Panther Mit 8,8 cm L/71
EDIT: It turns out, all throughout this review, I’ve been driving the Panther 8.8 without equipment. The engine upgrade helps with mobility, and once you get some Vstabs and a GLD on the L/71, the gun handling really is great.
That means the Panther 8.8 is stronger than I give it credit for in my review, but I still don’t think it changes my conclusion; I still don’t think I will get one. I do like it, but it does struggle, and I am just not sure I’ll get a lot of mileage out of it, even with the Vstab.
Three years ago, I was super excited about the Panther 8.8. I mean I realised it was just a tier VII Panther with a tier VIII gun, but it was a Panther, and I figured I could practice my cool Panther moves while raking in the credits.
Trying it out on my press account, I was kind of disappointed. Back then, the 8.8 was quite literally just a worse Panther; the only thing it did reasonably well was grind credits. I still felt like I would like to have one, but I didn’t want to actually pay for it.
That was a long time ago now. And the Panther 8.8 is back in the store for a few days. Considering the onslaught of crate tanks we’ve been having lately, the price comes across as quite reasonable.
But do I still want one?
No matter how you look at it, it’s still just a Panther
I ran a few games to try and find out. And yes, the 8.8 still prints credits. A fairly standard game blowing all your consumables and doing maybe 2K damage should net you 60.000 on a premium account no problem.
It’s also still very recognisably a Panther II. I drove the actual one to make sure, and yes; the tanks drive very much the same. What happens is, you get a bit better gun handling; accuracy, aimtime and stability on the move are all superior to the tech tree variant.
The armour, in turn, is weaker. 80 mm front plate instead of 100. 50 mm side armour instead of 60. Actually, the lower part of the side armour is only 40 mm, but you do get functional side skirts, on the off chance someone would be silly enough to fire HEAT rounds at a Panther.
The mobility is better. The 8.8 is seven tons lighter than the Panther II, and so your have more power. Twelve degrees better hull traverse. But for some inexplicable reason, the lighter tank has worse ground resistances, so although the 8.8 is a little more mobile, it’s not a huge difference.
Panthers aren’t exactly agile. They move in a peculiar way, and they are pretty fast in a straight line once they get going. I had the misfortune of being pushed on by a couple of Heavy tanks, and there’s just nothing doing. You can’t angle your armour to get a bounce, you can’t run away, and you can’t out-manoeuvre them. All you can do is trade hitpoints.
But this is old news to any Panther driver. You know the only place you are likely to get a bounce is off the sides of your turret, and you are used to playing the sidelines and keeping your head down.
The only problem is, I don’t drive as much Panthers as I used to.
It’s not just the Germans. I don’t drive a lot of weakly armoured, gun depression-style Medium tanks these days, and if I do, I’ll be in my Leopards. I still drive the E50 M of course, but that’s different. The Maximum Panther has actual armour plating.
People change. The game changes. And there is no question the current game meta is all about big guns and armour. Driving something like an STA-1 or a T20 these days is practically asking to be pelted with massive High Explosive rounds from all sides.
I like Panthers, I do. I even like this one. It’s fairly mobile and has an excellent gun, and if you work at it, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to carry a game or two from the bottom. But you will have to work for it; the Panther 8.8 doesn’t give you anything for free at all. And as much as I like Panthers, I am just not feeling it this time around.
It’s not very different from a lot of other tanks I already have. The Panther II, for one. The STA-1 I mentioned. The Indien Panzer. I also have a few tier VIII premium Mediums that already make plenty of credits. As much as I would like to have a Panther among them, I don’t really feel like the 8.8 would add very much to my collection.
So: If IrmaBecx; known Panther elitist and former German separatist tank driver doesn’t want it, who would?
Well, if you are looking for a Medium tank to grind credits and work on your gameplay, but not necessarily win a lot of games, then the 8.8 could be for you. The 88 mm shells are dirt cheap, and with around 180% credit coefficient, you can run all the expensive consumables you like.
The Panther 8.8 isn’t necessarily a weak tank, but it is struggling in the current game meta. It’s too big, the armour’s too thin, and it isn’t quite fast enough to get away with cheeky maneouvres. The L/71 may be a Heavy tank gun, but it’s actually the smallest calibre on any tier VIII Medium except the Centurion I.
Stuff like that used to excite me. Driving tanks for the challenge. Trying to make them work.
And it still does, to a point. But I am not having my Panther revival this week, and so for me, I think it’s going to have to be a pass. There’s nothing wrong with the Panther 8.8, but it’s also not super exciting. It’s a traditional premium tank; meaning it’s supposed to be slightly weaker than its tech tree counterpart, and that’s all it is. It doesn’t have a gimmick beyond excellent gun handling.
If you want to push your limits a little, see what you’re made of, or are just looking for a regular old Medium tank you can drive as much as you like and not worry about credits, then the Panter 8.8 could be just what the doctor ordered.
But I think you need to think hard about your “because”. I am getting a Panther 8.8 because. Because I want to practice Medium tank driving. Because my Löwe is too slow. Because I like Panther tanks. Because I am a collector. Because I think it looks really cool. Because I don’t care everyone else are running doom cannons and IS tanks; I want to go against the grain.
Whatever your motivation, unless you have a specific reason why you want to get the Panther 8.8, I would suggest you give it a pass. My feeling is that without one, the tank will turn out to be, if not outright disappointing, then at least mediocre.
On the plus side however, it should grind its own equipment in a flash. That’s always something.
See you out there.