World of Warplanes preview and hands-on
Wargaming.net seems to have figured out an immensely popular formula for getting gamers to log on to their game, even for short bursts of time — they play a match and walk away satisfied. World of Tanks was their first huge success, which we not only reviewed on GameZone, but enjoyed, due to its easy to pick up and play nature, but difficult to master nuances. World of Warplanes is going to capitalize on this idea and bring high flying dogfights to the masses that are both easy to hop into, but will require some skills to get the most out of. I got Victor Kislyi, who is the CEO of Wargaming.net, to give me a better understanding of what WoWP is all about.
I was able to get a demonstration of a few maps and get a grasp on how the game actually works. I was told that the game will strike a perfect balance of arcade and simulation. The game is meant to be enjoyed by the masses who want to log on, hop in a plane and jump right into a dogfight. In that sense, the controls are simplified in a way where they don't require a long time to master, but instead will be easy to grasp right away. With that said, the handling of the planes, while different for each plane, will still feel very realistic — so you can't expect to be making crazy moves that defy the laws of gravity.
The game is also meant to be played in short spurts. That isn't to say you can't spend your entire evening shooting away at enemy planes, but the developers wanted each match to take about 5-10 minutes. This way, if you've just come home from work and want to hop on for a quick match, you absolutely can; you don't have to worry about having to spend 20-40 minutes on that single match.
One of my questions was how exactly would each level differ from another, especially since the combat takes place in the sky. I was then showed that each level had certain perks to it. For example, in one level, there was an rocky underpass, which could serve as an evasion point for you to outmaneuver your opponent. Various ground units will also be available to shoot and destroy, which will add to your team's overall score, though not as much as actually taking out other planes. The clouds actually play a big role, as well. A quick flight into the clouds will render you invisible to opponents, letting you essentially 'flank' them unsuspectingly.
The game looked gorgeous; I would go as far to say it looked generations better than World of Tanks. Even the terrain, something that's almost secondary to battle, is highly detailed, and the planes themselves look absolutely magnificent. Don't expect modern planes in WoWP, however. I was told that they will be strictly from the 1930's all the way to the World War II era, though be on the lookout for some prototype planes that were never actually manufactured. I was curious as to why this decision was made and not include any modern era planes. I was told to quote Victor on his response:
World War II and Pre-WWII and after Korean War, both tanks and warplanes are still this medieval knight style, manly, fair fight. Where when you see your enemy, you know you can hit him, not with a sword, but with a bullet. There are no lasers, no tomahawk rockets which fly from nowhere, no satellites for surveillance, this is a man's face to face, knight against knight fight. It pushes the chivalry style and encourages a fair fight.
And it makes sense. How many times are you taken down because of an air strike in shooting games, or because their satellite reveals the position of you and your team? It gives an advantage to one team over the other. With WoWP, they wanted to ensure that the gameplay would always remain fair and balanced.
I was able to get some hands on time myself, and though I managed to shoot down an opponent, I was still tailed by two other planes who ended up getting the best of me. I don't consider myself a player well versed in the flight combat genre, but I grasped the controls fairly quickly. I even opted for full keyboard control, since I felt like I had more overall control of the plane, versus the mouse control, which I felt was a little bit loose, but purists can rest assured that you'll be able to play with a flight stick as well.
You can now sign up and apply for the World Alpha on the World of Warplanes official site and see whether you can join the fray and start shooting down enemy planes.