Hands-on: World of Tanks AR – Augmented eSports at its Best

Wargaming.net teases a glimpse at the future.

Augmented reality (AR) in its present form for public consumption offers a fairly basic visual experience due to the processing power of the device being used, namely either a smartphone or tablet. But what if you had access to more juice, say a decent high-end PC for example, what could be created then? Wargaming.net has been experimenting with AR (and virtual reality (VR)) for a while now, with its R&D department having previously rolled out World of Tanks AR for both iOS and Android devices. At Gamescom 2018 this week the team had something new to share, a possibility for the future.

Essentially an upgrade for World of Tanks AR, the new app being demoed was highly experimental and conceptual due the nature of its design. While the freely available AR app shows a couple of tanks blasting away at each other, this new idea was to make you an AR spectator in World of Tanks matches in as higher quality as possible.

World Of Tanks AR SpectateAs this was purely a concept the demo didn’t feature live matches, rather several short segments across three levels, giving that idea of what could be possible when technology catches up to their ideas. The reason being that while an iPad was being used for the demonstration there was a substantial cable attached to the device which then connected to a PC to run the simulations. The level of quality and detail that Wargaming.net had produced was way out of the remit of a portable device.

And it is this graphical prowess that was the main star of the demo. It looked exactly like the World of Tanks so many players know and love. In fact, at points it looked even better thanks to the way you could manoeuvre about a scene. Designed to be viewed entirely on a tabletop, moving the iPad in closer didn’t distort the graphics at all, allowing tanks to be seen up close and personal, or viewed further away for an overview.

This same detail featured across the battlefield, from the trees, bushes and other foliage, to the crumbling buildings and damaged wrecks. There was no hindrance in movement, just like other tabletop AR experiences World of Tanks AR allowed complete free-roaming around each scene.

That was it mind. There was no interaction of any sorts in the build, allowing you to pick points on the map to view, or dropping inside a tank for a first-person point-of-view. It was simply a trial to see how far AR can be pushed, and certainly from this test AR could (at some point) offer a completely new way to view your favourite esport.

Of course, don’t get your hopes up this will happen anytime soon. As with any R&D prototype it was unwieldy to use and completely not practical due to the PC umbilical cord. Yet it’s still nice to glimpse into that future and see what could be. Maybe in another five years mobile devices might have caught up enough so that Wargaming.net can offer viewers the option of being an AR spectator at the latest World of Tanks tournament.

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