Fueled by this success, Wargaming.net now seeks to expand its legacy by releasing two new games based on the World of Tanks formula. One is the mysterious World of Warships, which has yet to make any sort of official appearance, and the other is World of Warplanes, which is winding down its extended beta phase and soaring ever-closer to its September 26th release date. Together, the three games will theoretically form a perfect union of land, sea, and air combat steeped in historical accuracy and intense action.
We hopped into the World of Warplanes beta to see how the aerial portion of Wargaming.net's vision is shaping up, and to find out once and for all if we were truly ace material.
World of Warplanes has seen a lot of changes since beta began. The first builds pushed live suffered from their fair share of bugs, broken gamepad support, and a tough learning curve that left new players vulnerable to more experienced pilots. Wargaming.net issued regular updates to the game over the beta period, patching problems as they arose and implementing a brand new set of tutorial missions designed to give rookies a softer introduction to the game's mechanics.
It seems as though Wargaming.net took notice of some of the most common complaints about World of Tanks and worked to prevent those same complaints from coming up in World of Warplanes. The interface is less convoluted. Tech trees are easier to understand and follow. Planes come in different tiers, like tanks in WoT, but their roles are more clearly defined. And controversial features like "pay-to-win" ammunition are nowhere to be found.
Diving and rolling
One important thing to note about World of Warplanes is that it is not a simulation. While Wargaming.net (in typical fashion) has gone to great lengths to ensure historical accuracy in its designs, flight in the game has an arcade feel that allows the player to focus more on helping the team than on learning the intricacies of real-life flight. Planes in World of Warplanes are tuned to fit into the game world and its mechanics, not to perform exactly like the actual combat machines on which they are based.
Dogfighting with a gamepad is much better. With a fixed camera and the reticle centered, it's easier to accurately lead targets and perform daring acrobatics. Rolls, loops, dives, canyon runs, and mid-air high-fives become much more rewarding when they can be executed on purpose.
Flying in World of Warplanes lands squarely in the "easy to learn, tough to master" category. New players will quickly find themselves getting comfortable with the controls, but learning the advanced techniques required for dogfighting success (especially against faster and more maneuverable enemies) will take hours of practice. It will also take time for a player to find her niche; some pilots work best at high tiers in fast planes, some at mid-tiers with heavy planes, etc.
Wings and prayers
Because World of Warplanes is built from the World of Tanks model, a few negative artifacts from the first game's core design remain. It's not uncommon for a player to end up in a match with planes four or five tiers higher than her own (this may be resolved by a wider release), and low-tier planes in World of Warplanes seem to be much easier targets than low-tier tanks in World of Tanks. The Wargaming.net trademark grind also manages to sneak into WoWP -- there are dozens of cool planes to pilot, but each new aircraft and the unlocks surrounding it require quite a bit of in-game flight time.
Overall, World of Warplanes marks a major step forward for Wargaming.net. The game liberally borrows the good stuff from World of Tanks without inheriting too many of WoT's faults while packing in a number of helpful improvements and enhancements along the way. World of Warplanes is a solid flight game that will offer plenty of high-flying fun to plane enthusiasts, combat lovers, and fans of crashing hilariously into rock formations. And since the game is free-to-play, any curious gamer can check it out with very little in the way of risk.
World of Warplanes is World of Tanks with planes. For the most part, that's a good thing.
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