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by Josh Wirtanen
During E3 last month, I got to sit in a boardroom with the team at Wargaming.net and talk about their upcoming flight combat simulator, World of Warplanes. If the name sounds sort of familiar, you've probably heard about their other title, World of Tanks, which they claim has over 30 million registered users from 203 countries (a game they're also continuing to expand with fresh tank types.) With a fan base that broad and massive, it's no wonder they're so excited about adding another leg to the franchise.
World of Warplanes was designed with the warplane fanatic in mind. That means the team has done painstaking research to ensure that the specs of the planes jive with what your history teacher would tell you about them. Of course, this means the planes are broken in to different eras because it simply wouldn't be fair to force, say, a biplane to compete against a jet. I asked how this affects gameplay balance, using the hypothetical example that perhaps in one era of aviation history, the U.S. had inferior planes to those of another country. Couldn't players potentially become frustrated by such historical accuracy? The team told me to not worry; they've been working very hard to deliver a well-balanced experience.
Now, part of this comes with separating the planes into tiers. At the bottom tier, your planes will be easier to pilot than planes of a higher tier. As your skill increases, you'll be able to pilot planes in higher tiers with higher difficulty levels. I got to spend about a half hour playing World of Warplanes for myself, and I can attest that there's definitely a learning curve. Playing for the first time, I was honestly willing to get into the cockpit of something a bit easier to use.
Now, one of the things we talked about concerning realism was the amount of ammo each plane could hold. I explained to the team that I had been playing fairly loose and reckless with my ammo, and that I had managed to run out. They were quite surprised at this feat of mine, as they had not heard of it happening before. Though, they did admit that in keeping up with the realism thing, there was a limit to how much each plane would realistically carry. This means that you're supply isn't infinite; you'll want to conserve your ammo when possible, not firing until you're sure you've got your enemy locked down in your sights. Obviously, I suck at this.
Another cool tidbit that was explained to me was that as your plane will get lighter as you drop bombs, thus you'll notice slight changes as to how your plane handles after a bombing run. It sounds like these guys have truly covered all their bases here.
We talked a little bit about the various plane types. I was told there are 59 total planes here so far (a number they hope to increase to about 100 before the game's official launch), hailing from the U.S., Germany, and Russia. These are divided into four categories: light, heavy, ground assault, and the U.S.-only carrier class. I was also told there are currently four different maps available.