War thunder is a free to play online combat game about non-stop fighting between planes, ships and tanks. The first open beta players have already taken to the skies in massive 16 vs 16 player dogfights. At this year’s Eurogamer expo we caught up with lead developer Pavel Kulikov of Gaijin Entertainment to get some more info:
How important is teamwork between players in the game?
It’s very important, of course, this is the case with any online game. But in our game we have many different types of plane, fighters, strike fighters and bombers. Bombers have greater firepower but are slow, so players in fighters will want to cover them for example. Players can form into squads and enter the battle together which makes it much easier to accomplish a mission.
What kind of customisation options are there for players?
Well, once you choose your favourite plane you can choose between different colour schemes and decals. There is a broad range of decals which can be applied to any part of the plane, we don’t restrict players in their placement. Currently four decals can be applied to any plane, which is enough to make truly unique custom designs, which our players so far have proved.
There is a tremendous variety of planes available in the game, how important was historical accuracy in the design?
I think for us it was the most important thing, for every plane we called experts and gathered hundreds of pages of information, with all major modifications, all original data, photos and blueprints. Of course, we can’t just make the plane, searching Google images, we put in a huge amount of work gathering all this data and putting it together into 3D models. This means we have around 300 planes with realistic stats and which take realistic damage. There are no hit-point bars in our game, you can hit over 150 different parts of the plane from the pilot, to the fuel tanks and armour. Every detail can be damaged which will effect other details so you could slightly damage your enemy so he can’t control, say, the left wing, making him easier to take down.
So is it the next generation hardware that allows you to do this?
No, this has been the main concept for us for about six years, our fist game had all the basic concepts here but it was simpler, with fewer parts but we still had no hitpoints, the damage was real and the physics was real. Basically the improvement is more about the research we’ve been doing and now we have six years of experience and data that we can take advantage of and use to improve the game.
War Thunder features Oculus Rift support, how does this change the experience for players?
Well, in my opinion, Oculus Rift is was all virtual pilots have always wanted because when you’re sitting in a cockpit seat, you want to know what is going on around you and it [oculus rift] allows you to quickly look around. In the past virtual pilots have been known to use three big monitors and some custom tracking devices to get a similar effect but Oculus provides a completely new level of immersion and flexibility for players. In terms of development it has been a lot of fun and it almost seems like the hardware was made for our game.
Does this mean then that players using Oculus Rift will have an advantage over players on conventional screens?
I think so but this is really more important in the ‘full real’ battles, we have three modes, arcade mode, historical mode and full real mode. The other modes are more suited to new players but full real battles are for more experienced flight sim players. The improved visibility will help in these battles but it shouldn’t be a problem since we know in our community players have spent a lot of money on large monitors and custom flight sticks which are supported by the game so oculus rift is simply another way to play, rather than the best way.
Aviation games are kind of a niche genre, how are the community responding to War Thunder?
We have been getting a good response from the aviation game community who are already congregating around our game because there aren’t many aviation games out there that are as easy to pick up as ours but that have the depth that experienced players want. We are getting a good response because of the different historical battles in the game too, as well as the details we’ve included on different historical pilots. It’s exciting too because we in the aviation game community haven’t had a big title like this in quite a while.
As the MMO grows, how are you aiming to expand the experience for players?
Well, we already have the different game modes but as the new content for ships and tanks arrives later this year and early next year we will include missions for specific vehicle types, so planes vs planes, tanks vs tanks, ships vs planes etc. Each player will like to control a different type of vehicle so for every type of player we want to provide the experience they will enjoy.
If you want to take part in the open beta head over to the War Thunder website and sign up now!
Interview> Thom Haley