The war gamers are most famous for their wildly popular (over 60 million registered players) land based World War II simulator, World of Tanks, but that’s not stopping them from tackling land, sea (World of Warships – coming soon) and air.
Over the weekend I hopped into the cockpit to give Warplanes a go and within minutes I was having tons of fun as I shot through the wild blue yonder. Not gracefully mind you, and usually straight into the ground… but I was flying!
Thanks to the incredibly intuitive mouse controls (there’s no need for a big, clunky flightstick) and simplicity of the interface, I was able to grasp the basics almost as quickly as a baby penguin take to water. But grasping basics and mastering them are two very different things.
Most flight sims in the past had huge learning curves: manuals as thick as phone books, calibrating joysticks, remembering keyboard shortcuts, adjusting flaps and what not. Wargaming.net has eliminated almost all of that. You steer by pointing your mouse in the direction you want to go. Airspeed is shown to the left of the crosshairs, and the altimeter is on your right. Hit “W” for a boost (keep an eye on this as you can burn out your motor if you’re too liberal with it), the left mouse button fires your weapons… and that’s it. You don’t even have to worry about taking off or landing because that’s just boring.
From 1930’s biplanes to Korean War jet fighters, players have a virtual hangar full of unique planes to choose from. Warbirds from the U.S., Germany, Japan, and the U.S.S.R. are currently available and are grouped into three main classes. Light and fast single-engine fighters are good for dogfights. Heavy fighters are ideal for deadly straight attacks, and ground-attack aircraft should be used to blast ground targets.
After dashing through a tutorial training session designed to get you on your way quickly, you start off in your hangar with four biplanes. As you play you earn virtual currency to purchase upgrades and better aircraft. You can even buy new planes with real money. Once you’ve picked and prepped your bird for battle you have a few options.
Standard Battle Modes drops you into a randomly generated, 15-minute aerial battle between two teams of 15 aircraft. I tried this without doing any training and died so fast (and so often) I quickly opted for some training in order to hone what little aerial skills I possessed. Single Battle pits you against bots in Standard Battle mode. Team Training lets you create a “Training Room”, select maps and invite friends. Which will come in handy because teamwork is a big component of being successful.
If you’re a die-hard simmer looking for realism this probably isn’t the game for you. But if you’re like the rest of us who are just looking for a little glory among the clouds… World of Warplanes is your ticket to fly the unfriendly skies!