Review

World of Warplanes Review (PC)

World of Warplanes is aiming to do exactly what War of Tanks did, but swapping grounded action for that of the aerial variety. With its forbearer attracting 60 million users, it's got a lot to live up to, and Wargaming will be hoping its blend of historically accurate vehicles and arcade action will once again appeal to the widest audience possible. It's an MMO in the loosest sense of the meaning; there's no real consistent world, only a hub where you can trade and upgrade your planes before going into an online match with other users.

From the outside, it looks like you might be offered a deep flight simulation, but the action is purely of the arcade variety. The plane starts in the air and moves automatically, meaning you're in charge of controlling flight direction, shooting, and consumables. It only takes a short tutorial to get the gist, before you're thrown into online battles against other players and left to dogfight your way to victory. Your first few battles will likely end very quickly; planes are easy enough to control that you'll never crash straight into the ground, but it takes time to master evasive manoeuvres when there's an enemy on your tail.

It looks like this pilot is in real trouble, but on the plus side they're probably having barrels of laughs!

Because of the simple combat nature, there are some standout flaws. In order to accurately shoot enemy planes, you're offered a visual reticule to aim at; if you shoot at a moving plane it obviously won't be there by the time the bullets reach, so this reticule usually sits somewhere in front of them. However, due to the fact the mouse controls both your movement and your target, it's often quite niggly to line up your target, and oftentimes it feels like you're missing the enemy plane when really you should be hitting it. While this slightly clunky movement and aiming wouldn't be a problem in a simulation, it feels slightly at odds with the arcade feel of the rest of the game.

Once you've got a grasp of how to stay out of trouble and track enemy planes, you'll find the game hitting its stride. The best moments come when there's a number of planes in a condensed area, weaving and bobbing around each other, each one jockeying to get the upper hand. These fights sometimes end in a mix of frustration and comedy, with you crashing head on into another plane, but often you'll come out of them with a few cuts and bruises, and this is where things feel the most tense. Damaged wings and injured pilots will diminish your control, and there's something about smoke billowing out of your own engine that really sells the dogfight nature, and captures that Dam Busters spirit.

Unfortunately, having only one battle mode outside of training - basic team deathmatch - makes content feel very limited, despite the solid-yet-uncomplicated action that takes place within this single mode. Given that the nature of the game means battles are isolated incidents that end as soon as your plane is destroyed, your involvement is a constant cycle of leaving and joining matches. Different map types don't really influence how you play - it all takes place in the open sky after all and ground bases don't seem to have much real impact on proceedings - meaning it's hard to feel as though there's any variety, and when you do get bored of the deathmatch format, there's nothing else to turn to.

A variety of planes from five different nations have been fondly recreated

What keeps you wanting to play these individual matches - the thread tying each airbourne scrape together - is the RPG-like system going on behind the scenes. You get experience points from every match you play, and these can be used to buy new planes, upgrade your existing ones, or purchase new crew and hangar slots. For those into their history, there's a Catch Em All element to it , and some will lose hours trying to get every plane. I was happy enough once I had the Bristol Bulldog - I'm not exactly a plane buff - and simply used my experience points to upgrade and customise it.

The thing that stops World of Warplanes from fully taking off may be that it falls into a middle ground that fails to adequately cater to the two groups that will play it. Those who fully appreciate the fast-paced, arcade action may not be fully appreciative of the attention to detail paid to the planes on show. Likewise, those who fully appreciate the attention to detail, may be disappointed to not be given a deeper flight simulation with which to fly their historical birds. However, even if you don't fully appreciate each side of the game, you'll likely still find some fun in the skies. World of Warplanes doesn't quite soar to the highest heights, but it's worth taking for a spin.

Best Game Moment: A faulty engine, an injured pilot and a broken wing; Kamikaze-ing into the last enemy plane was the only sensible option.

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Comments

By SirRoderick (SI Elite) on Dec 04, 2013
SirRoderick
If only War Thunder would just admit they're launched then you could do a comparison :P
By Chosen_One (SI Elite) on Dec 04, 2013
Chosen_One
I wonder, is somebody really want to play this s**t after playing War Thunder?
By nocutius (SI Elite) on Dec 04, 2013
nocutius
Some people are heavily invested over there, it will be hard for them to switch sides after spending hundreds upon hundreds of euros on their accounts in that "formerly" p2w title.

And let's not pretend, War Thunder also requires you to spend some cash if you don't want to grind for upgrades and skill crews. It's not supposed to be as horrible and there's no gold ammo so far.

I'll reserve my final judgment for ground forces.
By SirRoderick (SI Elite) on Dec 04, 2013
SirRoderick
Well War Thunder has some pretty monstrous experience requirements as well, absolutely right on that. I do feel their actual mechanics are better and the game is more enjoyable without shelling out a considerable sum.

Hell they even had a gold sale recently which wasn't too shabby, I don't remember wargaming ever doing that for the year or so that I played it.
By Chosen_One (SI Elite) on Dec 05, 2013
Chosen_One
Closed beta of tanks in War Thunder started.
By nocutius (SI Elite) on Dec 05, 2013
nocutius
Yea but you had to do grind missions with planes to get in :/.
By SirRoderick (SI Elite) on Dec 05, 2013
SirRoderick
I couldn't be bothered to do that. But on the other hand I get why they did that, sure the regular players appreciate that it isn't just random and they they get a better chance.
By Chosen_One (SI Elite) on Dec 05, 2013
Chosen_One
More than that, they will have a second wave of testers, for those who have bought a special pack.
By SirRoderick (SI Elite) on Dec 05, 2013
SirRoderick
Yeah and the packs are stupidly expensive. some in game gold and a variant of a tank...for 50 euros.

Jezus bells, I am getting sick of this "free" to play nonsense.
By nocutius (SI Elite) on Dec 05, 2013
nocutius
True, these games end up being ten times as expensive if you want to avoid grinding and just want to enjoy the game on a a level playing field.

50eur is way too expensive for what you get, I'd expect at least half a year premium for that much.
By WGA_Jasysae_PL (I just got here) on Dec 05, 2013
WGA_Jasysae_PL
Hi SirRoderick!

You do not need to buy gold in order to play and enjoy World of Warplanes. You can get almost everything in the game for the in game currency. Spending only speeds the whole process up. Of course, if you have gold from World of Tanks you can use it directly in World of Warplanes thanks to the unified Wargaming account. I would like to kindly invite you to give World of Warplanes a go, you may just find it a lot of fun!

Best of luck!
Wargaming Ambassador - Jasysae
By SirRoderick (SI Elite) on Dec 05, 2013
SirRoderick
Entirely aware of that mister marketing person. But you do make the game as annoying to play as possible if you don't pay, then make the payed-for elements just unreasonably expensive. Virtual tanks are NOT worth as much as a game. I can buy Assassins Creed Black Flag for the price of a SINGLE tank in the store.

F2P is going to have to change one of these days, I'm just avoiding all of them right now because of that very subtle pestering, the constant grinding and the enormous overpricing.
By WGA_Jasysae_PL (I just got here) on Dec 07, 2013
WGA_Jasysae_PL
Hi again SirRoderick!

I believe your comment on F2P games is correct but only to a certain extend. Properly balanced F2P game allows player to obtain everything they want without spending a cent. The only difference player will notice, is that it is going to take him more time. If someone wants to have everything "now", then indeed he may have to invest. It all depends on the gamestyle and preferences each player has. If you are looking for real fun, you do not need to spend a fortune on any properly balanced F2P game. World of Tanks is one of the properly balanced games, we are making sure to stay as far from the Pay2Win model as possible. You can compete on any level even as a non paying player.

Wish you a lot of fun in games!
Wargaming Ambassador - Jasysae
By nocutius (SI Elite) on Dec 07, 2013
nocutius
True, technically you really can play for free but you have to play hundreds of games in your gimped un-upgraded vehicles matched against people that have already fully upgraded and are also higher in tier making them seem like they're in god-mode which makes the grind so incredibly painful that anyone who wants to actually have fun would have to spend cash to skip the grind.

This part seems to be exactly the same for both WoT and WT so I really can't make a call yet, but it's obvious that both are too expensive. No way any single vehicle is worth the price of a full AAA game, no way.

Have fun playing 100 games in your stock Tiger II/E75 being cannon fodder before you are allowed to be compettitive.

"Oh, but we occasionally put you on the top of the team so you get to stomp on some other poor fellows..."
Thanks for putting my gimped tank as the top of the team having to face a fully upgraded enemy top tanks thus making my chances for a loss even higher :/.

Ask yourself this, why are game accounts for such games being sold for hundreds of euros? Cause that's how much you *need* to spend if you don't want to be cannon fodder.

There's no such thing as a free meal, when it comes to *any* free online services YOU are the content, the content that in this particular case explodes quite nicely.
By Chosen_One (SI Elite) on Dec 07, 2013
Chosen_One
I would really like to hear his opinion about War Thunder :)
By SirRoderick (SI Elite) on Dec 07, 2013
SirRoderick
Well points for actually following up, did not seriously expect that.

At any rate my problem is exactly this "The only difference player will notice, is that it is going to take him more time." Which, inevitably, leads to it taking an unreasonable amount of effort or time. If the game paces itself to that getting these things is extremely difficult to the point of being a grind, it's a problem. It means your game isn't actually any good.

I mean yes it's true that you can have fun in WoT for free, I actually did just that for a quite some time and I even spent some cash on a little boost now and then. But I quickly came to a point where if I wanted to unlock more of the game's actual content, say tanks at around tier 7-8, I would either need to spend as many hours as I might spend on an ENTIRE GAME grinding to unlock the damn thing, or pay the cost of an ENTIRE GAME to get the experience and credits required. For just ONE tank, that is not reasonable. It would take me more time to unlock a single tier 10 tank than it would to get a WoW character to max level from scratch. That's just poor pacing, clearly designed to coax people into paying large sums of money.

That puts me off now. The game isn't good enough to justify that kind of expense, no game is. And that is the problem with most F2P titles, not just WoT. They are purposefully poorly paced and grindy. War Thunder does the exact same thing.