Earth-tremblingly popular combined-arms online shooter War Thunder has been trundling along for so long now that the constant rumble of its tanks-vs-planes-ships warfare has kind of faded into the background. Eventually, a game gets so big that it becomes a constant in the gaming landscape, and the fact that it ranks among the top 10 most popular free-to-play games on every platform it’s on attests to its neverending appeal.
War Thunder’s popularity comes down to a few things - it’s the best vehicular combat online game out there, it’s Free to Play and doesn’t force you to spend money to have fun, and it’s just received its biggest ever update, making it a perfect time for you lucky new PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X owners to mount up and enter the fray.
Here we’re going to talk about how the New Power update takes War Thunder to the next level of mechanised warfare, improving on what was already the best vehicular combat experience since you smashed a plastic warplane against a toy tank as a toddler.
But first, a quick introduction. War Thunder is a multiplayer vehicle shooter that saddles up two teams of 16 people in a range of tanks, planes and naval craft spanning from World War II all the way up to the modern era, then pits them against each other in explosive mechanised warfare.
More experienced players will even be able to get their hands on weaponry capable of swinging the battle in an instant, but we’ll save the details on that particular bombshell for when you actually play the game.
One of the biggest improvements with the New Power update is the new ‘Dagor 6.0’ engine.
The first thing you’ll notice is how great the sky looks, as you pierce the clouds in dogfights to puncture the hulls of your enemies amidst the mountains of volumetric fog thousands of feet above the ground. The introduction of vertical take-off aircraft like the legendary Harrier jet marks a new generation for War Thunder’s aerial combat.
Scorch the Earth with tanks that span the generations, ranging from World War II classics like the Panzer IV, to the modern-day Tank Destroyer, the M1128 Stryker. You’ll really feel the heat of battle in the new engine, as explosions are more dynamic and shells punch out from tank guns with an impact that feels like it could shatter your screen at any moment.
Finally, storm the seas in the much-improved naval combat. By popular demand, battleships have joined the War Thunder fleet, supporting the existing destroyers and cruisers to deliver realistic naval warfare simulation. And what better way to celebrate the arrival of battleships than with the most famous one of them all - the HMS Dreadnought.
This update is perfectly timed for the new console generation, taking advantage of all the latest advancements in gaming graphics tech. The new-gen console versions run at 60FPS in 4K resolutions, and utilise incredible ray-tracing technology to make the metal of your tanks glow in the fires left by your fallen enemies.
The PC version has all the same technical perks, as well as Nvidia DLSS 3, which massively boosts game performance at very little cost in graphical quality.
Three levels of realism - arcade, realistic and simulation - mean that the game accommodates both returning and new players - history buffs who obsess over every fine detail, as well as fast-fingered gamers who just want to wreak havoc on the battlefield. With nearly 2000 vehicles plucked from nearly a century of military history, you’ll never be wanting for choice.
There’s a great reward system built into War Thunder, which lets you complete missions to unlock unique tanks like the T-10A, a modification of the last ever Soviet tank produced. It’ll make a great addition to your hangar, which has also been overhauled with the latest update - and is now a gleaming interactive museum displaying your vehicular arsenal.