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World of Warplanes – Updated First Look

We here at MMOhuts haven’t taken a look at World of Warplanes in quite some time; since our last coverage on it, it’s underwent a series of updates including its huge 2.0 update. With that said, this video is from the perspective of someone who until now hasn’t played World of Warplanes. I did spend about 6 hours with the game, and here’s what I found.

I’m Colton for and here’s our updated first look at World of Warplanes.

World of Warplanes is an Arcade-style dogfighting game featuring a wide variety of planes from the Golden Era of Aviation from the United States, USSR, France, China, Japan, and Germany. For those of you unfamiliar, the “Golden Era of Aviation” typically refers to the period between world wars I and II.

From a design perspective, World of Warplanes is beautiful. It has remarkable visual fidelity without sacrificing too much in the way of performance, and the sound design, while certainly a death sentence for headphone users, is authentic and immersive. The user interface isn’t difficult to figure out, and the game is constantly giving you in-game cues for things you can do. This is super helpful as the game doesn’t feature an in-game tutorial. Instead you’re given a series of 1 minute Youtube videos that you can watch which explain the basics of   the game.

This isn’t a huge issue though, as the game itself is a very straightforward arcade shooter. You can boost or slow your engines with W or S, roll with A and D, left click for your primary weapons, and use the space bar to drop bombs if you have them researched and equipped. The game controls very smoothly and responsively, even on the most basic starter planes. There are a few very minor simulation style elements to the gameplay, but they mostly come in the way of physics. Your plane loses speed as you climb, and losing too much speed can cause your plane to stall out. Conversely, you gain speed as you descend.

The aiming reticle also follows your guns’ actual range of motion, so you can’t fire where your plane isn’t facing, and even if you’re in a turn you’ll have to wait for your reticle to catch up. This creates a sort of tactical nature to how you approach combat. I found that as a mid-range fighter it was best to use your boost to climb high as you approach a combat zone and then dive in on enemies. It’s a lot easier to fight someone below you than above you.

The game’s only multiplayer match type is Conquest, and it’s new to the 2.0 update. You spawn into a map with a series of capture points with the goal of capturing and defending as many as you can simultaneously to earn influence. The first team to hit the influence cap wins. It won’t be easy though; not only do you have to contend with the enemy pilots but also neutral CPU controlled air defense pilots and Anti Air cannons. Destroying these neutral planes and bombing the Anti-Air guns helps you capture points faster. Some points even have extra benefits for capturing them, like the ability to completely repair your plane if you get damaged during the fight.

These matches can take place over 10 different maps, each with at least 3 or 4 different arrangements of objectives and spawn points; this means that every time you encounter a map, even if it looks the same visually, it won’t play the same.

Participating in these matches earns you medals and credits based on your contributions to your team. The more damage you do to enemy planes, and the more capture points you contribute, the more you’ll earn. This change to how players are rewarded was another major development change for World of Warplanes 2.0. These medals and credits are spent on the game’s primary form of advancement: the tech tree.

Each nation has an expansive tech tree of planes, each with different classes, that you can research and purchase using medals and credits respectively. Once you own a plane, you can research new bodies, engines, guns, and bombs to outfit it with to increase its stats. Make sure you’re constantly researching and buying new things in the tech tree, especially if you’re a new or primarily free player. This is your primary source of better planes.

As I mentioned, the game’s planes come in classes; there’s the Multi-role fighter, which is the most common, and is an all-rounder. There are Attack Planes and Heavy Fighters, which are both aerial tanks designed to burst down ground targets and use defensive turrets to withstand enemy attacks long enough to disengage. Fighters are very fast, highly maneuverable planes meant for air to air combat. Finally there are Bombers, another new addition from the 2.0 update, which are meant to attack ground targets from very high altitudes to stay safe. They don’t have a ton of defense, so avoid engaging in air to air combat with these.

It’s also worth noting that not all factions have access to all plane types. The US, who I focused, only have one bomber and no attack planes. They instead focus on fighters and multi-role planes. I generally enjoyed these playstyles so I stuck with it. You’ll want to play around a bit and find the faction that has the most planes in your preferred playstyle.

Credits between matches are also used to maintain your planes. I’m pretty sure you all know how I feel about weapon durability in free to play games like this, and honestly I am not any happier about it here. Having to go and repair and reload your plane after every match is a pain. Fortunately, the cost for repairing and reloading your secondary weapons is low, and you can set it to automatically repair and restock your plane after every match. The cost is low enough that you won’t miss it, which left me wondering why the system was implemented in the first place. Then I noticed the different ammo types.

There are different ammo upgrades you can get that give you damage boosts against certain types of enemies on the ground or in the air. The downside is that these ammo types cost real world money. As far as monetization goes, this is the tip of the iceberg.

There are a handful of very powerful planes that you can unlock with real world money as well. In fact, the most powerful planes in the game can only be unlocked with real world money. I’m going to suffix this with a reminder that stats are not a replacement for skill, to a certain extent, but a skilled player who has played money will have a significant advantage over those who are playing the game for free. Honestly this kind of issue could be argued from both sides for eternity, and it’s a conversation that requires nuance. In fact, while I was doing my research, I stumbled onto a video essay by Youtube user Sliphantom, and honestly he does the argument more justice from both sides than I probably could. Granted, his video is about another Wargaming property, World of Tanks, but you could literally apply the exact same argument to World of Warplanes because their monetization strategies are identical. The link for his video is down in the description so go check him out after this.

I honestly can’t say how big of an impact premium planes and ammo had on my experience. I won and lost about the same number of games during my playtime, and a couple of hours in I had five new planes unlocked, each better than the one that came before it. Getting new planes as a free player isn’t hard and at least in the early going doesn’t take long. One or two of my games were crushing defeats, and in those instances, I did check the plane types flown by the top players on the enemy team. To my shock and surprise, they were premium planes.  Of a sample size of 15+ games, 2 games affected by premium content isn’t the worst experience I’ve ever had, but it still isn’t great.

Overall, World of Warplanes is a great looking, great sounding, and fun arcade shooter with extraordinarily questionable monetization practices. Honestly, I don’t think I’ll be spending any more time with the game if I can help it because of that. If paying to have any kind of advantage is a turn off for you, I’d advise you stay away too. If you’re good at flying games and are willing to brave the potential premium plane storm, you’re still at least going to have fun with it.

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