War Thunder PC Review – The Land, Air and Naval Warfare MMO

Panther in Garage screen - War Thunder

War Thunder is a land, air and sea warfare simulator which features hundreds of vehicles spanning 9 nations. Most battles feature 32 players split into 2 teams across a varied range of maps and game modes. You begin with World War 1 era biplanes, tanks and ships, progressing through to modern day war machines. Originally released 1st November 2012, the game has gone from strength to strength with regular updates and the constant addition of new vehicles, maps and even modes, such as the recent inclusion of naval warfare. Upon the games initial release you only had access to aerial combat, this later progressed to include both tank and naval warfare with both ground forces and naval battles, including aerial battles which are controlled by players and not ai.

Germasn Heavy Tank in Sniper Optics - War ThunderFrom the very moment you step into the game War Thunder begins building a well crafted experience around you. The maps feature varied locations and environments, which in turn affect which tactics perform best. Urban environments favour highly mobile vehicles that can dart in and out of cover, performing flanking movements. Rural maps often feature long sightlines with little cover. Tanks that can hit hard with strong frontal armor will do well here as flanking will be much harder. Battles are never the same and even the most intimidating vehicles are dangerous, but not invincible. War Thunder is an exciting warfare simulator where teeth clenching moments will be plenty, but tactics, positioning and teamwork are just as important and effective.

Vehicles, whether biplanes, fixed wing aircraft, tanks or ships are all designed with care and an impressive level of detail including tools and helmets which have no effect on gameplay but go a long way in immersing you in the War Thunder world.

Graphics, audio and immersion come together in perfect harmony to craft an addictive & unforgettable experience

The game features decent graphics whether you are playing the air, land or naval portion of the game. Vehicles throughout these modes all feature impressive attention to detail. I have never had any issues with low framerates with War Thunder. You do of course have the option of lowering graphic options if you need to do so.

Although battles generally take place in daytime it should be said that both dusk and night battles, really show off the game engine. When you see how realistic the light that reflects off of water sources looks you can’t help but be impressed. Audio is another area that is often overlooked but is a vital part of game immersion. Each vehicle has a unique sound. Different tanks, planes and ships all sound different as they trundle, float or fly into battle. Each gun has its own metallic thud as it sends death and destruction to your enemies downrange. It is a balancing act between graphics, audio, gameplay, map design and progression.

Hurricane in combat - War ThunderNothing quite gets me going as much as the sound of a 10 tonne monster, trundling along accompanied with that metallic thud sending tank shells packed with explosive down range. Every element fits together to craft an unforgettable experience. The terrain graphics are well above average but it is the incredible attention to detail on vehicles which really adds the finishing touch to an already impressive experience.

Each game mode has 3 different modes, all of which are objective based. The main differences are types and regardless of the type of player you are, you should find a mode that fits just right for you. Arcade battles are often faster paced and battles are over quicker whereas realistic battles (RB) removes enemy name plates, has more realistic physics, a less forgiving damage model and no penetration markers. RB is generally played at a slower pace where positioning, tactics, movement and concealment will play a larger and more important role in achieving victory. Simulator battles are the most hardcore mode on offer. Vehicles are limited to their real world speeds, no name tags meaning you will need to directly spot enemy vehicles. You will also need to be careful not to shoot friendly vehicles. You are only able to use the first person camera mode meaning you won’t be able to use the 3rd person camera to look over objects or around corners.

Regardless of whether you play Arcade, Realistic or Simulator battles the combination of tight polished gameplay, excellent attention to detail and immersive audio only adds to the overall experience. War Thunder has given me the most exciting air, land and sea combat I have ever experienced, all in one package, and it should be noted, one that is free yet very immersive in so many ways. Everything from huge explosions, clouds of smoke and all round insanity of battle adds to the experience. If simulated warfare games are your thing, War Thunder is right down your street.

Dynamic damage model is the best damage model improvements I have seen in gaming period

Damage is dealt with in a unique way within War Thunder. In fact no other game deals with damage as this game does. Instead of your typical HP system which works pretty much the same across gaming as a whole. Each vehicle has a set amount of hit points and once they reach zero you are out for the count. War Thunder has a very different way of dealing with damage, one that is the most realistic I have seen in this genre. Many call this system the knockout system but I like to call it a dynamic damage system. Each vehicle in effect has a live crew and components, all of which can be damaged or even destroyed.

For example when you engine is taken out, you won’t be able to move and may even have to deal with breakout fire. The same goes for if you gun barrel or breach is damaged. You will be left a sitting duck unable to return fire.

The ways in which you can destroy an enemy are as follows. You break their hull, hit and set off internal ammo (ammo racked) or kill enough crew members. The more ammo you take the higher the chance of disaster should you get hit, and penetrated.

Freemium business model with premium account, vehicles and cosmetic items

War Thunder operates a freemium business model which gives players access to the game and a large portion of the content 100% free. You can however purchase a premium account, which increases the rewards you earn after each battle. This in turn speeds up the time it takes to unlock new upgrades, vehicles and even training your crews. You can also purchase premium vehicles which have their own benefits, but in my opinion the prices can be a little steep, even when taking into consideration the benefits If you are going to spend money on WT I would recommend purchasing a premium account. This will reduce the grind, whilst increasing the amount of research points and in game currency (silver lions) you earn for each battle. Unlike many other free to play games War Thunder doesn’t force you into parting with your cash. You can play, progress and be successful without getting your credit card out. Whether you like or dislike the free to play business model you have to give credit where it is due.

9 different countries, hundreds of tanks spanning across numerous classes each with their own strengths and weaknesses

The game is packed with tanks, planes and ships from numerous countries including the UK, USSR, United States, Germany, France, Japan and Italy. In order to progress and unlock new vehicles you need to earn research points, which in turn increase your progress towards a specific vehicle. You will also need to research upgrades to improve your vehicle’s performance by getting a new engine, repair parts, fire extinguishers and more. As well as upgrading your tank, plane or ship each also has a crew which can be trained to perform better in a number of essential areas such as weapon reloading, field repairs and vision to name just a few. When you change vehicle you will have to pay a small fee of silver lions the in game earnable currency. All of your training stays with them so unlocking a new tank doesn’t mean training your crew from scratch.

Research tree - War ThunderCustomise your tanks, planes and ships to your heart’s desire

As you play you will to unlock unique decals for completing numerous tasks, such as 100 battles in a specific nation’s vehicle, as an example. These can then be applied to vehicles to give them a more personal touch. Using a free to play account, you are limited to 2 per vehicle. This is increased to 4 if you have a premium account. You can increase/decrease their size, mirror, flip and rotate them at will. You can also purchase and apply various forms of camouflage on tanks such as trees and branches. This is pretty useless as actual camo in arcade battles due to the nametags giving away your position. However both realistic and simulator battles have nameplates turned off meaning using camo is a viable tactic and one which can be very effective.

Hurricane with custom decals 2 - War Thunder

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Gameplay & Mechanics
Graphics and Audio
Replayability
Vaule/Business Model
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I started my gaming career young boy playing Sonic the Hedgehog on the Sega Mega Drive. After that I got a Playstation and can still remember that mind blown feeling. Like many others in my generation my teen years were consumed by World of Warcraft. I fell in love and still to this day love MMORPG's. Over the years I purchased gaming magazines to read the latest review. As time passed I began noticing the quality going downhill, and games being given high scores only to be total crap. This is where Ask A Gamer comes in. I wanted to give something back to gaming and at the same time provide quality content with the key principle being honesty no matter what.

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