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GUEST BLOG: War Thunder, Learning to Fly With the Ultra Advanced Pack

Today, Andrew Stevens from Fanbolt.com dives into the megapopular online multiplayer air combat game War Thunder. Take it away, Andrew…

War Thunder!

War Thunder is an interesting flight game to get into because it is, or at least seems to be, based on gameplay that is designed primarily for keyboard and mouse. Like most hardcore flight fans I’ve enjoyed numerous games with either a flight stick or controller, but never with a keyboard and mouse. So this was definitely a unique experience at first as I began my journey into the game.

I started out using the joystick only to find myself fighting with the controls the entire time. Meanwhile, a friend of mine was telling me how easy it is to aim and shoot with the keyboard and mouse, and so I decided to stop struggling with the controls and move over to what seemed to be a more simplified gaming experience. It still took me quite a while to familiarize myself with the flying and combat situations in the game, but having experience playing one too many first-person shooters on PC, I immediately found the mouse and keyboard familiar and much simpler when aiming and shooting. However, I still found it to be a mighty difficult task when it came time to maneuver the aircraft away from enemy fire.

It’s easy to say that the first impressions of taking flight in War Thunder aren’t the greatest because the controls are simply odd, especially for those who love their flight sticks. But honestly, after spending hours getting used to the keyboard and mouse set-up, it eventually grew on me to the point where it was playable and enjoyable in its own way.

I spent quite a few hours playing War Thunder the way it is “seemingly” intended to be played for the casual and less patient gamer. And guess what, I still found myself enjoying this unique set-up.
However, I wasn’t ready to throw out my flight stick just yet! After doing some additional research into what others had to say about using the joystick in the game, I decided not to give up on it.

While I did end up having a good time with the keyboard & mouse, I eventually stumbled across a thread in the War Thunder forums (http://forum.warthunder.com/index.php?/topic/71765-joystick-aiming-tips-how-not-to-completely-suck-with-a-joystick/) that pressed me to start toying with the sensitivity settings with my joystick so I could establish a better sense of gameplay with it. I still can’t say I have the perfect settings or that what I found had made the aiming much easier, but at least it’s a start and it gave me something to work toward in terms of having just the right movements in order to maneuver across the battlefield in the skies.

The thread helped me find a good balance between control of the aircraft and aiming options so now it’s less wobbly and more stable than before. So even though I’m having an easier time now, it can still be a difficult task to learn and perfect. But at least while I am becoming familiar with the sensitivity issues for aiming with the joystick, it’s still far more enjoyable and natural to fly around with the joystick rather than the keyboard & mouse. So far, while I still get shot down plenty of times, I have found it easier to evade enemy fire with the joystick rather than keyboard & mouse.

I can certainly say that this has been the most unique flight experience I have had in a game yet and I actually enjoyed playing with the keyboard and mouse. I also got to the point where I was able to establish enough patience that allowed me to semi-correctly configure my joystick settings, thereby creating a more natural flying experience. The great thing about War Thunder is that it’s worth the struggle to figure out what works best for you. There’s a lot to like about the game, it’s an MMO in the skies with many players to battle against in entertaining multiplayer matches. No matter what type of setting it’s played on, whether arcade or simulation, it’s a demandingly good time. Plus the game also looks beautiful and has single player campaigns to engage in as well.

I’m currently using the Saitek Pacific AV8R as my joystick which came bundled with Pacific Inc. when it released on the Xbox 360. It currently handles my in-game needs just fine at the moment, and if anyone is looking for a stick to try out before committing a lot of money, the PC version of the Pacific AV8R is currently on sale for $19.99. Not a bad buy! 

In addition to becoming more familiar with the gameplay this past weekend, I also took flight with the “Ultra Advanced Pack” that includes five airplanes (Fw.190D-13, Typhoon Mk.IB, XP-38G, A6M5 Ko and Pe-2-205), two single player campaigns (USA Pacific Campaign, 1941-1943 and Japanese Pacific Campaign, 1941-1943), premium account access for two months, and 10,000 golden eagles which I spent way too fast! Even though the pack comes with 5 new aircraft, I couldn’t help but use some of my golden eagles to purchase the Spitfire and XP-50.

Having one of the packs has definitely helped me form a good squadron of airplanes to have right from the beginning. It’s obviously a lot nicer than having to slowly build up a squad and being stuck with weaker, lower tiered aircraft for a longer period of time. I still tend to struggle a bit even with the better aircraft, but having heavier firepower and a larger arsenal of aircraft at least keeps me in the multiplayer battle a lot longer. It has also made the game more enjoyable and finally increased my appetite for wanting to continue to play more.

Here is a video from one of my online sessions using both the Spitfire and XP-50, along with another video from a campaign mission that feels far too familiar to other titles I’ve played. I do hope to improve on my combat skills so I can start live streaming some sessions where I can consistently end up in the top half of the team leaderboard, rather than the bottom half. For now, check out the Spitfire and XP-50 in action while doing your best to ignore my beginner level pilot skills. The first two videos are using the keyboard and mouse controls.

Multiplayer Action

USA Campaign Mission

Here are two more videos using the joystick controls. Again, there is one multiplayer match and another campaign mission from the Ultra Advanced Pack. I did end up screwing around a bit in the campaign mission after I took damage.

War Thunder Multiplayer Video with Joystick

War Thunder USA Campaign Mission with Joystick

For more from Andrew follow him on Twitter, Instagram, Twitch, and Steam.
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