I’ve been playing War Thunder since 2016. There were plenty of good times, and many times I wanted to ram the plane into the ground at Mach 1 following a heart-wrenching defeat, however it’s fair to say I always enjoyed my time with the free-to-play military MMO. Then came the end of university and life took over, and sadly through not much choice of my own, War Thunder took a back seat.
Along comes 2021, 4 years later, and I find myself looking at the latest update to War Thunder: Direct Hit. I return a total newb and in much worse shape than I was playing in my prime.
Since its inception in 2012, the game has gone through nearly 50 major updates, all of which upgraded the game layering on more content and features with every release.
With so many iterations it’s hard to keep track, but having recently jumped back in, I can safely say that this latest update really takes the game I once knew and dialed it up to eleven. The changes made to the naval gameplay, as well as the aerial armaments are two main points that really allow for much more flexibility in playstyle, allowing for a much less aggressive approach than I knew before.
If like me, you're something of a lapsed War Thunder player, keep reading, because here's what I've realised about War Thunder having jumped back into the game after almost 4 years away.
Taking Back Control
Not much has changed controls wise. The game still feels as fast, fluid and responsive as ever, and the air battles as well as Tank battles are still just as satisfying as when I was playing in 2016. That being said, it’s obvious to see the improvements that have been made. Tanks have seen some nice upgrades, with the M1 Abrams Heavy Armour Common (M1A1HC) finally making its appearance in the game, allowing for some nice medium range tank battles. It’s amazing to see how little can change controls wise, yet so much can be done by working on the core part of a game.
The vehicles, the maps, the graphics and the test drive area have all received several updates and the biggest change bar none is the sheer amount of content. A dozen new ground vehicles, fifteen new boats, seventeen new aircraft *and* two new battlegrounds make this update a huge step up; and that’s just from Direct Hit. If like me you’ve not played in a few years, there’s so much more on top of that!
Combine all that new content with all the graphical improvements on the existing vehicles in War Thunder, and it really feels like I’ve stepped into a whole new game. Not one released in 2012, but one on par with what’s expected of games in 2021.
A Whole New World
As a returning player the whole experience feels fresh, keeping the same exact formula that caused me to start playing in the first place, while simultaneously having so much new content that it feels like I can effectively start over. That’s something I really quite enjoyed. The game was everything I remembered, but with so many improvements all across the board. It meant that this MMO which I already thoroughly enjoyed before, was even more satisfying and easy to use than I remember it.
For instance, being able to do target practice on the updated test site without restarting the session is a huge one, I can finally find the right tank for me without spending a lot of time searching. War Thunder was very much a game I would jump into for a spot of late-night tank warfare, that hasn’t changed a bit.
The same goes for Naval Battles. These honestly feel a lot smoother than I remember, even with the new control scheme, and the Gunnery Fire Control Systems addition to the game honestly opens a lot more possibilities for the Naval side of things that just wasn’t possible when I was playing many years back. Unless my aim has got considerably better, it’s certainly a lot easier to slap an aircraft out of the sky with a well-aimed shot than it was before.
And that doesn’t even begin to touch on the new options for aircraft to battle ground units. With the new Kh-29T seeker missiles, and KAB-500 guided bombs make the Mig-27M a formidable opponent against ground units, and it’s for that reason I’ve very much been mostly flying with the MIG. It’s just so versatile.
So, Is It Worth Jumping Back Into War Thunder? Absolutely!
Even when War Thunder was originally released the game wasn’t short on content, but clearly in my time away it’s very much come on leaps and bounds. It’s a brilliant all-rounder and whilst for some games, being a jack of all trades might be considered a hindrance, for War Thunder it’s a huge positive. There’s something for everyone, and after years away, I feel like I've got even more toys to play with inside the metaphorical toybox.
I’d urge anyone who’s given the game a break to jump right back in. I promise you. It’s way better than ever before.