Spitfire to the rain.
I’m not much of a plane guy. Now don’t get me wrong, I like planes (what’s not to like about a giant hunk of metal that can catapult you through the sky?), but I don’t share the same admiration for them as I imagine the majority of people who are interested in playing a game titled World of Warplanes do.
That said, I’m not much of a car guy either, yet I love Forza. I couldn’t tell you anything about the carburetor other than it sounds like it should be the name of an Italian pasta dish, but boy, do I love whizzing along them green lines and braking along the red ones. I’m telling you this just so you know that I’m not adverse to playing games which have a subject matter that I don’t particularly understand, meaning there will be no bias against World of Warplanes in this review just because I don’t know what the historical significance of a Gloster Goldfinch is. I mean, I loved Grand Theft Auto V, and I rarely, if ever, run over prostitutes in my Cadillac.
World of Warplanes is a free-to-play flight combat MMO from developers Wargaming, the team behind the popular World of Tanks, that sees players taking to the skies in a variety of aircraft from wars of old and engaging in short, frenzied dogfights above the mountaintops and sand dunes. Being victorious in these dogfights earns you coins, and these coins can be spent on upgrading the planes in your hangar, purchasing new planes, or improving the skills of your crew. There are a huge amount of customisable options which, what with this being a F2P game, are all purchasable if you drop some real cash in order to obtain virtual currency. Those of you who want to keep World of Warplanes free should anticipate no small degree of grinding, but given the swift pace of each air battle, you shouldn’t find this to be too much of a chore.
So what of these air battles, then? Well, WoWP (a more favourable acronym than the unfortunate "WoW") has inevitably been compared to War Thunder, another F2P dogfighting MMO that is currently in its open beta stages. With its solitary game mode, a standard elimination deathmatch, WoWP doesn’t have as much to offer as its contemporary, but its simplicity also makes it the more accessible game of the two. However, this accessibility is somewhat undermined by its clunky controls, which don’t allow its players as much freedom in the air. You can’t wantonly perform pirouettes in the sky in WoWP as you can in WT, and while this may certainly be more realistic, it’s not as much fun.
WoWP’s more realistic leanings essentially mean that it is much more difficult to escape from enemy gunfire, with a greater importance being put on your positioning at the beginning of a battle rather than your flying skills during it. The key to success in WoWP is to remain above your enemies, but that is easier said than done. As soon as an enemy begins pursuing you from behind, your desperate attempts to outmaneuver them will more often than not prove to be fruitless, especially if, like me, you favor one of the heavy planes as opposed to the nippier aircraft. With that being said, if you gain a foothold on the enemy, it’s wholly satisfying to pick them off strategically one by one, and flying in formation with a few members of your team before plunging down upon an unsuspecting straggler is guiltily gratifying.
In terms of presentation, those familiar with World of Tanks will be at home here. Everything in World of Warplanes from the menus to the in-game interface is almost identical to that of Wargaming’s previous MMO, and that’s no bad thing. While it won’t be taking home any awards for its graphical prowess, and the poorly detailed textures of the landscapes beneath you leave a little to be desired, I found its bright visuals to be more inveigling than that of War Thunder’s, if not as technically proficient. However, the lack of a first-person cockpit view is a glaring omission, and one that will likely turn off quite a few purists.
The deal-breaker regarding your potential enjoyment of World of Warplanes, though, lies in whether or not you appreciate its arcade-y gameplay. This is its most alluring aspect, and loved the inclusion of features such as health bars on the planes and the like. There are some who will likely balk at the idea of warplanes having hit points, though, and those people will likely fail to be charmed by WoWP.
Unfortunately, at the time of this writing, World of Warplanes is lacking the features to keep players coming back for more. With only one game mode, early adopters of the game will have to wait for a little while until Wargaming begins supporting it with more content. That said, it’s an inevitability that this will happen, and at its core WoWP is a very fun, addictive game,that is destined to carve itself out an ardent fanbase.