Marketed as a next-gen (more like current-gen at the time of writing), WWII-inspired MMO, War Thunder has a staggering quantity of planes and ground-vehicle models to please even the pickiest of history buffs, as well as gameplay that can swing in pendulum-like fashion between incredibly entertaining and downright overwhelming in nature. This review of War Thunder hopes to present the facts about the game, both positive and negative, in order that you can make your own decision about whether to pursue its admittedly spectacular gameplay. You’ve nothing to lose but your time however; War Thunder is, after all, a free-to-play affair that seldom pressures you into financial transactions.
War Thunder’s gameplay is, for the most part, split between ground and aerial combat almost exclusively (save a single map where you can engage in both types of combat in a concurrent fashion). This being an MMO, you’ll be entering into 16 vs 16 matches which vary in type, from Domination mode to Ground Attack. You can also choose battles that fall at various places on a spectrum from the rather unrealistic and significantly easier Arcade Battles (the most popular mode by far) through to Simulator Battles that involve more realistic physics and other restrictions such as refuelling.
If playing Arcade Battles – you’re likely to gravitate towards this type of battle as many players have done – then you’re able to either fly or drive your vehicle with a damage that isn’t quite as punishing as it is in Simulation Battles as well as enjoy other benefits like having limitless ammunition and more than one respawn opportunity.
Controlling the gameplay is a feat whose difficulty again depends on the kind of battle you’re fighting. Arcade Mode offers the simplest controls, and using a mouse makes easier the act of steering your vehicles. If you’re one of the more avid aerial enthusiasts, you can choose to opt for peripherals such as joysticks, and War Thunder caters well for this kind of dedicated fan. Simulation Mode isn’t quite as punishing or realistic as it is in combat flight simulators such as IL-2 Sturmovik, but it is more than adequate at imposing the kind of real-life restrictions and conditions felt by your average WWII pilot/vehicle driver.
War Thunder has content by the hangar-full, as is evident in its epic roster of accurately-modelled planes and ground vehicles. You’ll encounter a massive proportion of the flying machines belonging to the five main nations involved in the WWII conflict. These include everything from the Avenger Mk. I to the Boomerang Mk. II, Fury Mk. II, and the awesome Hurricane Mk. IIB. Ground vehicles are just as abundant, with light tanks ( such as the T-26E), medium tanks, heavy tanks, tank destroyers, and even anti-aircraft vehicles all falling well within the purview of the game.
The game modes will also keep you busy for quite some time. In addition to the Arcade, Realistic, and ultra-difficult Simulator Battles, there are also special events ranging from full-on Squadron Battles, Racing events, and Rapid Fire. The Gaijin Entertainment’s sense of humour also penetrates the gameplay on a yearly basis in the form of special, one-off April Fool’s Day events. These have included specialist, “unrealistic” vehicles and planes such as a tank that bounces across the map.
Neatly wrapping up the neat packaged of WWII MMO greatness that is War Thunder are its graphics and audio. There are dedicated Graphics Settings Guides for the game, which should give you an idea of the potential power you can have over the way it looks. If you’ve got a powerful machine, you can expect the realistic aircraft and ground vehicle models to look even more striking, as well as scenes such as battles stretching to the horizon over the shimmering water, which are quite a sight to see. The realistic engine sounds and audio in general also complement the visuals fantastically.
Though it can be overwhelming due to its massive stock of content and gameplay modes, War Thunder is still one of the best WWII combat games out there and certainly eclipses any sort of tank combat one from the full collect covered at www.tankwargames.net. You can choose whether or not you wish to pay money for certain upgrades and vehicles, but monetisation never impacts on the gameplay since you can simply earn upgrades by progressing through the game and playing it frequently. Its graphics and sound top off the package nicely as well, making this one of the most impressive games of its type to ever hit the market.