Gaming Review: War Thunder

posted by on 16th May 2013, at 12:40am


It’s been a while since I’ve done a gaming review. Luckily, I have a few new games I’ve been checking out this year. For this article, I decided to review War Thunder, an aerial combat multiplayer game. Usually when players think of war games, they think of them in a modern setting with modern or futuristic technology. However, once in a while a game comes along that breaks from tradition and uses an older period with older technology. War Thunder is such a game. Currently in open beta, War Thunder is a multiplayer combat flight simulator set in World War II. For anyone who has played World of Warplanes or World of Tanks, War Thunder is basically the same thing with some different aspects . Here’s a rundown of the game.


War Thunder is set in the pre-World War II to early Korean War period when planes were still being improved from the initial biplane designs of World War I, but far from the technological pinnacle of modern times. This limits the planes players can use to a few World War I era biplanes, most the planes from World War II, and a few jet fighters from the post-World War II era. All the planes, with exception of the jet fighters, are prop planes, meaning they use a propeller to create speed and pull the plane through the air. Missions and maps themselves are based on real life battles from World War II. From the European front in France and Russia to the Pacific Theater over Midway and Pearl Harbor, there are many different settings players encounter in War Thunder. Maps are also very large, spanning upwards of 20 kilometers or more.


There are five playable countries in War Thunder: the USA, Germany, USSR, Britain, and Japan. Each country has its own research tree of planes that include fighters, heavy fighters, attackers, bombers, diver bombers, torpedo bombers, and so on. Players start out with reserve aircraft, typically biplanes used in the pre-World War II era that are slow, lightly armed, and highly maneuverable. Players gain experience by way of shooting down other planes, destroying ground targets, capturing airfields, and winning. As a player gains more experience in a country’s air force, they gain access to higher tier planes that are faster, more armed, and more armored. Of course, these planes need to be purchased before they can be used. In addition to experience, players gain silver lions from games which can be used to purchase planes and upgrades. The max level a player can have in a country’s air force is 20, unlocked jet fighters and bombers.

Missions focus on draining the enemy team’s tickets. This is done by destroying ground units or by capturing airfields which cause a bleed if the other team does not have an equal amount of airfields captured. Missions are won by draining all the opposing team’s tickets. If all of a team’s aircraft are destroyed, this depletes all tickets held by a team rapidly to zero. Each team must race against the clock to take away the enemy’s tickets while defending their own ticket count.

Maps are realistic and can provide an added challenge for flyers to overcome. It’s easy to fly in an open space, but when you start flying in tight canyons and forested areas, maneuvering becomes much more difficult. Players must be careful to maintain a good amount of speed and monitor their altitude while dog fighting lest they crash into the ground, into the side of a cliff, or into a thicket of trees.

The controls are very simple to use. It’s simple point the mouse to fly in a direction and click to shoot. Players still have manual control of the flaps, rudder, and ailerons, but pointing the mouse where you want to go is easy enough to manage for those just new to the game and lacking in skill. Landing can be challenging as a player must lower their speed and altitude, control the gears and flaps, and look out for enemy fighters strafing the runway. Landing allows players to repair and rearm their plane, allowing them to keep valuable planes in action during long engagements.

There are three game modes players can choose from each with varying levels of difficulty: Arcade, Historical, and Full real. Arcade is the easiest mode, limiting environmental challenges such as wind and rain. Players need not set their gun sights for any distance since guns are sighted to shoot straight ahead regardless. Historical is more realistic and difficult. While the controls are the same as Arcade, maneuvering and strategy play a bigger role in these kinds of game. Full real is the most difficult mode. Players are forced to use a cockpit only view rather than a third person view. The controls are all manual as well so a player must be highly skilled an experienced at flying a plane in Full real mode before facing other players. Needless to say, most people settle for Arcade mode and the rest for Historical. However, playing on a higher mode means more rewards in terms of experience and silver lions earned.


War Thunder is not an easy game to master. To be the best, players need to know strategy, have a bit of luck, and use good timing. Without these skills, most players are shot down relatively quickly and easily. In terms of strategy, players who know how to maneuver their planes survive more and are able to shoot down other players with little issue. For example, when a plane is on your tail, you often can’t just outrun them. The best strategy is to either bring them back toward your own team or to out maneuver them until you can take them out or get enough space to run away.  Bombers are a big and vulnerable target. They are also a priority target as they present a threat to enemy ground targets. There are two things a player can do to avoid being attacked in a bomber. First, you can stick to high altitude bombing where it is harder for fighters to reach you. Second, you can have teammates escort you at low altitude and watch your tail as you go after targets. Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of a plane as well as the right tactics to dodge fire or get behind the enemy greatly increase the chances of being successful in the game.

Bottom Line

If you love World War II combat games, you’ll love War Thunder. Initially, I wasn’t sure if I’d like it seeing as I usually don’t play flight simulator games. But with the simple to use controls and straight forward objectives, I got more used to it and my love of history only made the experience that much better. With so many countries and airplanes to choose from, you’ll never get tired of the game. And best of all, it’s free! It’s in open beta right now for anyone to join. If you love it a lot and want more rewards, buy a premium membership which will give you increased experience and more silver lions earned per game.


Link to War Thunder website:

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