The free-to-play MMO market is bustling with new and upcoming franchises, but few of them have the e-sport reputation that Wargaming.net has secured with its ground warfare-based World of Tanks. The team at Wargaming hasn’t been resting on their laurels though; their new sky-based fighter called World of Warplanes is currently in closed beta; I got the chance to try my hand at some of the MMO dogfighting while at E3.
World of Warplanes allows players to pilot one of 59 different planes from the US, Germany, Russia, and other countries. They’re divided by class, giving you access to light, heavy, ground assault, and carrier fighters. Each plane is also assigned a tier; when playing you’ll be matched with other pilots who are flying planes at the same tier or near yours. Planes can be upgraded as well as your pilots, giving you access to special skills and perks as you play. Higher tier planes will require more skill to fly than lower tiers, and matches will be sorted by plane tier so you don’t have to worry about your old-model plane getting blown away by something much sleeker and faster. I tried one of the first-tier planes; as a newcomer to flight sims and World of games, I figured I should take it easy.
Matches in Warplanes are 15-on-15 PvP killfests. The map I played felt huge, giving me plenty of space to mess around with the flying controls and get a hold of how my plane handled. Flying controls feel like a fusion of sim and arcade, providing the accessibility of arcade fliers while maintaining what they termed “historical and technical authenticity.” I tried both a keyboard-and-mouse setup as well as a flying stick and enjoyed how natural both control schemes felt.
Dogfighting itself can be a precise challenge, and was apparently one I wasn’t up to. I attacked enemy planes a couple times and just ended up getting shot down, but luckily there were still objectives for me to accomplish even though I wasn’t the team’s resident ace. World of Warplanes features ground targets, stationary buildings, fuel depots, and other sites that can be attacked to gain points for the team. This was a task I was much more comfortable with, and it felt good to know that I could still assist the team even though I wasn’t able to take other planes out of the sky.
Warplanes will join World of Tanks under the Wargaming.net banner, offering a faster-paced game designed to really help expand the franchise into the North American market. A third game will complete the series when it is released, World of Battleships. Battleships will be the slowest-paced of the three, but the three games will eventually all have influence on each other. Wargaming.net’s goal is to eventually converge the three games, allowing players to have one log-on that they use to access all three games. This will allow them to share resources between the games and eventually interact in massive battles with players fighting on land, sea, and in the air.
Those ready to take to the skies can sign up for the closed beta over at www.wargaming.net.