After producing the smash hit World of Tanks, Wargaming has taken to the skies with World of Warplanes. Unlike most flight games, however, it doesn’t cater to the flightstick-wielding virtual pilot, but to the audience of its precursor. Making an aviation-combat game accessible to an audience so used to being glued to the earth in hulking warmachines is easily what World of Warplanes does best; but it likely wont hold the attention of anyone who’s grown accustomed to more intricate aerial combat games.
There are currently two modes of play: Training and Battle. Training mode is a series of three lessons that will give you a firm grip on the basics — maneuvering and shooting — while Battle is, of course, the game’s main attraction. Your team of fifteen players is set against another team of fifteen in an all-out deathmatch. The mode can either be won by eliminating the enemy team, or by gaining superiority in destroying the buildings that rest on the enemy’s side of the map. The latter means of end, however, never really comes about organically. As it turns out, most every player is much more interested in pursuing enemy planes than destroying ground targets. Even though dropping bombs on things can be pretty satisfying, there’s no need to learn any sort of take-off, or landing procedure, as matches begin and end in the sky.
The game quite literally has no barrier of entry, which is of course a plus in the free-to-play market, but its simplicity does its lasting-power no favors. Rather than taking direct control of the plane’s every twist and turn, most will gravitate toward the mouse-control option. With it, all you have to do is position the reticle-fixed camera in either the direction you wish to travel, or at the enemy you wish to shoot at. The plane will then automatically orient itself to face the direction you’ve chosen – ultimately allowing you to hit your target — often with very little fuss. It certainly isn’t the most satisfying means of flight, but as mouse precision is so exact, it’s a worthy option.
Those who wish to use a flightstick can do so, as they’re supported, but don’t expect to have an edge as you would in a more reality-based flight-sim. It isn’t all bad for stick enthusiasts, however, as while using the mouse allows for very accurate shots, the flightstick will afford you freedom of movement — which can admittedly be quite helpful if you plan on doing bombing-runs on the enemy’s buildings. But as far as engaging in dogfights go, you’ll have to manually make every twist and turn while trying to track your opponent. All the mouse user has to do in the same situation is point their reticle in your general direction, and the computer will take care of all of the maneuvering. In short, if you use a flightstick, don’t expect to come out ahead in aerial duels.
With its arcadey flight-model, World of Warplanes is rather simple. Unlike in World of Tanks where a great deal of tactical know-how is demanded, and each match plays-out quite differently than the last, there’s no genuinely different experiences to be had from match to match here. You move full-speed toward your enemies, and do your best to take them out, and that’s pretty much it. The only real alternative action is to bomb enemy buildings which — while fun — doesn’t really aid your team in winning.
Like World of Tanks, World of Warplanes has a ridiculous amount of unlockable vehicles. Planes are classified as one of three different classes: Fighters (ideal for Dogfights), Heavy Fighter (more powerful than Fighters, but not as maneuverable), and Attack Planes (perfect for destroying the enemy’s buildings). The game boasts containing over one-hundred genuine planes from five different factions (Britain, USA, Germany, Soviet Union, Japan), the amount of which is simply staggering. When the game begins, players are given a set of biplanes that were used by each faction. As things progress, newer and newer planes are unlocked until some early fighter-jets are obtained. Each one unlocked is newer, and more powerful than the last.
As this is a free-to-play game, there’s plenty of incentive to spend real-world money on it. There are three forms of currency in-game: XP, Credits and Gold. XP is earned through taking part in battles, and is used to research planes and plane components. Credits are also gained naturally through play, and can be used to purchase either mid-battle consumables, or previously-researched aircraft/components. Gold, on the other hand, is the premium currency. Luckily, its uses are mostly for cosmetic/convenience items; whether it be a skin for your plane, or a garage space that allows you to own more planes at once. Gold can also be converted into either XP or Credits. While planes of every tier are technically unlockable for free players, the amount of time that needs to be spend with the game to pay for the high-tier planes is sort of ridiculous.
Luckily, those who go the out-of-pocket route of buying planes wont really have an advantage over others, as matches are made with each plane’s tier in mind. There are a total of ten tiers of planes, with each one more powerful than the last, but you’ll never be fighting against someone whose plane is more than a few tiers higher than yours. Microtransactions are often a dirty word in the video game industry, but Wargaming continues to use them in a pretty unobtrusive fashion.
World of Warplanes is a lot of fun and will satisfy fans of World of Tanks who are looking for a different-yet-familiar experience. Unfortunately, it doesn’t do anything particularly special that other flight games don’t. It’s an arcade flyer through-and-through, with only one true mode of play and incredibly undemanding gameplay. It’s successful at being accessible, addictive, pretty, and fun in its own way, however, which should prove enough for the World of Tanks crowd to become addicted all over again.