Andy Mills, 10 October 2022
War Thunder is a cross-platform military online game for Windows, Linux, Mac, PS4, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S. The game is dedicated to creating an engaging battle space experience with an almost endless supply of realistically rendered combat aircraft, ground vehicles and naval forces. These vehicles can be earned through obtaining in-game currency as a result of your performance in battle or you can take part in numerous micro-transactions (with real world money) to immediately access better hardware. While some players refer to this as a “pay-to-win” model, the game tends to be well-balanced and allows those who play for free to be very effective combatants. Gajin, the company that developed and published the game, claims there is a total of over 50 million registered users. On average the figures tend to be more modest with approximately 68,000 players involved in 1200 online battles at any given time.
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Players can take part in all three categories of combat (air, ground and sea), but it appears a large number prefer to specialize in one or two of these areas. I can’t seem to get enough of the armoured warfare experience and spend most of my time driving tanks, self-propelled guns and anti-aircraft vehicles. Player views consist of a third-person exterior view of the unit being driven and a first-person “gunner” perspective which allows you to more accurately engage the enemy. The game lets you engage in chronologically arranged combat during various eras that range from World War II to present day. The game has three different difficulty modes: arcade battles, realistic battles and simulator battles. Arcade battles are very accessible while simulator battles require a more finely honed skill set. Arcade mode is the most popular category of combat and despite the simple sounding moniker, it can be quite a challenge to survive each battle.
The game currently has 9 factions: the USA, Germany, the USSR, Great Britain, Japan, China, Italy, France, Sweden and Israel. Each nationality starts out with two or three vehicle crews which you train to operate different platforms. As you accumulate more resources you can create highly trained crews and pick which skills you want each individual member to develop. Similar to World of Tanks (and other games of this ilk), War Thunder also sports a technology tree which allows you to research different platforms and purchase increasingly more effective weapon systems. This “tech tree” includes historical tanks and anti-aircraft systems along with concept or “paper vehicles” that never made it past the drawing board. For instance, the tech tree below shows the various armour platforms available to the Japanese tank commander.
Many players opt to start out by going with one of the big three nationalities: Germany, Russia or the USA. Prowling the battlefield in a Panther or T-34 may be fun for some players, but the real tread-heads will drool over the staggering number of weapons systems fielded by other nations. I’ve always had an interest in Japanese armour which (unfortunately) is rarely portrayed in tank sims or games. War Thunder gave me a chance to dive into this subject as a Japanese tank commander.
Lay of the Land
As a mission loads you are presented with a map that outlines your battle ground complete with the spawn points and objective locations. You have approximately 20 seconds to look over the battlefield and make any tactical decisions before the mission begins. If you don’t chose a spawn point the game will randomly assign your tank to one of the various locations (if there is more than one spawn point available). You are able to spawn three times in each mission, but you must use a different tank and crew after each death. The blue locations are friendly and the red are for the opposing forces.
In the map shown below, the goal is for each team to secure and hold all three objective locations A, B and C.
Heading into Battle
As the first battle is loading, I make the decision to start with the Type 97 Chi-Ha medium tank. The Type 97 Chi-Ha was the most widely produced Japanese medium tank of World War II and is instantly recognizable due to its low silhouette and semicircular radio antenna on the turret. It has a three man crew and is armed with Type 97 57mm main gun and two 7.7mm machine guns. The Chi-Ha has a Battle Rating of 1.3. Battle rating (BR) is a value used to determine matchmaking in War Thunder. A Battle Rating is a number assigned to every aircraft, ground unit, and naval vessel in the game that correlates with their effectiveness in combat. Roughly speaking, as a vehicle’s capabilities and performance increase, so does its battle rating. Battle rating can also differ depending on the game mode.
With pre-mission time expired and my preliminary tactical decisions made, I’m now placed on the battlefield in my Chi-Ha. Let the battle begin !
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