Wargaming.net’s naval action MMO World of Warships recently added it’s latest major update – Update 0.7.9 Royal Navy – which installed a cargo ship’s worth of new content and game improvements. You can read all about the Royal Navy update here. ICYMI, another piece of exciting news was released on the same day the Royal Navy update was announced. This coming October 31st, WoWS will be running a limited time PvE event that will include playable submarines! 

Since its’ launch 3 years ago, WoWS has expanded the available number of playable warships to almost 200 across seven nations. While that’s certainly an impressive list that makes for no end of blasty ship vs ship combat, there’s always been something missing: submarines. Sure, historically, subs were more involved in the ‘tonnage war’ (attacks on cargo ships) actions than they were in direct attacks on armed warships. But WoWS is a video game, and while Wargaming.net has done an excellent job adding historical authenticity, I’m cool with giving them a pass on the case of subs simply because I’m eager to experience the major change they will bring to WoWS combat.

So how will submarines work? Wargaming.net’s WoWS North American Publishing Director Sasha Nikolaev fired off a salvo of details explaining a bit about that at a recent press event held on San Francisco’s The Triangle Pier 45 at Fisherman’s Wharf, just a few yards from the decommissioned World War 2 Balao-class submarine USS Pampanito (SS-383). Nikolaev clarified that the Halloween event is an experiment to test the waters of submarine play in a mostly-for-fun themed setting, as Wargaming.net has done when introducing previous game mechanics. If the test event doesn’t sink, Nikolaev added, “we will seriously consider polishing the concept, adapting it to the main game and introducing submarines as the 5th class in World of Warships in 2019.” 

Wargaming.net’s submarine concept includes the prime factors for why I’m excited to see it in action – anticipation, fear, and satisfaction. These emotions already exist in WoWS play (at least for me), but subs will expectantly bring these emotions to a deeper level. The anticipation of attempting to sneak up on an enemy ship, setting up the perfect attack, hopefully followed by the satisfaction of successfully executing that perfect attack. Those emotions will be balanced by the fear of knowing subs don’t have the armor protection to withstand direct attacks by surface-level warships, and depth charges will always be a constant threat. The added elements of stealth and surprise will no doubt change the way every WoWS player plays. 

How submarines work specifically will be marked by a single word: depth. Subs will be able to operate at three levels – surface, periscope depth, and submerged – with each level having their pros and cons. These ‘stances’ will provide a sub with changing levels of concealment, attack ability, and speed. Surface and periscope depth levels will be the best stances to attack from but will also make a sub visible and open to being attacked. A fully submerged sub will operate at peak stealth and concealment, but still be vulnerable to depth charges, which will have large area of effect explosions. And subs will be able to stay submerged for only as long as their oxygen reserves allow, meaning they’ll have to surface regularly to refill their oxygen tanks.

Torpedoes already exist on destroyers in WoWS, but they are not the primary weapons of those warships. On submarines, torpedoes will be their only weapons, and Nikolaev stated they are being given more development attention for subs than for destroyers. Subs will have fore and aft torpedo launchers, dedicated loading services per tube group, and there may even be “more than one torpedo model within one submarine to give it more utility and variety.” 

So, if the notion of controlling a submarine in the underwater dimension of WoWS is exciting to you, be sure to queue up Halloween for this limited event. Also, be sure to send feedback about your submarine experiences to Wargaming.net during and after the event – the fate of an entire mechanic could rest on your shoulders.