Platform Wars: War Thunder Connecting PC And PS4

By Alice O'Connor on June 2nd, 2014 at 8:00 pm.

Nyoooooooooom.

Which is better, PC or PlayStation 4? There’s only one way to settle this: realising that it’s a daft question and a petty argument entirely unworthy of your precious time. Why war over platforms when you can war across platforms? War Thunder is bringing PC and PlayStation 4 together for a spot of friendly murdering, introducing cross-platform multiplayer “very, very soon.” Why bicker when you can be united in a shared love of destroying vintage tanks and aeroplanes?

Yes, yes, Quake III players on PC did smash their Dreamcast counterparts. And FASA’s Shadowrun FPS was so concerned about mouse controls being better than an Xbox 360 gamepad that it wonkified aiming for PC players. PC-console cross-platform play needn’t necessarily end that poorly, mind, not only because War Thunder’s not an FPS.

Unlike those two, War Thunder uses matchmaking, so it can bring players together based on the results of their play, regardless of what’s in their hands. Who’ll be able to tell the difference between someone’s who’s better (or worse) at the game and one who’s simply controlling it another way? Especially with 32 players buzzing around, or rolling around now it has tanks.

Control issues aside, we don’t see many cross-platform games because it’s largely considered not worth the effort. It’s unlikely to shift many copies of a regular retail game. Free-to-play games, however, live or die on their playerbase. They need lots of players who feel invested in the game, so getting to roll everyone together and not split people from their pals is more worth the investment. Hopefully we’ll see other F2P developers have a crack at this so we can play more games with our consoling chums.

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40 Comments »

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  1. DarkFenix says:

    Nice to hear this, one of my gripes with WT is that the community seems a bit small and is already fragmented between the game modes. The tanks part especially is in dire need of more players.

    • JonClaw says:

      Is there any room for “flyswatter” type tank players? The feeling of shooting a plane out of the air was very satisfying in Planetside 2.

      • 0positivo says:

        You’re lucky then, because the 3 vehicles currently implemented with Anti-Aircraft weaponry are incredibly capable at their job, once you get the aiming and lead down.

        In fact, they’re so powerful that it’s often planes that fear ground vehicles, and not the opposite.

        Also, while rarer, it’s definitively possible to shoot planes down with tank shells. My friend the other day was FURIOUS that his medium bomber was killed by a 150mm HE shell (it’s like being hit by a 50kg bomb at a speed of 300 m/s)

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          Cinek says:

          O_o you’re saying there are SPAA gunners capable of something decent? So far to my experience SP AA is dangerous only if you fly towards/away from it or in very close proximity – otherwise you’re free to kill whatever you want from the airplane.

          • Vin_Howard says:

            Well yah, if the SPAA could engage planes at long range, it would be op as hell. It can already one-hit kill heavy fighters.

      • DarkFenix says:

        Oh most certainly, there are only a few flyswatters right now, pretty primitive stuff (but still extremely effective). From what I’ve seen of proposed tech trees we have a lot more toys to come, some of which put a very big smile on my face.

  2. Siimon says:

    Does this mean they’ll fix the godawful gamepad controls?

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    Joshua says:

    I remember NFS: Underground doing this, and it was pretty neat.
    It would great with Project: Cars or similar games as well.

  4. Balanuir says:

    Too bad, I just stopped playing War Thunder, because rarely have I felt the advantages given to people who spent tons of money on it so massively. I’m probably just an average player, but if someone in the same type of plane as you turns around after you’ve emptied two entire belts into him and then shoots you out of the sky with one single salve, then something is wrong.

    • Smion says:

      Eh, I don’t think that’s less a money thing and more a warthunder’s-damage-model-is-completely-based-on-random-numbers-thing.
      Especially in arcade on higher tiers I’ve found that it’s usually a question of whether you can hit the enemy pilot with your first salvo.

      • Unruly says:

        It could also be a matter of what control style he’s using. A friend and I were playing War Thunder for a while and really enjoying it, playing mostly arcade, until we started getting wrecked six ways from Sunday in every match by people who were in the same planes as us, but were out-turning us in dogfights and chewing us apart. At first we figured that there was some kind of trick to pulling off the tight turns that they were capable of while still maintaining a steady aim. But no, it turned out that because we were using flight sticks we had to deal with our planes wobbling and shaking during a turn or at high speeds, such as during a dive, and reticle bounce occurring during any maneuvers at all. Mouse-aim players didn’t have any of that, and they didn’t even really have to control the plane at all during a turn, so their accuracy and maneuverability were much, much greater than ours.

        Of course, this was arcade mode, and we did better in historical or full-real battles, but we also didn’t want to wait 30+ minutes between games and then have to fly for an hour before seeing any combat. You’d think that the flight characteristics of the planes would be the same regardless of what control scheme you used, but it was very clear that in arcade mode the mouse-aim players had to deal with nothing, while the joystick players had to deal with all the effects that are present in historical and FRB games. We switched to mouse-aim and immediately tore apart the other team in arcade battles, but the fun was gone at that point because it felt cheap and meaningless.

        We quit playing, wrote a detailed, and polite, message to the Gaijin support staff regarding why we quit, and explained that we probably wouldn’t be coming back either after seeing how vast the difference was. They sent us a form letter that basically read “We’re sorry, but it’s impossible to fix that because it isn’t a problem. Learn to use the mouse, dipshits.”

      • Vin_Howard says:

        No, it;s a matter of “Planes don’t have hp!” Damage is entirely based off model damage. That means if you keep shooting the same spot on a plane without aiming for any models, you’ll virtually never shoot it down. However if you aim for that plane’s weak spot (which is going to be different for each plane, depending of their historical figures), you can almost insta kill it. In other words, it’s not money, but whoever is the bigger WWII history buff that wins.

        In addition, you meant to be fired at a certain range that can be changed before spawning in your plane (since some guns are wing mounted and aren’t fired from the center of your plain). If you fire before or after this range, you’re fire will be less accurate.

        • WiggumEsquilax says:

          Also note that different bullets/shells have different ballistic properties, and that the reticle averages out shell fall. Which is to say that if you’re aiming at the reticle center, you may be too far ahead for your 7.7mm machinegun fire, but too far behind for your 20mm cannon. When firing mixed guns, you should usually aim slightly ahead of the reticle.

    • DarkFenix says:

      Um, you literally can’t buy any exclusive advantage for gold, only speed up the grind. I only started playing WT recently and have invested a little bit of gold to get my grind going quickly, but I don’t feel at any inherent disadvantage to long term players.

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      Gap Gen says:

      I’ve never felt like the paying players have an advantage over a freeloader like me. Part of it is that you’re matched on a plane-by-plane basis, so paying players just zoom up to the top tier games. There are ways of winning that aren’t completely obvious; some ammo is rubbish, and won’t destroy anything, and some will tear a wing off a plane on the first hit – the early Russian planes are incredibly powerful and the Japanese planes really awful, while the Spitfire isn’t the most powerful plane but flies really nicely compared to the clumsy but deadly LaGG 3. Upgrading your planes makes a big difference – upgraded crew survive longer, jam less often, see further, etc, while changing up your ammo is a must as soon as you can, as the default ammo is often rubbish. There’s also a lot of tactics to picking your fights, learning how to evade pursuers, learning when to climb and when to dive, learning which planes can do what, etc.

      • xx says:

        Speaking as a vet: If you think this is pay to win with absolutely no purchasable advantage to be had then you sir are a lemming. Even though I have 5000 GE from the tank packs I bought to support the game I’ve yet to spend one and my favorite, and most deadly, tank is the Jagdpanzer 38 (t) (I average about 3-4 kills per own death in each match, sometimes I get 8 player tank kills with no deaths).

        Oh and in arcade the damage model is wonky as hell, most of the times your better off loading tracers and setting people on fire than properly killing them, in realistic it gets a hell of allot more proper, even 7 mm shells are dangerous (I knocked out a Tu-2 with the 2 7 mm guns on my BF-109 E3 after I ran out of 20 mm shells).

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          Gap Gen says:

          Yes, it’s true that you need some high-caliber stuff to do any real damage on Arcade mode, although I think the balance they’ve found is pretty OK, if unrealistic, with a light sprinkling of MG fire being mostly survivable even if being rocketed is instant death. I played a game today where I got a lot of kills after I’d left a fight because I critted or set people on fire and then they crashed some time later.

        • Vin_Howard says:

          Well the Russians do have have a premium tank that does seem incredibly op. I haven’t face it (I’m mainly a Russian tanker), but looking at it’s gun makes me glad I don’t have to.

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      wengart says:

      In my 100 hours of playtime I’ve never spent a dime and haven’t seen any sort of advantage by players that do. What you are seeing is a result of planes that aren’t just flying health pools. If they get a lucky 20mm cannon hit on your engine then you are probably screwed. While you can light them up with 7.62 mm and seem to do no damage at all.

      In short it is a difference of planes and a little bit of luck than any payed advantage.

  5. P.Funk says:

    I’m always surprised that more non FPS games aren’t cross platform in multiplayer.

    Is there a good reason for this other than a lack of ambition?

    • Axess Denyd says:

      As I understand it, every time it’s been tried the PC gamers have completely dominated since they generally use KB/M setups and gamepads are crap for FPS games.

      I wouldn’t be surprised to see the same thing here, it is nearly impossible to be competitive if you use a gamepad…and only joysticks are viable in Simulator battles.

      They aren’t done tweaking the controls though, so they might find a way to make this not true (which would be awesome, flying with a mouse just doesn’t have the right tactile feel).

      • P.Funk says:

        I can’t imagine a multiplayer match in say Assassin’s Creed is going to be a whole lot easier with a M/KB to be honest.

        Maybe its just the fact that too many games are about physical reflexes and not enough about thinking. The stupidest player with a KB/M could easily lose to the smartest one with a gamepad if you were playing PvP Arma for instance.

        Maybe its just that gamepad controls aren’t refined enough. Xbox controllers aren’t exactly precision instruments. I’ve always found the filtering on them to be pretty crude even for a gamepad. The modern gaming mouse is pretty refined owing to the tech I think. I remember those ball mice from the 90s being sticky and twitchy all the time.

      • CptPlanet says:

        He said specifically for non FPS games.

        • Axess Denyd says:

          What, I have to read every single word of a comment before I reply?

          …OK, that seems reasonable.

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      Gap Gen says:

      Balancing mice and controllers, maybe some networking/tech issues, but yeah, I imagine laziness factors in a lot.

    • secuda says:

      *cough*screaming kids*cough*

    • Richard Burton says:

      Good point (re: PC FPS players beat consolers w/ mouse/kb advantage) cos if we’re talking *other* types of online games then we have exactly the same unbalanced and unfair mouse-esque advantage with flight sims (and racing/space sims). No, I’m not talking about the ‘gamepad disadvantage’… I can use my flight stick, throttle and pedals perfectly well w/ Birds of Steel on my PS3 console. Surely the major factor would be w/ tracking/viewing devices like TrackIR, Freetrack (or possibly Oculus Rift). The consolers wouldn’t stand a chance in any serious dogfight competition. Nothing wrong with teaming up for a quick “muck about” in the sky, but that’s all it would ever be (unless something like Oculus is console compatible?). If cross-platform is actually happening… then ladies and gentlemen, we have a gap in the market for someone to market a console TrackIR type device… which I would love to see! It’s horrible playing Birds of Steel without being able to use TrackIR. Far too frustrating. ‘Course, cross-platform WT *would* be fair if the PC crowd are forced in some way to use gamepad controls and stick to an outside third person view only, no cockpit view allowed. And you know, yeah, like, that’s exactly what I always wanted, like, yeah, dumbing my flight simming down even more… thanks! *sigh*

      • TimorousBeastie says:

        It’s PS4, so Morpheus isn’t out of the question. Plus War Thunder is probably the best Oculus experience available at the moment, so it makes sense to have VR for the console version.

      • P.Funk says:

        There is no advantage which a player using TrackIR or Freetrack has over a console gamer that he doesn’t also have over any PC gamer who doesn’t use those things either.

        Frankly I can’t imagine that any significant percentage of the War Thunder community uses Trackir.

        Getting back to the original point, even though you can think up a competitive disadvantage in one type of game thats just proving a negative with specifics. Doesn’t prove it overall. Someone explain to me how we couldn’t have World of Tanks on a console work just as good as on a PC?

        Maybe if they actually pitted console gamers against PC gamers more often you’d see them change the requirements for the peripherals more too.

    • Chuckleluck says:

      Goodness, the first thing I thought after reading this article was, “What about a cross-platform RTS?”

      • Danny252 says:

        Given that seemingly any competitive RTS multiplayer tends to be getting on for three-figure action per minute counts, I feel that a gamepad would be at a severe disadvantage – I find it very hard to believe you can accurately “click” that quickly with one.

        Also, there’s very few RTSes for consoles at all, as far as I know – a couple here and there, but they’ve never caught on for one reason or another.

  6. Moraven says:

    Always thought the bigger issue was patching and versions.

    While PS4/One have a lot less turnaround on certifying updates (and free), it is not same as whenever you want to update your game client on PC-Steam.

    I think Warframe was looking into the same thing, but opted not to.

    • Danny252 says:

      Given that several steam-based games manage regular updates, that point no longer seems too valid – many of the early access games now appearing have weekly updates (and subsequent hotfixes), and the time delay can’t be overly long if that’s the case.

      Alternatively, you do what several games do and have your own launcher – Planetside 2 does this, with all updates handled “internally”, keeping Steam/non-Steam players in sync. In fact, it was a minor point of contention until recently (I think it was resolved, anyway) that the Steam version was incredibly out of date, requiring a large update through the launcher, as the devs saw no real point in updating the files on Steam as their launcher handled the patching for all clients anyway.

      • Moraven says:

        Not worried about the PC side, it is the PS4 side of patching and updating. It is not as simple to drop a client side hotfix on console games.

        I know Warframe on the PS4 does have its own patcher (when you launch the game, kinda annoying) but I imagine the patch has to still be certified. I recall seeing they have it down to less than a few days now on console.

        • Danny252 says:

          Ah, I thought by “less turnaround” you mean faster patching – I was probably thinking “shorter turnaround”, which oddly has the opposite meaning!

  7. rockman29 says:

    DOTA 2, LoL, and HoN could all easily come to PlayStation 4 as the system supports KB/M.

    Would easily faciliate cross-platform play, as Sony does not mandate which servers are used. They could connect via Steam and other servers.

  8. peterako1989 says:

    “War Thunder is bringing PC and PlayStation 4 together for a spot of friendly murdering”

    yeah, “friendly” murdering. ummm have you played it? Its like 90 percent douchy idiots, 8 percent people who don’t care, and 2 percent friendly cooperative players. I would choose a competent AI over real people any day.

  9. Laxxor says:

    Cross-platform play is a great move, but the best comment on here needs to be re-itterated:

    ioNKi:

    I’m a joystick user and no controller mode can be compared to the mouse+keyboard super-sniping combo

    Search option (I presume for custom battle searching, which I don’t do) would be better placed at a system level in the form of a new game mode which has a pre-requisite of non-mouse flight controls (obviously, tank does need mouse / is not effected in the same way as planes) and also then locks you from changing control mode once you are connected. The least intrusive way would be to make arcade all-access and just restrict realistic and sim to non-mouse flight. If they do that, it would make everyone happy. Big “if” though.

    Moravens patching concerns are valid, but unless they’re comfortable with the process they would not have publicly announced their intent – ultimately something I don’t think we need to worry about (especially not me, as I’m PC.. HAHA! :) )

    • Unruly says:

      The problem is, I don’t want to play only historical and FRB in order to have a chance. I want to play arcade, because arcade is instant action while the others aren’t due to wait times for matches and then flight times to reach the enemy. Mouse users aren’t a problem in historical and FRB because they’re given the same limitations and issues as joystick players in those modes. So the least intrusive way of handling it would be to make it so either joystick users don’t have to deal with wobble/shake/bounce and lesser turning in arcade, or to make it so mouse users have to contend with all of that as well. It should be simple to make both control methods have the same flight characteristics.

      But Gaijin just don’t seem to care enough to do anything about it, while they let the mouse users spout crap like “get good, nub” at anyone who dares complain about the situation.

  10. Tiltowait says:

    I can’t imagine playing this game other than with a joystick. It is just so much more rewarding. It is a shame that Gajin has not put more effort into the joystick control system. However I found this article very helpful and I can play satisfying games in historical / realistic mode. Arcade is full of asshats anyhow. http://forum.warthunder.com/index.php?/topic/71765-joystick-aiming-tips-how-not-to-completely-suck-with-a-joystick/