Gaijin Entertainment, company behind IL-2 Sturmovik: Birds of Prey, Birds of Steel and Apache Air Assault is taking the next step in war simulator games. The latest entrant into this scenario, "Warthunder" has now entered stage two of the beta testing where land based warfare trials have commenced. Currently, we only have access to the aerial module and we take a look at that in this preview of Warthunder.
Hunger for Thunder
Simulator fans rejoice for Gaijin Entertainment is back with yet another great game which involves not only airplanes but also naval and ground warfare. WarThunder is being made to a much larger scale than all its predecessors and by the looks of it, it just might pull off what we’ve all been waiting for – a complete battle enactment with air, naval and ground elements combined.
A step back in time
The era on which WarThunder focuses is the period before World War 2 and the early Korean War though history nerds will be more than happy to point out discrepancies with both. There are plenty of aircrafts to snuggle your bottoms into and speed into the battle and currently you have five nations to owe your loyalty too including England, Germany, USA, Russia and Japan. If bi-planes are what you prefer then the Po-2 is at your disposal or maybe you’d prefer a MiG-15 to blow the li’l Po-2 to smithereens. However, we doubt that will ever happen given no sensible matchmaking will ever put two aircraft of two separate era in combat. But as we’ve seen in World of Tanks where joining a platoon could let a Tier-2 choo-choo get in on the action beside Tier-9 mammoths, even this game could allow for something like that. After all, it’s still in Open Beta phase.
Oooh What huge maps you have
The “small” maps stand at a mere 65 kilometers x 65 kilometers. That’s pretty much essential for high speed aircraft but there is the option of flying across 200 kilometers x 200 kilometers maps as well. The terrain is based on real-life battle scenarios of that bygone era and with 6 players on each side to act it out the matches don’t feel like a lacklustre experience especially for keyboard and mouse fanatics. The graphical detailing of each aircraft including the cockpit are pretty darn good and with a good system one could make a machinima that would feel just as real as the movies.
Majestic maps modeled on real world terrain await your presence
As of now the game is far from being finished with more and more components undergoing Beta Testing and only the lucky ones can play with Tanks and Airplanes. The rest of us common folk are limited to flying airplanes. The choice of aircraft that one can pilot is decided by your rank. So we all start off with Rank 0 reserve aircrafts till one collects 120,000 exp to advance to Rank 1 where the action finally starts and you’ll notice that you die a lot more than you kill – absolutely normal pattern. More and more features are being released one after the other so in order to experience the full gameplay we’ll have to wait for a while but till then airplanes are more than sufficient to keep you glued to the screen, after all there are 5 million other players as of now.
There are three game modes currently:
1. Arcade battles
The simplest mode and also the most fun for newbies is the arcade mode where you don’t even bother with the takeoff or landing. The very first match I got into I managed to kill off 6 planes and pillboxes with absolutely no training. All because the physics are greatly simplified which means you’ll rarely die of anything but sheer stupidity. The wings don’t come off when you go into a steep dive and recover just as easily and turning in what purists would call an unnatural manner. However, not all aspects of reality are bumped off, the heavier aircraft still feel so and the difference in agility is quite noticeable.
2. Historical battles
This mode starts off with a tutorial on learning how to takeoff and land an aircraft and isn’t a difficult prospect compared to most flight simulators since the controls are still pretty simple and one can takeoff and land using just the mouse. This is the arena where realism has been ramped up a bit and the planes need to be handled a lot better if you wish to “keep your wings”, literally. The aspect of takeoffs and landing comes into play when you have to capture key airstrips and to re-fuel.
3. Full real battles
And finally, we have the mode where the gameplay could either put you off forever or keep you glued forever. Everything about this mode feels real, you are limited to the cockpit view which itself pulls you away from the rear camera view that one is accustomed to. Real battles like the Battle of Guam, The attack on Pearl Harbour , Battle of the Bulge etc, are some of those that you can re-enact.The detailing in the cockpit might be too mesmerising for you to pay attention to the actual battle scene but then again the maps aren’t exactly simple either. When you get hit you will know how helpless pilots of that era felt. This mode requires you to switch to a joystick to get the full experience.
Blaze of glory? I say not!
The payment model is F2P with the choice of buying premium currency to speed up your progress through the ages though there really isn’t any need to spend money unless you wish to own premium only aircraft which would be unattainable for a F2P account.
With these games, the multiplayer aspect is what excites most people but for the rest there are sixty single player missions and thirteen campaigns which re-enact historical battles during the second world war. Experience is gained via the single player missions as well and it’s advisable to give it a go if you wish to get into a Rank 1 aircraft faster than grinding through multiplayer battles.
For consoles too
That’s right, the game has already been released to those in the EU who own a PS4 and even Mac owners can partake in the open beta. There hasn’t been any news of a release on the XBOX ONE but with the hardware being similar to the PS4 it wouldn’t be a surprise if we see a release for the Microsoft console as well.
By release you'll be torpedoing ships played by humans and not NPCs
The game is far from being complete but with what we’ve seen so far and given the previous games Gaijin has come out with, this one should be fun for years to come. The game has me sold over the combat and the realism aspect but one can never underestimate if a drastic change in the future could wreck the experience completely but till then I’d give it two thumbs up. Now where did I put my pesky MiG-9...