by Marko Susimetsä
previewed on PC
Engage the Enemy!
World of Warplanes focuses on action, so it will not surprise you that the gameplay consists of under 15 minute battles where players are randomly divided into two opposing teams. Each team can therefore include planes from any of the nations represented in the game.
The main game mode will be Superiority, which sets two teams of 15 players against each other. The objective is to hunt down all hostile warplanes or destroy a certain amount of the enemy's ground targets. An on-screen slider will give a visual cue of which side is gaining control of the battlefield. The match will end either when the ground target objective is reached or when all enemy planes have been destroyed. Another mode that is planned to be included is Escort, where one team is tasked to escort a group of AI-bombers, while the other team does everything they can to stop them.
The control method is naturally the most critical point in the realism and fun-factor of any flight game, be it a simulator or an arcade title. If you make playing too easy with mouse-control, you are likely to make it boring as well. But if you make it impossible to play the game with anything other than a proper joystick, you will alienate many gamers. In the case of World of Warplanes the developers aim to please even more gamers by allowing keyboard, mouse, joystick and gamepad control. They claim that there will be no crucial difference between the options and it is merely a matter of taste. Interestingly enough, they have also said that those using joysticks will probably end up as prey more often than birds of prey, at least in the beginning of the game when they are familiarising themselves with the controls.
In the same vein, World of Warplanes intends to cater to the realism-lovers by not including the sort of auto aiming method that they so readily abhor in pure arcade titles. The mounted guns will be mounted and point exactly where the nose of the plane points. A minor bullet guiding system is being considered to help aim a tiny bit better, but if it will be in the game, it will only be available for small-caliber guns.
The size of the game map is dependent on the scenario type, but averages around 220 square kilometers. The aim is to ensure that the enemies can be found quickly, but also that each side has enough space to plan and carry out different kinds of tactics. Maps will include destructible land targets in the form of constructions, vehicles, AA cannons and other objects.
If and when you get shot, the plane will have different kinds of damage modelling, which means that hits to various parts of the plane will affect its handling in different ways. If you get shot down, you will have a trailing camera mode so that you can follow your team-mates' activities for the rest of the match, rooting for them while you tend to your own wounds.
Free to Play, Pay to Excel
World of Warplanes will be released as free to play title, but premium account owners will gain 50 % more experience and have access to premium equipment, giving them a slight but not decisive edge. Personally, I like this approach, since it gives you a chance to try out the game before you make the decision to pay for it – and for those who pay it keeps the world alive with a constant flow of rookie players.
The only point that makes me slightly hesitant is that the British Air Force will not be included in the game at launch. My personal favourite aircraft is definitely the Spitfire so I will have to find my entertainment with other planes while waiting for the British onslaught. It may also be that this was an intentional decision by the developers to force us all to try and learn about other planes in addition to our old favourites.
Overall, I'm excited to be able to try another new aerial combat game which is not aimed solely at the arcade market, but will aim to please also us simulator-freaks. A good mid-ground is often difficult to find, however, so we look forward to seeing how it goes with World of Warplanes.