Two Take to the Skies

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

World of Warplanes has been my primary source for aerial combat. I like it's selection of planes, and the attention to detail and customization I expect from Wargaming. I've been hearing a lot about War Thunder, the aerial combat game from Gaijin Entertainment (War Thunder will eventually offer tanks and warships as well). After some research on the title, I decided to check it out.

War Thunder is currently in open beta, so the content available isn't necessarily indicative of the final product. That said, I like a lot of the features currently available in War Thunder. There is a larger variety of planes available, from early fighters, iconic planes of WWII, early jets and large bombers. I especially like being able to fly bombers like the B-17.

By comparison, World of Warplanes has fewer available aircraft, and no dedicated bombers. The absence of easily recognizable planes like the B-24, B-17 and JU-88 is discouraging. World of Warplanes may lack the breadth of planes that War Thunder maintains, but they more than make up for it in depth. World of Warplanes individual aircraft are more deeply customizable. Each aircraft has it's own tech tree of interchangeable parts (chassis, engine and armaments), allowing  the player to tailor each plane to play style and performance criteria. War Thunder offers a blanket series of upgrades to each plane. Every plane has the same upgrade options, the only differences depending on ordnance capacity and number of turrets or guns on board.

While the overall flight controls are similar in both titles, War Thunders individual planes currently have less detailed flight models. Two different variants of plane in one tech tree may have identical attributes, but one will cost more to purchase. World of Warplanes offers more transparency in this matter. Each flight model is well documented, and upgrades to individual planes can be felt  in the planes performance.

In the area of realism, both titles have their own strengths. War Thunder allows players to participate in full scale historical battles, has fully rendered cockpits for many of its planes, and offers a "full realism" control mode option that dramatically increases the difficulty of flying the aircraft. Word of Warplanes seems a little more tailored to a pick up and play sort of scheme. Each plane's stats are boiled down to numeric ratings. Behind the scenes though, numerous characteristics of each part account for the change in stats. A new engine takes into account weight, power, durability, even changes in weight distribution along the aircraft.

Both of these games offer a great experience for casual players and hardcore flight enthusiasts. War Thunder offers smooth controls (even with mouse and keyboard) and a wide variety of planes. World of Warplanes gives me tense, close quarters air combat and detailed customization. Best of all, both are free to play. I recommend giving them both a go if you're at all interested in aerial combat.