Wargaming.net proved they could make a pretty mean free-to-play MMO with World of Tanks. But why stop with World War II-era combat on land when you can conquer land, air, and sea (insert evil cackle here)? World of Warplanes represents the second of the company’s three stages of domination, and it’s got everything it needs to equal its sibling in terms of popularity. Except for a catchy abbreviation, that is. I’m fairly certain “WoW’ is already taken.
As far as truth in names goes, World of Warplanes is right on target. It’s all about 15-on-15 aerial battles, and except for a brief but necessary tutorial to get you acquainted with the basics of flying and firing weapons, it’s all player-versus-player (PvP). If you’re not fond of pitting your skills against other human opponents, this isn’t the game for you.
The controls are as simple to pick up as a flying game could possibly make them. There’s no throttle (save for a boost button that can temporarily increase your speed), so all you need to worry about is your altitude and heading. Climbing slows your plane, and doing too much fancy stickwork headed away from the ground is a good way to stall the engine. Anecdotal evidence suggests the mouse is the preferred way to fly, but the game supports just about everything: keyboard, joystick, and PC-compatible gamepad all work.
Like World of Tanks, the game features 10 tiers of vehicles from five different countries – the USA, Germany, Great Britain, the USSR and Japan this time, sorry France – that increase in power as you advance through the tiers. The matchmaking system is designed to get you into matches quickly with teams that are roughly equivalent and have planes from just two different tiers, and while it’s possible to team with friends to ensure there’s a familiar face on your side, most of your time spent early on will be battling alongside and against strangers. Read more »