Wargaming.net, the company responsible for the hugely successful Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) game, World of Tanks, and funder of searches for buried Spitfires, has a game in the final stages of beta testing, that looks to be interesting. World of Warplanes, due to be released this fall is an MMO that looks to be another hit, particularly when one considers that the game is free.
Having turned the “freemium” business model into a cash cow with World of Tanks, which now boasts over 65,000,000 users, Wargaming is bringing the same recipe to World of Warbirds. The game is free, and players can earn the credits needed to upgrade their planes by scoring kills and completing missions, but those wanting to advance more quickly can purchase a premium membership which allows accrual of points at double-speed.
The game is intended to attract the widest audience possible, so it is designed so you can pilot your aircraft with a mouse or a keyboard, though those wanting a more authentic flight experience can use a game controller or a flight-stick. The game is structured to give more of an arcade-style experience rather than being a hyper-authentic flight simulator, but the planes available have been given realistic performance and armaments for their type and the scenery and settings are stunning and interactive, with anti-aircraft fire and ground elements to battle.
Upon release there will be well over 100 planes to choose from, representing the “golden age of dogfighting” from the early days of the 20th century through the first jets introduced in the 1940s, though it’s likely more aircraft and scenarios will be added as the game expands. The makers specifically avoided more modern craft with their radar-tracking guided missiles and such, ’cause where’s the fun in that?
The game starts you off with some very basic planes called “tier 1” which are primitive biplanes, slow with limited firepower, and as you complete missions you allocate the funds you’ve earned to “researching” technological advances that will allow you to better equip the planes you have, as well as moving you up the technology tree to more advanced planes, culminating in “level 10” planes represented by early jet fighters.
This being an MMO, you’ll be able to work with your friends as a team against other teams, a typical round will have 15 players on each side, and a good team will have a variety of different planes to accomplish their mission objectives. The planes are grouped by four classes: assault, heavy assault, attack aircraft, and carrier aircraft. Each has its own unique abilities and weaknesses, just as in real life, and each warbird has stats that denote assault capabilities, damage points, speed, and maneuverability. There is no “right” choice and the result of the battle is going to depend on both your team’s skill and how well you’ve picked out your equipment compared to your opponent’s.
While this is meant to be an approachable game, strategy is nonetheless important. Once you’ve unlocked some planes you can choose one that suits your style and intended purpose within your team for the upcoming battle. Although dogfighting and destroying the opposing team’s planes is a way to win the match, you’re also looking to disable and destroy the enemy’s ground units, which will be shooting at your team. So ideally a team would consist of some bombers as well as fighters, and while the bombers are not necessarily the planes you’d want to dogfight with, they can rack up points for your team while taking out enemy offensive ability.
Suffice it to say, we’re pretty excited about this title, and anything that fosters an interest in WWII-era warbirds and dogfighting among the younger set can’t be a bad thing. And at a cost of FREE, there’s nothing not to like. We’ll let you know when the game goes live, but until then you can check out the World of Warbirds site for the latest news on the game’s development.
Here’s the promo video:
An independent demo of the beta version’s gameplay: