PAX Prime 2012: World of Warplanes

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Tanks are old news. This is the time for warplanes -- World of Warplanes, in fact. Happily, we can talk about just that because we took some time at PAX and sat down with some Wargaming.net folks to take a look at the upcoming game.


Upgrade it

One of the more beloved parts of World of Tanks is its upgrade and customization system. Everybody knows that planes are way cooler than tanks, so the planes' upgrade system will be at least as in-depth as the tanks' if not more. Guns, bombs, engines -- you name it and (if it's meant to go on a plane) you can probably customize and upgrade it.

There can be a pretty steep learning curve associated with upgrading one's planes; it's not like you go out into the backyard one day and take a wrench to your F-86A Sabre. Systems can be complicated, and going in untested to upgrade your plane can be intimidating.

Fear not! The module system in World of Warplanes is designed to smooth out that learning curve by introducing upgrades and customization in an easy and approachable way. Modules are preset selections of upgrades that users can apply. Along with a complete list of the upgrades going into each module, players are also presented with the final plane stats associated with each preset.

Customization is, at its core, designed to allow players to tailor planes to their playstyles.

As is their tendency, the fine folks of the Wargaming.net team are keeping their creations within the bounds of relative historical accuracy. If you would never see bombs on a certain plane type in the bad ol' days, you won't seem 'em on that same plane type now.

PAX Prime 2012 World of Warplanes
Bigger and better

World of Warplanes is head, shoulders, and thousands of feet above World of Tanks. Gone are the days when a player could live happily in a world of left, right, forward, and backward. Now it's all about that glorious z-axis.

Moving through empty air doesn't make for a lot of strategic fun, though -- the skies in World of Warplanes are far from clear. Along with you, your best mates, and your most hated enemies, there are plenty other things going on in the skies. Substantial cloud banks will offer their own form of cover: You can dart into a big cloud to try to lose a tail or wait patiently, hidden in your cloud nest, to drop out of the sky on some poor, unsuspecting soul. Some fights will take place over cities, allowing players to maneuver between tall buildings if they dare. Heading into the sun can cause glare that will make life more difficult for anyone tailing you. Use the environment to its full effect and pwn the noobs who don't.

Waves and collisions and physics, oh my!

There is a line between the realm of the arcade-type games and the realm of the simulation-type games. Unless there is no line, and it's actually a continuum. Whatever your visual representation of the differences between arcade and sim games, World of Warplanes is being designed to sit squarely between the two.

Flying a plane with bombs? That added weight will affect the max speed of the plane as well as the way it flies and turns. When you drop those bombs, that weight will lift. These sorts of changes are meant to lend distinction to plane types and introduce a modicum of realism.

That realism only extends so far as benefits the game and its players, however. Landing and taking off don't really exist in World of Warplanes, which anyone who's accidentally (and we're hoping, virtually) crashed a helicopter in process of getting airborne will likely appreciate.

The water you're about to crash into has never looked so pretty. World of Warplanes has some fancy environments and physics, which it'll soon share with its World of stablemates. World of Tanks' upcoming 8.0 update will bring big changes to the game's visual effects, lighting and shadows, and physics engine. Big tanks will actually have an advantage when running into small tanks, driving over hills at great speeds will actually look like you're driving over hills at great speeds, and things will generally be shiny.

Massively's on the ground in Seattle during the weekend of August 31st - September 2nd, bringing you all the best news from PAX Prime 2012. Whether you're dying to know more about WildStar, PlanetSide 2, RIFT: Storm Legion, or any MMO in between, you can bet we'll have it covered!
This article was originally published on Massively.