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Hands On Impressions of World of Warplanes

by on 03/04/2013
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Wargaming.net is getting set to expand from the ground tank battles of World of Tanks and hit the open skies with World of Warplanes. World of Warplanes is currently in Closed Beta and I had a chance to spend a few hours with this fast paced dog fighting plane title. Like its big brother World of Tank, World of Warplanes is an MMO that pits two teams of planes against each other in fierce battle for air supremacy. For those of you who have played World of Tanks you’ll feel right at home in the cockpit as many of the game controls and mechanics from Tanks, have been adapted for Warplanes. While I actually enjoy both of these Free-to-Play MMOs, I must say the high pace action of World of Warplanes as of now makes it my favorite of the two.

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In World of Warplane(WOW not to be confused with that game with orcs and wizards) you have the choice of flying four different classes of planes from four different nations. The nations of USA, USSR, Germany and Japan are represented. The four classes you can fly are Fighter, Heavy Fighters, Ground-Attack, and Carrier Based planes.

Firing up the game brings you to your hanger, very similar to the garage in WOT (World of Tanks). In your hanger you can view each of your planes as well as work on each one’s load outs. Like WOT each class and nation have unique advantages and dis-advantages. Fighters are built for air to air combat, heavy fighters are a more rounded plane that can attack air, land and sea targets. Ground-Attack planes offer large payloads for bombs and making them a good support plane to eliminate anti-aircraft forces on the ground. And then of course there are the wild-cards of the bunch, the uniquely designed carrier-based aircraft, that can carry, bombs or unguided rockets.
As I said each of these aircraft offer a different way to fight. If you are into playing a support role then using the larger bomb carrying planes allow you to stay on the outside of battle taking out ground targets or lining up missile attacks. But if you really want to get into the action outfitting a fast high performance fighter will put you in the action as you bank and roll trying to get the best shot on your enemy.

The one thing that had me concerned going into WOW was the controls. Ground based tank controls are fairly simple. But how would flying via mouse and keyboard be with that touch of aiming realism that we find in WOT. And I was very surprised to find that the controls are not only simple but also very fun and challenging to line up that perfect shot. But what was also great to see is the option to use a gamepad and even a joystick. I ended up sticking with the standard keyboard and mouse controls. The way they work is the mouse controls the planes roll, pitch and guns, while the keyboard controls airspeed, yaw and bombs. Using the “World of Tanks Mouse” gives you a very similar control set-up to WOT. Moving the mouse in any direction directs the plane and since movement isn’t instant in real life it gives you that realistic pitch and roll movement. There are other mouse settings that allow you a bit more direct control over your planes movements, but I found them to be a bit strange and not as natural as the WOT setting.

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Now while the planes might be from the days of the World War, the H.U.D. is a bit more modern and identical to WOT. You not only get your cross-hairs but when you are in range of an enemy you will get a moving indicator where you should aim to compensate for movement. You can also tune the HUD to your liking and remove some of the aiming assist to make the game even more challenging.

Similar to World of Tanks in Warplanes you’ll be earning credits and experience. And of course you can buy gold. As you earn more experience you can spend it on researching planes or new plane upgrades. For anyone that has played WOT you’ll understand the system right away. However unlike WOT the tech trees and plane upgrades are a bit different. If you have the XP you can research all the way down the plane tech tree. And then you can upgrade each plane as you desire. However in WOW you’ll find that making changes to ou load-outs often require changing out multiple parts. A small airframe might not be able to handle two guns and would require you to upgrade the airframe to something more bulky to handle the extra firepower. Unlike WOT it seems there is a lot more give and take when creating load-outs  And putting the top gear on a plane might have drastic impact on the plane performance.

Besides the fun gameplay World of Warplanes is also a great looking game. From the reflections off the water to watching your plane turn into swish cheese. As you take damage you’ll start to see holes form in your wings and fuselage. I must say the WOT game engine has come a long way, and WOW looks even better then it’s ground combat counterpart.

Wargaming.net has come a long way. The improvements they made and lessons they have learned with World of Tanks has allowed them to make a solid jump to the skies with World of Warplanes. If the slow pace tank warfare wasn’t your cup of tea, and you wanted something faster and more action packed then you should really keep an eye out for World of Warplanes. The game is not only a blast to play for hours on end but it looks amazing. I’m really looking forward to how Warplanes evolves over time, and I can’t wait for Wargaming’s next adventure World of Warships!

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