World of Warplanes – MMO Game Preview
Wargaming.net blitzkrieged its way onto the military MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) scene in 2010 with World of Tanks, and has built it into a ground-shaking gaming experience. With the upcoming official release of World of Warplanes, Wargaming.net looks to have another soaringly successful game under their flag. And they’re not done yet.
World of Warplanes (WoWP) is currently in open beta, but plays solidly enough to already be a fully published game, which is expected to happen on November 12th (North America) and 13th (Europe). Wargaming.net, with no small amount of help from BigWorld Technologies, has been hard at work eliminating any and all gremlins from the game engine, even pushing the official release date back from September this year.
Like WoT, WoWP again allows players to take control of a metal war machine, engage the enemy, and blast other players into metal giblets. Yes, WoWP has more than a few similarities to its battle buddy World of Tanks (WoT) but is very much its own unique self.
For example, the hanger returns as a base from which the non-combat and RPG aspects of the game are housed. From here, you can select, supply, outfit, and upgrade your planes, along with cosmetically detailing them with various color schemes and art. Aircraft progression will follow a tech tree familiar to WoT players, which includes researching and installing upgraded airframes, engines, and weapons. Pilots and crew may be inspected, trained, and switched to different aircraft here.
One of the distinguishing aspects of WoWP over WoT comes by way of crew skills, where you may select skills for pilots, such as Fire Fighting, Increased View Range, and Crack Shot. Pilots will gain experience in those skills during combat, thereby increasing their effectiveness.
To help brand-new players, and to help current WoT players make the ground-to-air transition, WoWP has a three-lesson tutorial in-game, covering gunnery practice, dogfight training, and team air combat. These lessons are short and to the point but allow for actual hands-on training. WoWP’s section of Wargaming.net has a much more detailed Newcomer’s Guide that covers the hanger, aircraft selection, game modes, the battle screen, and the various control schemes. Taken together, they make for a proficient induction into the WoWP air corps.
WoWP aircraft will come in three classes at launch: fighters, heavy fighters, and bombers. Fighters are the lighter, more agile aircraft, the ones that work best for dogfighting. Bombers are the largest aircraft, and work best at attacking enemy bases on land and water. Heavy fighters are the dual-role aircraft, able to support fighters against enemy fighters and aid bombers in attacking enemy positions.
Also scheduled at launch, WoWP will have aircraft from USA, Britain, Germany, Japan, and USSR. The majority of aircraft will be focused on the World War II era, but include some from as far back as World War I and forward to aircraft from the Korean War.
Air superiority will be the default mission when WoWP launches, wherein your team simply aims to control the wild blue skies while denying that control to the opposing team. Each team will have friendly ground targets to protect from enemy aircraft. Destroying enemy ground targets will help edge your team closer to victory, but is a much slower path than simply wiping all the enemy aircraft off the map. More mission maps are scheduled for later game updates, such as Escort in which each team must escort and protect their bomber on a run to attack the enemy base.
Just as in WoT, a great amount of WoWP‘s work has been put into creating the balance between making a fun game, with easily accessible controls for players of all skill levels, while modeling historically accurate airplanes with historically accurate flight and combat systems. A lot of big changes and minute tweaking has gone into WoWP to assure playing with a gamepad, joystick, and mouse and keyboard are fluid and fair. Each aircraft has undergone deep historical interpretation, so that their flight characteristics are modeled accurately without detracting from the fun factor. While WoWP doesn’t consider itself to be a hardcore flight sim, a great many sim aspects have been and are being coded in.
Special mention should be made towards WoWP‘s 3D combat, especially for avid WoT players. If you consider yourself a tactically proficient player in WoT but dislike playing with less skilled players, definitely give WoWP a try. Why? Because it eliminates two of the main “crutch” factors that many WoT players hide behind: defense and cover.
WoWP has no actual “defense” play involved, and there is no one set point (such as a flag) to defend. Since aircraft are in constant motion, the best defense is a good offense—if you’re not attacking enemy aircraft or an enemy position, then you’re doing your team a huge disservice. There’s no such thing as sniping here, thank goodness.
There’s also nothing to really take cover behind, such as rocks, buildings, brush, and the like. Clouds can be used to some small advantage, but if an enemy is close enough, he can track you by the reticle on his HUD (head’s-up display). For the most part, your ability to do well in combat will come directly from how calm you can be and how well you can control your aircraft in the midst of a literal hail of bullets, which can come from any direction.
The game launcher, servers, web portal, and forums have been regularly upgraded. Developer Diaries, special events, text and video guides, and live streams have been released to help foster player knowledge and awareness. All this and more have led to WoWP‘s pre-launch polish shining brightly as a testament to Wargaming.net’s attentive detailing. In its current state, World of Warplanes is set to be an ace in the air combat genre when it’s released this month.
About the Author
Jim Moreno dropped a quarter into his first video game (Pong) back in 1977 and has been avidly gaming ever since. He joined ArmchairGeneral.com as its first official game reviewer just before the website went live in 2003 and remains a regular contributor of war, combat, and strategy articles. He’s also written for PC Gamer, The Wargamer, The WarCry Network, and is currently a writer of strategy guides for GameFront.com. Jim is also a regular gameplay streamer on TwitchTV, on both his own channel (http://www.twitch.tv/gamer_jim) and on behalf of MMORPG.com (http://www.twitch.tv/mmorpgcom). When he’s not writing or gaming, he’s usually keeping physically and mentally fit, watching the latest sci fi shows and movies, or just being zen with his cat, Spritzer.