world of warplanes World of Warplanes Hands on Preview

This Fall Wargaming.net unleashes World Of Warplanes as another installment in their highly-successful “World Of” franchise.  Following in the footsteps of their highly successful World of Tanks game, the game will be free to play and has just it has just now entered the closed Beta testing phase.  We were lucky enough to get into the action early – and let me assure you that World Of Warplanes is all action.

The pre-action game setup is similar to World of Tanks, in that you have to use your credits and experience to purchase the next best airplane in the tech tree from Soviet, American or German nationalities. Very similar to World of Tanks, you start with very early WWII planes including the late biplanes and can progress right up to the famous F86 Sabre. While they have yet to add any special crew or plane upgrades, just the number and variety of planes at the different tiers will give the gamer a great opportunity to select his or her style.

While all of that sounds familiar to those who played World of Tanks, it all changes dramatically once the game launches.  There is no lingering or looking for a bush or rock to hide in this game – you are thrust right into the action within minutes. From there, it is nearly non-stop until one side gets superiority or your shot down in flames!  Players race around a good variety of maps that give you a fairly authentic feel for a WWII battlefield. You’re assaulted by more than just enemy aircraft as FLAK cannons from enemy bases fill the skies around you with bullets and shells.  World of Warplanes brings more than just killing enemy planes to the field – there are also a great number of ground targets including boats, the aforementioned FLAK cannons, and radar stations to assault as well. Of course, this leaves your teammates to deal with the other enemy warplanes, but it does add a nice twist to the game.

Another nice feature is the much-improved mouse/keyboard interface.  This new layout works better than expected, giving players a good amount of control.  This means you won’t need to invest in a new joystick, though the game naturally supports a ton of them already. This flexibility makes it easy to jump right in and get started.

Naturally, as the game is beta, there are a few kinks to work out, the largest of which being a shallow player pool.  This can make for some long waits for matchmaking.  The map list is also somewhat short, though there hasn’t been an official count nailed down for how many will be shipped with the game.  I did run into a few other head-scratching moments during play including planes bouncing off one another without crashing, or somehow ending up with unlimited ammunition.

It will be interesting to see how the beta shapes the remainder of the final product.  Will the 8 vs 8 paradigm change?  I know that I played a few games that were 6 vs. 7 and that was an already crowded sky.   All of that said, it has been a great experience overall thus far.  Just like its older brother, World of Warplanes is very addicting and fast paced – it looks like another big hit for Wargaming.net.