The Wargaming development studio has existed since 1998, when it was founded in Minsk, Belarus, with the idea of dedicating itself to the genre of strategy games. Regardless of how much and how successful we want to consider his first twelve years of activity, however, it is undeniable that 2010 marked a turning point, with the publication of World of Tanks and the transformation into a multinational giant, which today rests its tentacles on virtually every platform, carrying on the maximum weight “carrarmatesco” and the two cousins based on ships and airplanes, as well as other side projects such as the recent Master of Orion: Conquer the Stars. Developed by Persha Studies and launched in 2013, World of Warplanes is perhaps the most accessible game and the most fast-paced gameplay among the various proposals of Wargaming and enjoys an absolutely respectable success, although not comparable to that of World of Tanks. But the feeling that you can aim (ehm) higher pushed you to plan an almost complete restructuring of the experience, which I was able to take a look at last week, during an event organized in the Paris office of Wargaming, during which I tried the game and chatted with two members of the studio.
A NEW ERA
Tomorrow, October 11, 2017, will see the light of day the biggest update from launch to date, such as to push Wargaming to talk about World of Warplanes 2.0. Let’s be clear, already today the game is certainly not the one launched four years ago: with over forty updates behind it, it has come to offer more than two hundred and fifty planes and nineteen maps, scattered between three different countries … not bad, as a basis on which to build a relaunch, according to Wargaming needed to solve a number of critical issues. Some examples? Well, the missions are not very varied and, above all, not very structured, so as to give real importance to the strategic element; the lack of usefulness of the bombing phase, not very involving and almost useless; the incidence of suicide bombers, deaths from aircraft crash, and a control system to be reviewed, to make more fun dogfighting. In addition to addressing these issues, then, we have also worked to obtain a more accessible, more immediate and accommodating game, with an interface of greater transparency.
Clearly, such an approach can be problematic, because you risk alienating the historical fans, who still exist and must be satisfied. Also for this reason Wargaming aims to maintain a series of modes that allow you to regain the classic gameplay and leave room for those who do not like certain changes. At the same time, the incoming news are obviously not thrown to the public without careful planning and rigorous testing, with various stages of more or less internal testing that have taken place in recent months. But what are we talking about? Well, for example, the focus of the game shifts from the simple destruction of enemies to the completion of objectives, with modes focused on the conquest of territories and the classic indicator that fills according to the portion of the map in the hands of your team. To improve our situation in battle, we can devote ourselves to the destruction of enemy aircraft but also to the bombing of land and sea targets, through which – precisely – conquer bases and increase domination.
The objectives therefore also change according to the class of vehicle we choose to pilot, because it is clear that a bomber is not suitable for dogfighting but deadly when you aim to destroy tanks, radio stations or other. Yes, the bomber: it is a new class of aircraft, with which you should fly as high as possible, to escape the anti-aircraft and enemy fighters, and then download the bombs on targets, taking aim through a camera. I have faced a couple of sessions piloting one and I can say that it is definitely a very different experience from the classic one, more relaxing if we want. While flying a bomber, you can safely make yourself a coffee, wanting to extreme: it’s all slower, posed and far from the heart of the conflict, although you still have the feeling of being playing a key role. And there are still margins for some air strikes, possibly even moving the frame to the back to personally control the machine gun turret. Ah, initially there will be three models of bomber: they will be available to all for three weeks, will then be moved to the premium band (to be unlocked with currency inside the game or spending real money) which will be added later other models.
CHOOSE YOUR GOAL
Another component that makes the gameplay more intriguing is the fact that the different ground targets, once destroyed or controlled, offer extra functionality. For example, controlling a factory increases our influence on the territory, an airport allows repairs to be carried out, a military base gives the opportunity to launch missiles and a command centre unlocks the use of bombardments. The combination of all these aspects certainly makes the game more complex and encourages the development of team tactics, without undermining the accessibility of World of Warplanes, which remains a very simple title to approach, even when you are completely fasting. On the contrary, the new transparent interface, almost completely devoid of on-screen indicators, and the small revisions to the maneuverability of the aircraft further enhance this aspect.
It also helps the decision to implement the respawn: in case of death, you can return to flight after a few seconds as in any shooter, without going through the hangar. Given the dynamism and speed of the clashes, it’s an understandable choice, even if it could make the purists turn up their noses. There will still be limitations and, depending on the mode or how the battle evolves, there will be situations where the respawn will be disabled. Among the other news announced during the presentation, but obviously difficult to analyze in depth during a short test, I also point out the spectator mode, some changes to existing maps (even to adapt them to new modes), the introduction of new PVP events “hardcore”, which are linked to the discourse of wanting to please those who loved the classic World of Warplanes, special missions that will be proposed gradually with new updates and dozens of other features on which Wargaming is at work but that, inevitably, will come only in the future, with new updates. Already so, however, starting tomorrow, there will be a lot of new with which to have fun.