Wargaming are definitely a company that does something right, with a huge playerbase filling their servers.
OSUBoarder is checking out one of the well known titles in their lineup, World of Warplanes, and he's given it the full review treatment; check it out in day 140 of the 365 Days of Gaming...
A few weeks ago I showed you a dogfighting game called War Thunder that I had enjoyed but I thought that controls were a little weird. I had a few people ask me what I thought about War Thunder in comparison to World of Warplanes and honestly I had no answer because I had not yet played the game. It had slipped my mind that this was even a game but after that day I looked into the game some more. After applying for the closed beta and finally getting the invitation as well as waiting to repair my almost non-existent internet; I have finally had the chance to play this much anticipated “sequel” to World of Tanks.
World of Warplanes
World of Warplanes is the second large MMO by Wargaming.net, the same developers that brought you World of Tanks. The game was first announced in late 2011 and has been in production ever since and it is still in a state of closed beta. I’m not sure how selective they actually are but all you have to do is register either a new account or use your World of Tanks account and answer a few questions. Wait a few days/weeks and then look in your inbox for the game. The game is a massively multiplayer online dogfighting game set in World War II. You can take control of over 80 different planes from countries like Germany, Japan, the United States and Russia with more to come in the following months.
Free to Play
One of the most exciting things about this game is the fact that it is a free to play game which means you will not have to pay any money to thoroughly enjoy this game. Whenever I play a FTP game, the first thing I do is check out how the economy and system is set up to see if this is a free to play or pay to win. The first thing I noticed is that the “hanger” where you run all of your operations is well organized and is easy to navigate around, including checking your finances. There are three different forms of currency in this game: Gold, Credits, and Free Experience. Gold is the premium currency that can be bought with real money. Credits are points that you earn in game and can be used to purchase aircraft and upgrades and then Free Experience, which also comes from playing matches, lets you research planes and parts to buy. What I found to be cool is that you can convert Credits and Free Experience to Gold. This means that you can still use Gold to buy things even if you do not want to pay real money but it will just take longer. This is nice because a premium account can also be bought with Gold. A premium account acts like a multiplier to credit and experience earnings on top of other things so the cycle perpetuates even without real money. So far this game is looking pretty good in my books.
Obviously if you are playing a game based on air combat it is important to look at the arsenal of machines that you will have at your disposal. At the time of my playing there are four different factions to choose from with over 80 different planes total. The planes are categorized into different classes or levels with you starting out at 1. From there it acts like a skill tree where you must unlock one plane in the line to buy one further on. The prices of the planes are not horribly expensive and can be reached fairly quickly as long as you are playing matches. Something that was weird to me was the researching. Before you could buy a plane you had to pay to research the parts and the plane itself. I have seen this in other games like Mass Effect where it works out but in this game I could not really see a benefit to doing so. Maybe the need will become apparent later in the game.
Each plane also has an extensive level of customization and upgrades that can be bought as you earn money. Things like engines, machine guns, bombs, and even airframes can be strengthened and improved. I noticed that in some cases you can even change the ammunition between general purpose, armor piercing, and incendiary rounds which increase the chance of another plane catching on fire. On top of this you can add consumables like fire extinguishers or first aid for crewmembers (on larger planes). Each one of the numerous planes has just as large of a selection of upgrades so each plane can really be unique depending on how you choose to go about playing.
Enough about all of the options and menus, it’s time to get into the meat of the game. When you go to join a battle you can either play in a normal online match or play against bots in a sort of training mode. Online games place you into queues to enter the match but the wait time is never more than a few minutes if that. Each time has about ten players on it and the match making seemed to be pretty much even every time I played. From what I can tell there is really only one game mode which is essentially like a team deathmatch only that once you die you do not respawn. On the map are also a certain amount of ground targets per team that can consist of AA guns, bunkers, runways, convoys, etc. Taking out these targets grants you points and level of control along with taking out enemy fighters. There are two ways to win a match: eliminating the enemy team or through supreme victory. The first is pretty self-explanatory but the second one took a little time for me to figure out. As you take out enemy ground targets and fighters, you gain a percentage of control over the match. If the enemy takes out your targets or your fighters, your percentage goes down and theirs goes up. If it reaches 100% then that team wins. Theoretically a game could be won without eliminating the other team completely. I also found that games only took, on average, about 10 minutes to complete which I like because I rarely seem to have the time or patience to play for long periods of time in one match.
The game can be controlled in a many of different ways using a combination of the keyboard, mouse, joystick, or gamepad. All of the controls are completely rebindable and you can make the controls as complex or basic as you wish them to be. The basic controls feature only a few button actions with all of the movement being controlled by the mouse on a point and go method. You can also go in depth and bind the pitch, yaw, roll, etc. to individual keys to make the aircraft fly in as realistic a manner as possible.
Sitting in the Cockpit
The part that really sold me on this game was the look and attention to detail that the game possesses. Even on low flybys of the ground texture there is actually depth and detail in the items and buildings instead of that stretched out skin over a block look. Like World of Tanks, WoWP uses the BigWorld engine but in a way that is suited to flight. Planes take damage in real time and you can see all of the little bullet holes and smoking parts on the aircraft as you are fighting. The worlds are fairly massive in all directions and if you do reach the edge it just simply turns you around without leaving the gameplay unlike other flight games that take you out of control.
I was truly wowed by this game and I think it was well worth the wait to play it. The free to play model seems to be top notch and the level of options available to you are a player are unmatched by the majority of games. I would like to see a few more unique game modes but who knows what is yet to come. You can learn more about this game and play it for yourself here.