From the developer that brought players the popular tactical tank MMO game World of Tanks, Wargaming.net now looking to dominate the friendly (or not to friendly) skies with World of Warplanes. Set in the “golden age” of warplanes, World of Warplanes starts very simply with single-engine biplanes and currently ends with Korean War-age fighters that paved the way for today’s modern attack aircraft.
Playing in the closed beta, only the standard gameplay features and options were available, such as the graphics (which are automatically set based on computer performance), audio, and controls. World of Warplanes offers quite a lot of control options, ranging from simple mouse gameplay to more intricate commands that players can use on the keyboard. A joystick though, seemed to be the best option for complete control, especially one that has programmable buttons. All of these settings can be modified in the controls section, making it very easy for a novice or an expert alike to play how they want to play.
There are basic tutorials that cover how to fly the plane, and perhaps these tutorials will be more fleshed out when the game launches, because for the beta, they were extremely lacking, and they only offer basic tutorial help when using the mouse (no tutorial support for joystick). There are also no combat tutorials yet in the game.
This is where the learning curves takes off exponentially. I found myself, having experienced the basic tutorials, completely ill-prepared for the first battle, even though I was flying one of the better planes in the game, the F-86 Sabre. The controls seemed sluggish when trying to turn, and the plane kept stalling. Granted, this may have something to do with the fact that I was trying to fly the Sabre like an X-Wing, but even after realizing that flying with gravity was completely different than the endless vacuum of space, the plane controls still seemed to respond slower than anticipated. Perhaps this is by design as a balancing issue though.
While learning how to fly is easy, mastering the flight mechanics is tough. It is very difficult to target enemy planes and get them in the plane’s sites long enough to pepper them with bullets (let alone shoot them down) and this is the biggest difference from the familiar World of Tanks where players can planet themselves and simply fire away. Players have to be mindful of how they’re flying when engaging in an attack: it is easy for the plane to stall if there is too much of an ascent, or to crash into the ground/water if the plane is not pulled up in time after a ground attack. The action is frantic and battles do not take very long at all, usually five to seven minutes at most.
There are three nations represented in the closed beta of World of Warplanes: Germany, the Soviet Union, and the United States, each with 19 unique historical craft to choose from. Planes are purchased with in-game credits which are earned for completing objectives in battles. There are three different plane styles to choose from: single-engine fighters, heavy fighters, and attack aircraft which specialize in attacking ground targets with heavier guns and bombs. While attack aircraft do have bombs available to use, they are extremely difficult to use properly since lining up a ground target in the bomb sights is very challening – I repeatedly kept missing targets (and usually crashed or was shot down as a result).
There were missing elements to the beta that will help define the game at launch, including the customizing of aircraft, purchasing of upgrades, clan battles, and varied mission objectives. Planes also were automatically repaired (and credits deducted) after battles, a feature that will likely be modified to match World of Tanks. Completing mission objectives is also the only way to currently obtain credits, and with so few objectives available in the beta, it was tough to completely evaluate that portion of the game.
Like Tanks, Warplanes doesn’t seem to allow players to set their battles, and auto-balances the planes for each air skirmish based on the plane’s tier. With limited players in the closed beta, it was frustrating at times to have 100 players available only to play a 3 x 3 battle when there is room for plenty more and no way to adjust this. Occasionally the balancing mechanic gets stumped, and pits two or three tier 10 planes against seven or eight tier 3 planes. Those battles were not fun, especially when everyone is gunning for the press preview guy.
The game is fairly stable and, despite all commands being issued on the server, there were no apparent hiccups in the actual gameplay. Flight simulation fans should probably give this a look when it’s released, and fans of World of Tanks will definitely want to check it out as it feels like a naturally expansion of the franchise.
World of Warplanes is currently in closed beta on the PC has no official release date.
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