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World of Warplanes Preview

Posted Mon, Sep 02, 2013 by Dalmarus

Wargaming.net has been making waves ever since they first stepped on the scene with the introduction of their free-to-play history-based combat game, World of Tanks. Initially dismissed by many gamers (admittedly, myself included) as something that would never stick around or be taken seriously, the game has proven us all wrong. I’m sure Wargaming.net had a good laugh all the way to the bank as money continually spilled out of their overflowing pockets. The game has been nothing short of a smash hit. Even so, it’s still not my cup of tea, so other than a cursory glance, I still haven’t gotten into the game. I’m glad others are though because we all need something different. As long as it’s a quality title, that’s really all that matters to me. 

What was it that finally made me change my mind about the company and their games? The World of Warships presentation we were given at E3 this year. If you want to read all about that, see my write-up here. The short version of tale is this – the level of detail and historical accuracy they’re putting into the game completely floored me. I still can’t get over the fact that they used the actual blueprints that were used to build the U.S.S. North Carolina as their guide when creating the same warship. From that moment on, I was a believer in the company. Sadly though, just like World of Tanks, World of Warships really doesn’t look to have anything to appeal to me since I’m not a naval warfare kind of guy. World of Warships is still in a pre-alpha state right now though so the verdict is still out. 

Recap so far then – World of Tanks? Not my cup of tea. World of Warships? Just because I spent a number of months out at sea on the U.S.S. Belleau Wood in the 90s doesn’t mean I want to play a game about naval warfare. World of Warplanes? Now you are talking my language! I wanted little more than to be a fighter pilot when I was growing up around different Air Force bases in the country – even before Top Gun was a smash hit movie. 

Hell, even when I joined the Marine Corps, the only two guarantees I had in my contract were that I would be stationed somewhere on the West Coast after going through all my schools and that I’d be part of the air wing rather than the infantry. I spent four years working on AV-8B Harrier jump jets as an ordnance tech. What’s all this mean? You’d damned well better believe the company has finally introduced a title I was very excited to get my hands on. 

World of Warplanes starts off with a few training missions to introduce you to the basics of air to air combat. The first training mission involves navigation and unmoving targets. The second involves moving targets and some tactics to help you battle aircraft that are more maneuverable than that which you’re flying. The third training mission pits you and a team of AI pilots against another team of AI pilots. The objective is simple – destroy all the opponents. All told, these missions took less than 30 minutes combined. That’s good because what I really wanted to do is jump straight into the action. 

From the moment you enter the hangar after completing (or skipping) your training missions, the game just oozes historically accurate detail everywhere. From the gear your pilot is wearing, to the intricately modeled aircraft, everything is a pure joy to look at. Without any doubt, one thing the team at Wargaming.net has down pat is bringing a historical world to life beautifully. Even if you’re not into playing games, but just want to be able to zoon in close to old fighter planes and look at them from virtually all angles, the game is absolutely worth downloading for that alone. 

So far in the open beta, you have the option of choosing historic aircraft from four countries – the United States, Germany, the USSR (that’s Russia, the former Soviet Republic for any whippersnappers reading this), and Japan. There are over 70 planes in the game right now, with more on the way. The US, Germany, and USSR have approximately 20 each, with Japan having 10. These aircraft range from old bi-wing fighters to some of the first jets ever seen in the world. Again, the game is well worth looking at, even just for a close look at the planes that determined who had air superiority in various conflicts around the world for decades. 

There are a *TON* of things to do in the hangar. So much so, that it’s initially a little overwhelming and something that I’ll be going over in much more detail in guides to come. For now, I’ll just say that each country has a tech tree, which allows for the research and purchase of multiple upgrades for each plane. These upgrades range include weapons, engines, airframes, and more. Each upgrade may give you a bonus, but it can also affect such vital things as aircraft maneuverability in a negative light as well, so plan carefully how you want to spend your money and experience. 

You’ll earn money and experience for participating in battles, whether you win or lose. If you win, you get a significant amount more of both than if you lose. Hopping into a battle couldn’t be easier either. Just pick the aircraft you want to fly and queue up. Matches are separated by the tier of aircraft players are queuing up with. For example, you won’t see a fighter jet in the same match as a bi-plane fighter and for obvious reason. If there aren’t enough people queued up with the same tier aircraft you’ve chosen, you’ll need to either wait or choose a different tier. Fortunately, you can see how many players are queued up and in which tiers so the guesswork is taken out of it. 

There are a million ways this title could have gone south early on. I’m happy to report that from the brief time I’ve had with the game so far, the complete opposite is true. The game is a lot of fun, combining the accuracy of these historic aircraft with more of an arcade-style flight mechanic while at the same time not detracting from what flight enthusiasts are familiar with. Keep your eyes here for more on this title as we continue coverage in the upcoming weeks.

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