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War Thunder

War Thunder is a 3D World War II shooter where players take part in large-scale battles in the air and on the ground. War Thunder offers both arcade and realistic simulation style gameplay to accommodate a wide variety of playstyles.

Publisher: Gaijin Entertainment
Playerbase: High
Type: MMO Shooter
Release Date: November 1, 2012 (Open Beta)
PvP: Arcade / Realistic / Simulation Battles
Pros: +Wide variety of aircraft and tanks. +Realistic and arcade game modes. +Multi-platform. +Gamepad and joystick support.
Cons: -Steep learning curve. -Campaigns require purchase. -Researching multiple tech trees is slow.



War Thunder Overview

War Thunder is a history buff's dream come true. Offering both aerial and vehicular gameplay in one package, the game boasts hundreds of historically accurate vehicles culled from all the major nations involved in the second world war. War Thunder masterfully pulls off a tricky balancing act by offering both an arcade style frag-fest mode and more delicate simulation gameplay. Players looking for a quick fix can jump right into the action, while those looking for a historically accurate experience can spend more time mastering the controls of each airplane or tank. Players can research and purchase more advanced vehicles for each nation using either in-game or cash shop currency. Battle queues in War Thunder are also quick and convenient, enabling players to leave an obvious defeat and get into a new match with no hassle.

War Thunder Key Features:

  • Play as a Nation – choose to be a part of the USA, Germany, Soviet Union, Great Britain, or Japan, and explore their tanks and airplanes.
  • Challenging Gameplay – in the most realistic setting of War Thunder (Simulator Battles), experience how difficult it really was to fly planes during WWII.
  • Historically Accurate Models – history buffs will love the intricate details of the vehicles and planes in this game.
  • Gamepad and Joystick Support – find the controller most comfortable to you. Reciprocate what pilots do with the joystick support.
  • Variety of Aircrafts and Tanks – not only are the vehicles and planes detailed, but there are also hundreds of them to customize and master!

War Thunder Screenshots

War Thunder Featured Video

Full Review

War Thunder Review

By Huy Luong and Kaneka Chhak

Released on November 1, 2012, War Thunder is an online multiplayer combat game based around World War II. It was developed by Gaijin Entertainment, who has made combat flight simulators, racing games, and hack-and-slash action games. It was initially developed as World of Planes and was hugely influenced by Gaijin’s other combat flight simulators, but was changed to War Thunder following Gaijin’s decision to expand the game beyond the realm of aviation. The game now includes ground combat as well as aerial combat, enabling players to take control of tanks or planes. Naval combat is currently in the works. Of their creations, War Thunder is the most successful title and has received generally positive feedback and growing popularity. The game was likely inspired by the huge success of Wargaming's World of Tanks and World of Warplanes games.


War Thunder players have the option to partake in aerial or ground combat, with over 350 aircraft options and more than 140 available tanks. Game maps vary from 65 km x 65 km to the mildly frustrating 200 km x 200 km and are largely based around real WWII stages, such as Stalingrad or the Palau Chain. Along with the option to drive a tank or fly a plane, players are given three types of gameplay: arcade battles, realistic battles, and simulator battles.

The game also features matchmaking based on the types of vehicles and modifications, offering players competition around their skill level. This also impacts the time it takes to enter events (games in which vehicles are preset and gameplay falls along either a historic event or a special mode). War Thunder offers three different types of battles:

  • Arcade Battles – the simplest and fastest game type. Supports up to 32 players split into two teams, matched by battle rating. Damage models, controls, and physics are simplified. Automatic reloading, multiple view modes, and an aiming assist are available to make this the ideal mode for beginners.
  • Realistic Battles – geared towards more experienced players. Realistic battles require players to return to base to reload, and imposes more realistic physics, aiming, and limitations on aircrafts/tanks. Each side can only use vehicles from one nation. This mode also supports the reenactment of historic battles such as Midway and Stalingrad.
  • Simulator Battles – the most realistic setting. Recommended for players looking for a true simulator experience. Only first person views are available and each vehicle and plane has unique attributes based on its its real world counter-part. Even the controls in this mode are more realistic -- players must use a joystick, gamepad, or 'mousejoy' controls rather than the mouse-aim style available in other modes.

Stadium Arcadium

Arcade Battles take up to 32 players in two teams from different countries and put them on a random map. Depending on the combat force, players have a major objective to complete for example, in the tank warfare, there are capture points or cargo that need to be seized and held in order to make the enemy team lose points. As a pilot, there are more options. Aerial arcade battles fall under two categories: Ground Strike, in which players aim to destroy all enemy ground or naval units, shoot down all enemy aircraft, or destroy the enemy airfield and bombing points; and Domination, in which enemy airfields are seized by landing on them for a period of time. And of course, all while trying to get booty (see: explosions) and not be blown to smithereens (again, see: explosions).

The arcade modes are not particularly historically accurate and don’t seek to portray any actual events. They are also much easier, as they include targeting assistance and leading markers, and the game’s physics are greatly simplified. For example, you can pull off some ridiculous high-speed dives without your wings snapping off or even spend the entire match flying upside down in a very specialized tactic to confuse your opponents, also known for the lolz. However, some realism is retained, which is evident in the occasionally jamming gun, differences in maneuverability and damage output among different units, and the reload time that leaves you ducking behind rocks as a tank driver. Even though it's much easier than the other modes, arcade mode still ain’t easy.

Something Tough for the History Buff

Realistic Battles, previously called Historical Battles, are game modes that put players in a match with historical context. Players are placed into a nation's team, setting them up in a recreate major events such as the Battle of Stalingrad. The objectives vary based on the simulated battle.

Along with the historical realism, the realistic game mode also features more realistic gameplay. This means no aiming assistance or lead targeting in planes, and no super scope in tanks. Plus, even if you bring godly sniping skills to the field, altered damage models put an end to the infuriating one-shot kills, which to further embarrassment, always seem to come after shooting at the enemy countless times and wondering why THEY JUST WON’T DIE ALREADY. Some more realism comes in how the vehicles can be operated. Pilots now have to take physics into account: G-force can cause your pilot to black out, or even worse, your plane to rip to pieces. Repairing and reloading also requires players to land their plane in an airfield rather than miraculously replenishing. Tank drivers will find that driving might be more frustrating, with altered stats such as turn-time and the differences in terrain.

Simulation Station

Gaijin seems to cover all the bases. Along with fun arcade modes, or hardcore realistic battles, War Thunder incorporates a simulation game mode. This mode pits you (haha) in the cockpit of an airplane or tank in first-person. Tanks are a bit easier, as you’re only subjected to a first person point of view with no aim-assist. Planes, however, require you to control everything from starting up the airplane, taking off, deploying landing gear, and so forth. From my experience, I sucked very badly and took a long time to get through the tutorial for airplane simulation. Taking off and landing a plane has always seemed a hard concept to me, and War Thunder’s simulation mode does well to portray this and other realistic aspects of piloting (such as engine stalling).

War Thunder vs. World of Tanks

When War Thunder decided to adapt ground combat, it was instantly compared to World of Tanks, the first Tank MMO, which it was likely inspired by. However, the differences between the games are immense and apparent. Though War Thunder has an arcade mode, it is nothing compared to the gameplay of World of Tanks, which features some pay-to-win aspects, such as Gold Bullets for extra penetration and damage. World of Tanks also lacks the attention to detail and hardcore physics of War Thunder. However, the simplicity of World of Tanks does sometimes work in its favor, with more intuitive upgrades and modifications.

Though they may fall in the same genre of tank combat, both games bring their own styles and benefits to the table.


Let no one say that War Thunder lacks variation; it has an already incredible arsenal with more to come. There are several hundreds of available aircraft from different nations, and Gaijin Entertainment stays very true to their goal of historical simulation. All the vehicles are modeled after units used in the war, and the attention to detail is amazing. Gaijin does it right, from the length between the wingtips to the diameter of the propeller, and these statistics aren’t just superficial. Planes have limitations based on their model, with statistics such as max altitude, speed, and distance per tank; climb rate and turn time; and weaponry and payload. There are also over a hundred different tanks available, with very accurate base stats such as engine power, max speed, and armor thickness.

Players can also research modifications, which come with ammunition or vehicle upgrades. After each battle, players obtain research points for the vehicles they have used. You can choose what modifications you want to put these research points towards: better ammunition, guns, or armor. Each modification has a specific amount of research points that must be allocated towards it before it becomes available. Players also have the option of spending Gold Eagles to immediately unlock the modification.

The Store + Premium Accounts

Players can buy premium packs from the store, which range from the $4.99 starter pack to the $79.99 packs for the hardcore players. The packs include exclusive vehicles, Golden Eagles, and subscriptions of varying length for Premium accounts, which give a ton of perks, such as extra decal slots and increased rewards (extra lions and extra XP). These premium vehicles come furnished with all available modifications and allow players to earn increased research points and Silver Lions.

As far as the in-game currency goes, there are two types: Silver Lions and Golden Eagles. Silver Lions are the main currency, earned by finishing games, and can be used to purchase new crew-slots, aircraft and modifications, ammunitions, and repairs. Golden Eagles are the purchasable currency, which can be spent on a Premium account and additional content: premium machines, faster crew development, additional places in the hangar, and reserved planes. They can also be converted to Silver Lions.

Final Verdict – Great

What makes War Thunder’s gameplay unique and sometimes frustrating is the realism in the mechanics of the vehicles. Flying straight up while your afterburners are on? Your pilot may pass out from all the G-force, leaving you defenseless. Your right wing is damaged? Have fun trying to bank right while escaping enemy fire. Tanks take part damage and crew damage you might be driving along, innocently trying to annihilate your enemies when suddenly your suspension gets destroyed or your driver gets shot, leaving you a sitting duck just waiting for death. This added realism not only makes you cautious of being hit by enemy fire, but also where and how you are hit, adding a more tactical feel to the game.

Even if WWII history isn’t your thing, or aerial/tank combat doesn’t do it for you, no one can argue with Gaijin’s work. The attention to detail is phenomenal, and with such interesting physics and mechanics, and some pretty beautiful views, gameplay sometimes feels more like an experience than a game. Their aviation mode is a lot more fleshed out than their tank modes, since it was the main focus of the game in the beginning, but War Thunder is constantly improving, and that effort deserves both recognition and reward. I say, give this game a shot.


War Thunder Screenshots


War Thunder Videos

System Requirements

War Thunder System Requirements

Minimum Requirements:

Operating System: Windows XP / Vista / 7 / 8 / Mac OS X / Linux
CPU: Intel Pentium 4 2.4 GHz / AMD Athlon XP 2200+
Video Card: Nvidia GeForce 7900 GT / ATI Radeon X1900 series
Hard Disk Space: 8 GB

Recommended Requirements:

Operating System: Windows 7 / 8 / Mac OS X / Linux
CPU: Intel Pentium Core 2 Duo E6600 2.4 GHz / AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual Core 4800+ or better
Video Card: Nvidia GeForce 460 GTX / ATI Radeon HD 6850 or better
RAM: 4 GB or better
Hard Disk Space: 11 GB

War Thunder is compatible with MAC OS X / Linux


War Thunder Music & Soundtrack

Purchase the official War Thunder Original Soundtrack

Additional Info

War Thunder Additional Information

Developer: Gaijin Entertainment
Composers: Jeremy Soule, Georgy Zheryakov, Zakhar Antonov, Alexander Chorni
Game Engine: Dagor Engine

Steam Release: August 15, 2013

Other Platform Release Dates:

MAC OS X: September 16, 2013
Linux: November 6, 2014
PlayStation 4: November 29, 2013 (EU) / June 3, 2014 (NA)

Development History:

Development for War Thunder began in 2009 under the title World of Planes. The name was changed on January 24, 2012 to avoid confusion with another free-to-play title called World of Warplanes by Wargaming. The new name also made it easier to add additional features including tank and naval combat to the game.