Take to the Skies and Watch Your Six
Over the past several weeks, I've had the opportunity to sit down and experience World of Warplanes for myself. The fine folks at Wargaming.net generously gifted me with a press account, one which included all the goodies one might possibly want (all in all, a pretty sweet deal).
It wasn't easy for me to get adjusted to World of Warplanes, but it's not that the game has a steep learning curve... far from it. There are hotkeys to use various weapons on your plane, and the basic movement of your craft can be controlled with the mouse and keyboard, a gamepad, or a joystick. It's pretty simple to pick up, and I doubt most people will have to spend more than a game or two before they know how to do everything.
Mastering flight in World of Warplanes, on the other hand, is something else altogether. It's incredibly difficult to get a bead on an enemy aircraft or fortification, and even harder to hold the targeting reticule overtop of them and hit them once you've done so. You've gotta be careful, too: while the game by no means has one hundred percent realistic flight physics, you can stall your aircraft (leading to a crash) if you ascend too rapidly; you can also lose control if you turn too sharply or try to enter into a roll on a plane that's not made for it (leading to a crash); in addition, it's pretty easy to misjudge the amount of space you've got to pull up when going into a dive (leading to a crash).
Still, combat in World of Warplanes is fast-paced, nail-biting, and fairly tactical. There were several occasions where I found myself at the edge of my seat, gritting my teeth and trying to both outmaneuver and outplay the other pilots. The game's matchmaking system pits teams of varying sizes against one another in a bid for aerial supremacy. There are two ways you can go about this.
The first and more difficult method is simply shooting down your opponents. If the opposing team has no craft in the sky, you win. The second, simpler way is to take out their fortifications, land vehicles, and AA guns. Destroying these will gain you a continually increasing "supremacy rating". Once that rating reaches one hundred, you win the game, even if you're the last man standing on your team. It's actually pretty fun, truth be told.
To that end, there are three primary "classes" of aircraft. Bombers are designed to take out land targets; Fighters are geared towards taking down other planes; and Heavy Fighters are a mishmash of the other two classes. Each class has its ups and downs: Heavy Fighters are less maneuverable, but hit like freight trains, while Fighters tend to be more agile than any of the other craft.
World of Warplanes' graphics aren't anything eye-popping, but the game is not hard on the eyes, either. As for music and sound effects… the soundtrack does a good job of setting the mood for a heart-pounding dogfight, while everything in the game sounds just as it should.
The game, naturally, starts you out in one of the worst, lowest-tier aircraft available, though the vast majority of players I went up against were using higher-end craft (the lowest tier I saw in-game was 5). One thing I did notice was that the more high-class your plane is, the tougher it is to execute a sharp turn. As such, some of the best World of Warplanes players I went up against weren't actually using Tier 10 craft (the highest tier), but they mopped the floor with me in Tier 6 and 7. Granted, if I'd managed to hit them even once, they would have gone down in flames, but it's still a neat touch.
So, at the end of the day, what can be said about World of Warplanes? Only this: If you enjoyed World of Tanks, you'll have to pick this up. You'll like it.
A gamer at heart, Nick started writing when he was a child. He holds a BA in English, works as a freelancer, and loves every minute of it. One day, he hopes to net himself a career in game design - but that's something for the future.
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