War Thunder is a multiplayer online vehicular combat game developed by the Russian studio Gaijin Entertainment. Players can create a free account and play against thousands of other players – with an average of 15 to 50 thousand people online at any given time, depending on the time of the week and season.
The game features air, land, and naval battles – all fought using several hundred vehicles from the Interwar Period to the modern day, with a considerable focus on the World War II era. Players can chose from seven countries: USSR, the US, Germany, Great Britain, France, Italy and Japan. Each has their own various ships, tanks, and aircraft presented.
The WWII focus should come as no surprise for a Russian-produced war game. Victory Day, which marks the end of WWII, is still celebrated as one of Russia’s biggest holidays and most Russians still name victory in WWII as something that Russians should be proud of.
The game was announced on April 1, 2011 under the title World of Planes. As there was already a game called World of Tanks made by Wargaming.net, many observers in the gaming world thought it might be an April Fool’s joke. However, the game developers were, of course, serious; Gaijin Entertainment had already released two critically-acclaimed war plane games: Il-2 Sturmovik (2009) and Apache: Air Assault (2010). The company, however, paid special attention to April Fool’s Day from that time on, adding special events (like ponies as playable faction or battles on 18th century ships) to War Thunder every year.
The game focused on aircraft only for several months before receiving its current name – War Thunder and adding tanks and ships to the battles. The name change followed the expansion of the game’s universe, but was likely inspired as well by the fact that World of Warplanes was announced by Wargaming.net at about the same time.
On January 28, 2013 War Thunder entered a global open beta test, which allowed a wider audience to finally get some real in-game experience (actual release took place in 2016) In general, the game was well-received, praised for higher graphics and audio quality, as well as for the variety of available vehicles. In the years to come War Thunder earned a 7.2 on IGN, a 82/100 from Metacritic, and was named the 2013 Breakthrough of the Year by one of the oldest Russian gaming magazines, Игромания.
It is worth mentioning that War Thunder has also been praised for its appeal to both casual and hardcore gamers, as the game was initially divided into three game modes – arcade, realistic, and simulator, with each of those having its own peculiarities to either simplify the gaming experience or make it considerably more difficult.
War Thunder is distributed on a free-to-play basis, which means that technically it can be played (and enjoyed!) for free. There are also premium elements for purchase that can allow a player the ability to to gain more experience in battles, develop vehicles faster, or unlock exclusive vehicles.
War Thunder, with a massive, highly realistic combat universe has become a global phenomenon – drawing players in for individual and team gameplay from across cultures and languages.
See War Thunder release trailer:
An introduction to the game by a fan on YouTube (features tank and aircraft combat):