Tuesday, September 15, 2015

ARL 44 Review

Hi again guys, here's my new review:

Full Stats

Although I've had a rough start in it, the ARL 44 is quickly becoming one of my favorite heavy tanks. I've heard, of course, either very good or very bad things about it. Nothing much in between.  I was intriqued, and since I enjoy tier 6 tanks in general, as well as looking for an alternative choice for tier 6 strongholds, I decided to pick it up.

The stock grind is probably the worst thing about the ARL. You're pretty much stuck with the incredibly hilarious-looking, "barn" shaped stock turret unless you use a considerable amount of free exp. The stock 90mm has competitive alpha damage but is pretty inaccurate and is starting to lack in penetration, making it less effective against higher tiers.Therefore, you want to get the top turret as soon as possible to greatly increase your survivability, mobility (the stock turret is heavier), gun performance, and most of all, you won't be the subject of other people's jokes. After grabbing the top turret, make your way to the next 90mm gun to greatly improve your penetration. After that, it's your choice. I couldn't stand the sluggishness of the stock ARL 44, so I got the tracks, then the engine. If you don't mind being slow, then you could research the tracks, then one of the top guns. Keep in mind, however, the top engine is an extremely significant boost, making the ARL 44 easily one of the fastest heavy tanks in its tier, and the 90mm Gun F3 is solid enough for a tier 6 heavy tank in terms of penetration and damage.

The ARL 44's armor is somewhat tricky to use sometimes, but when used correctly, it easily can bounce the vast majority guns encountered in its own tier. The large upper plate is 120mm thick, and sloped at precisely 45 degrees, giving it an effective armor value of 167mm. This techinically surpasses even the high thickness armor of the Churchill VII, or the tier 6 Japanese heavy tank, the O-I. The lower plate is only 50mm, but is sloped at 63 degrees if shot at with a horizontal angle; therefore, it is not an option to shoot at in mid to short range fighting your opponent will very often be shooting down on it, increasing its angle to a 70 degree autobounce. Slight angling also helps alleviate this potential hull weakspot. However, there are two vulnerable, potential weakspots in the front - the tracks themselves. If an enemy shot goes through one of the ARL 44's tracks straight on, then they may be able to simultaneously track the ARL 44's 20mm thick tracks AND damage it due to the 50mm armor hitbox located behind the tracks. This can be a killing factor if you meet competent driver who is able to track you in a poor position - use your repair kit sparingly, and training a repair crew is a highly recommended. Don't expect to bounce many shots against competent opponents, unless you are able to find cover and peek around corners, because the turret is only 110mm thick, unsloped, and with the new HD model of patch 9.10, almost as big as the stock turret, making any smart player automatically aim at your turret to penetrate.

Mobility is one of the strong suits of the ARL 44, more than making up for its exploitable armor. At first, the tank is a lumbering beast reminiscent of the T-150, with only 18 degrees of traverse at stock, and a miserable 575 horsepower which barely powers the large, heavy ARL 44 and its ridiculous stock turret. However, after time and effort has been spent to upgrade the turret, tracks, and finally engine, the ARL 44's mobility feels nothing like its stock configuration. With the hp/t ratio of about 16.10, the ARL 44 can reach up to 37 km/h on flat ground and feels faster than the M6 in a straight line and climbing hills, but slower while turning due to the M6 having 5 degrees more traverse speed. I chose to nullify the slow traverse speed with clutch braking as my driver's first skill, giving me more chance in close quarters

Mobility and armor are both interesting features of the ARL 44, but most people first hear about the ARL 44's guns. The ARL 44 suffers from terrible gun handling, long aim time, and below average DPM/firerate. However, the ARL 44 more than makes up for this with absolutely outstanding "hard" stats on both top guns, and excellent 10 degrees of gun depression allowing surprising flexibility. My recommendation through experience is to use the 105mm gun, which is a direct upgrade to the T-150's 107mm in gun depression, accuracy, and its APCR round in exchange for a barely slower rate of fire. It's APCR round is absolutely ridiculous, with 330 damage and 227 penetration, giving it 30 more damage and about 60 more penetration more than the standard AP round. Although it will be extremely expensive, firing solely APCR in your games will make you one of the most feared tier 6 tanks in terms of firepower, and less situational than the KV-2.

The other, rather less popular choice is to use the 90mm DCA 45. The gun has better accuracy than the 105mm, and has the single best penetration for its tier with AP rounds (212), but this extra penetration is often extremely situational and overkill even when fighting many tier 8 tanks, and the extremely bad gun handling (worse than the 105mm) combined with average damage and low DPM means that you are solely committed to a slow, back-line support role that will not be benefit your team to a great amount. The APCR rounds on the 105mm generally have all the penetration you'd need, should the 167mm penetration AP round not be enough. Therefore the 90mm is, overall, a weak pick. Stick with the 105mm and you will generally have an opportunity to perform well in all matchups and will be able to execute more roles.

General fighting tactics: when facing an enemy, always approach at a slight angle and expose yourself for as little time as possible to help alleviate the problem of being tracked and damaged from the front. If your opponent is catching on and still getting these shots, however, turn to sidescraping tactics or poking ridges in order to shoot instead. Neither your turret armor nor your side armor is really stellar for these kinds of tactics, and you may be damaged fairly easily, but it's far better than being damaged and permatracked at the same time. The ARL 44 does have better side armor than listed on paper (mostly 60mm on its sides instead of the 50mm displayed), and it has 10 degrees of gun depression, giving you flexibility and the ability to fight back on hilly terrain, if not primarily to block shots. The ARL 44's turret armor is rather weak, with the cheeks and roof both being only 30mm in thickness, making it vulnerable to overmatching, plus a mostly flat 110mm thick turret face. The cupola is thin at 50mm can also be vulnerable if your enemy can hit it. Therefore, since the gun mantlet is the only really reliable piece of armor on your turret, using your excellent 10 degrees of gun depression should be used for quick shooting over ridges and peek-a-boo tactics, rather than for shot blocking. Due to the long aim time of the gun, you will often need to bait your opponent into missing a shot in order to take sufficient time to aim a good shot at your opponent. In higher tier matches, you should definitely stay out of "heavy battle" zones and skirmish around less popular areas, as you have sufficient speed and firepower, but not durability in a tier 8 matchup. \

When using this tank, the enhanced gun laying drive and gun rammer are of paramount importance to directly improve the guns' worse aspects. For the third slot, you should use binoculars with the 90mm, or vents with the 105mm. For crew skills, sixth sense is a must, as well as snap shot + smooth ride. After that, you should definitely get repairs or BIA depending on whatever bothers you mort when driving the ARL.

Overall, I think the ARL 44 is a solid, powerful tier 6 heavy tank, and even after its new HD model, it can take a fair amount of shots and certainly can return the favor.

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