Review: War Thunder Beta (patch 1.36 for PS4)

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Recently I went away and was separated from my PS4 for nearly a whole week. As you can imagine it was a traumatic experience but I made it through. Despite being very excited about the console release of the War Thunder beta (especially given all the PS4 titles that have been delayed) I was still surprised that even with all the next-gen goodness waiting for me it was War Thunder I couldn’t wait to get back on.

The first time I went on War Thunder on my PS4 I was completely confused. It certainly can be a bewildering experience but as ever good old perseverance and just having a go got me through it. I didn’t know what nation to play, what planes to research or what upgrades to research for those planes. But a few hours in and everything starts to make sense.

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But even from your very first battle the simple but genius control system will certainly be your friend. Moving your left thumbstick (or mouse if your on PC) will move an on screen reticule that signifies where your plane will eventually end up. Essentially this means if you move it left your plane will bank and role much more efficiently than in more conventional flight games. Assuming, like me, you’re not an ace pilot. That’s not to say everything is automated but War Thunder certainly helps you and works with you rather than against you.

PC players certainly have more control with access to certain flaps and rudders on the keyboard but I never felt like I needed anything more on my PS4. When both versions get on the same patch and PC and PS4 players will be playing together we’ll see if it makes a difference. I have a vision of PC players laughing sadistically with their superior rudder control and the aiming accuracy of a mouse. Gaijin insist that War Thunder is the same game on both systems but we’ll have to wait and see.

There are a huge amount of planes available. It’s truly massive. And with ground vehicles on the horizon War Thunder promises hour after hour of entertainment. If War Thunder ends up not being the game for you it will not be because of a lack of things to do. And every single plane is so well designed that each has a unique feel. Each nation has a definite set of weapons with their own style. The historical detail and accuracy is clear to see in everything on War Thunder.

And there are no health bars. Each bullet is properly rendered and it’s trajectory is calculated to find the point of impact. If you get hit in the tail your tail takes damage and you may lose control and crash. The damage model is insanely impressive and keeps things interesting and realistic looking. The only way this is possible is to have the planes painstakingly crafted.

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Unfortunately the matchmaking can on occasion see planes from different tiers pitted against each other. As there are now only 5 tiers a one tier difference between planes makes quite a difference. When up against planes with superior firepower, handling and speed things can get a little frustrating. But having said that it’s amazing what you can do with enough skill and a bit of luck.

A phrase that often strikes fear into the heart of many gamers is free-to-play. Well not once have I felt that free-to-play is a problem on War Thunder. In fact I’ve already paid for many days of premium account membership. If you want you can even pay for a single day which is very useful if you plan on having a long weekend on War Thunder but don’t expect to be on every day of the year. With a game as good as War Thunder I’ve got no problem at all paying small amounts for a bit more XP on occasion. I’m certainly going to get a lot of time out of War Thunder before I reach the conventional £40-£60 price tag.

But if you don’t want to pay you don’t have to. You won’t get adverts slung at you every 10 seconds or shorter matches or no access to higher tier planes. It’ll just take longer to get there, which you might not even think of as a bad thing. It’s by far the best example of free-to-play I’ve seen and if this is how it can work then I say bring it on.

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War Thunder is an absolutely brilliant game. It is fantastically detailed even given the 300 or so planes that are currently available. It looks gorgeous. It sounds great. The matches are on occasion a little unbalanced but for a vast majority of the time there’s no problems. The learning curve at the start is harsh but after a few hours you will likely have the hang of things. The official forums are generally a constructive place to start and there’s loads of information available there.

For those of you who are sick of getting spawn trapped on Battlefield and always seem to be the person who spawns in front of someone on COD, War Thunder might just be the answer for you. I like that War Thunder caters for people who want to improve and a lack of modern gadgets and weapons keeps the combat pure. It’s free-to-play so there’s no reason not to give it a try. I’m completely hooked and can’t get enough of it. It might just be the best game you didn’t know you had on your PS4.

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Reviewed on PS4.

  • Will

    Glad for the positive review,as someone who has played many free to plays over the years,i’m in complete agreement,this is the best take on free to play i’ve seen.
    This is also one of the best games to hit next gen consoles,and if it goes un noticed by gamers it’ll be criminal,fully deserves to be as popular on ps4 as it is on pc.I was orginally pc for this game too,but had no problems starting over again on ps4 :)

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