MMO is a genre that is close to bursting at the seams, with many developers across the globe seemingly trying to cash in on what can be a very lucrative format that has the potential to earn large quantities of money consistently over time. This is perhaps why there are so many generic massively multiplayer online titles out there of questionable quality, and many of these claiming to be the next best thing to happen to World War-themed gaming since Call of Duty.
But don’t panic: there are still some gems to be found, and one that has been consistently top-notch in nature is the World War II spectacular known as War Thunder. Not only has War Thunder got a sizeable and active online community where special events, skins, and other content can be shared, but its gameplay model allows you to take command of a serious roster of tanks, and more importantly, over 350 gorgeous aircraft – fighters, attackers, and most relevantly, bombers – all in within the World War II theatres of combat.
Before getting to grips with the qualitative nature of the game, let’s take a quantitative look at what it has to offer. Firstly, its gameplay is distinctly MMO in nature, meaning it involves entering into online interactions with other players as part of regular play. Specifically, we’re talking epic missions/battles fought with machines of the ground of the sky from the World War II era.
Expect to at very least be tantalised by the game’s selection of ground-based vehicles, namely light, medium, and heavy tanks as well as anti-aircraft vehicles and tank destroyers. In addition to these you have the premium ground vehicles that can either be earned by grinding for them for long periods of time or you can spend a bit of real money to get the premium hardware sooner.
Aircraft Impresses the Most
On the aerial side of things, War Thunder has a selection of beautiful WWII-era aircraft that gives even World of Warplanes a run for its money. Though you’ve got a generous selection of aircraft from all manner of classes including fighters and attackers, it will be mainly the bombers that most will be likely to recognise at first glance. While the fighters and attackers are busy showing off their agility and speed, you can choose to take pleasure in piloting a bomber to attack the land targets.
In fact, War Thunder’s selection of bombers encompasses the most ample collection of aircraft classes. You’ve got heavy bombers whose mere silhouettes are recognisable by most (the Lancaster Bombers Mk I, II, and III for example), right the way through to dive bombers like the Tupolex Tu-2 and even the so-called “flying boats” such as the Catalina Mk. Iva.
Its huge selection of hardware aside, the gameplay at its worst can be frustrating, but at its best result in epic scenes of action that you’ll struggle to find anywhere else. There is a stark contrast between aerial and ground combat, for example, with the former being smooth, realistic, and wonderfully paced while the latter is clunky, poorly-paced, and really not a patch on what goes on in the air. In this sense, one is better sticking to World of Tanks if what you’re after is tank-based combat. Though War Thunder tries to do both ground and air combat well, it ends up getting the aerial aspects spot-on whilst combat on the ground seems to have withered away in the back of the developer’s minds.
You may read in some reviews that War Thunder, in spite of its ridiculously impressive roster of aerial and land hardware as well as the user-generated content such as maps and skins, suffers a little from frustrating niggles throughout the gameplay. It is notably lacking in varied modes of play, for example, and the game is known to suffer from an unreliable temperament, from minor control glitches to account authentication problems and bugs that pop up fairly frequently.
In spite of the bugs and niggles however, you have to applaud Gaijin Entertainment for pulling off a game with as much scope as this, with this scope relating largely to the sheer range of aircraft and land vehicles that are available. Its graphics are also top-notch, resulting in frequent moments of visual brilliance as you dive rapidly from the sky or manage to take down low-flying aircraft with your hardware on the ground. These moment more than make up for the occasional bug or slowdown, and then some.