War Thunder

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War Thunder
War Thunder PSN Cover Art 2015 Playstation 4.png
Cover art for the PlayStation 4.
Developer(s)Gaijin Entertainment
November 1, 2012
  • Windows
    • WW: August 15, 2013[1]
  • PlayStation 4
  • OS X
    • WW: April 17, 2014[4]
  • Linux
    • WW: November 6, 2014[5]
  • Android
    • WW: June 2, 2015[6]
  • Official release
    • WW: December 21, 2016[7]
  • Xbox One
Genre(s)Action, vehicular combat, combat flight simulator
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

War Thunder is a free-to-play vehicular combat multiplayer video game developed and published by Gaijin Entertainment. Announced in 2011, it was first released in November 2012 as an open beta with a worldwide release in January 2013; it had its official release on 21 December 2016.[11][7] It has a cross-platform format for Microsoft Windows, macOS, Linux, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, and Shield Android TV.

Developed as a "flying simulation game", it was previously named World of Planes but due to its similarity with Wargaming's World of Warplanes it was changed to its present name in 2012.[12][13] Initially, Gaijin claimed after the game was announced that it was an April Fools joke before confirming its existence in June that same year.[14]

War Thunder won several awards following its release, winning Best Simulation Game at the Gamescom 2013 Awards as well as winning Best Game, Best Developer, Best Technology and Best Sound at the KRI 2013 Awards.[15][16] In 2019, War Thunder was among the most played games on Steam with over 25,000 concurrent players on Steam only.[17] In 2022 the number of concurrent War Thunder players on Steam only was over 50,000 on average and peaked at 76,204 on March, 31.[18] These numbers do not include players who use consoles or Gaijin.net service for PC. Official website claims[19] that there are 50+ million gamers registered in War Thunder in total.


War Thunder is based around combined arms battles on air, land, and sea. According to the game's creative director Kirill Yudintsev, it is the only game that encompasses all three of these experiences in one gameplay session.[20] Vehicles range from pre-World War I naval vessels, from the interwar period and the Spanish Civil War for tanks and aircraft, to the Iraq War and beyond, with an emphasis on World War II[21][22][23] as well as an emphasis on the Vietnam War and the Cold War.[24] Players can control aircraft, ground vehicles, and warships from the United States, Germany, Russia, Britain, France, and Japan, as well as nations with smaller militaries or less prominence in conflicts, such as Italy, China, Sweden and Israel. The game also incorporates smaller nations like Finland, South Africa, and Portugal.

Vehicles are divided into three main categories: Aviation, Ground, and Fleet, while game modes are divided between Arcade, Realistic, and Simulator.[25] Aviation is divided between fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters, and Fleet is divided between "Bluewater" and "Coastal", where Bluewater represents ships from the size of destroyers to battleships and battlecruisers, while Coastal focuses on smaller ships such as motor torpedo boats, motor gunboats, subchasers, and frigates.[26] A single player mode is also available that focuses on historical battles, and also a cooperative mode for battling AI ground vehicles and aircraft.[25]

Game modes[edit]

The game features three game modes, all of which start both teams with a number of "tickets", and certain actions reduce the enemy teams' tickets until one team has none left. If there are no players left on a team, that team will immediately lose. In ground and naval battles, the primary objective is usually either capturing and holding strategic points (i.e. "king of the hill"), or completely capturing enemy points (i.e. "capture the flag"). This is not an exhaustive description of each game mode, and there are many details unique to each game mode.

Arcade Battles[edit]

Arcade battles (aka "arcade" or "AB") is a fast-paced game mode with many player aides to ease gameplay. Most vehicles receive extra engine power, and tanks have higher turret traverse rates. Markers are on at almost all times, showing players where enemies are. The player's chosen nation does not affect what enemies they may come across; they may fight the very same vehicle they are playing. While playing a tank, a marker visible in the sniper scope will indicate where the selected shell will land and is colored green, yellow, or red depending on whether or not it could penetrate the enemy tank's armor. Air battles have a variety of battle modes with different objectives, but usually, the player can resort to fulfilling their aircraft's historic role, such as ground attack or dogfighting. Aircraft in this game mode can reload their weapons whilst airborne. Players have exactly 3 spawns per battle in Ground game modes, and as many respawns as they have available aircraft in Air Battles.

Realistic Battles[edit]

Realistic battles (aka "Realistic" or "RB") is a slightly slower-paced game mode than arcade. Vehicles have their historic characteristics such as engine power and turret traverse rate, or for planes, climb rate and turn rate. In ground battles, markers only identify friendly players. While tanks can shoot and hit friendly tanks, it is impossible to actually damage them. Planes, however, are able to damage each other, as well as be damaged by friendly anti aircraft vehicles. Unlike ground arcade battles, there is not a definite number of spawns; in order to respawn, the player must have previously earned enough "spawn points" by completing objectives like eliminating other enemy players' vehicles or capturing points. If a player is doing well in a game, they collect more spawn points and thus can spawn more in a match. If one achieves enough points, they can spawn in an aircraft to provide close air support in ground battles. In order to use an aircraft, the player must have researched and purchased the aircraft and have it in their hangar. The plane will have its Realistic Battles stats. Air battles again have a variety of game modes, but since players only have 1 spawn, it is almost certain that there is an objective for the player's selected plane available, such as dogfighting or destroying ground bases with bombs. Various limitations apply to an aircraft, including engine overheating, overspeed resulting in structural failure of the airframe, and flaps or landing gear being torn apart when trying to deploy at high speed. There is also no way to reload an aircraft's weapons except by landing on an airfield base.

Simulator Battles[edit]

Simulator battles (aka "sim", "simulator", or "SB") is a much slower-paced game mode based largely on realistic battles. All vehicles behave identically to how they would in realistic battles. Unlike realistic however, there are no markers for the enemy or friendly team. In Ground battles of this mode, tanks can kill friendly units, so it is important to be able to tell friendly tanks from enemy tanks. In this mode, it is guaranteed that a team will have tanks of only one nation, and allied tanks can only be told apart from enemy tanks through identifying said tank and knowing what nation it belongs to. Players are forced into the commander's view, usually above the commander's cupola. Arcade and realistic battles use a "random battle" format, where any vehicle in the nation's tech tree can play. In simulator, there is a predetermined list of vehicles for each side. Players start with a number of spawn points, and choosing a vehicle takes a certain number away. There is no way to replenish spawn points; in general, players can choose a medium tank 3 times before having no more spawns. Simulator air battles are done through "Enduring Confrontation", a much longer format with a wide variety of objectives for any type of aircraft within a particular 'Battle Rating' (BR) bracket. Players are forced into the cockpit view, and if the aircraft has gunners such as on a bomber, the player can toggle between these two views. Controls are based on a mouse joystick, in which the movement of the mouse corresponds to the movement of the joystick or yoke in a real aircraft, as opposed to flight in Arcade or Realistic in which the mouse simply aims the aircraft and controls its attitude.


Events in War Thunder provide custom missions, usually based on one of the three main game modes, but with alternative settings regarding allowed vehicles, mission specifics, etc. Examples are the recreation of historical battles by restricting available vehicles (e.g. Battle of Britain).

Traditionally, the developers prepare unconventional events for April Fools' Day. It is a well known open secret that these events are used to test planned game mechanics before a broad release to the playerbase. In 2022, Gaijin introduced a Dune-inspired game mode called "Worm Thunder: Children of Arachis" which involves two factions fighting over cinnamon in the desert while also avoid being eaten by a giant sandworm.[27] In 2021, Gaijin held 2 events, "Tailspin" and "Warfare 2077". Tailspin was a game mode that took place on a map called "Cape Somerset bay" that had a cartoon art style. Players took control of new planes apart of the "Republic of Air Pirates" faction.[28] Warfare 2077 was a futuristic game mode that took place on the "Launch Facility" map and allowed the players to take control of futuristic tanks and planes.[29] In 2020, Gaijin changed the name of the game to "Space Thunder" and introduced space battles.[30] The 2019 event named "Earth Thunder" is an event for April Fools 2019 in War Thunder where it takes place in an fictional American city named "Green Hills" where the players get to play with UFOs.[31] The 2018 event named "Silent Thunder" was based underwater, with submarines. For 2017, War Thunder made playable rank IX main battle tanks and attack helicopters. For 2016, ahead of the announcement of the naval forces update, War Thunder offered playable sailing ships of the 18th century fighting in the Caribbean.[32] The year before, a new game mode called "Unrealistic Battles" featured inflated rubber tanks firing potatoes and carrots.[33] Other notable examples include "March to Victory", introducing playable Mecha composed of tank parts;[34] "The Pony Nation" introducing the world of My Little Pony as a sixth playable faction (2013);[35] and "Gaijilla" was a battle against a giant Godzilla-like snail (2014).[36]

In August 2020, the game had a tank biathlon-style event featuring select Russian and Chinese tanks performing tasks on a tank range map, with the objective to finish 1st place after navigating obstacles and destroying targets. The event was partnered with the Information Systems Department of the Russian Ministry of Defense.[37] Logos advertising the game also appeared during the event, notably painted on the side of the tanks during the real biathlon. The event was teased on August 17 with a YouTube video posted to the game's official YouTube Channel, as well as on the official website.[38]


War Thunder at IgroMir 2013
War Thunder at Gamescom 2014

Early development and closed beta[edit]

The development of the game as World of Planes began in 2009. Gaijin Entertainment used its experience with its previous combat flight simulator games such as IL-2 Sturmovik: Birds of Prey, Apache: Air Assault, and Birds of Steel in the development. During closed beta, the title was changed to War Thunder due to confusion with the competitor World of Warplanes, as well as other reasons such as Gaijin wanting the game to not just be focused on aviation anymore.[39]

Open beta and release[edit]

Promotion of War Thunder: Knights of the Sea at Gamescom 2016

Open beta testing started November 1, 2012 (for users from the Russian Federation; the global beta launched January 28, 2013) for Windows PC with about 200 aircraft and 600,000 players. On May 15, 2014, at 6 million registered players, the first ground forces for Germany and the Soviet Union were introduced.[40] Later added were the American,[41] British,[42] and Japanese ground forces.[43]

In 2017, Italy was added as a playable faction.[44][45] At Gamescom 2018, the planned addition of helicopters into the game was announced, and as of late 2018, helicopters have been fully implemented.[46][47]

In 2022 Tencent announced that the Chinese version of the game published by Tencent will be discontinued on October 17.[48]

Classified documents leaks[edit]

On July 14, 2021, a forum member claiming to be a Challenger 2 tank commander posted images of classified documents pertaining to the tank on the official War Thunder forums. The documents, which contained information about the armor structure of the vehicle, were edited to make them appear declassified under the UK Freedom of Information Act. The post was taken down after the UK Ministry of Defence notified Gaijin Entertainment that the documents were classified, and not to be disseminated. The user was given an official warning by forum officials, and the post was removed.[49]

In October 2021, another user leaked classified documents of the Leclerc to win an argument about turret rotation speed. Gaijin forum moderators removed the material within hours, repeating their strict policy against posting restricted documents.[50]

In June 2022, a user posted an image of a Chinese DTC10-125 tungsten penetrator on the War Thunder forums, sitting atop a document outlining the projectile's specifications. Similar to previous instances, the post was quickly removed by forum moderators, with them citing the fact that the materials in question are classified in China.[51]


At release, War Thunder was well-received with generally positive reviews. GameSpot praised it for its variety of airplanes and visuals,[56] whereas IGN criticized the user interface for being "overly abundant and cumbersome" in contrast to the "sparse in-battle HUD".[57]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "War Thunder is the most comprehensive free-to-play, cross-platform, MMO military game for Windows, Linux, Mac and PlayStation®4 dedicated to aviation, armoured vehicles, and naval craft from World War II and the Cold War". Gaijin Entertainment.
  2. ^ "War Thunder PlayStation®4 launch in North America". Warthunder.com. Gaijin Entertainment. Retrieved 12 January 2017.
  3. ^ "War Thunder for Playstation®4 is out!". Warthunder.com. Gaijin Entertainment. Retrieved 12 January 2017.
  4. ^ "Mac client launch!". Warthunder.com. Gaijin Entertainment. Retrieved 12 January 2017.
  5. ^ a b "War Thunder is now available on Linux!". Warthunder.com. Gaijin Entertainment. Retrieved 12 January 2017.
  6. ^ "War Thunder on NVIDIA® SHIELD™". Warthunder.com. Gaijin Entertainment. Retrieved 12 January 2017.
  7. ^ a b "War Thunder is now released!". warthunder.com. Gaijin Entertainment. Retrieved 13 March 2020. We are proud to announce the official release of our game. As we have completed all the goals we set ourselves in the early stages of development, the open beta-testing of War Thunder ends with update 1.65 'Way of the Samurai', an update which also brings Japanese ground forces, cockpits for all aircraft, and heaps of improvements and bugfixes.
  8. ^ a b "[News] War Thunder to be released on Xbox One and Xbox One X!". Warthunder.com. Retrieved 2017-11-21.
  9. ^ a b "Vehicle combat MMO 'War Thunder' launches on Xbox One". Windows Central. 2018-06-19. Retrieved 2018-06-19.
  10. ^ Ashcraft, Brian (14 May 2013). "War Thunder Is Headed to the PlayStation 4". Kotaku. Retrieved 1 April 2015.
  11. ^ Stapleton, Dan (9 June 2011). "No joke: World of Planes flight sim MMO is real". PC Gamer. Retrieved 13 March 2020.
  12. ^ Papadopoulos, John (7 March 2012). "World of Planes renamed to War Thunder: World of Planes; new screenshots released". Dark Side of Gaming. Retrieved 13 March 2020. There was a lot of confusion between Gaijin's World of Planes and Wargaming.net's World of Warplanes. Thankfully, Gaijin decided to rename their title and it's now called War Thunder: World of Planes.
  13. ^ Reahard, Jef (17 June 2011). "Gaijin announces World of Planes MMO". Engadget. Retrieved 13 March 2020. Gaijin's press release calls World of Planes a 'flying simulation game', and the company will be drawing on its previous genre experience thanks to titles like Wings of Prey and Wings of Luftwaffe.
  14. ^ Stapleton, Dan (9 June 2011). "No joke: World of Planes flight sim MMO is real". PC Gamer. Retrieved 14 March 2020. They all laughed back on April 4, when PC Gamer posted a story on World of Planes , an exciting massively multiplayer WWII flight sim from Wings of Prey developer Gaijin Entertainment ... which Gaijin revealed on their forums to be a joke. Yeah yeah, we fell for it. Very funny. Well, who's laughing now? That's right: Gaijin checked in today to say that World of Planes [update: not to be confused with Wargaming.net's just-announced World of Warplanes] is not, in fact, an April Fools joke, but a real game about planes and the wonderful world they fly in.
  15. ^ "Gamescom 2013 Awards – Best Simulation". PSU. 27 August 2013. Retrieved 14 March 2020. The Winner – War Thunder: The demo of the PlayStation 4 launch title War Thunder was lauded at Gamescom 2013 for its explosive World War II aerial battles.
  16. ^ "War Thunder gets KRI awards!". warthunder.com. Gaijin Entertainment. 19 May 2013. Retrieved 14 March 2020. War Thunder gets four prizes of the Russia’s biggest gaming conference KRI 2013 (Russian Game Developer's Conference)! War Thunder and Gaijin Entertainment have been awarded in four nominations of KRI 2013: Best Game, Best Game Developer, Best Technology, Best Sound.
  17. ^ Palumbo, Alessio (27 December 2019). "Steam Reveals Top Selling and Most Played Games of 2019". wccftech.com. Retrieved 14 March 2020. Most Played Steam Games - Over 25K Concurrent Players: War Thunder
  18. ^ https://steamdb.info/app/236390/graphs/[bare URL]
  19. ^ "War Thunder - Next-Gen MMO Combat Game for PC, Mac, Linux and PlayStation®4 | Play for free now! -". warthunder.com. Retrieved 2022-07-19.
  20. ^ Bradford, Joseph (14 November 2019). "War Thunder 7th Anniversary Exclusive Interview with Creative Director Kirill Yudintsev". mmorpg.com/. mmorpg. Retrieved 16 March 2020. Yes, there are other standalone games about World War 2 era tanks or about modern jets or about one specific helicopter. We have made these types of games before. But War Thunder is the only game that encompasses all of these gameplay experiences. It allows you to jump from a tank to a fighter jet in one gameplay session.
  21. ^ "About the Game". Warthunder.com. Gaijin Entertainment. Retrieved 28 February 2015.
  22. ^ Todd, Brett (10 July 2014). "War Thunder Review". Gamespot.com. Retrieved 20 April 2019.
  23. ^ Zacny, Rob (7 August 2014). "War Thunder review". Pcgamer.com. Retrieved 20 April 2019.
  24. ^ Brown, Fraser (2018-12-17). "War Thunder goes faster with its massive Supersonic update". PC Gamer. Retrieved 2020-12-13.
  25. ^ a b Harradence, Michael (2 October 2019). "War Thunder PS4 & Xbox One Cross-Play Is Still Being Looked At". psu.com. Playstation Universe. Retrieved 16 March 2020. Players can take part in different styles of battles depending on their preferences, including Arcade, Realistic, and Simulation matches.
  26. ^ "[Development] Fleet research changes and the first battleships!". warthunder.com. Retrieved 2020-12-13.
  27. ^ "Worm Thunder: Children of Arachis - War Thunder Wiki". wiki.warthunder.com. Retrieved 2022-06-10.
  28. ^ "TailSpin - War Thunder Wiki". wiki.warthunder.com. Retrieved 2021-06-15.
  29. ^ "Warfare 2077 - War Thunder Wiki". wiki.warthunder.com. Retrieved 2021-06-15.
  30. ^ "April Fools' Day 2020: War Thunder goes to space".
  31. ^ "[Special] Earth Thunder: We are not their playthings!". Warthunder.com. Retrieved 20 April 2019.
  32. ^ "Naval combat setting sail in War Thunder". Gamereactor.eu. Retrieved 12 January 2017.
  33. ^ "Unrealistic Battles". Warthunder.com. Retrieved 12 January 2017.
  34. ^ "War Thunder - March to Victory Trailer". Gamespot.com. 2015-08-20. Retrieved 12 January 2017.
  35. ^ Sethisto (1 April 2013). "War Thunder Adds the Pony Nation". Equestria Daily. Retrieved 2 April 2015.
  36. ^ "New Japanese war machine in War Thunder!". Warthunder.com. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
  37. ^ "Конкурс Армейских международных игр "Танковый биатлон" приходит в War Thunder". function.mil.ru (in Russian). Retrieved 2020-12-13.
  38. ^ ""Танковый биатлон" скоро в War Thunder". warthunder.ru (in Russian). Retrieved 2020-12-13.
  39. ^ Reahard, Jef (2012-01-25). "World of Planes renamed, evolves 'beyond pure aerial combat' | Massively". Massively.joystiq.com. Archived from the original on 2013-08-10. Retrieved 2013-08-16.
  40. ^ Purslow, Matt. "War Thunder: Ground Forces now available, 6 million pilots to receive their tank licenses". Pcgamesn.com.
  41. ^ "War Thunder update 1.45 goes live". Gamereactor.eu. Retrieved 12 January 2017.
  42. ^ "War Thunder Update 1.63 Desert Hunters released". Pcinvasion.comn. 2016-09-29. Retrieved 12 January 2017.
  43. ^ "War Thunder leaves open beta, officially released". Rock Paper Shotgun. 21 December 2016. Retrieved 12 January 2017.
  44. ^ Jakobs, Benjamin (2017-05-02). "War Thunder: Italien kommt als neue Nation hinzu". Eurogamer.de (in German). Retrieved 2 May 2017.
  45. ^ Ford, Suzie (2 May 2017). "Italy Joining the Fight as the Sixth Playable Faction - War Thunder - MMORPG.com". MMORPG.com. Retrieved 2 May 2017.
  46. ^ "Gamescom Combat helicopters in War Thunder". Warthunder.com.
  47. ^ "Combat helicopters are coming in War Thunder's next major update". Rock Paper Shotgun. 21 August 2018.
  48. ^ "Tencent Will Terminate Game Service for the War Thunder China Server -- Superpixel". www.superpixel.com. Retrieved 2022-08-18.
  49. ^ Allison, George (16 July 2021). "Classified Challenger tank specs leaked online for videogame". UK Defence Journal. Archived from the original on 16 July 2021.
  50. ^ Stanton, Rich (2021-10-07). "War Thunder fan leaks classified military documents to win an argument about tanks—again". PC Gamer. Archived from the original on 2021-11-24. Retrieved 2021-10-19.
  51. ^ OSINTtechnical (2022-06-02). "Classified specs leaked on War Thunder forum for third time". UK Defence Journal. Archived from the original on 2022-06-02. Retrieved 2022-06-02.
  52. ^ "War Thunder for PC Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 25 April 2017.
  53. ^ "War Thunder for PlayStation 4 Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 25 April 2017.
  54. ^ "War Thunder for Xbox One Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 12 November 2020.
  55. ^ Lorenzi, Matteo (17 October 2013). "War Thunder – review". Eurogamer.it (in Italian). Retrieved 17 August 2014.
  56. ^ a b Todd, Brett (8 July 2014). "War Thunder Review". GameSpot. Retrieved 17 August 2014.
  57. ^ a b Saris, Shawn (6 May 2015). "War Thunder Review". IGN. Retrieved 6 May 2015.
  58. ^ Zacny, Rob (7 August 2014). "War Thunder review". PC Gamer. Retrieved 17 August 2014.
  59. ^ "Most planes in a flight simulation game". Guinness World Records. 22 January 2013. Retrieved 1 April 2015.
  60. ^ "Most players online simultaneously on one Flight Simulation server". Guinness World Records. 3 November 2013. Retrieved 1 April 2015.

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