Release Date: November 13, 2013
Developer: Persha Studia, Wargaming.net
Publisher: Persha Studia, Wargaming.net
Genre: Action MMO
There are very few other online games out there today that have achieved such a newfound sense of fascination as the explosively addicting World of Tanks. So when Wargaming.net announced they would be taking their acclaimed World of Tanks formula and making it airborne, WoT cadets knew that only good things were to come. As a whole, World of Warplanes is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: massive 15-on-15 aerial dogfights with lots of customization options, but little variety in the actual form of gameplay or game modes. However, you’ll also be quick to find amazingly simple and intuitive controls, and extremely snappy firing mechanics. For Wargaming.net fans, and even those gamers who have just received their pilot’s license, World of Warplanes can be a sharp and fun surprise when taken in quick, but refined doses.
Sometimes hopping into a new multiplayer game can be a little intimidating at first, as there is usually so much you need to bring yourself up to speed on. Luckily, this is not at all the case with World of Warplanes. The controls are as wonderfully simple as using your mouse to steer, your left mouse button to fire, and the “W” button on your keyboard to engage your plane’s boosters. Everything about the way your many different planes cut through the air feels incredibly sharp and precise, from simple turn operations to more advanced drills like nose-diving or aerial rolls. Your dogfighters will fly themselves automatically, which turns out to be an especially nice touch to letting you keep the focus on outmaneuvering your opponents and firing your mounted guns.
I was actually surprised at how quickly the game was able to teach me the ropes before sending me off into the bullet-filled skies to fend for myself. Once you’ve made your way through the three brief tutorial missions, you’re free to click on the “Battle” button and let the real challenge begin by hopping onto the multiplayer servers. In a word, these 15-on-15 aerial dogfights are truly exhilarating to behold, with enemy planes flying every which way that you turn, and a healthy online community that never makes getting into a battle very much of challenge in of itself. And better yet, I was pleased to find during my time with World of Warplanes that the giant battles never took a toll on the actual game servers, making for a smooth and sweeping ride the entire time.
The best part about the actual gameplay is the way in which you’ll need to fire your guns in relation to how your target planes are moving: for instance, if your enemy is steering straight across the horizon, you’ll want to fire a volley of bullets ahead of him if you want to see the sparks fly. This mechanic is accentuated further by a predictive crosshair that makes lining up this strategic shooting a much more manageable affair, and provides a refreshing sense of depth to the core World of Warplanes gunplay. Trust me, things can get complicated real fast, as you try and blast an enemy in the middle of a barrel roll, while halfway through executing a nose-diver yourself.
While the environments themselves don’t particularly stand out from one another, the graphics are still especially crisp, and the animations are breathless as you watch your targets erupt into floating fireballs in the blink of an eye. You’ll also need to weave in and out of stationary defense measures on certain maps, like ground turrets, which serve to keep that playing field up in the great blue yonder of the clouds, and the view from above is so good that I once found myself so distracted by soaking in the visuals that I collided directly with the target plane I was pursuing (to another awesome and volatile effect).
Outside of the main multiplayer battles, you can spend a lot of time in your plane hangar, buying new planes and upgrading the ones you already own. And this is most likely the biggest draw that will keep World of Warplanes players always coming back for more: the immense amount of planes to fly in the game and the even vaster scale of customization. Seriously, it was almost overwhelming at first to scroll through the dozens upon dozens of planes and equipment variables that can be unleashed to the players over time, and for dogfighting enthusiasts, I can’t imagine another game with more: especially alongside a fairly generous free-to-play model.
Sadly, there are not NEARLY as many customization options when it comes to the actual game modes and matchmaking components. Once you hit that “Battle” button to begin another multiplayer bout, you’re immediately put into the queue line to await your turn at the next 15v15 battle. The battle types are always the same, too: two teams of 15 dogfighters, blowing each other out of the sky until time runs out or one team completely eliminates the other. Even with the countless different plane types for you to change up your playing style, the core game itself never really becomes all that different from what you experienced in the first hour or so. And as time wears on, you’ll start to wonder if World of Warplanes is actually simple to a fault.
But for those opening moments before that inevitable fatigue begins to set in, World of Warplanes is a fast-paced and intuitively good time. Its simplicity, yet sharpness in controls makes for a wonderfully precise sense of combat, and the overall structure allows for a constantly leveled playing field that’s very welcoming for newcomers to get started within minutes of downloading the game. And if you don’t mind a lot of repetition to get there, then players who stick it out will be rewarded with a wonderful array of new plane types and aircraft upgrades to keep them flying high and firing low until the clouds come out and the skies are clear once again.
Gameplay – 7/10