The Average Gamer

Gamescom 2011: World Of Warplanes – First Look (PC)

World of Warplanes - Small, developer of the massively successful tank-em-up MMO World of Tanks is hard at work on a new flight combat MMO called World of Warplanes. I got a look at a early build of it at Gamescom 2011 and chatted to about their plans for the game.

World of Warplanes follows the same formula that has made World of Tanks so successful. It’s a free to play MMO with the focus on combat rather than simulating the nitty gritty of operating the machinery in question, in this case aircraft. Their goal is to make something that is traditionally perceived as too complex – and therefore off-putting – much more accessible. For example, everything to do with startup, taxing and pre-take off checks have all been banished. Instead, starting a new game puts you straight in a plane flying at a few thousand feet right at the heart of action.

WorldOfWarplanes_BankingRightFlight sim fans will also be a little disappointed to hear that there will be no in-cockpit views for any of the aircraft, with the nose and behind-the-tail cameras in its place. However, details like fully working ailerons and rudder along with vortices from the wing tips were all in the build of the game I saw.

Aircraft were all controlled primarily by using the mouse, with keyboard and joystick support in the pipeline. are aiming to make all the aircraft as simple to control as possible, which on the basis of this demo they are well on the way to achieving. The aircraft, in this case a Messerschmidt Bf 109, was quite happy to maintain a set altitude without inputs from the mouse, giving me the time to see what other aircraft were kicking around. The head-up display (HUD) included the airspeed and altitude along with ammo levels and enemy aircraft were highlighted when they came into view. The ground is still lethal though. Fly into it and you crash and burn.

If you try to fly off the map the auto-pilot takes over, turns the plane around and flies you back onto the map. However, to stop players simply flying out of bounds to escape getting killed in dog fight the autopilot retains control of a period of time making you vulnerable to attack for a period of time.

Weather and damage effects will play a large part in influencing the outcome of each air battle too. The multiple damage zones on each aircraft allow you to just take out someone’s engine resulting in a quick quick kill for example. When enemy aircraft are locked onto a target camera appears in the bottom left of the screen showing a close-up view of your potential victim. Aircraft also have a limited amount of ammo, so once you’ve run out that’s it. Your only hope then is to fly around and survive till the end of the game.

At this point in the game’s development the terrain model is fairly basic. I saw clouds, sunshine, rivers and lush grasslands. Pretty but nothing too spectacular. I don’t remember seeing any towns or cities either, but I’m sure they will be making an appearance in later builds.

Sixty warplanes from USSR, USA and Germany will be available at launch with further warplanes from Britain and Japan appearing in future free content updates. All the aircraft in the game fall into 3 different classes – light, heavy and strafing. Light aircraft are the main class for engaging in dog fights, heavy aircraft will feature powerful weapons making them deadly in head on attacks with strafing aircraft tailored to attacking ground targets.

Experience and gold can also be shared from World of Tanks. In fact, you will also be able to share all your experience and gold in’s other game in development, World of Battleships. So all the time you’re spending in World of Tanks right now can be used to quickly advance your career and your vehicles in these two new games.

A closed beta is planned for later on in the year, so it won’t be too long before you can take to the skies in World of Warplanes. Even from this early demo the potential for another blockbuster MMO is there. With World of Battleships also on the horizon coordinated virtual land, sea and air battles could soon become reality.