Well, for those who didn’t even know that Wargaming even made a flight combat game, here’s a little recap. Announced at the E3 convention in 2011 and released worldwide in November 2013, World of Warplanes shared a release date within two months of War Thunder. Using a similar tech-tree setup as War Thunder with tier I starting roughly in the early 1930s and stretching to the very earliest days of the jet age in the late 40s with tier X, WoWP’s featured set of 300 aircraft across six different countries and a combined European tech tree doesn’t quite match War Thunder in terms of scale.
Of course, it’s pretty hard to model over 2000 unique aircraft across ten separate tech trees as Gaijin Entertainment has when you don’t have the king’s share as a funding source. But on launching WoWP for the first time in what felt like years, there’s a sense that, at least graphically, Wargaming’s flight combat game comfortably falls behind War Thunder. With more blurry, less defined textures and an overall grainy feel during gameplay, it’s like someone took a round of War Thunder and ran it through one of those mods that make games playable on potato PCs.
But to Wargaming’s credit, they did at least manage to feature a few airplanes that Gaijin has yet to implement in War Thunder. Historically, with a few exceptions, War Thunder focused almost exclusively on military aircraft that entered production and served operationally with its intended navy or air force. Not so with World of Warplanes; delightful little numbers like the Vought XF5U “Flying Flapjack,” Vought F7U Cutlass, Illyushin IL-8, IL-20, and IL-40, among others, do give you more incentive to at least give WoWP a shot.
Photo: Benny Kirk/autoevolution
Sadly, I spent the last five years I could have been grinding for those sweet, juicy high-tier aircraft doing the exact same thing in War Thunder instead. So, I was stuck with mostly hum-drum biplanes and early mono-wing prop fighters as I geared up for my first sortie in ages. As far as gameplay goes, it’s a real mixed bag. The above-mentioned sub-par graphics compared to War Thunder certainly didn’t help the decidedly sluggish and vague flight controls, no matter what aircraft I seemed to choose. Dropping bombs and rockets with an IL-2 Sturmovik didn’t feel all that great, either.
It’s almost as if the quick, snappy control scheme of War Thunder’s Air Arcade Battle mode was melded poorly to its more finicky and unforgiving Air Realistic Battle mode before being ported over into Wargaming.net’s infrastructure. If you’re wondering, that’s not a compliment on Wargaming’s part. Not only do small caliber machine guns and autocannons not seem to impact with that the same ferocity as in War Thunder, but the damage system that deducts health points for each bullet impact instead of critical hits leaves something to be desired. There’s simply not the same level of crispness, refinement, or excitement during dogfights in World of Warplanes as the equivalent match in War Thunder.
At least among the small sample size given to me by roughly seven or eight straight matches, it was easy for me to remember just why I uninstalled World of Warplanes from my PC x number of years ago. Oh, and if you think you’re going to sneak past Gaijin’s predatory in-game economy, World of Warplanes uses almost the exact same model for their flight combat game. So, no dice there. It’s all the more disappointing because Wargaming’s other two major games, World of Tanks and World of Warships, do a much higher-quality job with their target combat niches. That’s despite the same suspect in-game economy.
It almost feels like World of Warplanes may have once had grand ambitions ten years ago. But as War Thunder slowly but surely amassed an aerial repertoire no one else could hope to match, Wargaming must have thought it best to prioritize warship and tank combat. To their credit, it’s a formula that seems to be working for the Cyprus-based game devs. But to answer the initial question, does playing World of Warplanes serve as a viable alternative to War Thunder out of protest?
Photo: Benny Kirk/autoevolution
Heck no, not even close. But World of Tanks and World of Warships might be. As for airplanes in particular, you’re better off with DCS World Steam Edition 999.99 times out of a thousand. Just take our word for it when we tell you.