The first WoWS demo took place during E3 and consisted of two 6 vs 6 battles. Players fought US and Japanese destroyers, cruisers, battleships, and carriers.
The scale of action was epic with maps up 100 sq km with multiple islands. And there is reason to go large, because battleships (like demoed North Carolina) had effective range up to 40km.
Battles usually began with recon and fighter planes taking off from cruisers and carriers to locate the enemies. While both sides are approaching one another it's time to get a closer look at nicely modeled ships, all based on real-life materials. The attention to detail is impressive, however the decks did look a bit empty without crews dashing about. Well, this is pre-alpha.
Balance is classical: rock - paper - scissors.
Battleships with their heavy but slow guns are weak in close combat, and can't defend against destroyers which are vulnerable against cruisers which have little to withstand battleships' competition.
As for carriers, well, they have no guns worth mentioning. Carriers have a game of their own, using RTS-like UI to control their aerial forces. There is no control of single aircraft of course (go play WoWP), orders are given to entire units.
The goal of the battle is to capture and defend the central area. Players control only main armament - the rest of the guns are automated.
Aiming is done using ballistic reticle that make camera follow shell's trajectory. The trick is to choose the right distance and predict the movement of your enemy so as to strike it hard and not waste your ammo and loading time.
HP bars are in place just like in WoT.
Destroyers are using torpedos which are .. surprised .. powerful. Underwater hits lead to decrease of floatage bar (water incoming!).
Both 10-minute battles were rather fast and dynamic. Who said ships are slowpokes. One of the battles ended with last survived carrier being destroyed by concentrated fire of 2 cruisers and 1 battleship.
All in all it didn't like like swimming tanks, lots of things work differently. The demoed CTF battles took place in the south Pacific and near Orkney islands.
Ready for beta?