The control system and the tank motif go a long way in making World of Tanks work as a mobile shooter. But what ultimately makes it enjoyable is the level design. Blitz's battles take place across large square maps each with a distinct setting, be it a copper mine, a snowy train station or a desert town. More important than theme, however, is the construction of the maps. These rugged landscapes are liberally scattered with obstacles to navigate and cover to hide behind, be they train carriages, destroyed buildings, trees, haystacks or simply the natural lie of the land.
What a difference terrain makes. World of Warplanes suffered because the sky is more or less the same wherever you go, and this limits the tactics available to you. World of Tanks, on the other hand, is all about where you place your tank on the map and how you approach your opponent. Blitz has a surprising amount in common with the stealth genre. The game will highlight the location of enemy tanks on your screen, but only if one of your teammates can see them. In addition, everyone has access to a "sniper mode", enabling players to look through the tank's scopes and target specific areas of an enemy vehicle. Striking the tracks and rear of a tank will do considerably more damage than aiming at the front, where the armour is much heavier. On top of that, Blitz also simulates shell penetration, ricochets and damage to specific parts of your tank, even your crew.
Once you understand all of this, you start to see how the more tactical aspects of World of Tanks come together. It isn't simply about a bunch of glorified artillery guns lobbing shells at one another across the map. Flanking, ambushes, and scouting out strong defensive positions all play an important role in your team's success. A single match usually begins with both teams searching for the best position to conceal themselves on the map. Some will inevitably rush toward the capture point, leading to an engagement. If you're near the skirmish you'll wait for the opportune moment to strike. If you're on the far side of the map, you'll fret over whether to stay hidden and take out any stragglers, or rush to the aid of your comrades, potentially falling victim to an ambush yourself.
Even a straightforward slugging match between two tanks can be wickedly tense, as you both roll in and out of cover snapping shots at one another, waiting for the aiming reticule to shrink so you can strike a pinpoint hit on the weakest part of their tank, wondering all the time whether they will fire first.
The issues I have with Blitz are mainly down to personal taste. The whole feedback loop of acquiring a tank, playing a match, acquiring a slightly better tank, then playing another match isn't a style of gaming that particularly appeals to me. Consequently Blitz, and indeed all of Wargaming's games, never hold my attention for very long. The lack of variety in game modes is possibly to blame for this. While there are plentiful tactical options in the standard Capture and Hold scenario, it would be nice if Blitz found a way to mix it up a little more. On the other hand, I do find myself coming back to Blitz fairly frequently, and perhaps being regularly enjoyable in short bursts is precisely what you want in a mobile game.
One last point that I think it important to mention. I tested Blitz over both 3G and 4G, blowing up tanks under the summer sun at various location in my home city of Edinburgh, and the netcode held up pretty impressively. I noticed minimal difference between playing sat on my sofa at home and playing sat on a bench in the park. So unless you're living a hermetic existence in Greenland, you shouldn't encounter problems playing while out and about.
In all, what World of Tanks: Blitz achieves is admirable. It successfully adapts a difficult genre to mobile without resorting to all the cheap little tactics so many mobile free-to-play games implement. And it doesn't cost a penny to try out, so you'd have to be the grumpiest grump in Grumpington to fail at wringing any enjoyment whatsoever out of it. Now, if you'll excuse me, it's twenty-two degrees outside, and I fancy an ice-cream.