War Thunder puts you in the cockpit for frenetic air battles against players from all around the world, and it’s free-to-play on SHIELD Android TV.
NVIDIA’s SHIELD Android TV isn’t short on aerial shooting games. Amongst its collection of great Android games there’s everything from arcade action in Luftrausers and Sky Force Anniversary to dogfighting epics such as The Battle of Sol and Sky Gamblers: Storm Raiders.
If you want to take things to a more realistic war-themed front, though, look no further than War Thunder, a mighty cross-platform MMO in which you take to the skies in an array of historically accurate aeroplanes, and go to war against other players from around the world in thoroughly realistic battles for air supremacy.
It features over 400 painstakingly detailed recreations of warplanes, with an assortment of aircraft types so that you can choose something to suit your style of play. If you’re into dogfighting then you’re particularly well served with a huge variety of fast and maneuverable fighters on offer, including the iconic Spitfires, Hurricanes and Mustangs from World War II. You can also get behind the controls of bombers, jets and hydroplanes.
You’ll start off flying light fighters or biplanes, but as you hone your skills in each mission you’ll gradually rise through the ranks and be able to get your hands on more advanced and powerful aircraft that’ll truly test your flying skills. Only when you’ve reached Rank V will you be trusted in the cockpit of a jet.
War Thunder features multiple realism settings so that you can set it up to reflect your level of expertise. The SHIELD version comes with two game modes.
Arcade battles – feature two teams of up to 16 players of any nation per side, with simplified damage models, flight models and physics, so you don’t need to worry about ripping the wings off your plane if you get into a high-speed dive. Your HUD’s equipped with a leading marker, showing you where to fire if you want to actually hit an opposing aircraft, and you can also afford to be a lot more trigger happy. If you run out of bullets, you’ll reload after a short period of time rather than having to return to base.
Realistic battles – with more realistic damage models, flight models and physics. Aircraft behave more like their real-life counterparts, there’s no leading marker to tell you what to shoot at, and if you run out of ammunition then you’ll have to go back to your airfield in order to reload. Each team is made up of aircraft from one nation, making it less of a free-for-all and more of a recreation of an actual historical battle.
The realism extends to the maps themselves, with gloriously detailed landscapes reflecting key battles worldwide, from Pacific atolls to the fields of Europe. And you’ll never be short of anyone to fight against. As a cross-platform game, War Thunder pits you not only against other SHIELD players, but also against gamers on PC, Mac, PS4 and Linux. If you want to work on your skills without showing yourself up against other players, you can of course move into single-player mode and take on an AI opposition.
War Thunder’s graphics and sound effects are all top notch, taking full advantage of the SHIELD Android TV’s Tegra X1 processor. And best of all the game is completely free-to-play. That’s not to say you can’t spend some money on it.
You can buy in-game currency that enables you to unlock new vehicles and upgrades faster, as well as premium planes that come pre-packaged with all the upgrades. Developers Gaijin Entertainment X stress that there’s no way to gain any advantage in battle by spending real money. The only way to do that is through improving your flying skills.
War Thunder is in open beta at the moment, which means that improvements and new features are being added all the time.
Jim McCauley has been playing games for over 35 years and writing about them for the last 20. Starting at Future Publishing in 1995 he quickly advanced from Staff Writer to Features Editor on PC Format magazine before moving over to online, launching PC Gamer’s first website then working on Daily Radar UK, the forerunner to GamesRadar. He’s contributed to some of the leading titles in gaming, including Official Playstation Magazine, Edge and GamesMaster, and while recent years have seen him working for graphic design titles, his heart has never left gaming