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World of Warplanes Pre-Launch Preview

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By Mohammad Abubakr

While the focus of the majority of the online gaming community has been around the Action RTS/MOBA genre, other genres have continued to expand, improve and introduce new games. World of Warplanes is the latest project by Wargaming who has also brought us World of Tanks. The game is still in its open beta stage but has changed a lot over time. This past week when Wargaming invited press from around the world to Minsk, Belarus, for Wargaming HQ’s 15th anniversary party, we assumed it would be to announce the official launch of Warplanes. While that might not be the case, we learned there is plenty more on the way (catch our second article later today for more info) that will make this game even more “Legendary” when launch finally arrives.

I have always been a fan of flying. I’ve played with planes and helicopters since I was a child and still continue to do so. When Dizzy posted the opportunity to give the game a fresh look, I immediately took on the project. The idea of fighting other players using warplanes built around the specs of the actual real world models sounded very appealing.

Similar to World of Tanks putting the player in the shoes of a tank driver, World of Warplanes launches you into the sky to pilot various warplanes alongside allies working to defeat enemy players. Due to its controls, World of Warplanes plays very similar to a third person shooter although it does feel a lot slower paced. Rather than bunny hopping and run and gunning circles around foes, you’ll find yourself in methodical games of chess as you each alter speed and elevation in an attempt to shake the other.

The controls are very easy to get used to and allow easy maneuverability of your plane through the skies. With simple WASD maneuvering combined with mouse controls that function as your trigger, camera, and aiming, all gamers familiar with any shooters will catch-on after a game or two. At no point during my battles did I feel limited by the controls or ever think, “Why did it just do that?” With the very easy to use and natural controls, you are always in control of your warplane.

The HUD (heads up display) displays just the right amount of information to players without cluttering the screen. Only important information such as distance from targets, HP, engine + gun health, and so on are displayed. Little indicators such as highlighting areas where your warplane excels against the target’s strengths allows even those of us that know little about warplanes to enjoy the game. The HUD is very well done, is visually appealing, and does not distract players from their battles.

Only warplanes of similar tiers will be queued to enter matches with you.

The battles look amazing. As noted by Remko in his previous article during the closed beta, the graphics have evolved and drastically improved over time. If your computer has the specifications to back it up, you will be blown away by the graphics. They are truly amazing for a free to play game.

It is important to keep in mind that you will need a high end system to max out the game. To attain such beautiful graphics, WoWP works your system to its fullest. Don’t be surprised if your game hangs from time to time unless you have a high end system.

Graphics are not everything to a game; there are plenty of games that look amazing but are still very boring. World of Warplanes is not a victim of this problem as alongside looking great it is still a ton of fun. The most important requirement for a game to be enjoyable is that it must be smooth and responsive. WoWP does not disappoint in this department. Keeping the player focused on decision making with wonderful dynamic explosions and the crisp sounds of gunfire ripping through sheet metal will suck you in and have you believing you’re in a real war environment in no time. It may be just a game but it tries its best to deliver realistic dog fights without over complicating the situation.

Even in the open beta, WoWP offers a plethora of customization items when it comes to your warplane. Players may purchase various types of aircraft from USA, U.S.S.R, Germany and Japan. All of these countries offer different aircraft types with well tested pros and cons to make them deserving of being labeled as one of then tiers of planes. Depending on your play style, you may come to like one country’s aircraft over another’s. Unfortunately at this time the Japanese only offer one plane per tier and the British vehicles have not yet been implemented at all.

WoWP allows players to further improve their aircraft.

There are four types of aircraft in WoWP. The first type is the fighter class which is a low health warplane with high maneuverability. These warplanes work to eliminate other aircraft in the air making use of their mobility to avoid incoming fire and loop around slower aircraft. However, they are weak when it comes to fighting stationary ground targets. This is the recommended type for those looking for the most fast paced gameplay.

The second type is the attack aircraft. These aircraft are the opposite of fighters as they have low maneuverability while possessing high durability. For this reason, these aircraft should focus on destroying stationary ground targets and should avoid dog fights. Attack aircraft can destroy fighters that make the mistake of playing a game of chicken. Instead, fighters hoping to destroy attack aircraft should aim to out maneuver these aircraft to come out on top.

The next type is the heavy fighter. These have higher durability, firepower, and speed than the regular light fighters. However, these heavy fighters are not as maneuverable and can be taken down by skilled light fighter pilots. Once again, these aircraft will come out on top if light fighters make the mistake of fighting head on. These aircraft can be seen as similar to a sniper as they pick a target and take them out with a quick burst of automatic machine gun death.

The final type is the carrier based fighter. These aircraft are all different based on the country they were manufactured in. Some might be similar to light fighters while others may be similar to heavy fighters. The main advantage of carrier based fighters is the ability to change your gameplay style. This is due to the option to add in additional weapons such as bombs and rockets instead of the typical machine guns found in other planes, making them great when customized for a given team composition.

Even with so many choices between various aircraft, WoWP allows players to further customize their planes and crew by purchasing parts and gaining experience. New parts such as more powerful engines and stronger guns may be attached to improve all aircraft. Crews can be trained to provide additional skills such as increased vision. This is primarily done through a tech tree with some planes having some pretty advanced and diverse options that may require quite a bit of dedication in order to unlock their full potential.

It is important to not get taken out as you cannot respawn. Your plane will be out of commission until the match ends, even though you can begin a new round with a different aircraft.

WoWP provides many options for customizing your warplane and crew to fit your play style. Unfortunately there is not as many variants on battle objectives. At the moment you are only able to queue for one game mode which requires players to seek out and destroy enemy stationary ground targets or eliminate the enemy team’s warplanes.

This mode is by no means boring but one does expect shooter type games to offer additional game modes. The game is still in open beta and additional game modes are bound to pop up as development progresses. Though I wouldn’t get my hopes too high as World of Tanks already seems to indicate Wargaming’s priority of polished gameplay and improved physics over new game modes.

While the game is very well made and easy to play, it has a much slower pace than other shooter games. The limitations of your vehicle are quite real as you may find yourself receiving stall warnings if you climb in elevation too fast in an older fighter. Dog fights occassionally amount to minute long turning competition as you slowly gain and lose distance on your foe before having to take evasive maneuvers when one of the many sneaky mountains juts into your path. Other objects including surface to air turrets and stationary boats make add tactical flair to help veteran players set themselves apart from a green rookie. Plenty of other control types like joysticks and gamepads also exist to ensure the most familiar playstyle one could ask for.

In conclusion, WoWP is definitely a game to be checked out if you are even remotely interested in air planes. It may not be as fast paced as other shooter games but the customization options and tactical team gameplay rival anything on the market. The warplane combat is very well done and is bound to impress and please any fans of the air shooter genre. If you are comfortable with a slightly slower paced methodical shooter, WoWP should not be overlooked.

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