War Thunder storms the ’80s with a new graphics engine

War Thunder

Despite Gaijin’s free-to-play omni-sim War Thunder starting out exclusively as a game of World War 2 aerial combat, recent years have seen it take the fight to Wargaming’s rolling festival of tankitude, World of Tanks, offering its own accessible yet semi-realistic take on armored ground battles.

Sneaking in just a week before World of Tanks’ v1.0 overhaul, War Thunder has refreshed itself with a shiny new graphics engine and a slew of iconic Cold War era tanks to drive, including that chunky American workhorse; the M1 Abrams.

War Thunder’s Version 1.77 (officially titled ‘Advancing Storm’) feels like the most significant change the game has seen in a while. The star of the show here is a new renderer, which, while not quite offering as night-and-day a transformation as World of Tanks’ upcoming overhaul promises, doesn’t look half bad. For those with a halfway modern GPU to flex, the game now boasts much more natural lighting, pooling and rippling water and some nicely atmospheric rain effects.

Those of you fancy gits who have played long enough to reach the Cold War era of War Thunder’s tech tree will find themselves rewarded with the American M1 Abrams, British Challenger, the German Leopard 2k, French AMX-30B2 Brenus (bristling with reactive armor plate to save it from ATGM hate) and the Russian T-64B. These are all able to be earned through regular play. In the premium-only corner comes the Magach 3, an Israeli refit of the old M48, as well as the AMX-30, which is actually just a cheaper, older version of the AMX-30B2, but it does pay out extra currency, if you want a fast-track to semi-modern tank tech.

It’s not just the visuals and roster being updated. They’ve also gone and given the ground combat side of the game a massive audio overhaul, with some of the bigger guns now generating echoing, reverberating noise worthy of their caliber, especially in the case of high-explosive rounds. Internal noises have also been greatly improved, so you can hear internal mechanisms locking into place before shots, and spent brass rattling around afterwards.

Absolute unit

While this is clearly a ground-focused update, there are a smattering of new planes to fly, including a couple more early jet-fighters such as the Russian La-200 and French MD.452. There’s some more traditional WW2-era planes too, like the British M.B.5, Japanese Ki-108 and the community-made German He 177 A-5 Greif (pictured above), which is not only a bit of a mouthful to say but also an enormous slab of murder-metal.

While I’m not privy to Gaijin’s release schedule for the year, it feels like this could be the last major update to the game until they officially integrate the still-in-testing naval combat layer into the game. It’ll be interesting to see how they address balancing encounters containing player-controlled ships, tanks and planes, as all of those will be a required foundation for their ambitious World War mode, which sounds like a mega-scale multiplayer version of their existing dynamic campaign system.

War Thunder 1.77 is out now, and the game is free-to-play. You can grab it direct via its official site, or via Steam. You can also see the full update patch notes here.

10 Comments

  1. Sardonic says:

    It sure would be great if the top tier stuff wasn’t such a huge grind though. I say that not just because of my annoyance in getting there, but that barrier makes it take way, way too long to queue into matches because nobody has them, and the matches only have 6 people on a side after 10 minutes.

    • Titler says:

      I have thousands of hours invested over the many, many years. Paid maybe £60 or so in purchases on it… and I still haven’t got to a single final tier plane. And it would cost hundreds of pounds to complete them, or thousands hours more playing the over-too-fast top tier games.

      What makes it more frustrating is every time I think about firing it up again, I see they’ve added earlier tier planes; I’m complaining about more content?! Yes, because they need to be researched first, then upgraded back to competitive for their tier, and that requires even more grind. Which doesn’t apply to your overall progress, because it’s done on a plane by plane basis… it actually feels like I’m going backwards, that my previous progress now has holes in it. You don’t just get them having long since passed their tier. They’re used to slow you down again.

      So I just never bother playing. Occasionally a friend will suggest it (it’s great in VR apparently?) and I can use the new planes to down-level to match them. But then they get put off when they realise how slowly they’re progressing and they stop playing too… and the cycle of alienation repeats.

      What’s especially annoying is originally it was just a re-skinned Wings of Prey, Gaijin’s original game. Literally so. But they saw they could claim it was an MMO, and charge a never ending fortune for it. When I was briefly active in the community, years ago, I tried to argue that so many of us would be willing to just pay a flat fee and unlock all the content again… but Gaijin are fully committed to the Whaling model unfortunately.

      • 111uminate says:

        Yeah it was shocking to me how anti-user the game was, and apparently still continues to be. I would have loved to spend dozens of hours with it, but once the grind really sinks in you just become demoralized and all the wind out of your sails is gone.

  2. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    So is it acceptable to call people playing the He 177 A-5 Greif “greifers” or is that too much?

    • Dominic Tarason says:

      Given how many matches I’ve seen ended by a lone bomber circling miles above the battlefield, draining the health of one team’s base? Not only acceptable but fully deserved.

  3. drezworthy says:

    My favorite game ever. The grind has gotten really bad over time though.

    • Dominic Tarason says:

      The upper tech-tiers have always been mostly for bragging rights. I think they might need to come up with some alternate progression mechanic sometime.

      Not that I mind. I still think the most exciting gameplay is in early/pre-war biplane dogfights, and scrappy little proto-tank battles.

  4. Janichsan says:

    All this new stuff, and most of the planes still have the shitty, old default flight model, which makes them almost uncontrollable… *sigh*

    • Janichsan says:

      (…with full controls – i.e. not mouse aiming – and in Realistic and Simulator Battles, I might have to add.)

  5. Lord Byte says:

    I dunno what everyone is complaining about, I got to 8.0 in about 2 months, at even half-arsed-playing… Tank Arcade though. Flying is hugely slower yet within 3 weeks I got to the top of the Italian tree… All regular playing but nothing extreme. With premium (the latter was Air realistic though).