23 February 2014

War Thunder Strategy Guide

War Thunder, by Gaijin Entertainment, is one of the hottest free-to-play games around at the moment, but you can't just jump in and become an instant fighter ace. It took me at least a couple of hours to get to the kind of level I'm at, but I learnt all the tricks along the way!

Whether you're a complete newbie or a seasoned veteran, our guide will give you an insiders look at how the game works, as well as a handful of tips and tricks to see you soar to the top of the scoreboards. Tally ho!



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Choosing Your Country

When you log in to War Thunder for the first time, you'll be asked to choose a country. This is World War 2 we're talking about, so there's no contest - choose Great Britain.

The choice is obvious.

I've heard some players call the British planes underpowered, but I think we can all agree that these people are deluded. Tell them to watch a few WW2 films and they'll see that the British win every time, and you can't argue with that.

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Customising Your Aeroplane

Once you've chosen Britain, you'll see that you start with a handful of biplanes. Everyone knows that biplanes only took part in World War 1, becoming quickly outdated once people noticed that birds only have one set of wings and seem to do perfectly fine. I can only assume that this is due to the 'in beta' nature of War Thunder, but it does cast doubt on whoever is in charge of QA. I've sent several emails to Gaijin Entertainment about this obvious historical error, but they haven't got back to me yet.

Does this look like WW2 to you?

In the meantime, we have to deal with what we've got. Select the Hawker Fury Mk. II, because Nimrod is a stupid name for a plane. In fact, avoid using the Nimrod at all costs unless you're planning on making the enemy laugh so much that they can't fly properly.

One of the most important gameplay features in War Thunder is the ability to customise your plane. Click the little paintbrush icon above the plane to go into customisation mode, and choose appropriately witty and/or dazzling decals to apply. The larger the decal, the better it will function for distracting and confusing your opponents in combat.

A true work of art.


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Research

In War Thunder, you earn 'research points' as you play. These are spent on equipment upgrades and new aeroplanes. For some reason, the developers saw fit to hide all the good planes beneath layers of grinding, but a quick look at the research tree shows us the best path.

This is the only part you need to worry about.

Again, using knowledge gained from watching WW2 films like Battle of Britain, The First of the Few, and Top Gun, you should know that the Spitfire is the plane we want. It would also help if we could unlock Laurence Olivier or Alec Guinness, but they don't seem to have added that feature yet. Focus all of your research efforts on acquiring every model of Spitfire, and for goodness' sakes don't bother getting a bomber - they're rubbish at dogfighting.


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Control Schemes

The last thing you'll want to do before you jump into a match is check your control settings. By default, you'll find yourself using the mouse to fly around, with the keyboard performing some additional, unnecessary duties like controlling the throttle. If you're anything like me, you already have a mouse with at least as many buttons as your keyboard, so just go ahead and rebind everything to the mouse. Stack commands up on top of each other if you have to - it's more fun that way.

Simplicity is key.

If you have access to a joystick, I'd recommend you keep it nearby, but don't actually plug it in. Flying with the mouse is far easier, but a joystick will really add to the mise en scène, thus aiding immersion.
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Radio Protocol

Like every good multiplayer game since Pong, War Thunder includes ample opportunities to communicate. If you have a microphone, try and position it as close as possible to your face - you'll be using it for vital messaging, and don't want to risk anyone being unable to hear you stuffing your mouth with biscuits. If you don't have a microphone, there's also regular text-chat using the keyboard. This is an excellent reason for having moved all of your flight controls to the mouse.

Optimal microphone positioning.

You'll find that there are two chat buttons - one to send a message to only your team, and one to send a message to everyone in the game. The first button doesn't let you taunt your opponents, so you might as well ignore it. The only use would be if you wanted to keep something secret, but only cowards have secret plans. Let the enemy know what you're planning, and show them that they're powerless to stop it!

It should also be noted that the best War Thunder players always start each match with a rousing cry of 'Tally ho, chaps!', or words to that effect. Not only does it help to get you into character, but it reassures your team-mates that you know what you're doing.

It's vital to establish good relations with team-mates.
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Picking Your Fights

Having introduced yourself to the other players, it's best to immediately find a target. Ignore any mission objectives you've been assigned for now - the rest of the team will take care of them for you. Later on in the game, you will learn which opponents you dislike the most. For now, look for a player whose name you find unappealing and begin moving yourself into a good position from which to attack. Your 'aerobatic smoke' can be switched on for some added flair when manoeuvring.

A common piece of advice I've found being peddled to newbies is to keep the sun behind you. The problem here is obvious - the tip has become so common that all an enemy has to do is look at the sun and they're bound to find you.

They'll never suspect this!
 To counter this, I recommend only ever flying towards the sun. You'll catch your opponents off-guard, and your cockpit might even reflect the blinding light back into their eyes.

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Dogfighting

Once you're engaged with an enemy, the best tactic is to fly at them as fast as possible while holding down the 'attack' button. If your aeroplane has any rockets, now is the time to fire them all - even if you don't hit anything, your team-mates will be able to see that you may need assistance.

Once you get close enough, your opponent will choose to either move out of the way or slam into you, resulting in a fiery death for both players. Whatever you do, don't yield to them. Remember that War Thunder is a psychological game at heart; even if you lose a plane, you have shown that you don't back down.


It's the only way they'll learn.
As they make evasive manoeuvres, try to keep on their tail, and remember - if you have a microphone, hurl 1940s-era racial epithets as loudly as possible whenever you fire your weapons. It's an excellent way to throw them off-balance.

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Conclusions

Hopefully you've found this guide useful, whether you're a new player or an old hand looking for some top tips. Please let us know in the comments if you've got any tips of your own for budding aces!

Make sure to keep an eye out for the next part of the official Checkpoint Restart guide to War Thunder, which will cover a number of period-appropriate British phrases to use during games.

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