War Thunder was one of the hidden gems in the PlayStation 4’s launch line-up (at least in Europe; the game still isn’t out in the U.S. yet), but like most of its contemporaries, it’s a little daunting at first. What country do you opt for? What’s the best dogfighting tactic? How do you rake in easy XP? What plane flies best at lower tiers?
Given the abundance of questions new pilots will be having, we decided to cobble together some top tips for those of you who are hopping into the cockpit for the first time. So, with that said, tally-ho, and check out our top 5 tips for newbie pilots.
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1) Farm ground targets
If you want to progress in War Thunder without spending real cash, you’re going to need to grind your way up the plane tiers by accumulating Research Points (RP) and Silver Lions (SL). When starting out, one of the easiest ways of doing this is to farm ground targets. Targeting things like armored cars, AAA sites, pillboxes and howitzers will reward you with plenty of RP/SL providing you destroy enough of them. Fortunately, most missions early on will be based on ‘Light Vehicles,’ meaning you can destroy them with your basic machine guns. Ignoring the aerial threat and focusing solely on ground targets can reward you with ample RP/SL, especially if you score multiple kills in quick succession. Once you’ve cleaned up here, you can start downing enemy planes to supplement your end-of-mission income.
2) Boom and Zoom
This is a tactic used to describe the art of diving on a target, shooting them as accurately as possible, before quickly gaining altitude again. In short, it’s one of the best methods of scoring kills, particularly in planes that aren’t suited to turn-based fights, such as the BF-109 or P51-Mustang. In short, you first gain some decent altitude, pick out a target and begin a dive. Using your advantage of speed and altitude, you can then dive down, target, and (hopefully) score a kill. Next, you utilize the speed you gained in the dive and convert it to altitude again, escaping from any possible counterattack. Next, you simply reload and repeat the process.
3) British and Russian planes to start with
Out of all the playable air forces in War Thunder, the British and Russians are unequivocally the easiest to get to grips with. The reason for this is due to the fact they both possess superior planes at lower tiers, such as the Hurricane and Spitfire for the Brits, and the Yaks and LaGG for the Russian side. By comparison, the United States and Japan (and to some extent, the Luftwaffe) are outclassed at lower tiers by these two countries. As such, newcomers are best advised to get to grips with these two forces before attempting the more difficult U.S. and Japanese forces. The Spitfire in particular is a superb fighter, and can out-turn almost anything at the same tier, and can even topple higher-end planes provided you are skilled enough. Experiment with these lower-tier planes and see which one fits you best, and stick with it for some reliable kill rewards.
4) Use your flaps
Flaps are the key to a successful sortie, providing you know how and when to use them. Most planes have them, and they’re needed if you are going to outperform your opponent in a dogfight. Combat flaps or Landing flaps reduce speed, but facilitate turn times, which is essential if you are pursuing a target and they’re getting into a turn-based fight. On the flip side, Raised Flaps produce more speed but you won’t be able to turn quite as tightly. If you’re looking to gain altitude and/or speed, then make sure you have your flaps raised. On the other hand, when caught in a dogfight, especially at low level, you should switch to landing or combat flaps so you can maneuver more effectively. Spitfires are naturally great turn-based planes, while others such as the Mustang and BF-109 aren’t, so using flaps is key to success.
5) Help a friend in need
Looking after your teammates during a match has its bonuses. Not only will it command respect and (hopefully) see them return the favor, you’ll also benefit from it. For example, if a friendly bomber is being harassed by a member of the opposing team, dispatching the enemy plane will reward you with the ‘Bomber Rescue’ accomplishment, which brings with it a nice chunk of bonus RP/SL. Likewise, helping out friendly ground units will result in similar rewards, as will downing an enemy fighter attacking one of your own fighters. These rewards soon tally up, and if you’re pretty active in destroying enemy planes and ground units, you’ll soon rack up an impressive amount of RP/SL once the match reaches its conclusion, regardless whether your team actually wins the game or not.
Got any other hints for fellow pilots? Let’s hear them in the comments section below.