War Thunder: Ground Forces

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Control the ground in this game-changing expansion for War Thunder that introduces tank warfare.

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Publisher: Gaijin Entertainment
Playerbase: Medium
Graphics: High
Type: MMO
EXP Rate: Medium
PvP: Yes, Deathmatch and Capture the Point team battles
Filesize: ~8 GB

Pros: +Expands quality content in War Thunder. +Realistic Physics. +Heavy attention to detail in mechanics and tank design. +Helpful tutorial. +Easy to learn controls.

Cons: -Tactical slow paced nature won’t appeal to all shooter fans. -Still limited on maps and game types. -Plane and tank battles still separated.

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War Thunder: Ground Forces Overview

War Thunder: Ground Forces is a ground-based expansion for the initially aerial-combat focused War Thunder. Players will have the chance to pilot tanks in an expanding war that brings combat to the ground (and mixes it with air combat), with a realistic damage model based on actual tank physics. Tanks will be modifiable in terms of modules, armor, damage, and even appearance, including camo, decals, and rust.

War Thunder: Ground Forces Screenshots

War Thunder: Ground Forces Featured Video

Full Review
By Jonar Isip (Minstryl)



Artillery rounds explode into the foliage of a battle ground as two tanks on either side of the fight inch their turrets toward their intended target, their movement undeterred by the destruction around them. They can’t be distracted – they would die if they allowed that to happen. Regardless, one tank finds their mark faster than the other, unleashing its payload right through the driver’s slit of the enemy tank, killing the crew instantly. As the victorious tank commander views the burning husk of his foe he comes to realize that, in the midst of this dance with the opponent, his tank had been out in the open – his crew and vehicle are sitting ducks. Then, before the commander can give the order to move out, he spots another tank.


This one had been watching. This one had its gun trained at its mark. This one was ready to avenge.



Roll Out the Thunder

Ground Forces is an extension of the air combat game War Thunder, by Gaijin Entertainment. The above scenario is something that has happened to me on my playthroughs in the open beta. Well, it isn’t quite that dramatic, but the relatively slower pace of the game, due to its skew towards realism, helps to create situations like that. You can get the sense of that realism as you head into battle.



Mission Briefing

But even before you play, the game invokes a sense of authenticity. Little tidbits of historical information show up on loading screens. Tanks are separated by country of origin and are designed to look like their real life counterparts. Even the sepia tone photos that accompany each unit card were designed to look like they were taken from a long gone era.


Even if you ignore these details, you will notice that there are a lot of tanks to choose from. The menu where you select units also serve as a tech tree of sorts: you play a tank in one branch, and eventually you will earn enough to move up to the next tier of tank in that branch. Once you’ve earned enough research points to unlock a weapon of treaded destruction, you can buy it with currency, both earned in game and through cold hard cash.


But before any of that, you start out with a fairly weak tank. And, well, let’s just say that things get worse before they get better.



Into the Fray

You will take your wimpy tank into “Arcade,” “Realistic,” and “Simulator” battles. These choices affect things like spawn points and how forgiving damage is to your combat effectiveness. Even if you play the seemingly more forgiving “Arcade” mode, you will have a hard time if you are not careful. Your tank will move slowly as it climbs hills and or treads rougher terrain. Should you run into a burly tree at high speed you can damage your treads, which will affect your movement speed or completely disable it altogether. This is because the game leans more toward the simulation end of things, where even the slightest compromise to your vehicle can greatly affect how your tank controls. In Ground Forces, caution is the word of the day.


Because your tank is so fragile, you have to practice tactical maneuvering and targeting. You can’t just rush in, turrets blazing and treads tearing up the dirt, since it’s easy for your starter tank to get one-shotted into oblivion before you get anywhere near the opposing force. Instead, I found that the optimal playstyle is to stay behind the lines, perhaps barely cresting a hill, letting your beefier teammates trade hits with the enemy while you line up that perfect long range shot to kill a weakened or unassuming enemy, earning those research points and lion marks you need in order to buy that better tank.


And maybe, after that fifth tank kill, you’ll hope that you finally earned enough research points. Or maybe you’ll say “screw it” and roll into the chaos. I’ve found myself doing this a few times, and though my survivability dropped by quite a bit, it was a break from the slow, methodical play that I was doing earlier. Heck, sometimes I was able to land a killing shot while on the move anyway.




The Sight and Sound of War

Whether you have been benched for the match or are in the thick of the fighting, you may run the risk of looking around and taking in the carnage. While this isn’t the best looking game, what it does with its looks is commendable. Care has been taken to render the tanks with detail. I know that I appreciated the fact that I was able to tell the difference between a German tank and my Russian comrades based on how much more angular their tanks were compared to ours. The visuals also impress when tanks are on the move: treads roll convincingly and small machine guns jut out at the sides like antennas. Fire the main gun and the screen shakes, emitting the sense of power that these machines are known for.


That shaky screen is also accompanied by the loud explosion of gunpowder along with the clank and ping of metal as your tank resists the force of its launched ordnance. Treads and their wheels creak. The engines that power the tanks sputter and rumble as you lumber along. The sound design is good.



About the Planes…

There is good reason that Ground Forces is not its own separate piece of software – it’s because of the potential for ground and air combat: tanks duking it out on hillsides while planes dogfight overhead.


I say potential because currently it’s not fully baked and has gone through changes over the course of the beta. When I first logged in, I saw a couple of dogfights. I even got bombed to smithereens by one of the enemy planes. However, by the time I decided to try for the skies, I couldn’t fly my plane near the ground battle because of NPC anti-aircraft guns. And now, as of the time of this writing, the feature has been removed, with the promise of bringing it back at a later date.


For what it’s worth, I hope that they iron out all the kinks and allow the planes to fly over the tanks again. I also hope that they find a way to balance the gameplay for these combined forces. If they pull this off, then simultaneous plane and tank combat would be one of Warthunder’s best selling points.




Mission Debrief

I’ve had a good experience with the War Thunder: Ground Forces open beta. The game’s push for authenticity ensures that combat is generally slow (cause, you know, tanks), but also tactical. You can make your way through the game without plunking down cash, though, like most games with this business model, you can speed up your progress if you do. Overall, it’s a fun diversion, and I would recommend that you at least try it out.


And, while you’re at it, try out the planes too – they’re pretty cool.


Rating: Great

Previous Review:

War Thunder: Ground Forces Review

Beta Preview By Jordan Hall (ApocaRUFF), OnRPG Journalist

War Thunder is a flight combat MMO developed by Gaijin Entertainment. Originally made available in 2012, the game has come quite a long way. Its most recent addition will be the “Ground Forces” portion of the game, which will add tank combat. In the end, Gaijin hopes to add content to cover every area of warfare and this is the next step in that direction. The Ground Forces portion of the game has just as much customization and realism as the planes, offering research progression to gain access to newer tanks and parts. I was given access to the closed beta of Ground Forces and got the chance to get an early look at this massive update to the game.



Before I get too far into the article, I want to stress that this game is in closed beta and still has a lot of room for tweaks and change. That means what I report here may not be accurate at a later date. That being said, the game is surprisingly polished for the stage of development it is in. I didn’t notice any bugs during my play sessions, and the only thing I could complain about was my own skill at the game. The physics might need a bit of a tweak, as I frequently rolled over my tank, but they honestly felt quite good and I wouldn’t mind if they weren’t changed at all.






Just as with the planes, the tank models in the game are amazing. Right away I was blown away by the quality and detail. The map graphics were also amazing, with a lot of care put into them to make them not only beautiful, but also interesting enough to add more complexity to the combat. There’s also a lot of little details that add a whole other level of awesomeness, such as track marks in the dirt or smoke coming out of your tanks exhaust. I have nothing but praise for the superb graphics.




As I mentioned, the maps were great, too. As far as I could tell, tank and plane integration hasn’t happened yet. The size of the maps is currently not as big as I was expecting, but I assume this is because air and ground forces haven’t been fully merged yet. The size of the maps is still quite large, though, and there’s plenty of places to take cover. There’s a lot of tactics involved, and you’ll be sitting around waiting for a careless prey to show up a lot.






The tank controls are very straight forward. WASD to go forward, turn, and reverse. Mouse to aim your turret. Stuff like that. If you’ve played an FPS (or World of Tanks), you’ll probably catch on very quickly. Everything seemed to work great and it was an all-around smooth experience.


One of the things I appreciated a great deal, but I’m not sure if it’ll be available in the live version (or if it is, in the different game modes), was the trajectory assistance. There is a small X on your cross-hair that will show you how much your shell will fall. This makes it very easy to quickly figure out where you need to be aiming to hit that tank hiding behind a rock half-way across the map. The movement controls, especially the turning, responded exactly as I thought a tank should respond.





The Tanks

The tanks are spectacular. I’ve already mentioned that I love the detail put into them. Right now the selection is fairly limited (at least compared to the plane portion of the game), but more tanks are being released at a decent rate. I’m sure by time Open Beta is released, there will be a huge selection of tanks to go after. Just like the planes, you gain access to new tanks via research. It seems that your research in various tanks goes up as you use them in battle, kind of like experience.




Just like with the planes, you have access to all your tanks in a battle, and you’re not out of the game until all of them are destroyed. It also seems that tanks have multiple uses (or you can have multiple of each tank). This is displayed as a counter on the tanks picture when you’re actually in the game. I was happy to have this feature as tanks tend to blow up frequently when you’re not used to the game. About half of my tanks in my first game were lost due to falling off a cliff and flipping over.






Time to discuss the most important thing – combat. I instantly fell in love with the combat in War Thunder: Ground Forces. The mind-blowing visuals combined with the responsive controls made for an incredible experience. There’s a variety of different tanks, from the fast kind with not much fire power, to the lumbering giants with massive cannons, and even tank destroyers. Depending on your choice of tank, your tactics will change and so will the way you participate in combat.




My favorite way to do things was to find a nice high cliff and set myself on it, waiting for enemies. If I saw someone, I was almost always in a great place to hit them and if they saw me and started to return fire I could easily back off and re-position. However, I did find myself in situations where I needed to fire and move at the same time, and that was probably one of my most intense experiences I’ve ever had in an MMO. Even when I ended up getting blown up, I had a blast.




The damage model also seems to be as detailed as the models themselves. You can have pieces of armor blown off, your treads damaged, and even your turret disabled. Crew members can also receive injury or die, which can affect your performance greatly. Field repairs can be done, but will temporarily leave you open to attack for a bit. The first time I watched a shell connect with one of my allies and saw the armor plates fly into the air was simply cinematic.






From the time I’ve spend in the Ground Forces portion of War Thunder, I can definitely tell it will be an amazing addition to the game. I was already in love with the plane portion of War Thunder, so the fact that I will soon be able to get my tank fix from it as well is fantastic. The game looks beautiful and all the tank models are detailed to the extreme, which makes for some of the most intense fire-fights I’ve experienced in a game. This is one of the few times that hype for a game is well warranted and I can’t wait to see how the game continues to progress.



War Thunder: Ground Forces Screenshots


War Thunder: Ground Forces Videos


War Thunder: Ground Forces Links

Official Game Site

System Requirements

War Thunder: Ground Forces System Requirements

Coming Soon…

War Thunder: Ground Forces Articles

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