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Sunday, October 26, 2014

Fantastic video by Haechi

A letter home by a pilot to his mother...moving no matter what language you speak!

Ready, start your engines!

Racing events are available from the 24th of October at 18:00 GMT to 27th October 12:00 GMT
Map: Tropical island, 2 laps, Realistic Mode. Available aircraft era III.

The last racing weekend showed great interest from the players to the new game mode. In the future, we plan to further develop air-races: you are about to take the first few steps and participate in the preliminary time trials and, of course, prizes are waiting on the podium of "Formula War Thunder"! In the meantime, we suggest you to hone your skills with the training flights on the map Tropical Island!

Be the top racer in "Formula War Thunder"!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

If you are on the fence paying 50/90 Euros for BoS, you might want to wait

A (virtually) free to play version is on the way.

In a few months time, you will be able to get a cheap trial version of Battle of Stalingrad which comes with two planes unlocked (and the rest you can earn through XP grinding).

But the devs aren't announcing this, because they want you to pay 50 or 90 Euros for the launch version first.

Russian trial version released already

The devs have now (reluctantly) confirmed they are doing what they said two weeks ago they would NOT do, that is, release a virtually free - 500 rouble- version of Battle of Stalingrad with two planes, where you unlock the others through XP grinding, to Russian customers.

So they misled you two weeks ago saying they would NOT do this.

777 studio head Jason Williams has said he did not deliberately mislead anyone, as this decision was made by the Russian studio bosses at 1C.

1C GS credibility down in flames.

But he wants you to believe this version will only be released in the Russian market.

We told you two weeks ago this was inevitable. Not because we are psychic, but because the devs themselves accidentally said so in one of their promotional videos! Then they went into damage control mode trying to deny it.

And we happily admit we got it wrong by a massive 500 roubles (10 Euro).

The trial version is NOT free people, it is only virtually free.

Now when these same devs tell you that there will NOT be a trial version released outside Russia, so you will have to buy the 50 USD or 90 USD version, why should you believe them?

By the way, the 777 Studio produces Rise of Flight, a WWI flight game, which comes as - you guessed it - a free version with two planes.

So it's just a matter of time and if you are patient, you will be able soon enough to get that $50 game with 8 planes unlocked, as a $10 game with two planes unlocked.

Would anyone like to bet against it happening?

Track IR 5 support in WT: 6DoF

If you havent discovered this little baby, then you might just have learned why your opponents seem always to be able to see you in FRB but you can't see them!

TrackIR is a device you plug into your PC, that reads a tracker on your head or hat and allows you to 'look' around the cockpit as naturally as you would in real life.

WT supports 6DoF or six degrees of freedom, meaning you can look anywhere and the in game camera will follow your movements.

Check six dudes!

Friday, October 24, 2014

WT misses best online title

Well, that aint right!
Gaijin Entertainment’s free-to-play VR compatible combat title War Thunder has missed out on the Best Online Game, which was instead awarded to Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft.
War Thunder is a free-to-play online title for both PC and PlayStation 4. Players can control a range of planes and take part in multiplayer battles. On PC the experience already features support for the Oculus Rift head-mounted display (HMD) while support for the Project Morpheus HMD on PlayStation 4 is also expected to arrive in time

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Battle of Stalingrad for War Thunder Fans: An Alternate View

OK, sure and I was maybe a little bit negative about Battle of Stalingrad (BoS) as a potential 'next step' for WT/WOW fans looking for some more challenging flying.

One of our guests, Andrei Simonov, left a comment on the blog here and offered to write his viewpoint on the game, and I love that kind of constructive approach. Much better than the usual 'your blog sux die you loser' comments that I have to deal with.

So here is Andrei's review, which I have taken the liberty of spicing up with a few stolen screenshots and converting currency to Euros.



I am a War Thunder player and I like Battle of Stalingrad

Review by Andrei Simonov

English is not my first language so please excuse that I am brief. I will list the reasons why I have found it to be a natural progress from War Thunder, which is the game I play most in my spare time (I am a student).

In War Thunder I play only FRB, and fly only the IL2 Avenger which I bought on premium sale plus
2000 Golden Eagles. This aircraft for me is the ideal ground attack machine and does not damage easily.

War Thunder IL2
The IL2 pack cost me 20 Euro.

Now imagine my joy to read there is the Battle of Stalingrad, which features my beautiful IL2, in high quality flight model, for only 50 Euro. 
The BoS ultimate ground pounder: IL2
And then for that price I also get other Soviet planes which I can learn to fly: The awesome fast bomber the Pe-2, the Lagg3, Yak-1 . I consider that I got these three other planes for only 30 Euro more than I paid for one good plane in WT.

Also, there are 4 German planes which I DONT want, as I would never, ever fly for the German side, but they are there if ever I would want.

Already this is a bargain to me.

What you need 

I bought a cheap joystick online which has programmable buttons and a slider for the throttle and this was 10 Euros. Now I have nothing more to pay, and it is fine for playing Battle of Stalingrad.

The Stalingrad environment

This environment is special to me because my history is here, and the history of my country. You have to know, this is where for the first time, Germany was shown that it could be beaten. Not Africa. Not Western Europe, here in Russia, at Stalingrad. From Stalingrad onwards, Germany was retreating, thanks to the Russian army and navy and airforces.

This is a very realistic game about that battle, which makes emotions surge strongly for me. I understand not everyone will feel the same, but you just have to read a book and you will feel it. I have asked James to recommend a good book in English.

Stalingrad by Antony Beevor, easily the best English language book about Stalingrad.)

This game has made the story of Stalingrad for the airforces, come to life.

The plane(s)

My IL2 is beautiful. It was not hard to make the change from WT IL2 to the BofS IL2 because the flying in easy (Normal) mode is the same as in WT and a joystick makes it easy to use.

But it feel much much 'heavier'. It is hard to explain but the first few flights I made from air starts, I kept flying into the ground because of not pulling up early enough. I would pull on the stick but the momentum of him kept him going into the ground. This feels very real.

A nicely smashed IL2
And there are good effects when you crash! The crash and damage models are very precise and each part of your plane can take seperate damage, and if the damage is bad there are part of the plane which stop working, but you can keep flying, until the whole plane is damaged, so there is a really good feeling of panic and fear trying to get your machine home if it is smoking or a wing is damaged or a wheel and you have to land and then something else goes wrong.

And if you do smash your machine, don't worry, no repairs to pay for, you get a new one on the next mission!

You can also man the gun and the bombadier positions.
I think once you learn to use a joystick, flying in BofS is not harder than WT with a mouse, and I already feel confident to turn off some of the helping aids and try to fly more and more fully real even for takeoffs and landings after about ten hours time.

The game

The campaign game for BofS is hard. 

James has described here on this blog and he does not like it as much as I do, but it is not easy to find your target and then hit it, because it is well hidden usually in the snow. I have to turn on the map and target icons to find it, but then I turn them off again and that is a good enough help.

I like that the game shows 5 different phases of the air war, from when Germany reached Stalingrad to when it surrendered after being surrounded. But I would have liked to also see the first part of the attack when the German airforce was outnumbering the Russian airforce by 100 times, and the Russians had to fight against huge numbers of German aircraft. This would have been exciting for a game (but not in real life!).

A phase in the campaign where the German airforce heavily outnumber Russian would have been good.
Air combat is good, and the planes behave very realistic in their actions. I have to say in WT you sometimes feel your enemy is rocket powered and seems to zoom higher and faster than ever a real machine could. There is none of that in BofS, every move the enemy makes seems real. And human players in multiplay cannot do amazing things or have weapons which seem overpowered.

Mostly I am playing the single player campaign at the moment because I am learning, and I know on multiplay I would be too easy meat! But don't worry you guys, I am coming!

The graphics

A FW190 cockpit. You will never see me in this one!

I said I like the scenery of Stalingrad because I recognise it and it is realistic for that time of year. I would like more haze and fog, and I would like to see bad weather come more often in the campaign, like snow. But else it is very beautiful.

Some say it is boring to have so much snow, and a bit more variety in the snow colours would be good (yes, snow has colours) but this is a small thing. I am sorry to you all, that is what Stalingrad looks like in winter, just a bit dirtier.

The planes are easily as beautifully drawn as in WT, and with more small details which you can see are very accurate, especially in the cockpits. I have compared the cockpit of the IL2 in WT and in BofS and the one in BofS is much closer to the real cockpit than in WT.

Look at the detail in this screen, the heat blurring the IL2 which is flaming, the haze of the low level cloud, the detail on the plane models. 
For many more screenshots, just go here:


I have the feeling flying my IL2 in BofS that this is as close as I can get to really flying an IL2, and I am only on easy mode, I realise that. This game motivates me to get better and better, to learn to fly my machine on Expert mode without any artificial help so that I can learn how it was really to fly an IL2 at Stalingrad.

And I know that with this game, I can try to make that ambition, where in WT I would have never been convinced it was close to real.

The only things I would ask would be an earlier phase for the campaign, and a cheaper price which did not make me pay for the German planes I do not want, ever!

So I give this score for BofS

Historical: 9/10 (you will see all about Stalingrad air war)
Learning difficulty: 5/10 (I have a lot to learn, but it is worth it!)
Gameplay: 8/10 (there is plenty of ways to have fun in single play and eventually online when you are good enough)
Graphics: 8/10 (very accurate vision of Stalingrad, very good plane and special effects)
Total: 9/10

Monday, October 20, 2014

What, you can't play Battle of Stalingrad with a mouse?!

Forgot to mention this in my review, and it is causing some angst among flight game fans so I thought I would make it really clear:

You can't use a mouse with Battle of Stalingrad. You need at least a joystick to play 'normal mode' and if you want to be able to survive online you will probably also need a set of rudder pedals, or at least learn how to use the Z/X keys on your keyboard to fly with the rudder, because without it your opponent will outturn you with ease and your arse will be grarse.

However, you can fly on autopilot or as a gunner or bombadier in multiplayer just with a mouse...if you think that is worth 50 Euros!

So be warned - and buyer beware...don't spend the money on this game unless you have the right kit.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Lets get airborne grunts!

War Thunder: ground up.

The great promise of War Thunder has always been that its fire-spitting aircraft and bomb-gobbing tanks would eventually join together in glorious phlegm-filled shooting matches. It’s been months since Ground Forces introduced tracked armour to the game - but it’s taken until this week’s update for tanks and planes to trade fire.

Update 1.43’s arcade mode allows players to use aircraft to support ground forces.

All players start the battle grounded, in tanks - but once they’ve destroyed two enemy machines, they’ll earn the right to whizz about in an attacker aircraft.

If they then blow up three tanks from the air, they’ll unlock the right to a heavy bomber - best used to “smash enemy armoured units with their bomb payload”.

Air-to-ground combat becomes an imperative during triggered ‘mini-events’. These are temporary shared objectives - to cause a huge amount of damage to particular enemy ground forces within a strict period of time. Tank players will call down these mini-events, and flying allies will cover their “devastating raids”. Opponents will do their best to intercept.

This last bit’s important for would-be pilots: tanks don’t pop out of existence while you’re dogfighting - so Gaijin encourage players to find an appropriate hidey-hole for the duration of their flight.

And don't blow up your own tank, OK boys and girls?


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Battle of Stalingrad developers ask fans to manipulate Metacritic

In one of the dummest moves ever seen in gaming, the makers of Battle Stalingrad asked their fans to go to Metacritic and write positive reviews to lift the score for their sim. They threatened that if this did not happen, the game would close by Christmas!

The post was deleted almost immediately, but not before it caused a furore.

You can see it here:

There can be no doubt that plenty of media companies wish they could manipulate Metacritic, and that some even try. But very few actually post about it on a public forum! What are they putting in the vodka in Russia? The should try drinking single malt instead.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

IL2 Battle of Stalingrad for WT/WOW Fans: the full review

(For, by and to War Thunder/World of Warplane fans)

BOOMchuggalugga! Here we come...
Based on: BOS pre-release beta version (October 2014, 90% complete)

In a few short weeks time WT players who visit any sort of gaming website or forum are likely to see an advertising blitz for ‘IL2 Sturmovik, Battle of Stalingrad’.

As a War Thunder/Ground Forces or World of WarPlanes/Tanks/Ships player, this title wants to win your time and money, so what is it?

I’ll tell you this, and I won’t tell you any more:

IL2 Sturmovik Battle of Stalingrad (BoS) in 10 words or less

It’s a PC flight game being released November 2014.

OK, I'll tell you more: BoS in 100 words or less

It’s set in WW2, 1942, in Russia, with planes from Germany flying against planes from Russia. You can buy a version with 8 planes for 50 bucks/Euros, or with ten planes for 90 bucks/Euros. You can play in either ‘normal’ or expert mode. Normal mode is like War Thunder Arcade mode, and Expert mode is like Realistic mode, just even more realistic.

The Stalingrad map is flat, white, and snowy, with flat, white snowy bits, and icy rivers. And snow. Great for framerates on older PCs, a bit boring after you have flown over it a few times.
I love War Thunder/World of Warplanes, so why would I buy this?

If you have a gaming PC, mouse and/or a joystick (for best experience you need a programmable joystick), you have 50+ bucks burning a hole in your pocket, and are looking for a more ‘realistic’ flight game than WT/WOW, this could be worth a look.

OK I read this far, give me a walkthrough

Right, you either download the standalone installer first, or buy it via Steam, and then there is a 3GB download. That installs and you get a start screen, in Russian. Don’t panic, you can change the language to English (only two language choices so far).

When you start the game you get this menu screen, which shows you whatever aircraft you last flew in, inside a hangar.

IL2 BoS menu screen, from the back.

OK OK, here is what she was looking at.
 Get airborne quickly without real people trying to kill you

You have several game options. The first is Quick Mission. Here you can choose one of three maps, two small and one the full Stalingrad area map. As a War Thunder player the first thing you will notice about these maps is this is Stalingrad, in winter. Expect flat landscape, snow, ice, and snow, and more ice. A few trees, scattered hovels, and a burned out (low-res) city. So far there is only one landscape, and this is it. But it isn’t as boring as it looks. Try landing on that snow, or even better, on the ice of the River Volga! See what happens ;)

This is the QMB interface. You can choose two flights on each side, of 4 planes each (or random numbers). The QMB lets you choose a few options, generates the mission (which you can fly from takeoff, or start in the air ready to go) and throws you into the action.

Choose your quick mission: 1-1, or up to 8 vs 8.
Choose your mods and options (but only if you have unlocked them in the campaign first)
Wait. Four planes? Like, a total of eight per side? Not much action to be had there, you might think. You might be right. More on this when we get to the single player campaign.

The good part is that all the planes you have bought, are available to you to fly – fighters, twin engined ground attack, bombers. No tech tree, no grinding, no ‘premium planes’ once you have paid for your download.

All of the planes have authentic flight models, very sophisticated flight models, that you can fly either on Normal (arcade) or Expert (Full Real) settings and full real really is full real. You will be much busier in the cockpit of a BoS plane than in Full Real in WT, because all controls are modelled, even down the last knob and switch.

Dumb it down, switch it up

A good thing about the interface is that you can start in Arcade (normal) mode, and then switch off a lot of the GUI interface stuff to make it more realistic for yourself: you can independently switch off map icons, plane indicators, aim helpers, target locators, in game messages about the condition of your plane (‘tailplane rods broken!’), or external views, and switch on things like complex engine management (startup sequence, radiator and temp management, prop pitch and RPM) when you are ready.

The QMB is a good way to get to know each of the aircraft without someone on your tail ruining your day while you are still trying to work out which way is up.

Now get airborne and kill some human pilots

This leads us to multiplayer. Here, the game is a very different to War Thunder. In War Thunder there is a whole support system behind your plane that you have to look after – keeping up with repairs, upgrades and crew skills keeps you almost as busy sometimes as the actual flying, or in the worst cases, keeps your favourite machine grounded. And of course there is the tech tree to climb up, or buy into, before you get the right plane at the level you like.

In BoS multiplayer you are free to fly any machine, out of the box. There is no maintenance, and if you get damaged or killed, you just restart and fly a fresh new machine again next time. Some WT players are going to LOVE that. I do! But others may miss that element of the game.

Unfortunately, there are really only limited online options right now – no free for all, or historic modes, and only one type of map (flat/snowy!). On the official servers, you can either take off from the ground in the thick of the action, or take off in the air, away from the action. I think it should be the other way around, to avoid vulching, but there you go. The action is all player vs player, so it feels like an endless LIVE/DIE/REPEAT of PVP encounters. I did have some success starting in a big bomber, the He111 Heinkel, and on chat I got a few fighters to accompany me as I tried to break through and wipe out the enemy base. We got to the base, I dropped my bombs (missed darnit), and got shot down by flak (flying too low) while my escorts were bored because no one came up to attack us, so they soon went down low to swat or be swatted.

Pick a side, pick a plane, mod it up. Start in the air, or on the ground for missions with full takeoff and landing. Basic PVP gameplay, but you play this game for the realism, not the variety. This is about dogfighting in REAL Full Real, if you are man enough.
On some of the unofficial servers there have been properly created coop missions, and historical missions with proper ground attack targets, escorts etc, but the best of these servers was recently shut down by the devs in a spat over some design decisions, so the full potential of multiplayer in BoS is yet to be seen.

Most servers at the moment however have only 20 or so players on each side and servers are currently limited to MAX 32 players each. If you like skies full of targets, you will be disappointed – in one mission on a server on the large map, there were only 20 players and I could not find them before the mission timer ran out!  You won't see much ground action either, just a gun emplacement or stationary vehicle here or there.

Now here comes the catch – there is a series of weapon/armour/bombload mods and ‘unlocks’ that you will want to use in multiplayer, including cool skins for your death ride. BUT to get them you have to play through the Single Player game first. They can’t be unlocked in multiplayer.
You can only use the weapons, mods, and skins online, that you have unlocked in single player mode.
Ara cod?! (As we say in my parts, or WTF as you probably say in yours). Yes, you heard right, to get the pimped up ride with the big cannon and armour plate in Multiplayer, you have to unlock it in Single Player. Now the bizarre part is that you do get awarded points in multiplayer for successful missions where you make a kill or two and land your machine. But those points do not count.

Thassok, I love Call of Duty style single player campaigns!

Bad luck, nothing like that here.

This is the part of the game that has provoked the most angst among people who bought into the beta access. Single player in BoS, when you come from the multiplayer world of WT, is MIND NUMBINGLY I’D-RATHER-KISS-MY-GRAN-ON-THE-MOUTH BORING.

For a full description see my earlier post, HERE

After playing about ten missions, I will tell you why it is so boring.

Ten reasons the BoS campaign sux

- It sux, but you are forced to play it to unlock weapons for multiplayer

- It is just the Quick Mission Builder with different lines drawn on the map in the briefings

- There isn’t enough action, most of the time you do not see any enemy planes on the way to, or from the target

- Even when you do see the enemy, there are not many of them, and the campaign does not even use all types, so you just see the same aircraft over and over

- It takes about 20 boring missions to unlock all the mods for a plane

- There are ten planes in all so

- That means 200 boring missions to unlock all the weapons for all the planes

- You also have to win XP to unlock the different airfields on each side, but

- All the airfields look the same

- There is no plot, just a series of chapters with random missions and few medals to win

So, you don’t like the campaign?

It’s desperate. Actually, I wouldn’t really care about it, except these game developers called 1C/777 appear to have learned their gameplay politics from Stalin: “We have a clever five year plan, we are going to make you play single player for five years before you are allowed to play multiplayer with mods, even if that is why you bought the game.”

Or is that really the whole story?

I love a good conspiracy theory as much as the next man (who looks more like a woman in disguise dont yers think?). So here is my theory.

BoS went the premium box route in beta to scrape up a lot of quick cash, charging IL2 Sturmovik enthusiasts up to 90 bucks to play the beta. But that is not their audience, or why would they do this stupid system with single player unlocks for multiplayer use? Why would they make a game with so many War Thunder elements, which the IL2 Sturmovik fans think are unnecessary at best, unserious at worst.

Ask me, the answer to any question involving male behaviour is always binary: either MONEY or SEX.

Since I don’t think the devs are launching BoS to get laid more (though it might be a side benefit if they get rich) the answer therefore is MONEY. So how does this strange design decision make them more money?

Here's how. As soon as sales of the premium boxed version peak, they are going to release a free to play version (see post about that HERE) though they are currently making out they are not saying they 'currently have no plans for a free version' outside Russia. Guys, they are fibbing.

You’ll get a free to play version with two planes eventually, and the ability to win the others via XP.

But you, dear gamer, are going to say ‘Screw that campaign shite, I’ll just buy some IL2Roubles™ and trade my roubles for the Peshka with the 20 mm ShVAK cannons, seatback armour, and snow camouflage skin with skull and crossbones emblem.' And then, when you get bored of that, you are going to want a new machine, the bigger bombs that go BABOOM, and racing stripes on the wings, so you’ll buy those, and … starting to sound familiar? You’ll feel like you are back in WT before you know it, except these airplanes are hard core and much more of a challenge to fly Full Real.

OK should I buy it or what?

Not yet. If there is a free demo when it launches – try that.

If not, wait for the free to play version. It will come with two planes (the Lagg3 and Bf109F4) as in the Russian version. If it is like the other title from these guys, Rise of Flight, these might come with some of the weapon mods and skins unlocked, but mostly not, so you’ll have to earn the XP or buy them.

I can’t wait man! I am tired of WT high tier sim mode in my dented Typhoon. I am so far from unlocking the Spitfire IX it is crazy.

OK friend, you have two options.

Burn 50 bucks now, and SUCK GRANDMA’s FACE playing the BoS single player game to unlock the weapons you need to play multiplayer in your new death machines.

Spend 20 bucks (or 10 when it is on sale, which it frequently is) later buying and playing Cliffs of Dover, which is what I prefer to do. And HERE is why I recommend that.

Monday, October 6, 2014

World of Warships gameplay stream

(Ahoy there mateys...sorry, couldn't help it.)

The narrators should have done this in pirate voices, is all I'm sayin'.

WoWP vs WT: faceoff

(BBQ ribs, vs Cajun Chicken? Or more to it than that?)

Epic Dogfight: Our World of Warplanes Vs. War Thunder Comparison Review

by Spunkify | on January 3, 2014 |

There’s a battle going on in the virtual skies, and it ain’t pretty. One one side, you have the juggernaut known as Wargaming and its B-52 of a title, World of Warplanes. It’s opponent is the smaller, nimbler Gaijin Entertainment and War Thunder. One will rule the skies while the other goes down in flames!

OK, that’s a little overly dramatic. It’s entirely possible that WoWP and WT can co-exist in the free-to-play gaming space, each game with its own fanatical player base. I’ve played a fair bit of both, and while the preference of the MMOBomb staff isn’t hard to discern, if you’ve been paying attention, I think both games have their good and bad points. Let’s break them down, shall we?


Much has been made of the control issues with World of Warplanes, through its beta and continuing into launch, especially when compared with War Thunder. While I prefer WT’s scheme, I will admit it feels a little more “arcade-y” and less realistic. I won’t claim to be a flight sim expert, but that seems a little out of place for a game modeled on real aircraft and not on, say, X-wings and TIE Fighters.

Still, I can’t deny that my dogfights, whether 1v1 or involving multiple planes, have been more enjoyable in WT, largely due to the greater range of movement. Some planes in WoWP handle like absolute bricks – again, realistic but generally unenjoyable – which is fine for bombers but not for anything expected to aim at and actually shoot opponents. The introduction of G-forces in WT puts a soft cap on just how crazy you can get with your planes, letting the player be the judge of how much to maneuver, and not the game engine.

And is there anything cooler than having your engine shot out and still managing to pull off a perfect landing? Every time I do that in War Thunder, I breathe an exhilarating sigh of relief. I wish something like that existed in World of Warplanes.


Controls aside, how does it play? Here’s a spot where War Thunder is the winner, hands down. Being able to pilot five planes into action overcomes the biggest weakness of World of Warplanes, that being spending more time in a loading screen/pre-match than in the actual game, thanks to an early exit.

It also makes grinding out matches far less tedious, because you’ll have a number of different planes to trot out, rather than feeling like you’ve been flying that… same… single… damn… plane… forever.

Since you won’t likely win by destroying all your opponents in WT, you’ll actually need to concentrate on ground targets and other objectives, a mostly ignored facet of WoWP battles, which are typically just 15-on-15 deathmatches. Toss in scenarios and the promise of full integration with ground forces, and it’s hard to see anything WoWP does better here than WT.


This is the general category I use to describe how good a game is at letting you know what you’re doing. All games are simulations – you don’t actually fly a plane or swing a sword or shoot a gun – so how the game lets you know what you’re doing by clicking buttons – and, importantly, if you’re doing it right – is important.

This is one category where World of Warplanes trumps War Thunder. I can sometimes light up an opponent in WT for several seconds and only get one “hit” notification. Am I hitting him? Am I missing? Is he close to being downed?

WoWP doesn’t leave that to the imagination. You’ll see the HP of your foe and get a flash every time you deal damage, so you always know exactly how you’re doing. The same applies to damage to your own plane. On some level, I can see how that takes away from the immersion and might make the WoWP experience seem a little more artificial, but I prefer having clearer indicators of my performance.


Even if you prefer a more “natural” combat experience, once you’re out of your plane, you want all the data you can to determine how you’ve done and how you can improve your plane. Again, WT suffers from a clunky menu system, uneven localization, and, as mentioned before, often little idea about your plane’s capabilities.

World of Warplanes, on the other hand, simplifies matters by presenting you with four stats for each plane – speed, maneuverability, firepower, and HP – which you can use to easily gauge your plane’s capabilities. The interface for upgrades also seem cleaner and easier to navigate, but I’ll admit that might just be to my familiarity with World of Tanks‘ system.

WoWP’s system might be considered too simplistic for some, but I think there’s enough complexity in other elements of both games that you don’t need to obfuscate simple math, especially for a free-to-play game that could potentially appeal to millions.

Finally, though I haven’t progressed exceptionally far in either game, it seems to me that WT is far more generous with its rewards and prices for new planes and upgrades for free players. There is still some grinding involved for raising your level, but the currency flows at a very high rate.

On the one hand, World of Warplanes is generally easier to understand and has much better polish and market penetration. On the other hand, War Thunder is easier to pick up and play and, in my opinion, is just more gosh-darn fun. I wish we could merge the in-game aspects of WT with the out-of-game aspects of WoWP.

War Thunder’s recent revision to its aircraft tiers is a good step in the right direction, but Gaijin Entertainment’s got a lot of ground to make up before it can truly compete with the big boys at Wargaming. Conversely, Wargaming could stand to learn a thing or two from its competitors, especially with the Ground Forces expansion for War Thunder coming soon. Wargaming is still king of this space, but Gaijin is going to steadily take pieces out of that market share throughout 2014.

By Jason Winter

Fantastic live action trailer

Probably the best game trailer ever produced?

What do you think?

BoS Free version does exist!

(Or at least, official discussion about it.)

When I was checking the stats on the blog this week (thanks by the way to the 380 people who visited daily this week!) I was interested to see a lot of hits from this URL

Clicking on the link shows it is part of the IL2 Sturmovik devs closed forum,  so I can't see the content.

So let me predict what they are saying:

"OOPS Loft you dumbo, you let everyone know we are planning a free version!"

"Damn, what can we do?"

"Deny it!! Or we won't sell any of the expensive versions?"

"But, we are releasing a free version!"

"OK, let's say we have NO plan to release a free version, and put a price on it, say 20 bucks!"

"Genius, yes! We'll do that!"

Is that what they are talking about in there? Why call your secret thread 'Free version' instead of '2+ dollar version' or 'Two plane version'.

Lets hope they really are discussing the release date for the free (oops sorry, 20 Euro) version!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Battle of Stalingrad Free 2 Play WT style?

(One day...not soon.)

A small hope rose in my hairy Irish chest when I read that the flight game IL2 Sturmovik, Battle of Stalingrad (BoS) is 'probably' going to launch a free version with a tech tree, weapon mods and awards you can unlock via gameplay, and an easy (arcade) mode designed to attract new players.

Now, where did I put that BoS log on password? It has been three months since I last looked at BoS and decided it was too expensive, at either 50 or 90 dollars for standard or premium editions, to recommend to War Thunder players.

That type of money buys 10,000 Golden Eagles for War Thunder, ie a ton of fun.

So I went back and reinstalled BoS (yes, had to do a full re-install, the game is still in beta) to see what had changed.

With PR staffers like this, it has to be great right?!

Leading you through the thought process that followed:

"Ok, there is a new campaign mode. Training missions, OK boring but quickly overwith. Cool, I already have all the planes unlocked. Wait...I already have all the planes unlocked?"

"Oh, so, it's just the weapon mods that are locked. I'd prefer to have to earn the aircraft, but OK, I guess I paid for them all. Play a few missions. (pretty boring, dumb AI bots, prefer to play against other humans any day)..unlock a couple of weapon mods. Is that it? That's the whole idea?"

"Ok, let's try multiplayer, see what Experience Points system does in multiplayer...uh, what? No changes to multiplayer, no points system, no tech tree, no weapons mods, just PvP."

That was a sneak peak inside my head for the couple of hours I spent in the BoS pre-release version. This version is now pretty much complete, after some bug testing and GUI tweaks it will go Gold.

What about this Free Version then?

The 777 project lead, Jason Williams, says there is 'NO plan to release a free version'. Funny that - his people said otherwise in a recent video

Here they stated very, very clearly that the game will be released in a version with two planes, where you have to unlock the other planes with experience points earned in the game. Though they didn't say it specifically this sounds identical to their other titles, like Rise of Flight, which is free to play with two planes. Williams has now gone radio silent.

So I am betting Jason Williams is probably speaking sneaky speak: 'We have no plans' does not mean 'We will not', instead it means 'We have talked about it, can do it any time we like, will probably do it soon, but now, right now, no we have no concrete plan to do it. Probably. Because if we told you that we did, you wouldn't shell out 90 bucks for our Premium edition would you?'

My advice for WT players thinking of BoS

So I would say for now, if you have a lazy 50-90 Euro/bucks, spend it on Golden Eagles for premium planes, extra crew, and accelerated training.

And wait for the free version of BoS before you try it. Trust me, there will be a free version sooner or later. I will close this blog if there is not!

he standard/premium BoS games at 50 and 90 dollars aren't worth the money, in my opinion, if you are looking for decent gameplay - there simply isn't any at all in the online 'game' in BoS, only the offline campaign game, and not much there either unless you like shooting down brain dead bots.

BoS isn't War Thunder, and it isn't IL2: so what the heck is it?

Where I come from we have a saying "There are only two types of people, the Irish, and those who wish they were." You could say the same of flight games: there is War Thunder, and those games who wish they were.

BoS is one of those wannabees, but in trying to land halfway between flight simulation and true flight game, they have landed in no mans land.

But maybe they'll make some changes before they release their free version that will be game changers, so stay tuned!

Can World of Warships succeed where World of Planes failed?

(That's a maybe...)

World of Warships is quietly brilliant

World of Warships preview
On the first day of creation, Wargaming separated the heaven and the earth. The earth, they named World of Tanks, and unleashed small steel bungalows to shoot at each-other. They named it World of Tanks, and saw that it was good. 
The heaven, they named World of Warplanes, which was like World of Tanks, but with metal buzzards. But it wasn’t quite as good as World of Tanks, and it didn’t leave beta for like a bazillion years and suddenly everyone’s making tank games and good grief, Wargaming got rich enough to hire a troop of skydivers to create their logo in the sky, because fuck it, when you’ve got this much money what else is left? 
And then they created the seas, and on them, they floated ten storey steel ducks, and let them shoot at eachother. 
And at GamesCom, I saw that it was also, very good. 
Because boats are cool. Boats mirror what made World of Tanks good, and World of Warplanes less good: they are slow and hulking, with surprising tactical depth (GEDDIT, HA HA) and they don’t require to reactions of a ferret to direct or shoot. 
World of Warships
In Warships, you can control the biggest and smallest ships of the Japanese navy in, relatively large - 32 players or thereabouts, battles across the ocean. Winning requires planning, communication, and judgement - along with a good aim and no small amount of spatial awareness. 
The ships control in two ways: you can direct them using the WASD keys where the A and D control the forward and backward movement, and the W and D directions. Or, you can zoom out to a tactical map and plan a route, like a proper captain. With your course plotted, you then aim your cannons - except they’re slow, suffer from perceptible lag, and in most cases, don’t completely cover the full extent of your craft. And lastly, you fire: but shells take a good while to hit from anything other than point black range. 
It works. The controls are simple and welcoming, but allow for interesting tactics. This isn’t a sim, and it isn’t an arcade game. It’s something in-between - a pastiche, I guess, but a loving one. It’s probably the most fun I’ve ever had playing with boats in a videogame - certainly more fun than Total War’s pondering naval engagements, definitely more approachable than sims like Silent Hunter, far-far deeper than the Pirates games. 
You can sense just how carefully designed this game is in what Wargaming allow you to control, or, more accurately, what they don’t. Players direct torpedoes manually - and they’re given a zone of probability as to where they will strike. Playing as a torpedo boat is just as fun as playing as a big destroyer or even aircraft carrier: you’re effectively playing as a shark, trying to use the cover of small islands to get into position before loosing off a barrage and slinking away.
But then, playing as an aircraft carrier, or other boat with aerial escort, you have no real control over your friendly aircraft - save ordering them to target certain craft - they’ll do damage and protect you, but that’s all left to AI. 
It’s fine, because I soon discovered the most dangerous foe in World of Warships is rarely the other players. Instead, it’s tunnel vision: becoming so attached to lobbing shells at your enemies that you don’t notice the tiny islets dotted about the playfield. 
Which leads to a truly embarrassing death. Bouncing off a little peninsula, hitting full reverse, and desperately trying to play it cool as shell after shell lands on my deck. Game over.
I turn to the developer leading the demonstration. 
“Can I have another go?” 

Ground Forces goes airborne?!

From 'Attack of the Fanboy'

War Thunder is well known for having many, many frequent patches and not every patch brings in new content. However, sometimes just when you forgot what having new content felt like, there are significant changes. Patch 1.43 of War Thunder is no different and it plans to implement a new system for how War Thunder Ground Forces arcade battles will be played.

In the current state, you can only drive tanks in ground arcade battles. However, in the patch, you will now also be able to fly planes! However, there is a catch. The planes aren’t the ones you may have unlocked and you have to get a certain amount of kills before you can “unlock” the ability to jump into an array of predetermined attacker aircraft or heavy bombers. Artillery will now also be limited. No longer will artillery strikes be limited merely by a cool-down timer, but now you will have to earn your artillery strikes up to a maximum of 3.

How these changes will change the balance of the game is still to be determined, but some people have argued that these changes will help the team that gets a good start snowball into victory. These changes will only affect arcade battles as simulation and realistic will remain the same.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Battle of Stalingrad copies War Thunder gameplay!

James Halliday

Good news for War Thunder fans who want to try a more challenging flight game with similar gameplay elements - the new Battle of Stalingrad flight game will feature many of the same gameplay elements that players have come to enjoy from War Thunder!

In fact it is downright copying the tech tree and weapons upgrade elements of War Thunder. Which means you will get a more authentic flight experience, but still with helpful graphic icons and help features such as aiming assist or cockpit free views, and War Thunder like gameplay.


Here is the way I read the news:

Tech tree

At launch the game will be sold in two versions either Standard (8 planes) or Premium (10 planes) but you won't have to wait too long before the developers 1C/777 release a FREE version with 2 planes.

In the FREE version you will need to earn XP to move up the tech tree and earn new planes. So you start the game on the German side in a Bf109F, and following this single-engined plane tree you can earn the Ju87 dive bomber and then the awesome Bf109 Gustav.

Weapon and armour upgrades

Along the way, your XP will also unlock different 'field weapons mods' for each aircraft such as 30mm cannon pods instead of the default 20mm, and armour plate for the back of your pilot seat to help you avoid those instant pilot kills. These 'field mods' are actually historical, and were used by some units in the field on the Eastern front. You can also earn beautiful unique skins for your favourite machine.

Once you have unlocked these mods, you are entitled to use them online.

Of course you have to choose carefully what you equip: if you go into online multiplay for a dogfight mission with the Bf109 with 30mm cannon pods, it will have a slower rate of fire and shorter range than the 20mm. But then you will be able to take out your opponent with a single hit. Get in close before you fire! KABOOM! And tanks will of course be easy meat.

Short and long missions

The game comes with short (15-30 minute) or long (up to 1 hour) missions. So if you just want a quick frag as in WT you can, but if you want to fly a machine from takeoff to landing for the full mission you can do that too!

Normal and Expert modes

Like WT there are different gameplay modes. If you play Normal mode, you have slightly simplified flight controls, aiming guides, icons labelling friend and foe and targets, and different views such as external, over the shoulder, and no-cockpit.

In Expert mode you have only cockpit view, no icons or GUI help, and you have to manage the aircraft controls and engine settings as in real life, adjusting propeller pitch, radiator settings, fuel mixture, trim etc etc.

What's not like War Thunder?

Needing to use XP/coin to repair your plane. There is no 'repair' element in the BoS gameplay, so players who don't like the way this sucks away your coin in War Thunder will enjoy the fact you can blow up your plane in one mission, and get straight into a nice shiny new one for the next mission!

Also there are not as many aircraft options on the tech tree. There are 10 aircraft in total at the moment. But the difference is each has an authentically modelled flight model and they are each very different to fly, according to their historical characteristics. If you are familiar with the simple flight models in War Thunder and ready for something more challenging, BoS seems like a good option.

Here you will find the full run down (the above opinion is mine and not that of Heinkill below). I will post my own first hand impressions once I have reinstalled BoS and tried it for myself.


Battle of Stalingrad gameplay: SimHQ post by Heinkill

- The BoS single player game will feature five historical phases of the Battle for Stalingrad: 1) Days before counteroffensive 2) Uranus 3) Air bridge 4)Wintergewitter 5) The ring of death

- Each phase must be completed before the next phase can be played. A player completes a phase by achieving mission success and earning 'XP', or experience points to unlock the next phase. "We don't want you to spend too much time to do this, if you are a player who just likes to finish a campaign you can play phase after phase and your are finished in good time. But if you want of course you can dig deep inside every particular chapter."

- By flying missions however, the points the player earns can be used to unlock weapons mods, or skins.

- Every plane which you have actually bought (either in standard, or premium versions) will be flyable in the campaign and missions will be available for it. "Right now we only have two versions of the game, standard and premium, both of them include ALL airplanes opened from the beginning."

'Founders' (purchasers of the early access version) will have the planes unlocked, but weapon and skin mods will be locked for them like everyone else.

For example, in this 109 screen you can see it has five weapons unlocks possible (and ten skins). Taking into account all ten aircraft, this makes 50 weapons unlocks and 100 skins (+3 premium skins for founders).

- In the future, there will 'probably' be a free game: "In the future we can say we probably plan to make a version with only two planes unlocked from the beginning, and all other planes, like six of them, need to be opened by the in Doom."

- In the GUI players will be able to see a 'Pilot card' showing the medals earned, the phases flown, and XP earned in each aircraft.

- The player can also access a 'Plane Card' through the GUI showing all the weapon mods and skin unlocks that have been earned or can be earned for that aircraft by achieving the required XP amounts. If you want to unlock the mods and skins for the LaGG, you need to fly the LaGG. If you want to do it for the 109, you need to fly the 109

The plane card shows you all the unlocks you have achieved, and the unlocks which are still possible.

This plane card shows the unlocks achieved for this 109

- Once you have opened a skin in the campaign, you can use it in Quick Missions or in Multiplayer mode.

- Regarding historical accuracy, the map for each phase reflects the correct position of the front line and placement of airfields for that period. This is the extent of the 'historicity' of the sim - from here the player makes their own gameplay - either choosing to fly different aircraft and missions from a single field, the same aircraft type from the same field, or fly out of multiple airfields as they are progressively opened up by earning XP.

- If you play Soviet planes you open Soviet airfields, if you play German, you open German airfields. Airfields and phases are unlocked according to total XP, not according to specific mission or aircraft XP.

The game does not represent the correct military unit for the period at the correct airfield. "This is not about history, this is the place the gameplay begins, because you need to understand that this is a game...We decided not to put specific planes, specific regiments because it would have added six months to development. At this point we need to understand what we are doing - a book about history, or a game? We are game developers...We are doing games, hard core games, historically based games, but games."

- Gameplay. The game uses an 'advanced quick mission generator' to generate random missions every time. First the player chooses the airfield, and then the aircraft they want to fly. "If you are a roleplayer, then do not choose an airfield where the aircraft were not based, this is up to you."

"The guys who want a certain type of deep role-playing campaign are not the average customer any more in this genre unfortunately. I'm one of the old school types myself too, but its not easy making a popular flying game these days with simply the older game-play designs."

After this, they choose the type of mission (appropriate to that aircraft) and whether they want to fly a long mission (including takeoff and landing) or short mission (start and finish in the air). "We expect you will invest from 15-30 minutes for a short mission, and one hour or more for a long mission."

The game then shows a graphical mission summary, and allows you to opt out and generate a new mission if you don't like the one that has been generated.

The next step is to choose the realism/diffuculty setting: either normal (GUI icons, simple engine management) or expert (no GUI icons, full engine management). Customised realism settings eg icons plus full engine management, are not possible. This realism setting affects the XP points awarded for mission success. Expert = double points.

There follows the mission briefing. To succeed in the mission you must achieve the objectives (eg shoot down two enemy aircraft) and fly through the egress waypoint to collect full XP points. If you do not fly through the egress point, you do not collect any XP.

You can also access a summary of the maximum possible points achievable in a mission if you were to destroy all available targets.

- If you succeed with your mission objective and pass the egress point, but bail out, you only receive half XP. You cannot refly missions if you fail. Because missions are generated on the fly, by the BoS server, you must generate a new mission. Every mission is unique, and live only for the time you are flying it.

- At the end of a mission you get an animated summary screen showing targets destroyed and objectives achieved, and how many XP points were earned. Eg in this featured mission debrief screen a large number of air and ground targets were destroyed (WIP example only), the player bailed out, but completed the mission at expert level, and earned 194 XP.

- The Full Mission Editor when eventually released, will allow players to create set historical scenarios and customised difficulty settings

- There will be 'decoration' not related to your mission ie ground and air activity in the area which you can choose to interact with or not. "How much 'decoration' is related to the power of modern PCs and we have a lot of people writing to us saying 'my PC is not supergood so pls do something with optimisation' we plan to start with something in the middle."

- Coop missions will not be possible at launch but the code is already being created to facilitate this for a future release. "We are not speaking 'for sure', we are not talking 'two weeks'."

- These features are locked. The devs are listening to/reading opinions about the single player game but it will not be changed before launch.