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Monday, April 28, 2014

More on WT GF Beta

Hands On: War Thunder Ground Forces Closed Beta

By Christopher Livingston Rock Paper Scissors, on April 24th, 2014 at 7:00 pm.
Are we all going to the same war? We could have carpooled.
So, here’s a quick refresher: World of Tanks had tanks and War Thunder had planes, and then World of Warplanes had planes so now War Thunder Ground Forces, currently in closed beta, has both tanks and planes fighting in the same world. I feel like these free-to-play World War II MMOs are in an arms race, and soon they’ll be adding submarines and blimps and, I dunno, flying saucers. Anyway, if you’re wondering if Gaijin Entertainment is as good with tanks as they are with planes, I just spent a couple days rolling around in the Ground Forces beta to find out. Let’s tank a look, he said, vowing it would be his only tank pun.
Roads? Where we're going we don't need roads.
The best way I can sum up Ground Forces is: it’s War Thunder, but now there are tanks. There’s really no adjustment period, everything still works the same, the tanks don’t feel shoehorned in, or out of place. It’s still the same game, except, you know… tanks. There are few different types of missions, but as in the plane portion of the game, they all basically boil down to two sides squabbling over control points. War Thunder’s three familiar game modes are also present: arcade battles with plentiful respawning and extra-helpful UI targeting elements, realistic battles (formerly historical battles) with scaled-back UI and limited lives, and simulator battles, with no third person view and no on-screen markers.
Damn commuter traffic.
Currently, only two of War Thunder’s five countries are tank-enabled, Germany and the U.S.S.R, each with a light starter tank and several different branches of progressively sturdier vehicles to earn. The level of detail is on par with the planes, which is to say, the tanks look very nice.
The controls are straightforward, and the arcade matches tend toward the action-packed side, with tanks speeding all over the map, firing constantly, and of course, lots and lots of ramming. In realistic mode, matches tend to be a bit more restrained and tactical, with players concealing their tanks behind boulders and hillsides, poking their snouts out just enough to spot the enemy and send a few shells their way.
Part tank. Part truck. All man. Er. No man.
These realistic matches are generally better and feel like a dangerous game of hide and seek, rewarding the more patient players and punishing those who try to conduct a tank derby. There are a few destructible elements on the maps, like stone walls, though I hope in the future there will be more objects to blow up, especially when someone is trying to use them for cover.
Think I'll wait behind this rock until... 1945.
As with War Thunder’s plane combat, taking damage doesn’t simply mean a health bar gets chipped away. A lot can happen when your tank is hit, depending on where it’s hit, and by what. Occasionally a single shell will completely destroy your tank or kill your crew, but other times your tracks will be damaged, or your suspension or transmission will get fried, or you might simply catch on fire. Some damage is fixable (at the expense of movement, leaving you quite vulnerable for long, nerve-wracking seconds), and sometimes a member of your crew, like the gunner or driver, is knocked unconscious, slowing your firing rate and reloading speed until they recover.
Henderson, what's the smell? Are you smoking back there?
There are only a couple of maps in the rotation, which actually works well for a beta that only operates for a few hours a day. After a handful of matches it becomes easy to memorize the best positions, the bottlenecks, and the trouble spots, and to learn where the enemy tanks will rush from and where they’ll take cover. Flying planes in these missions didn’t feel much different from normal War Thunder business: ground fire is ground fire, and it’s hard to tell if you’re being shot at from an A.I. anti-aircraft gun or a human player.
Shooting down a player-flown plane with your tank, though? That is a crazy amount of fun. You can unlock a few vehicles that specialize in anti-aircraft fire, like the GAZ-MM (a truck with an anti-aircraft cannon on the back) and I suggest you do it as soon as possible. That’s mostly what I spent my time doing, because shooting down planes from a tank is even more fun than shooting down planes from a plane.
I want my gear in top shape when it gets blown to hell.
Of course, propping up all this tank-on-plane-on-tank combat is War Thunder’s elaborate network of experience points (apparently now called research points, or RP), Silver Lions (the in-game currency, earned while you play) and Golden Eagles (bought with real money and traded for in-game currency), and all the menus, sub-menus, upgrades, progress bars, and sliders that come with it.
Keep in mind that using RP to unlock a new tank doesn’t mean you have a new tank. You still need to buy it (with Silver Lions), and naturally, buying it doesn’t mean you can drive it. You need to hire a new crew (with Lions) or train an existing crew (Lions again) on how to operate your new tank. If you’re out of Lions and just can’t wait to earn more by playing, that’s when you punch in your credit card number and buy some Golden Eagles.
Nobody laugh at my rusty butt!
Another thing to keep in mind: your tank, while new to you, is by no means a shining, polished piece of state-of-the-art technology. It’s rusty and dingy and and while it’ll get you around the battlefield, it needs improvement in all respects, like mobility (suspension, brakes, engine), protection (fire suppression, camo, armor), and of course, firepower. Don’t forget your crew, either, the same crew you just plunked down a couple thousand Lions for. The driver, loader, gunners, and commander can (and should) be upgraded so they’ll drive better, load faster, repair quicker, and spot enemies more easily. Naturally, just about all of this slider-sliding and upgrade-ifying can be sped up with an infusion of actual currency.
What, no slider for joie de vivre?
Not that spending a few bucks on the game is a bad thing. When I played the plane-only version some months ago, I spent about $15 buying Eagles, and I have no regrets. War Thunder is a lot of fun, and from what I’ve seen in the beta, Ground Forces will make it more so. I wouldn’t push anyone to spend real money on a pricey premium tank pack just to get into the closed beta, but when the beta opens up, I would absolutely recommend spending a few hours, and maybe even a few dollars, getting your tracks dirty.
Screw the control point. Imma shoot me some planes.

War Thunder Ground Forces Interview

Interview on Game Reactor with devs

Game Reactor caught up with global community manager Keith Donachie to discuss War Thunder and the upcoming expansion Ground Forces that adds tanks to the game. After tanks the plan is to add ships to the maps creating a complete World War scenario.

"The beauty is we're integrating tanks and aerial combat in the same battle. The ultimate aim of the game is to get all three services, all three mobilisation forces - sea, air and ground into the same battle and you're looking forward towards things like World War mode that's on the horizon. So that's coming as well. We don't know how that's going to pan out at the moment. We don't know what it's going to consist of, but the opportunity generally is driven by the playerbase. The development team have got a picture in mind of what they want to get out of the game. They'll of course head for that, cause they think it's right, but at the same time they have to listen to their playerbase."

Donachie kept coming back to the importance of the numbers and currently the game is limited to 16 on 16."At the moment we're talking about 16 vs 16 players in one battle. That's going to change as we go along. Cause we're going to need more players in the battle to be able to bring in the airforce section. We can't have 2 tanks and 14 planes. It's not going to work to well. But then we've got a matchmaker to balance these things out."
Ground Forces is launching fully at any time (early access in progress now) on PC, but PS4 players will have to wait a little longer. Donachie explained why this is and how things need to progress for Gaijin to be able to make War Thunder fully cross-platform.

"We're kind of at the mercy of Sony with this one unfortunately. They have a system where they don't release patches like we do on the PC version. We average a patch a week, whether it's a small or a large one. And there's usually a large patch every month or every two months. And Sony can't keep up with that, because they have to check all their files to make sure they come across. What we want, what we're aiming for is a cross-platform system. Cross-platform will allow PlayStation players, who are using the exact same software we are using on PC, it will allow them to play with PC players and vice versa. At the moment we can't do that until we can synchronise the game between the two. We've got to have the same version working on both. But because we're lagging behind on the PS4, because the release rate of the patches we just can't combine them at the moment. So Ground Forces probably looking towards quarter 3, quarter 4 before we see them on the PlayStation 4."

Sunday, April 27, 2014

War Thunder Ground Forces

Clank, clang, bang...dead.

That was my experience in War Thunder Ground Forces Beta Weekend.

I was one of the lucky 3,000 who grabbed a beta key and started trundling around the (Ardennes?) forest in a tank.

Not me. This tank is not burning.

I managed to get into three games, and lasted a total of about 5 minutes in each before my panzer was a smoking hulk.

War is Hell.

First part of the confusion started trying to get the game to recognise my key. Had to log out and log in again...duh. There it was.

The big question is how it compares to World of Tanks I guess. I wouldn't know as I am not a Tanker.

So I borrow from my friend Korczakowski:

1. The graphics are so nice that you cannot even dream of comparing to WoT, yet I get relatively the same FPS which is not bad at all. On max graphics I get 20-30 fps and on low (which I usually use) gives me 50-60 fps.

2. Ping spikes seem worse for me than on WoT. Probably just my (Insert profane word) cheap as (insert another profane word) internet provider. There were times my ping spiked up well over 1000 ms making the game unplayable for me. But I'm on a tight budget so there's not much I can do.

3. The vehicle's movement especially turning felt very "slippery" is the only word I can find to describe. I'm not sure what it feels like to drive a real tank, but it may just be because I'm so used to driving WoT tanks where it's likely artificially smooth riding.

4. I like how it's not a hit point bar system. I always hated that cheesy system from WoT.

5. I like how there are ground AI to kill. Makes me feel not so useless since I'm playing weak light tanks to start out.

6. I felt the mouse scroll view didn't go very far enough out and was really sluggish especially when using it to change from 3rd person to 1st person view (In arcade/realistic that is). I haven't tried simulator.

7. I like the reticle for the gun and how you actually need to aim the gun to compensate for the drop of the shell.

8. I'm hoping they add some US tanks aswell as most other nations.

They will. 

And there are still a few glitches, some of them hilarious. 

See this video of the '31st Panzer Cliff Diving Battalion'.

War Thunder is not a flight sim

Let's just get that out of the way shall we?

People who come onto this site and say 'I tried War Thunder and it is more of an arcade game than a sim'... guess what?

You are right.

The makers of War Thunder, Gaijin, call it a 'Flight Game'. They don't get hung up on the 'is it' or 'isn't it' a sim rubbish. They are just keen to produce a fun, accessible flight game that anyone with an interest in combat flight can pick up and play.

Want to play with a mouse? In 3rd person view? You can.

Want to play with a joystick and pedals? In cockpit only view? That too.

Want to see what it was like to go up against a Bf109 in a Mitsubishi Zero? Yep.

Or fight a realistic historic war with the right opponent plane types over the right part of the world...yes, you can.

Do War Thunder aircraft have the most detailed flight systems and accurate flight models? Nup.

Are the weapons and sounds purely historical ... nah.

Is it a great entry into the world of flight games, where you can try for free and buy if you like it, pay nothing if you don't...hell yes!

There. I said it.

War Thunder is Not A Flight Sim.

James, you traitor! What is a flight simulator? Why doesn't War Thunder qualify?

According to Webster Dictionary it is: an airplane pilot-training device in which the cockpit and instruments of an airplane are duplicated and the conditions of actual flight are simulated.

OK, so War Thunder is not a pilot training device, therefore not a simulator.

But then, neither is IL2 or Battle of Stalingrad. 

This is a flight simulator. Does your home made cockpit look like this? If not, get off the soapbox!

All of these games, are just that - games. They are nowhere near as close to the real thing as a flight simulator. Sorry to all of you out there with your home made 'pits. I am sure they are fantastic for immersion, and I wish I had one!

Nice! Wish I had built one myself. But not a flight simulator.

A real flight simulator has hydraulics throwing you around in the virtual sky. Not just a Buttkicker woofer in your chair.

Says Wikipedia: "A Full flight simulator (FFS) duplicates relevant aspects of the aircraft and its environment, including motion. This is typically accomplished by placing a replica cockpit and visual system on a motion platform. A six degrees-of-freedom (DOF) motion platform using six jacks is the modern standard, and is required for the so-called Level D flight simulator standard of civil aviation regulatory authorities such as FAA in the USA and EASA in Europe. Since the travel of the motion system is limited, a principle called 'acceleration onset cueing' is used. This simulates initial accelerations well, and then returns the motion system to a neutral position at a rate below the pilot's sensory threshold in order to prevent the motion system from reaching its limits of travel."

Does this describe your flight game experience? I suspect not.

So, you can rank your flight games in terms of lower (War Thunder) to higher (DCS, Battle of Stalingrad, IL2) authenticity, but you are just splitting hairs.

They are not simulators. They are games. All of them.

Sorry to disappoint.

But once you get past that fact - you remember it is all about the fun, and all that really matters is whether you enjoy your particular flavour of game!



Saturday, April 19, 2014

Under New Management

BOBGAMEHUB has found a  new owner. Re-opening soon as War Thunder Game Hub!

About me: My name is James Halliday, I am 23 years old and grew up in Killarney, Ireland, though I am currently studying at Trinity in Dublin.

You will see me active on various forums for War Thunder, World of Planes, ArmA and Battlefield 3 (fighters/choppers). I love all flight games. Not yet into hard core flight sims, but maybe one day.

I am currently taking my PPL (private pilot licence) training in a C152 at the NFC near Dublin.

If you have been reading BOBGAMEHUB for PC hard core sims I hope you consider also having a look at flight games like these. They are a load of fun, and as a trainee pilot, I can tell you, with the right peripherals, they are also good training for the real thing!

Here is my current favourite ride: The awesome Yak-9T.

This plane is really worth the work to get from Tier 5 to Tier 9 on the USSR tree. The first shot from its 37mm cannon is usually enough to bring any opponent down. It isn't very accurate though, so I always get in close and make sure of my kill!

The Yak-9 was a Soviet single-engine fighter of the WWII era. It was the first combat aircraft designed by Alexander Yakovlev's construction bureau. The most mass-produced Soviet fighter of the war, it remained in production from October 1942 to December 1948, with a total of 16,769 built.

The Yak-9 was a further modification of the Yak-1 and Yak-7. In its core design, it was a redesign of the Yak-7. With few external differences, Yak-9 was at the same time much more advanced internally. This is not unexpected, as almost two years of design and combat experience of the Yak series went into the Yak-9. Also, at the time aluminium was in much greater supply than it had been two years previously at the start of the war. Amongst other things, the use of metal allowed the plane’s weight to be significantly reduced, meaning that more fuel could be stored and that the aircraft could be equipped with more powerful armament and more specialised equipment.

Yak 9T in action! Bringing the BOOM...

The Yak-9T variant, for instance, had an incredibly powerful 37mm NS-37 cannon firing through the propeller hub. Due to the length of the gun barrel, the pilot’s seat had to be moved 40 cm aft, and the airframe was strengthened. The variant carried 30 to 32 cannon shells, as well as 200-220 rounds for the synchronised UB machine gun. Salvo weight for the variant was a whopping 3.74 kg (8.24 lbs). The 37mm gun allowed for fire at increased ranges, up to 1,200 yards against bomber formations, and 500-600 yards against single non-maneuvering bombers. The Yak-9T was also successful against ground targets. Armour-piercing shells, fired from 500 yards at an angle of 45 degrees, could penetrate 30mm of armour. In late 1943 the Yak-9T was used in an anti-shipping role in the Black Sea. A total of 2,748 Yak-9s were built between March 1943 and June 1945.

The one shot wonder: Yak 9T