War Thunder

Victory is ours.

With my praising of single player experiences and my emphasis on story, it’s perhaps a surprise that I enjoy this game so much.

War Thunder is a free MMO combat game (or at least, it’s free for PC) that features tanks and planes from various countries. They’re supposed to be implementing sea battles in the near future, and I think there was some talk about infantry (though that seems more like a conjecture than anything else). It’s also the source of what I find to be one of the best video game trailers of all time (second version).

Now the reason I write about War Thunder is simply because it’s eating up a lot of my time. I had wanted to be diving deeper into the science of video gaming as a whole, especially in music, but unfortunately that does not seem to be plausible until my semester closes, mainly because I only have attention for about an hour of so at a time. War Thunder, then, is perfect for these quick bits of time, because battles rarely last more than fifteen minutes or so, regularly going under ten if all of my units are knocked out before the mission ends.

Anyway, what I enjoy about War Thunder is its fairly unique gameplay perspective. It’s certainly neither the first nor the only vehicular combat game; Halo has had its Scorpions since the first title and World of Tanks could be considered War Thunder‘s rival. I’m also not really the right person to comment on these types of games because as far as I know, War Thunder is the only game of this type I play.

Regardless, War Thunder is fun to me, and that’s why I’m writing about it today. I enjoy the sensation of starting on even ground, where territory is lost or gained by giant behemoths of steel and gunpowder. I enjoy the vaguely historic vehicles, able to track certain real developments between generations of tanks (I’m mostly a tanker in-game). I enjoy the satisfaction of one-shotting a hostile tank, or being able to become a wall for my allies as all the enemies focus fire on me. All aspects of the gameplay mechanics appeal to me, as do a lot of the aesthetic choices.

Unfortunately, as a free-to-play game, War Thunder needs to make its money through in-game transactions. New vehicles are unlocked through research points, gained as you play through more battles. Granted, the premium vehicles are more unique than they are better, but there’s also the opportunity to boost research, repairs, etc. Of course, to keep people interested in buying these boosts, research requirements have to be absurd. A Tier I tank, for example, may cost 4000 research points, but a Tier IV may cost 100,000.

Moreover, I’m talking within the same country. War Thunder features the major sides of the Second World War (I believe Italy will be coming soon), which means that there are actually four different ways (in tanking) to go. Because it already takes forever to grind for the higher tiers, that effectively means once you choose a country’s vehicles it becomes hard to start another, particularly if you want to play with friends (the game matchmakes your squad based on the squad’s highest battle rating). This still doesn’t help even if you’re playing solo, because you still have to start over in order to reach those higher tiers.

Some people find this system to be overly grind-y. I’m not in disagreement, but at the same time I don’t particularly mind the slog through battle after battle just to unlock a single tank. The game provides enough gratification for me to keep my attention; in the last two or three weeks I’ve already logged over 40 hours. Since my friends prefer tanks most of those 40 hours have been put into Russian ground units, though I’ve done a fair amount of Japanese planes and started Tier I British tanks.

At any rate, I can see the complaints lodged against Gaijin, but the game’s so fun I really don’t mind sitting through it.

Sense Makes None: Rainbow Six Siege

Rainbow Six Derp.

Don’t get me wrong; I love this game.

But just about nothing about R6:S makes sense, and I find that really funny.

First, let’s start with the setting itself. Disregarding the situations (which I don’t really count as a real plot, by the way), you have a bunch of jackasses standing around in a house (or plane, or chalet, or yacht, whatever) doing their best to stop another team of jackasses (who have counterparts on the defending team) from capturing/extracting/disarming the objective. In fact, why are the two teams allied with other factions in trying to kill other members of their own factions? It raises a few questions that can be aptly summed up in the first episode of Red vs. Blue: “The only reason that we set up a Red base here is because they have a Blue base over there. And the only reason they have a Blue base over there is because we have a Red base here.

But whatever, that can be attributed to being a multiplayer game. That being said, I’d still like a little bit more justification for having two teams of highly trained operators from the best counter-terrorism organizations around the globe killing members of their own teams. Like what Halo tried by inserting their SPARTANs in simulations (“war games”) aboard the UNSC Infinity.

Moving on.

In Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six novel (which is a hell of a read, by the way; I thoroughly recommend it to anybody), Team Rainbow is a NATO-affiliated organization. Technically, Russia isn’t part of that organization and therefore the Spetsnaz shouldn’t be included with the others, but alliances can change (and two major in-universe events make this feasible), so whatever. That’s alright.

What befuddles me is Tachanka. Is he…is he wearing a welding helmet? In what world does a welding helmet provide more advantages than a modern combat helmet? I can’t see anybody plausibly being able to aim down the sights with that, not to mention the extra weight and itchiness on the face. Moreover, his bio reveals him as a collector of old Soviet weaponry and equipment, which I can actually admire (because older guns are so much cooler than newer guns), but his use of the RP-46 – a machine gun designed in 1946 to be a replacement of another model already twenty years old – raises my eyebrows in bafflement. No RPD? RPK? Any AK with a drum magazine? Hell, Fuze carries a Pecheneg into combat; why not just give Tachanka one that can be mounted onto a stand?

And while we’re on the topic of weird clothing and equipment:

  • What the heck is with nitro cells? Why give operators something so jury rigged when you can just give them normal C4?
  • I really appreciate how the defenders thoughtfully remove the doors from their hinges before going to barricade them.
    • It’s also nice how they leave just enough space on the bottom for drones to get through.
  • The SAS wear gas masks. In Smoke’s case it makes sense, because of his toxic canisters, but the other three members apparently only wear them as fashion statements because they don’t work.
  • The GSG 9 are all apparently super confident in their abilities, or are otherwise unprepared due to them just slapping combat gear over civilian clothes.
    • Though, I do like how they have specialized head gear to protect their ear protection.
    • Who in the world thought it was a good idea to give anybody a car battery as part of somebody’s equipment?
  • Apparently Rook also carries duct tape. How else do you attach extra plates to your body? Never mind the fact that such placement blocks the rest of your equipment.
  • The JTF2 are wearing freaking parkas. Parkas and gaiters. What.
    • In fact, Buck, Frost, and the Welcome Mat perfectly represent all of Canada: moose, ice, and bear traps.
  • Absolutely nothing makes sense of the SEALs’ equipment.
    • Why isn’t Blackbeard’s rifle shield just standard issue?
    • Where did the SPAS-12 come from?
    • Who in their right mind thinks that the Desert Eagle would make a good sidearm?

Actually, speaking of the American forces, technically the SEALs don’t accept female applicants yet, so Valkyrie shouldn’t even be here.

At the end of the day, though, it’s still a game. And it’s a damn fun game at that, with all of the blood-pumping moments that can happen to you in a single match. That being said, it can also be as infuriating as any other game – but that’s when you should make up some crazy story to justify why your operator was given the green light to breach, and enjoy imagining the implications.