World of Warplanes preview

Tom Hatfield at

One these planes it's best to actually listen to the safety briefing.

The key is balancing accessibility and simulation, says Victor: “Not too hardcore so that it takes you 30 minutes to take off, and then you crash land after a successful mission.”

Instead the game is all about the aerial combat itself, not the bits before and after. All that said, Wargaming.net are currently debating whether to let players try to land their planes at the end of the match for an experience bonus.

Like World of Tanks, the controls will be as simple as the developers can make them, but complex calculations will take place underneath to determine the success of every shot. Hardcore flight sim fans will be free to use a joystick if they want, but it won’t be necessary to play the game effectively.

While the fantasy of flying a Spitfire is one everyone can get excited about, flight sims have for some time been considered a very niche genre with a small but dedicated audience. So why try it? “Our players want it,” says Victor. “I play World of Tanks under my own name with the Wargaming.net tag, so they know it’s me. And they’re like, “Wow! Victor! Why don’t you make planes?”

Why the new game so soon? “Let’s be realistic, there will be some lifetime limit. World of Tanks will be tanks today, tanks tomorrow... maybe in six months they’ll be bored of tanks.”

There's some blue(ish) sky thinking right there.

It’s a surprisingly pessimistic approach, considering how successful and frequently updated World of Tanks has been. Victor clarifies: “We’ll keep making World of Tanks... it’s going nowhere. It’ll be there five, seven, ten years, always getting new tanks, new maps, new modes, graphical updates and everything like that.”

They don’t want to take their success for granted. “We believe [in] the best service, including increasing the quality, new content, new maps, new tanks, new modes, satellite games. We have to keep working hard with increasing capacity. Right now we have 500 people developing and supporting World of Tanks and those two other games.”

Wargaming.net has invested most of its revenues from World of Tanks back into the company “We don’t drive Ferraris, we don’t buy castles in France,” says Victor. “The money goes back into new engineers, more opportunities in marketing, so we are upping the position of the game as we speak.”

Victor is very much aware how lucky his team have been to achieve what they did. “We paid our dues, of course, to the gaming community and so the karmic authority thought, ‘OK, they’ve made the mistakes they could have made, they’ve been serving the community for 12 years so let them have this time’.”

Lessons have been learnt from the first game, too. The number of people playing World of Tanks caught Wargaming.net by surprise, forcing a long beta period. Victor assures us they’re trying for a shorter turnover with the World of Warplanes beta, starting this December.

Warplanes is more than a straight conversion of World of Tanks.

There are technological improvements too, with BigWorld assisting on an upgraded version of the World of Tanks engine to launch with the game. “I’ve done a lot of games before,” says Victor. “I’ve done a lot of engines before that, and the engine that World of Tanks has behind it is unique. It’s a combination of BigWorld’s cool, new load-balancing and server-side technology, with lots of twists from our side and [the] server side.”

We asked Victor if there were ever plans for planes and tanks to fight alongside each other in the same arena, but he says it won’t be happening, unfortunately. The playstyles are just too different, not to mention the fact that World of Warplanes’ maps are significantly larger than any of those seen in World of Tanks – many of them 15 kilometres or more.

Instead, the Clan Wars metagame, in which rival guilds battle for territory over a turn-based map, will link the two. Planes will fight for air superiority of a region while tanks attempt to control the ground, success in both counting towards your larger goals. Wargaming.net are tight lipped on how exactly this will work, but it seems an interesting way to make sure the two games interact without fundamentally changing how the already successful World of Tanks plays.

It’s going to be a busy time for Wargaming.net; at Gamescom they also announced World of Battleships, the naval component of the series. It’ll be developed at the same time as World of Warplanes, but taking a very different approach: bigger, slower, and with more powerful guns.

World of Battleships, like World of Warplanes, is aiming for a shared currency, and the idea of seamlessly switching experience and gold between three different kinds of warfare is exciting.

How much further can their ‘World of’ series go? “Even a six-year-old boy can come up with a list of obvious continuations,” says Victor. “There would be World of Tanks, maybe World War 1, but of course battleships, of course helicopters, of course warplanes, of course modern jet planes, of course big walking robots,” he says. “It’s not about having the ideas – everyone has those ideas. The key is to find the appropriate development team, or grow it, expand it, put a lot of money in so the game is quality, and then also wrap it up in community and support layers to service it right. Any of those games are possible, and would be a success, if they’re done right.”

So could we see World of Mechs? Victor just laughs.