Wargaming.net is a company that’s been around for about thirteen years, and who are most notably known for the game World of Tanks, which is a free-to-play MMO based around tank combat.

In the next year they are gearing up for their new release World of Warplanes, a title that’s aimed at bringing in a bigger audience especially one in North America.

For those who are unfamiliar with World of Tanks, let us give you a brief explanation. The game is, for the most part, Counter-Strike with tanks. Players can choose from about 250 different tanks from America, Russia and Germany. When speaking with Victor Kislyi, the CEO of Wargaming.net, he stated that one year after launching World of Tanks the player base has grown to over 20 million users worldwide.

World of Tanks has become very successful, though much of this success and most of the fans of the game, are in Russia and Europe. This is due to two factors: one, much of the initial testing and marketing was done for the European countries, with North America getting into the game late. The other factor is more cultural. Many of the world’s major tank battles took place across the Atlantic in Europe and Russia, thus a tank combat game will be much more appealing to someone in a Russian speaking country than over here in the U.S.

World of Warplanes PAX East Preview Dogfight

World of Warplanes was made to appeal to not only the American audience but other nations that had strong air superiority during war. Also unlike the initial testing phase for World of Tanks, Warplanes is now in a global alpha testing. North American audiences will now have more of an influence on the development on the game – as an open beta will happen after E3 2012.

World of Warplanes will have about 2000 different planes players will get to take to the skies in fierce area combat. These planes will hail from all of the major superpowers including the United States, Britain, Japan and Germany. Players will also get to fly planes from smaller nations like the Czech Republic and Italy. These planes will range from those of the 1930’s up until the Korean War, prior to heat seeking missile technology.

Players will take part in 15 vs 15 air battles that bring in random players by default. There’s also the option to team up with friends in their own squadrons. There will also be PvE (player vs environment) missions where players can take command of bombers to attack convoys and other ground targets. Training missions with bots will be implemented for newcomers to earn their wings.

World of Warplanes is not a flight sim. Those looking for a simulation will have to look elsewhere, because gameplay is designed to be accessible – to appeal to a wide audience. World of Tanks offers simple keyboard and mouse controls, similar to many FPS titles, so everyone can learn the controls quickly. World of Warplanes will offer these same controls – and with future options for control pads.

World of Warplanes PAX East Preview Bomber Attack

Wargaming.net has designed the free-to-play model so that it doesn’t give a huge advantage to those paying money. In-game currency can be purchased to repair planes quicker, give an XP boost or make cosmetic changes, like camouflage. It balances out so that a student with little money but lots of time can see everything in the game, while a busy business man can pay and catch up to those with more time.

In World of Tanks there’s a mode called Clan Wars, where clans can take part in a Risk-style game for territory on a map of Europe. This mode gets highly competitive and can lead to a bit a drama reminiscent of what goes on in EVE Online. This is a mode that will no doubt make its way into World of Warplanes due to it’s popularity in World of Tanks. At the moment there are about 5,000 clans in WoT.

World of Warplanes is a game that will definitely be a competitor in this exponentially growing market of free-to-play games, and has the potential to surpass World of Tanks. During our preview Kislyi also confirmed that World of Battleships is in the works, but won’t be ready for a official announcement until the end of the year.

World of Warplanes is expected to launch by the end of 2012 for PC.

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