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War Thunder – What’s that on the sky? Is it plane? Why, yes it is!

When we play with War Thunder we will feel like a star of a World War Two movie. This feeling is created by Gaijin Entertainment’s new combat simulator, which blends epic air and land battles into one. We can enjoy the battles of five nations with more than dozen war planes, tanks, and fight for victory on the battlefields of 1939-1945. Although combat can feel a bit chaotic due to the many setting options, but the intensive combat, and the variety of difficulty modes balance out this chaos.

War Thunder can be deconstructed into pretty clear categoris. The full game can be downloaded for free, however within the game you can buy experience, vehicles for real money. However we do can still buy these same items ingame without the use of real money, it will just take more time. Combat can be divided into two parts. If we select air combat, we will have the option to choose from two types of planes: Fighter or Bomber planes. Land combt has the usual tanks and armored vehicles up for selection.  Each session can be played by up to thirty-two players which are picked from ten thousands of online players, from all over the world. So this gives us the perfect opportunity to relive the epic combats of World War Two.

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On land, and in the air also?

When air combat is selected there are three selectable difficulties, so that those who are not of the hardcore simulator side of dogfights can also have a fair match in this game. What does this mean in terms of gameplay? The type of flight can be from arcadey to realistic, but those who are brave enough and skillfull can choose the simulator mode.  Arcade mode is the easiest and is recomended for all beginners as we immideately start in the air with infinite ammunition. In realistic setting we have to take off and land our plane, with limited supplies. The simulation mode is also entirely different as you now start in first person view inside the cockpit of the plane, and you will also have to battle physics not just the other players. Those who select this last setting should probably have years of Flight Simulator experience as the game will not be enjoyable for them.

It is no wonder that most players choose the arcade setting, which is pure adrenaline fueled energy pumped into our tiny skulls. The physics of the flying in this setting are forgiving and you can easily pull off more flashy moves in the air with your plane (without the fear of your wing getting torn out by good ol Mr Newton). We also do not have to be too accurate when it comes to shooting and reloading is also done in a few seconds, which is a pretty big help for larger battles. At least we will be able to focus more on shooting down our enemy or bombing a ground target.

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Is it really that simple?

Things start to get a little bit more difficult if we pick realistic or simulation settings. In these cases we have to think more tactically. The physics has more of an effect on the planes. This will be more noticeable on the 1930-s planes, with the WW II. planes such as the Spitfire or the Hurricane these elements on the difficulty settings are less demanding on the player. Attacks have to be carried out precisely and carefully.

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In case of escaping a failed attack, maneuvering can is also a key factor, as stalling can happen or our wing can break off. Stalling will be a common occurrence during maneuvering, we cannot keep our eyes constantly on the proper speed. If stalling does happen, it can take a lot of time and practice to get out of it mid flight. We will especially need adequate altitude. The same patience and leavel-headedness will be required for shooting down enemies. As our supply of ammuntion is limited we must always try to shoot for a clear target. If we waste all our ammo, then the sound of an empty click can ruin an important dogfight in a match for us.

Patience is key in aerial combat. There are significantly less people play under these difficulty modes, and it can take a lot of time for a session to start. It can take up to five minutes at times and the worst is when people grow tired of waiting and switch back to arcade mode. Where waiting time is around 30 seconds. Which is a bit shame since these two “realistic“ modes require a different method of thinking and tactics that cannot be just ignored to gain quick wins.

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Heavy metal tracks

The ground combat is much more generic, of course it depends on the difficulty settings here too. Here the three modes create also a differences on how the player handles the vehicle. We turn quicker in arcade mode, and we will be able to “dig ourselves in” slower than in the simulation setting. Due to this ground combat will feel like a shooter, so these are more popular for the playerbase than aerial combat. Every vehicle is perfectly modeled including control and armor design. This is great as the game does not devolve into mindless shootfest, but will let you take advantage of the vehicle’s capabilities. With some tanks we have to be sneaky, firing from cover, with others we can go all out and into the heat of battle.

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Control?  Are you there?

There is a really steep difference between ground and aerial combat when it comes to controlling our vehicles. The PS4’s controller does the job well, and we will only have issues in a few special cases. Simulator setting will test your mettle especially if the analog controller is used. The game requires a lot of smooth handling, and if we even move the stick a little bit too far it can than planed we could end up dead. The same can happen with our tanks, because of we roam the battlefield at break-neck speed, a bad move and we might end up in a ditch.  Shooting is also difficult as carelessness will mess up our aim.

Although we can switch either movement or aiming to the touchpad, so that it will feel like if we were playing with a PC mouse. Although those who are able to use the touchpad for this game, I will raise my imaginary hat for them.

The touchpad is not that entirely useless, while do not use it for ingame controlling, navigating the menu is still great. As the game’s main focus is combat the menu system is identical in both versions. Which might create some issues for PS4 users as the menu system is quite complex and layered. The difficulty setting, and the vehicle customization is all done via menus. In such cases the touchpad is the ideal way of navigating, although it can cause some problems due to the pointer being small and at times unnoticeable.

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To pay or not to pay? That is the question of my vallet

One of the best things about War Thunder is that it lets us customize the vehicles and the crew in multiple ways. There are over one hundered tanks and planes in the game, but these have to be purchased ingame.  The currency can be acquired two ways. We play battles and after every battle we get rewarded, or we buy it with real money. Same is in place for parts or crew experience.

Even though the skill tree looks complicated the game does not force us to buy ourselves to victory. The game does not force us to buy parts constantly if we do not wish to rush through the skill tree, and we can fight for every tiny part upgrade, the game will let us do that and be fair about it.

The themes of war

When we enter the main menu, the game’s music will strike us immediately as the correct way to provide us with ambience. It sets the tone, just like as if we were marching to glorious battle in real life, or as if in a big budget WW II. movie. The levels are well designed, and some are levels of actual WW II battles.  The authenticity of the vehicles are unbelievable and there are a lot of them to play with in this game. The battles are also very atmospheric as we roll through the hillside over the ruined cities of the levels. Thus creating a perfect experience. One of the bigger problems however is that we cannot enjoy the beautiful levels’ every detail. There are lot of online games on the market, but few of them allow us to play with so many players without sacrificing framerate.

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Summa War Thunderum

War Thunder is perfectly built online action game, where we can easily get lost in the level’s details, enjoy the action, with a wide array of vehicles to choose from. We also have three different playstyles to choose from and the updates are regular from the developers. This pretty much sums up the game. However the developers are not stopping here, as they will include soon naval combat, which will provide us with new and exciting challenges.

-Malachit-


Pro:

+ Wide array of customization
+ Arcade mode is really great for some hectic aerial combat
+ Cinematic experience while playing the game

Kontra:

– Takes a bit of learning. Steep learning curve
– Difficult menu system


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Editor: Gaijin Entertainment
Publisher: Gaijin Entertainment
Genres: action-simulation, simulation, MMO
Publication: 2013 December 12 (beta), 2014 June (final)

 


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