MMOGames spoke with Keith Donachie at Gamescom 2016, in a showcase of the latest expansion to the game: Knights of the Sea. The newest feature of the combat MMO is naval battles, which Gamescom attendees could test on 3v3 maps. When the expansion launches, players will have access to larger maps and 10v10 format battles.
War Thunder is a cross-platform MMO combat game for PC, PS4, Mac, Linux and Android, dedicated to World War II military aviation, armored vehicles, and – with the launch of the Knights of the Sea expansion – fleets. We took a closer look at the War Thunder: Knights of the Sea showcase at Gamescom 2016 and even got to play it for a while.
War Thunder first featured planes in 2012, then ground forces in 2014. Closed beta testing for Knights of the Sea will start later in 2016, with open beta testing coming in 2017. To take part in the closed beta test, players can get guaranteed access by purchasing one of the two early access packs that will offer unique craft. Invitations to the closed beta test will also be available through giveaways and competitions according to the developers.
Historical accuracy and realism
The inspiration for this game came from a real historic event: the battle of the Denmark Strait, between the Royal British navy and the German Kriegsmarine. This battle is famous for being the shortest naval battle in history: a critical hit from the German battleship Bismarck hit the British battlecruiser Hood less than 10 minutes after fire was opened. This lucky shot lead to the explosion and sinking of the battlecruiser within three minutes.
War Thunder is fully committed to realism according to the developing team, and this will be reflected in the naval battles introduced by Knights of the Sea. Naval games already do exist in other games, but they always accelerate the speed of the ships involved, sometimes up to 5 times. This would mean the ships move at a speed of 200 km/h (translate to MPH). In War Thunder, the speed of the ships will be normal. Additionally, they will bob on the surface of the water, increasing the difficulty in hitting them.
The type of boats which are used are small, fast and lethal. They host a variety of offensive weapons including torpedo, artillery and missile boats, coast guard vessels and submarine chasers. they are These represent the so-called “small” naval contingent that served in all oceanic theaters of World War II. You don’t have a health bar, but instead the game makes use of a complex module system (I don’t know what this means but I expect ‘parts’ of the boat breaking and no longer being accessible, just like Crossout, another Gaijin game).
What is unique about this naval game is the buoyancy stat: if the hull was damaged, it will slowly fill with water and cause the boat to sink. Not immediately, but it will happen in time, adding to the realism factor. In fact, the presentation stated that no other game has actually done this before.
The largest ships present on the current maps are controlled by AI only in the CBT. The focus is first of all on the agile ships with high attacking force. However, it is possible that the larger vessels will be added later as playable ships too.
All main nations in War Thunder will have a naval fleet. There will be 30 ships available initially, grouped into different classes. Starter packs with unique ships are available in the Gaijin store, and these automatically give you access to the upcoming CBT.
There are several maps available, including those in open waters, or surrounding islands. Later other areas will be added including real areas where historic battles took place, as well as the arctic seas.
The game will have extensive research trees, modules progression and even crew skills. That means if a captain on a ship is hit and killed, the rest of the crew will perform less well.
We sat down to play the game, and it was a strategic capture-the-flag situation with 2v2. The first thing you notice is that your ship indeed bobs up and down, crossing the rough seas, to aim for the center of the map where the flag is placed. If your boat sinks, then you can choose another boat up to a certain period of time. Later, an airplane unlocked for me, and I took a dive onto my colleague in the opposing team, Hannah, to try and destroy her ship.
What’s interesting is trying to use different weaponry at different distances, for which weapon you need to aim your ship (or not) and seeing the damage beginning to occur on your enemy ships (in my case on my own ship, damn you, Hannah).
This game absolutely requires a high level of strategy and agility, but I can expect a tactical higher level to be instrumental to success once research trees, module updates and crew skills become part of your selections.
It’s currently not the prettiest naval game I ever played, but the excitement was vivid and I did not think the boats moved too slowly at all. All in all, War Thunder: Knights of the Sea promises to add an interesting new element to the War Thunder series.Related: Expansion, Gaijin, Gamescom, Gamescom 2016, Knights of the Sea, MMORTS, War Thunder