War Thunder has been available on PC for nearly five years now. And just over four years on PS4.
In that time it has become one of the most popular free-to-play games available, has grown to include ground combat, and now, it’s finally becoming available for Xbox One gamers too.
While War Thunder will be available on a free-to-play basis sometime later this year, at the moment, early access has to be bought. There are three founders packs available, ranging from as little as £15.99/$19.99 right up to £64.99/$99.99. Each one offers a premium account for set period of time, some currency to get you started, and at least one premium vehicle. Honestly though, unless you’ve already played War Thunder and are chomping at the bit for some reason to play it on Xbox One, you may as well just opt for the cheapest starter bundle.
Featuring cross-play with the PC version of the game, you’ll probably not be surprised to hear that War Thunder on Xbox One is an experience that’s not compromised in any way. It’s essentially the PC version running on your console. By default, you’ll have to navigate menus by moving a pointer around the screen with your analogue stick and clicking on options with the right trigger to select them. It feels a bit fiddly – unnecessarily so, in fact – especially when some functions are mapped to the face buttons. With time, however, the awkwardness fades, letting you concentrate what matters most: the combat.
Whether you prefer to occupy the land, air or sea (that’s right, naval battles are now being introduced to War Thunder too), you can be sure there’ll always be a fight available for you. Arcade Battles come with simplified controls and helpful aids, allowing newcomers and casual players to have fun without having to sink too much time. And there are also options for Realistic Battles and beyond, for those who prefer a more hardcore experience.
Those entering the world of War Thunder for the first time via Xbox One may find their heads in a spin for quite a while though; despite the presence of some helpful tutorials, the myriad of options and game modes available is initially bewildering. By dipping your toes in the water with Arcade Battles though, you’ll slowly piece together the game’s intricacies, even if you put in a poor performance. The helpful thing about War Thunder is that PvP combat is not the be-all and end-all. There are single-player missions that you can unlock and practice your skills in, and there are also co-op PvE missions, too.
No matter how you choose to play, you’ll gradually build your wealth, allowing you to expand the range of planes, tanks and ships available to you for missions. You’ll gain research points as well, enabling you to upgrade and personalise your machines of war. Some will get caught up in the addictive cycle of warring and buying/upgrading vehicles. Others will just be happy to challenge themselves, taking part in battles with their favourite hulk of metal even if it’s outmatched by the competition. War Thunder is effectively a theatre of war, and its players are actors. Each player has their own reason for playing and so too a style; it’s when you put many players together that you’re presented with a grand performance.
Perhaps the best news for Xbox One owners is that if they have an Xbox One X, War Thunder‘s entertaining combat display looks better than ever on console. Crisp 4K resolution brings the game’s textures and special effects to life. And keeping your eye on a bogey in the distance is sometimes hard when the picturesque scenery is fighting for your attention. The enhanced visuals don’t come at the expense of performance, either. War Thunder remains a smooth, pleasant experience no matter how much is happening.
If large-scale combat via the land, sea and air is your thing, then War Thunder on Xbox One is very worthy of your attention. Like any online game that grows over time, it can take a while to fully understand and engage with everything it has to offer, but in the long-run it’s worth the effort. It looks nice, performs well, caters for players of all skill levels, and while it has taken more than four years to come to Xbox One, it feels more expansive, feature complete and robust as a result. Whether you choose to pay to gain early access right now or wait to download the basic version for free, it’s hard to imagine that you’ll be disappointed with what’s on offer.