It’s a big week for Gaijin Entertainment and their free-to-play smash hit War Thunder. The online WWII PvP flight sim finally made its way to consoles and is now available on the PlayStation 4 with its new Ground Forces expansion. Just like Wargaming.net has World of Tanks and World of Warplanes, so to do does War Thunder now have aerial and tank combat.
Active veteran players who may have been playing the game since it hit open beta on PC in November 2012 will know that this weekend, War Thunder is celebrating the 70th anniversary of D-Day and players can complete tasks and earn in-game bonuses for jumping in.
Having re-installed the game on PC this week to try out Ground Forces as it releases on PS4 as well, our focus was on seeing the tank mode in action which was added as part of the 1.41 update in mid-May. Currently, Ground Forces is only in open beta with only two of the five nations (Germany and the Soviet Union) available for selection.
The tank research trees for each faction and customization/weapon trees for each individual tank type functions in the exact same way the air forces and individual planes do, so playing with armor will feel happily familiar for experienced pilots.
For our test, in the video up top, we simply chose USSR and the starter light tank. Just like there are varying sizes of aircraft, from one-pilot fighters to large-crew heavy bombers, there are all sorts of different tanks with different size cannons and secondary/tertiary weapons. Aiming at enemy tanks to take out members of their crew is essential to successfully knocking units off the battlefield.
As a free-to-play game, upgrading tanks and unlocking additional vehicles through progression simply requires playing the game and grinding it out. War Thunder frequently offers several layers of rewards to keep players playing and that’s evident after every match where in-game currency and research points are handed out. Additional rewards are given for other things like simply logging in a lot or completing challenges/achievements.
The monetization aspect comes in if players wish to buy visual customization options, such as paint jobs and extra decals for their planes. These, along with premium vehicles and the ability to convert generic research points into usable points, all require “Golden Eagles” – the premium currency attainable through spending real-life money. So far, there doesn’t seem to be any pay-to-win downfall with this system and having not invested in the game myself, I do have a pile of aircraft for the U.S. faction.
Be warned – War Thunder does have quite the learning curve, especially for aerial combat and especially if you plan to try out the realistic/sim modes. It’s a challenge to find the right set of sensitivities and settings to master a joystick and the game’s Air Battles are almost unplayable in our experience using an Xbox 360-style gamepad. Mouse and keyboard are usable, maybe even better for aiming, but you lose that precision over maneuvering the aircraft with a joystick.
For the tank battles, we prefer mouse and keyboard, as demonstrated in the video although we’ve yet try the DualShock 4 on PS4 to see how it handles with tanks or planes. War Thunder sadly isn’t coming to Xbox One (right yet, anyway) because of Microsoft’s limitations on free-to-play titles and cross-platform play.
War Thunder is currently available in open beta on PC and PlayStation 4.
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