank crews that have already reached 100% primary training. While the effects of these skills are generally subtle, a few of them have changed the game. “Sixth Sense” will throw up a helpful light bulb icon to warn you when you’ve been spotted by an enemy. It can be a lifesaver letting you scoot to safety just before artillery starts landing around you, and is immensely helpful on long-range “sniper” tanks and tank destroyers as well as fragile scouts who want to get close to the enemy without giving away their own position. It probably shouldn’t have been added into the game, since it’s such an incredible crutch, but you’ll quickly learn to appreciate it.

Other changes may be less appreciated. Your favorite tanks have probably been nerfed. This isn’t personal. There’s a reason that tanks such as the KV, Marder, or BatChat were so popular, and that reason was because they were incredibly overpowered relative to other tanks of their tier. While these adjustments are probably good for the overall health of the game, they do tend to fall upon tanks a lot of people own for the simple reason that it takes a special sort of masochist to keep playing an underperforming tank. It is one of the unfortunate truths of online gaming that “balance” often takes the form of a bunch of reactive adjustments to whatever players are enjoying the most.

The good news is that the more dramatic rebalances, such as the BatChat or KV changes, were organized to be as painless as possible: players were compensated with new tanks and free garage slots for those tanks. In general, compensation for dramatic changes is generous.

Other, less dramatic changes must be accepted without compensation. My T30, a turreted tank destroyer which I once really enjoyed, went through three rounds of painful downgrades, seemingly necessitated not because the T30 was overpowered but instead because the next tank in the T30s tech tree was so incredibly dominant in Clan Wars. I have been forced to make peace with these changes, which seem designed to encourage people to fully embrace the modern freemium economy. For better of for worse, change is an intrinsic part of online gaming in the 21st century.

Next: The freemium economy. (Or: “Gold is hell.”)

David Lydon has been playing games since he was very young, and hopes to still be playing games when he is very old. This is his first attempt to write about games, unless annoying e-mails to his friends count. David posts on the Quarter to Three forums as Dave47.