It’s time for Phase Two in Wargaming.net’s plan to take over the world. Not the whole world, mind you, just the part of it that enjoys pitting 20th Century war machines against each other in multiplayer battles. With World of Tanks already a success, the company recently let players everywhere into the World of Warplanes open beta, revealing a slightly more frantic experience when the action takes to the skies.
If you’ve already played the land-based game, you’ll have two big adjustments to make when making the transition to World of Warplanes. The first is getting used to the challenges of controlling a vehicle in three dimensions. The default mouse and keyboard combination works, but a joystick or gamepad would be even better – and the game supports both. Pulling off fancy aerial maneuvers is a lot of fun, but doing too many in succession can stall your engine, something you don’t have to worry about in a tank.
Things also happen fast. Like Barry Allen fast. It’s true that you can get blown away in the opening seconds of a World of Tanks match (I’m speaking from experience here), but at least there’s the option to play it safe behind buildings or bushes. There’s nowhere to hide in the air, so once you’ve made contact with the enemy, it’s definitely on. Situational awareness and coordinating with teammates are still important, but quick reflexes and flying skills trump everything else.
Since planes can’t capture bases, most matches end with the destruction of the entire opposing team. A game mechanic called superiority comes into play when one side has an edge in how many air and land targets it’s destroyed, giving that team the equivalent of a base capture victory if the meter fills all the way up.
Four different aircraft types are currently featured: fighters, heavy fighters, attack aircraft and carrier-based fighters. The first two types are mostly suited for taking out other airplanes while the latter two specialize in eliminating ground targets, but there is some overlap. Progression is similar to World of Tanks, with experience used to research new modules that improve aircraft performance. Once all modules are unlocked, the next tier of planes opens up. Some of the tech trees seem a bit sparse in the beta – especially the Japanese, which only has a single branch that consists of nothing but fighters.
One of the other killer features, the ability to share gold and credits between both Wargaming titles, isn’t turned on yet either. That should get plenty of veteran tank commanders to cross over at least a little bit, joining new players who just want to dogfight. Check back here at Gamezebo for a full review when World of Warplanes (which is going to need a catchy acronym since “WoW” is already taken) graduates from beta later this year.