Quick Summary: An IJN Heavy cruiser with a unique torpedo arrangement. She is very fast, very stealthy and surprisingly durable, all while keeping the heavy broadside firepower of ten 203mm rifles.
Cost: Can be purchased with 10,700 doubloons or through the online store with a port slot for $47.86 USD.
- Armed with ten 203mm rifles, giving her good alpha strike potential.
- Interesting torpedo arrangement with four quad launchers, one covering each of the four quadrants of the ship.
- Good torpedoes, with 10km range, 62 knot top speed and 17,233hp damage.
- Excellent top speed of 35.5 knots, making her the third-fastest ship at tier 8.
- Very low surface detection range for a high-tier heavy cruiser which can be brought down to 9.1km with modules, skills and camouflage.
- Can stealth fire it’s main battery if equipped for concealment at 14.4km.
- Can stealth fire torpedoes if equipped for concealment.
- Has access to the Repair Party consumable at tier 8.
- Low DPM with her primary armament for a Tier 8 Cruiser
- Gun arrangement requires you to turn your ship near broadside to unmask all of her rifles.
- Very little overlap of torpedo launchers — firing two salvos at the same target requires turning the ship significantly.
- Armour is insufficient.
- Very large, exposed citadel.
- Torpedoes get knocked out very easily.
- Poor anti-aircraft armament.
- Very large turning circle at 790m.
- High skill ceiling and unforgiving.
- Doesn’t reach her full potential until you unlock a 15 skill Captain.
- Expensive — costs as much as 3 months premium time.
Since she was introduced, the Atago has undergone some rather significant changes. The meta within high-tier World of Warships matches has also evolved. There has also been the addition of a new game mode, Ranked Battles, in which the Atago can participate. Lastly, there are more enemies to contend with, such as the Soviet Destroyers, German Cruisers and New Premiums have all changed the landscape in which the Atago finds herself. This makes the old review a bit of a patch-job, not quite covering everything it should. This new look will hopefully provide a more contemporary look at the strengths and weaknesses of this vessel and allow players to make a more balanced decision on whether or not to invest in this ship.
The Atago is armed with ten 203mm/50 3rd Year type artillery pieces. The gun arrangement of the Atago matches that of the Myoko-class of ships. She has five turrets with two rifles each. Three are mounted on the forward section of the ship and two aft. The two foremost turrets are mounted in a superfiring arrangement facing her prow, giving her four guns which can fire directly forward. Her fourth and fifth turret are positioned in a superfiring arrangement facing the stern, giving her four guns which can fire directly backwards. Her third turret lays between her slab-shaped bridge and the #2 gun, facing backwards. The guns themselves handle like a dream, with excellent characteristics. The shell flight path is very flat from a high muzzle velocity and it’s rare to have to lead more than 10s ahead of a target even at maximum range.
In terms of weapon performance, the Atago’s broadside firepower is among the highest for cruisers of her tier with a 47,000 damage maximum alpha strike with AP (the same for the Myoko, Mogami and Ibuki armed with 203mm rifles). This trails just behind the Admiral Hipper and a little further behind the Mogami when she is armed with fifteen 155mm rifles. She trades for this with poor DPM for her tier, being the lowest save for the New Orleans which only has 9 guns. This comes from her slower rate of fire — a mere 3.8 rounds per minute, which is lower than even the tier 7 IJN Myoko-class cruiser with 4.3 rounds per minute.
Range wise, she is comparable to the other heavy cruisers with 8″ rifles, but she cannot match the 155mm or 152mm armed cruisers like the Mikhail Kutuzov and Mogami which can benefit from the Captain Skill, Advanced Fire Training. She does not have access to a spotter float plane. This limits the Atago’s engagement range to 15.8km or less.
Her AP performance is good. She’s capable of citadel penetrating any other cruiser she faces up to her maximum range when she can get broadside shots. Similarly, at medium to close ranges, without a lot of drop in her shell’s flight, she can citadel softer-skinned Battleships, such as the Amagi and Nagato. Against all-or-nothing armour schemes on US Battleships she will struggle and once dreadnoughts begin angling their armour, this ability stops.
IJN HE performance is still the best for her tier. Each penetrating shell hit from a high explosive round does an impressive 1000 damage against unsaturated areas off her victim. This allows a full salvo to strip as much as 10,000 damage from targeted ships in a single volley, not including the possible resulting fire damage. With better penetration values than the 155mm and 152mm of the Mogami and Mikhail Kutuzov respectively, this is more likely to still cause damage when striking more significantly (but still lightly) armoured sections of an enemy vessel, such as their prow instead of giving 0-damage hits. Like all IJN 203mm rifles from the Aoba through to the Ibuki, she has a 17% chance of fire per shell strike.
It should be noted that with a full concealment upgrade, the Atago’s surface detection range when firing her main battery is 14.3km. This means she can stealth-fire at surface targets with a 1.5km corridor. This is an incredibly powerful advantage, especially combined with her high speed which will allow her to potentially kite battleships. To do this you will need a well trained Captain and the proper selection of camouflage, skills and modules to pull it off.
Her defensive armament consists of four 127mm two-gun turrets mounted amidships, two to each side. These guns have a high rate of fire and a 5.5km range. They shoot high explosive shells exclusively with a decent chance of setting targets on fire should they hit. However, like all secondaries, their accuracy and usefulness are entirely subject to the whims of RNG. I generally feel that it’s not worth spending skill points and modules to upgrade these, though in theory they could reach out to 7.92km but the weight of firepower would be rather lackluster for such a heavy investment.
Her torpedo armament is a different matter.
Like all IJN Heavy Cruisers, the Atago has a deadly torpedo complement. Sporting four quad launchers, these are arranged uniquely. Most IJN Heavy Cruisers have their torpedoes mounted facing the rear. The Atago keeps a pair like this, one off each side. However her second pair are angled facing forward. This covers an approximate 1 o’clock to 5 o’clock aspect on her right side and an 11 o’clock to 7 o’clock aspect on her left. There’s very little overlap between the launchers on each side, making it a bit difficult to put two salvos off towards the same target without having to swing the entire ship about.
The torpedoes themselves are excellent. They have a high speed of 62 knots, a 17,233hp maximum damage and a 10km range. This range, coupled with the concealment options mentioned above, give the Atago the ability to stealth-fire her torpedoes, albeit from a very tiny 0.9km window. Her torpedoes do not reload quickly, however, requiring almost 2 minutes between salvos. Her torpedo armament gets knocked out very frequently if she takes a lot of hits. You can often find yourself with gaps in your fields of fire — so take care to pay attention to which launchers are still active when you reach for them.
The Atago is the third-fastest tier 8 ship in the game at present. At 35.5 knots, she is bested only by the Benson (38 knots) and the Tashkent (42.5 knots). When using a signal, this increases up to 37.3 knots. This gives her some very long legs, making her quite capable of dictating the ranges at which most engagements are fought. Destroyers caught flat footed run the risk of being run down if the Atago chooses to close the distance. This speed comes at a price. She has an enormous turning circle of 790m. Her high speed makes her feel like she completes a turn quickly, but the Atago is seldom maneuverable enough to navigate through small channels when she needs to turn around quickly, be it land masses or torpedo salvos. Thankfully, she does answer her rudder well. With upgrades her rudder shift time can be brought down to 6.5s.
This said, the Atago can out turn her turrets, even with the Captain skill. So plan your turret movements carefully or you can be spending a lot of time trying to realign your guns.
Durability & Defense
There’s a few things to cover here. Her health pool is on the higher side of average with 40,100hp, giving her more than the Mogami and New Orleans but less than the Admiral Hipper. Like all cruisers, her armour is fair and will repulse 155mm rounds at range if she’s well angled, but it’s utterly insufficient to see off Battleship caliber weaponry she will encounter (consisting of 356mm up to 460mm guns). Her citadel is enormous, extending from beneath her forward turrets and running almost the entire way back to her rear turrets. In places this appears to be slightly raised over the waterline. In short, if you take fire and your side is exposed, you’ll take enormous amounts of damage very quickly.
The good news is that the Atago has access to the Repair Party consumable at tier 8, unlike other cruisers which only begin seeing it at tier 9. This comes with two charges and heals up to 5600hp per charge. Between Captain Skills and the use of a premium consumable, you can increase this by a further two charges. Properly used, this extends the Atago’s health pool from 40,100hp to a maximum of 63,400hp effectively. Like all cruisers, she can repair 100% of fire, flooding and overpenetraiton damage, 50% of penetration damage from all sources (bombs, torpedoes, AP & HE hits) and 33% of any hits that strike her citadel (AP / Torpedoes, typically).
Like many IJN cruisers, her steering gears are a bit vulnerable to high explosive fire when shells land towards her stern.
The matter of her surface detection range has come up several times already in this article and it’s worth mentioning it again. The Atago has a very small surface detection range of 11.9km stock. Three upgrades can reduce this. The first is the fifth module slot she gets, Concealment System Modification 1, the second is the tier 5 Captain Skill, Concealment Expert, and lastly she can swap out her premium camouflage for concealment camouflage. Adding these three will drop this down to 9.1km.
Keep in mind, her torpedoes have a 10km range.
Using her guns adds 5.2km to her surface detection, meaning that with a 15.8km range, she has a 1.5km window from which to blast enemies in the open ocean unseen.
The biggest fly in the ointment are destroyers and spotting aircraft, which will ruin this effect and leave the Atago vulnerable to reprisal. However, at 14km out, you should be able to turn away, cease fire and drop back into concealment when your 9.1km detection range re-engages.
The Atago has a very poor AA complement, being closer with a tier 5 or 6 battleship rather than a cruiser while stock. Proper use of upgrades can pad out these numbers and correct use of her float plane fighter and Defensive Fire consumable are still something with which a carrier plane should concern themselves. It takes a lot of upgrades that might be better spent elsewhere to bring the Atago up to par, however. It’s quite common to see Atago players running without Defensive Fire entirely, swapping it out for Hydroacoustic Search to hunt destroyers instead.
How to Kill It
Killing an Atago can either be ridiculously easy or frustrating and time consuming. With her exposed citadel and large turning circle, high alpha strikes like torpedo salvos and battleship caliber AP rounds can bring her down very quickly. But given her speed and fast handling, at range she can play evasive. With her Repair Party she can heal back incidental damage, recovering almost all of the health lost to a complication like an untended blaze. Though she won’t print Dreadnought medals like some Battleships, she can earn them if given time to recover between batterings.
- Destroyers must respect her speed, firepower and concealment. Atago can move faster than most IJN Destroyers with a few notable exceptions. Properly kitted out, she can keep pace with most US Destroyers too. Between her Hydroacoustic Search and a spotter float-plane fighter, she can have ample warning about incoming torpedo salvos. When you see an Atago approaching your area of operation, keep well outside your own surface detection range. Mind the skies for her fighter. Keep ahead of her and put salvos of torpedoes on a perpendicular path to her line of travel. Don’t engage in gunnery duels within 10km, even from smoke. She’ll just run you down if kitted out as a destroyer hunter. Her shells have an almost flat trajectory and are almost laser accurate.
- Cruisers should be confident that short of the New Orleans, they will likely have higher DPM than the Atago. This means you can trade fire with her, blow for blow and usually come out the better. Remember to cycle your ammunition as appropriate. AP can absolutely devastate her, but if she keeps well angled, HE isn’t remiss. Like many IJN cruisers, she has vulnerable steering gears to HE strikes to her stern. This can force her to burn her Damage Control Party early or lock her in a single direction if she has used it already. Always be cautious of her torpedo tubes. Unlike other IJN cruisers, she can launch them at almost any angle.
- Battleships should have mixed feelings when engaging an Atago. She’ll either be a pathetically easy kill or she’ll be a very challenging opponent. Fast and (potentially) stealthy, if you find yourself taking cruiser-caliber fire but can’t locate the source, you have a few options. First, launch any float plane you might have. Their circular orbit may detect the cruiser. If your ship can manage over 30 knots, consider charging the Atago’s location if it’s firing more than 4 guns. This means she’s broadside onto you and you may be able to slip inside the 1.5km stealth window from which she’s firing. Otherwise, consider moving into cover. At ranges of 11km or less, be wary of incoming torpedo salvos. When she is visible, hit her hard. She’ll fold.
- Carriers can test to see if the Atago is running an AA complement or not early on in the game if they’re found isolated. Unlike most cruisers, her AA power is not strong if it’s not fully upgraded. With her large turning circle, she can be quite vulnerable to torpedo plane hits. Be wary about an Atago reaching the backfield. She’s one of the few ships with a top speed fast enough to run down a CV and she has the range and high fire chance per hit to make it a quick hunt.
Tier for tier, the Atago is potentially an incredibly powerful cruiser, but only in the right hands. She’s not forgiving. In the hands of a novice player, she can be frustrating. She’s unique in her combination of speed, stealth and firepower. If used properly, she will pay you handsomely with experience and credits. Used poorly, she’ll send you back to port with little to show for it.
I honestly believe she’s a little too good to be a premium vessel, especially once her captain is fully trained. She fills a unique role that’s not matched by anything except perhaps a Soviet Destroyer — and that doesn’t manage it quite with the same furor that an Atago does. Between speed, stealth and firepower, she’s the perfect vessel for players who like to hunt as a lone wolf for vulnerable ships. Her Repair Party means that what little damage she takes from picking on Destroyers or crippled warships is healed back, keeping her fresh for far longer.
It’s not that she doesn’t have her weaknesses. Her durability just isn’t there when she’s focused. She can be one-shot by a well aimed Battleship salvo and crippled by the same from a cruiser. She doesn’t do well against attack planes. But these aren’t enough to offset just how good she can be in my opinion. Performance wise, she sits in a nice happy medium ranking among all of the tier 8 cruisers. Do not let this fool you. If you fancy yourself an expert and enjoy the IJN Heavy Cruisers, you will find the Atago not only to be a comfortable fit but a pleasure.
Kitted out for anti-destroyer work, my Atago in Ranked Battles is a dream machine.
Would I recommend?
I love this ship. I cannot stress that enough. She’s well worth her price. There’s nothing ‘wrong’ with the Atago if the cost isn’t a concern of yours. Be aware that unlike the Myoko or the Mogami, she doesn’t have the same versatility. Her lack of AA power makes her a more specialized vessel, good at hunting, killing — not so much protecting and escorting.
You have some choices when you’re kitting out your Atago. But I’ll explain how I have equipped mine for Ranked Battles and why.
- Your first slot is easy. Main Battery Modification 1 is the only one that makes sense.
- Gun Fire Control Modification 1 should be your choice for your second slot. This tightens up the already accurate spread of the 203mm rifles.
- For your third slot, it’s really up to you — they’re all “meh” choices in my opinion. I make use of Damage Control System Modification 1. Steering Gear Modification 1 isn’t a bad choice though.
- For your fourth slot, the best choice is Steering Gear Modification 2 to reduce her rudder shift time.
- For your fifth slot, I would strongly recommend Concealment Modification 1 to reduce her surface detection range.
The Atago has four consumables.
- I use the premium Damage Control Party II. This has a 60s reset timer instead of 90s — invaluable when fighting gets hot.
- Instead of Defensive Fire, I swap it out for the premium Hydroacoustic Search II. The premium version gives an extra charge and shortens the reset timer down to 120s. I use this anytime I suspect that a destroyer is the vessel spotting me. This will automatically spot any vessel within 3.48km of the Atago, even outside of direct line of sight and increases the torpedo detection to 2.52km out. This will allow you to flush out destroyers from their smoke screens and give you ample warning to avoid their torpedo strikes.
- I use the basic Catapult Fighter 1. She’s normally active for 6 minutes. The premium version reduces the cool down from 3 minutes to 2 minutes. It doesn’t feel worthwhile to me.
- I use the premium Repair Party II consumable. This provides an extra charge (which is an extra 5600hp) and reduces the reset to 80s.
In addition to this, swap out her premium camouflage for concealment camouflage. This will result in reduced XP gains, but the extra stealth is well worth it.
Recommended Captain Skills:
The Atago may require a specialized captain. Because of her lack of AA power, she doesn’t gain very much from Basic Fire Training or Advanced Fire Training.
- For tier one, Situational Awareness should be your first choice.
- For tier two, Expert Marksman will hasten your turret rotation speed down to 26.1s.
- For tier three, Superintendent is your best choice, to add an additional charge to all of your mounted consumables, giving you an extra Repair Party and Hyroacoustic Search.
- For tier four, Demolition Expert is is your best choice, increasing the chance of fire on your main armament guns to 20%.
- For tier five, Concealment Expert is absolutely necessary to fully realize the Atago’s potential and opens up the stealth-firing meta with this ship.
Your next four points should go into Basics of Survivability and Vigilance.