Experienced gamers will already know that the MMO sphere is already quite an oversubscribed genre, with developers tripping over themselves to try and come up with the next free-to-play multiplayer smash hit. This doesn't mean that there aren't some diamonds in the rough out there however, and one of those diamonds that shines through is World of Warplanes.
Just one title in a series that has become well-known for its 'World of' prefix followed by *insert historically-fascinating vehicle of choice here', World of Warplanes' entire construction - from its gameplay to the experience/cash system and modes of progression - is modelled around the collecting and battle-based usage of a seriously hefty roster of military aircraft from aviation's golden age - that's the inter-war period for those that aren't in the know.
World of Warplanes' gameplay model is fairly similar to that of its predecessor (and Wargaming's debut title of what is now a series of free-to-play MMOs) in that you play in online, PvP battles that entail you getting behind the controls of some magnificent war machines. These war machines - in this case planes that come from military aviation's golden era - are available in their dozens at the start, and all free to play in their basic state. In fact, this is what made World of Tanks so incredibly groundbreaking: the fact that players could enjoy a serious arsenal of tanks and weapons for free, and only had to pay up real money if they wished to experience a few premium tanks and upgrades.
You would therefore have thought that nothing could go wrong with World of Warplanes, seeing as it is based on the same gameplay model of multiplayer battles and climbing a technology tree that is already ripe with the fruit of some of the most fascinating war-ready vehicles that mankind produced in the inter-war period. An to an extent, things haven't gone wrong per se. There are dozens of free aircraft, all waiting to be upgraded and their components (engines, armour, bombs, rockets, etc.) swapped out for better ones to give you an advantage in battle, and all earned through some fairly enjoyable grinding
It's just that the gameplay's focus has shifted from the frantically fun pursuit of better hardware seen in World of Tanks to an emphasis that is now on manoeuvrability, aerial skill, and positioning. What this means is that it is no longer necessarily a battle of hardware, but one of frequent imbalances. Some of these imbalances are counterintuitive, such as the heavier planes actually having greater airspeed than you may think, and also some planes not being quite as easily defeated as their stats would lead you to think.
Also, there can be an advantage to upgrading your weapons sooner rather than later, though these weapons will only get you so far before you realise that the focus is on being able to get to advantageous positions using skill rather than pure brute force.
This is what the military buffs will love about the plane game: the incredible selection of aircraft. Many of them are free to play from the start as well, making things all the more accessible and favourable for those who don't wish to part with their cash for the privilege of owning more planes.
The hardware on offer comes from all the major nations you would expect: Germany, the U.S.S.R, Japan, China, The UK, and the USA. The classes available range from regular fighters, attack aircraft, dive bombers, and heavy fighters. You'll find aircraft ranging from the famous Spitfire to the infamous Messerschmitt; from the Focke-Wulf to the American Boeing-P12.
Though World of Warplanes doesn't have a Bomber class all to itself, one can look to the Heavy Fighters and also the Multirole Fighters, both of which are able to do a great deal of damage to either airborne or ground-based targets. Of particular note here are planes like the Hawker Hurricane, a British aircraft adept at taking out tanks and other ground-based targets. The Bristol Blenheim is another damage-dealer to ground targets, as is the German Messerschmitt and the American Lockheed P-38F Lightning.
Long-running fans Wargaming's sublime MMO series will most definitely enjoy World of Warplanes. Though there has been a shift in focus towards aerial skill rather than straight-up hardware chasing, this game still possesses the greatness of its predecessor. The thrill of upgrading your planes through the tech tree is unmatched, and the increased skill requirement for being proficient at the battles in the air is a welcome step forward for the series.
Most impressive about this game however is still the sheer selection of hardware available. Dozens of planes, each able to progress through their own tech tree with increasingly impressive components to give you advantages in battle. This is where the true beauty of the game lies.