Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Soaring Wonder - War Thunder Review

   War Thunder is a combat flight simulation game created by Gaijin Entertainment and currently in open beta. More than just a little ambitious, this flight sim aims to be as accurate as possible while still being a playable game for the masses. Some aspects of the game will be familiar to you if you have ever played World of Tanks, however many players currently consider War Thunder to simply be a much better game.

Now why would they think that...?
   This is definitely a very polished game. The developers seemed to have gone through extreme lengths to make the game very immersive with huge battlefields, breathtaking graphics, and interesting gameplay tweaks. I hope you have some free time on hand because this game just might consume you with everything it has to offer.
   Gameplay: Entertaining
   When you start the game, you will be given a short tutorial explaining the basic controls before being let loose to cause some low-tier havoc on your fellow newbies. After getting used to flying, more and more details will reveal themselves to you such as effective evasive maneuvers and where to aim at an enemy craft to do the most damage, making the learning curve for War Thunder both comfortable and steady. Soon, you will understand how to fly without spinning out of control or causing your pilot to blackout. You may even become good enough to be an ace, confidently and consistently winning dogfights.

Study up.
   Even if that never happens, the game does not force you to directly engage other players in combat. Most objectives either include destroying or consist of destroying ground units, which are slow and easy to take down, provided you don't crash in the attempt. There is even an offline campaign if you just want to fight computer-controlled opponents.
   Essentially, your experience should turn into a hectic battle of wits and positioning as you destroy as much as possible without getting destroyed yourself. After all, even if you get shot and someone takes out your fuel source, you can still conceivably land back at base and get repairs.

Like this but on an airstrip.
   There is enough to think about when getting into a fight to make the whole system seem very well thought out.

   Difficulty: Variable
   War Thunder has three different difficulty modes available for every type of play. Arcade Battle, Historical Battle (HB), and Full Real Battle (FRB). Arcade mode is basically easy mode, your plane being easily controlled using just your mouse. In addition, which country you're playing as doesn't matter and you will always start the game in the air. Historical seems to be closer to how the game was meant to be played, as handling of the plane gets significantly harder. You can lose control of your aircraft if you aren't flying properly, fuel becomes a thing, and the country you chose becomes important. More controls than just the mouse start to come into play, and weapons do more damage.

In other words, your plane went from cardboard to tin foil.
   Full real is similar to Historical, except controls are even harder and you're restricted to cockpit view. Don't worry though. War Thunder will never force you onto a specific difficulty mode, so you can just play on Arcade forever if you wish.

   Crew System: Interesting
   Each country starts off with three "hangars" for slotting in different planes (you can buy more slots using Lions). Each hangar has it's own "crew" who are independent to the planes put into the hangar and as you use the planes slotted into a given hangar, that crew will gain training points. Training will help your crewmen, including your pilot and gunners, perform better. All there needs to be is an option to give your pilot a name and we would be all set. You can change the voice of your pilot in the options menu, but a little more customization or personalization would be nice.

   Aerobatics: Wheeeee!

   Press L while flying to let out aerobatic smoke. The smoke doesn't last long, but it's a cool visual effect. You can change its color in the options menu, too.

   Mission Mode: Nice Addition
   As mentioned before, there are a bevy of non-PvP missions available. These are modeled after historical battles from various time periods and you can play them in a party of up to four people. They are actually pretty well constructed, though perhaps a bit on the easy side. Since you don't use your own plane in these battles, these missions can give you a good preview of the aircraft you will end up piloting later on. Along with normal missions, there is also a "dynamic campaign". The dynamic campaign plays you through a string of missions based around a particular war, though it seems to be missing a save feature.
   If you are feeling creative, you can also create your own missions through the mission editor. Options are a bit scarce, in my opinion, but with time it might become more advanced.

   Advancement: Slow
   As you play, you will of course want to get something better than the crap you start off with. You acquire "Lions" and experience for things such as hitting/destroying targets and finishing matches. However, while gains start off fine, they can a bit slow if you are trying to reach the faster, stronger, fancier aircraft. This is remedied through the use of cash (or "Golden Eagles") which can be directly converted into Lions and experience points. Cash isn't essential, just keep in mind that you won't be starting the game immediately on the wings of angels. Not for free anyway.

Died less than three seconds later.
   Repairs: Pricy
   While prices start off fine, repairing higher tier planes can be a bit crazy. I don't know much about this firsthand, but multiple players have complained about certain planes costing more to use than they earn on the field. This, hopefully, will be something that will be fixed soon, but I feel it deserves mentioning.

   Final Score: 4.5 out of 5

   Sufficed to say, if you love flying you will love this game. It has its occasional hiccups, but the gameplay is very deep and satisfying. War Thunder may seem a bit slow when you start, but put some effort into it and it all becomes very rewarding. Give it a whirl, it won't disappoint.

Bonus! Mission mode. I still managed to crash. :(
   Extra Things to Know
   - There is bullet dropoff.
   - There is a limit on the rewards you can get from single player missions per day.
   - Bring a joystick! War Thunder supports them.
   - Planes are fragile. Avoid getting hit by anything.
   - Each country gets double experience for their first win every day. Make sure to branch out.
   - You can leave a match midway through. You will still receive awards based on your contribution when that match finishes.
   - Up to 32 players can be in the same room.
   - You can modify a couple plane parts after you have used them for long enough.
   - Expect a large playerbase.
   - Read the in-game encyclopedia.
   - Play through the tutorials. Golden Eagles are given for completing the three basic ones.


  1. Good overview without getting too far into the details.

    And, despite the poster's comments above me... there are still plenty of us who care about gameplay enough to appreciate a good write-up and will take the time to read it.

  2. I think the first dude is a certified troll. Good review, congrats!

    1. The first reply is from a friend. He's just trolling, ignore him. XD

  3. The game starts off good, but after a time it becomes repetitive and boring.

    There is much much more that is wrong with this game.

    Joysticks suck, almost impossible to use. Leave your joysticks at home. Mouse aim is so powerful that I would consider it to be broken. For the most part, once someone gets on your ass you may as well just run into the ground.

    There is no real team play.

    Maps,in arcade spawn, everyone on top of each other. Horrible horrible set up.

    Match making is fubar.

    Bombers are garbage.

    Team mates....LOL.

    Could go on. There is potential, but this game needs a lot of work.

    1. I thought about saying something about the joystick issue in the review, but I saw a lot of debate about it on the forums. Without access to a joystick myself, I felt I would be talking out of my behind if mentioned it.

      I disagree with your assertion about bombers being garbage. They do what they were designed to do and upgraded gunners can easily wreck most players. Of course, fighters with cannons still take them down without much issue, but cannons seem to take everything down.

      No game is perfect of course, and I thank you for leaving a comment. :)

  4. Why are you reviewing a game in BETA?
    At most it should be called a preview.

    There are still plenty of features to come: clan support, economy update, new planes, changes to FM's/DM's, etc. (these will come in the next patch), and other stuff including the main feature of the game - World war mode.

    A few complaints about the review itself:
    - Screenshots should be made while the game is running high quality, try to get some action in them, or something unique about the game or the situation you are describing. Also the 4th image looks like the game was bugged.

    - You have not discussed the economy enough, as you do not say how many hours it takes to get to a certain level, how much will it cost. Give people a landmark so they know what they are getting into.
    Also, try asking Gaijin for access to a press account. It will allow you to see things from your perspective, and you will not be forced to look in the forums for the people's opinions.

    A few other complaints:
    - Website looks bad, remove the "Awesome Inc. template. Powered by Blogger." thingy from the bottom, you are free to remove the Donate button as well, Rely on gaming adds instead.
    - Use a custom theme for the front page. While this layout is acceptable for the review, it is not really good for the first page. Try making the website more attractive.
    - Better logo
    - Give the scoring system a meaning. What is the 4.5/5 at the end? How was it obtained? Based on your personal experience, based on other people's experience (feedback of the playerbase?), is it a average of other scores you gave for different categories?

    1. It's OPEN beta. The game is fleshed out enough and there is a cash shop available. Just because the game is completely finished does not mean it can not be reviewed. After all, developers tend to want feedback during betas.

      I can't run the game in high quality without it lagging, and War Thunder isn't particularly action packed. You can do a Google search for images of this game, most of them are just close-ups of the planes. I do admit, though, screenshots of planes exploding would have been more exciting.

      I have mixed feelings about press accounts and even more doubt that I would be able to get one for use in my blog, but I'll attempt asking for one in the future. Thanks for the suggestion.

      It hadn't occurred to me to remove the attribution because it wasn't possible in the layout options. Among Googling it, it seems it is possible, and I'll try to do that. I'm not removing my own donate button, because that would be foolish. Ads aren't really making me any money.

      Can you be more specific about the themes? And more specific about the logo?

      Scoring system is explained in the About page. It is mostly based on my personal experience.

  5. Joysticks are only worse than mouse and keyboard in arcade mode. Try full Realistic if you have one. As for spawn, in arcade mode there is an option to spawn on a runway, in Historical and Full realistic this is compulsary. Match making should improve after realease as more people get it and it is fine up to tier 3/4. Bombers are not underpowered but they require patience, also don't attak a H6K4 sea plane/bomber from behind. 20mm cannon hurt when they are aimed at your copit manually as a BF110 found out to his suprise.

  6. This game has amazing potential... with one HUGE notable exception: They made the "realism" of a pilot being shot, occur FAR TOO OFTEN. So often in fact, it completely ruins the fun/gameplay of what could have been an AMAZING game. It's so incredibly awful, so blatantly broken, that I actually deleted the game. It's really... that... bad. Don't waste your money and/or time until that "feature" is removed/fixed. You've been warned.