Daily Archives: July 2, 2015

A Return to the Skies of War Thunder

I mentioned in the May in Review post that getting a closed beta key to World of Warships had prompted me to download that game, plus World of Tanks and War Thunder.  Air, land, and sea, if you will.

World of Warships was okay.  It seemed considerably easier than, say World of Tanks, to not be bad at.  But it didn’t really do much for me.  Something for another time.

I also pottered about in World of Tanks for a bit, but wasn’t really feeling it.

The air component though, War Thunder, that I actually started playing somewhat regularly over the last month… which is odd, because of the three games, it is the one I am objectively the worst at by far.

Of course, it helps that there is a “bad at this game” mode for people like me, which involves flying bombers and trying not to get shot down by people who aren’t as bad.  So I returned to that while I tried to figure out what had changed in the game in the year and a half since I last played.

The tiers appear to have been reworked, squished, and otherwise revised.  I still have what appears to be the same planes I was flying back then.  However, as an example, the A-20 Havoc I was doing ground attack with was once a tier 5 plane that I had to work my way up to.  Now it is a tier 1 plane.

Not that the change made a huge difference so far as I can tell.  It is still a bomber that gets to start at low level like a fighter, and woe may befall any shaky biplane that wanders into range of its six forward guns, though my trained up gunners are much more likely to hit something.

But the whole leveling up and earning points and such seems to have been slowed down somewhat, perhaps to accommodate the fact that there are only five tiers now all told.  The game has also started to pick up some of the characteristics that free to play games start to acquire when the initial rush of enthusiasm… and the associated income… starts to taper off.  So, for example, there is now a daily gift for logging in, a staple of fading titles like Lord of the Rings Online and Need for Speed World.

Here, have something for just showing up!

Here, have something for just showing up!

The rewards at least do appear to get better for consecutive days logging in, to the point of actually earning some golden eagles, the RMT currency, around day 25 if the dialog above is to be believed.

Mostly though, the game relies on slow progress and requiring the RMT currency to unlock much of your accumulated experience to coerce players into spending money on the game… which is exactly where the game stumbles for me.

If I were better at the game… or getting better through play… I might be tempted to spend some money on it.  But I am just horrible and cling to my tier 1 and 2 planes, where at least my gunners can hit something now and again, rather than seeking to advance to the higher tiers where I will likely die all the quicker.

So I suppose my net benefit to the game as a whole is to provide a fat target for the fighter pilots who camp the bomber spawn point.

On fire yet again...

On fire yet again…

I do help my team out when I can, to the best of my ability.  And, fortunately most of the match types have some role for a bomber pilot.  Sometimes the goal is to simply destroy ground targets, which represents the high point of my skills.  I can do that.

Then there are the domination maps, where you have to land on an airfield to capture it.  I can sort of do that as well.  Bombers are easy enough to land and at least my gunners can give me some measure of defense as I try to touch down.

The air domination map though… and that is a new one since I last played… bombers are something of a liability there.  On that map you have to control a section of air space, chasing off or shooting down all your foes until on only your forces are in that area.  That allows you to capture it and win.  In that scenario, a slow bomber is mostly meat for the fighters.  I have helped win one or two of those matches, generally by flying and climbing in a slow circle in the designated airspace, avoiding the fight until it wanders off to another section of the map, at which point I have captured the zone.  But mostly the result is me getting shot down while maybe inflicting a bit of damage on the fighters attacking me.

I have also fiddled with some of the other options.  The run wartime scenarios that you can join, if you have the right aircraft.  You only get a single spawn and you have to land for repair and reload, unlike the arcade matches where you reload after a timer while still in the air.  Those are fun, and always have roles for bombers, though they only show up sporadically.

I’ve also played a few of the historical scenarios, which are solo ventures where you are given a mission to perform with some NPCs.  Again, bombing represents my only successes on that front, and the bombing missions are fairly rare.  I did get to fly Stukas over the English Channel.

Like an early scene from "Battle of Britain"

Like an early scene from “Battle of Britain”

I also did a pass to sink a Japanese battleship, which included the varied complexities of launching and aerial torpedo.

Mission accomplished... by one of the NPC planes...

Mission accomplished… by one of the NPC planes…

But mostly I fly standard, multiplayer missions, maybe two or three a night.  Enough to make a little progress, upgrade my planes and crews a little bit, and earn a bit of currency… just not enough to get much better at things.  It is a fun distraction, a gaming hors d’oeuvre rather than a substantial meal for me.