You would think that there could only be a limited number of top-quality Aerial Combat WWII games in existence. There’s a fair few of them out there however, and this article is dedicated to presenting and briefly reviewing three of the very best in existence today. War Thunder may be an obvious choice for including here, but WWII Aerial Combat Fans may not be aware of the more casual and accessible action of Sky Gamblers: Storm Raiders, nor is it likely that most would have considered the mighty Order of Battle: Pacific to be included below.
Order of Battle: Pacific
When it comes to genres, Order of Battle: Pacific is definitely the odd-one-out of the three games on this page. A far cry from the immediate climb-into-the-cockpit action of your usual WWII flying games, OoB’s action is turn-based, with gameplay taking place on a hexagonal grid and the strategy involved being focused almost entirely on battle tactics rather than any wide-ranging economic or political considerations.
The gameplay itself casts out echoes of games like Panzer General and even Advance Wars, but unlike the former it actually possesses 3D animations for the units involved. This means you get to see land vehicles doing their thing as well as aircraft soaring through the air as they carry out your orders. Your concerns go deeper than just straightforward battling however, with additional units (Commander Units) lending themselves to much more interesting and engaging gameplay. There’s also the issue of of supplying your units, though you only have to take care of fuel and ammunition.
If you like to actually be in the cockpit with your hand on the stick and bullets whizzing past you, then Order of Battle: Pacific isn’t for you. However, if you like hex-based battle-strategy games with a strong aerial element, you might find this one interesting. Read our Order of Battle: Pacific Review here.
Sky Gamblers: Storm Raiders
Though best played on mobile, Sky Gamblers: Storm Raiders also exists for purchase on Steam. We’re back to classic aerial action here as well, with the single player campaign putting you in the cockpit in one of two scenarios: The Battle of Britain or in the midst of the Asia-Pacific war.
Much like in War Thunder you have the option to choose between a casual and realistic level of difficulty, which mainly dictates the level of complexity in the controls as well as the fidelity of the flight and damage physics. Unlike War Thunder however, this game’s scope is much less vast. There are several different planes to unlock, but nothing approaching the hundreds of planes available for flight in War Thunder. However, for the casual aerial combat enthusiast, Sky Gamblers: Storm Raiders is a game that’s all too happy to be as accessible as possibly whilst offering some impressive single-player and even multiplayer action. Read our Sky Gamblers: Storm Raiders Review here.
Inspired by and set in/around the classic theatres of conflict that were experienced during WWII, War Thunder is about as epic as an Aerial Combat WWII game can get. It’s an MMO, meaning that it is exclusively a multiplayer experience that unites millions upon millions of players every day in a variety of 32-players-per-map aerial combat situations. It also offers a range of modes, each of these dictating the level of realism and therefore the difficulty of playing each one.
War Thunder’s aerial combat is arguably the best of its kind to be found at www.jetgames.org which covers most of the big titles, as well as being the closest thing to realistic flight models that can be attained outside of the high-fidelity flight-simulator world. You’ll have to learn basic flight manoeuvres and aerial combat tactics, even if you’re playing in arcade mode, whose physics and damage models are much more forgiving (or more accurately, a little less punishing) than the Realistic and Simulation battle modes. These latter modes dictate much stricter limitations in terms of flight physics, refuelling, damage models, and the number of times you can respawn.
There’s even tank combat in War Thunder, though it is largely inferior to the aerial mechanics that the game offers. For the sheer selection of planes (we’re talking hundreds), gorgeous presentation, and difficulty modes tailored to all levels of experience, War Thunder simply cannot be beaten.