War Thunder is one of the best free-to-play multiplayer combat games out there, and has kept fans stocked up with heaps of content since launch in 2013. The military MMO brings people from all over the world together to engage in high-stakes and richly detailed battles, using some of the most iconic real-world equipment, uniforms, and vehicles from world history.
Players can participate in naval, aerial, or ground-based battles with friends or against strangers, utilising highly accurate texture packs to simulate the frontline experience. Every so often, players are treated to free updates that widen the selection of vehicles even further. Each of these typically includes brand new tech trees that allow players to develop their tactics through the eyes of various countries.
This month marks a momentous occasion for War Thunder, which is about to get crystal clear with a 4K update that brings the virtual world ever-closer to reality. This optional update can be downloaded on top of the existing client for free. Alongside the visual upgrades are a bunch of other exciting changes and new additions. Read on for the details.
The biggest changes are without doubt the graphical upgrades, which will plunge fans headfirst into the battle, creating a hyper-realistic experience that builds on existing gameplay. Some of this will be instantly noticeable, such as new ultra HQ textures which allow players to select a 1440/2140p resolution for their vehicles, and improved surface rendering which will make every map and environment stand out. According to the change log, even the ground will be getting a makeover. The resolution of icons and buttons will also be improving, so expect an all-around shinier game.
Some changes will improve the immersion in the heat of battle – making every skirmish feel more realistic. Thick smoke will now cast a shadow, more variety in the visual aspects of explosions have been added, and significant changes have been made to the way the environment reacts to warfare. Even vegetation is at risk now, with leaves being blown off and trees reacting to impact. Dust will move differently, and be disturbed by ground vehicles, and visual effects of object destruction have been tweaked to offer more variety. In short, shooting things will feel more satisfying and look better on screen – which is sure to add a new dimension to the battle.
Several flight models have been updated for aircraft, and radar has been added to a selection of naval weaponry. Each vehicle will react in a more varied and detailed way when shot, and things should run a lot smoother after this update. The gameplay changes in the log are seemingly endless, but may only become apparent with certain vehicles and weapons – such as corrections to the layouts of certain ships and the reworking of flooding mechanics.
Other changes have been implemented specifically to streamline play. Ships will now be able to provide repair to damaged allies autonomously, instead of waiting for the player to hold a button, and a few hotkeys for thanking or apologising the other players have been added, for example.
Top of the list is a new location, Sun City, which is inspired by coastal regions of the Middle East. The landscape varies from sunny beaches to high-rise apartment buildings, giving plenty of terrain options for all manner of tactics. This is in addition to the more than 100 maps that players already have at their disposal.
A selection of new vehicles are also being added to War Thunder’s more than 2,000 existing options. In fact, more than 40 additions are being made. The Israel-focused Closed Beta offers several of these, but many are available immediately to all players. These include Ground Forces, Aircraft, Helicopters, and Naval Fleets from the USA, Germany, UK, China, and Sweden. Among these are the legendary US aircraft the A-10 Thunderbolt II, used in the early 1970s and still in service today, and the Italian Albatros Sub-Chaser boat, famed for use during the Cold War. And on top of all that, a Helicopter PVE mode is also available to play right now.
The Wind of Change update is available now, with the 4K texture pack as an optional download, and can easily be downloaded on top of the full client. The download can be broken up by section, depending on which area you are most interested in, as there is a 4K Aircraft and 4K Ground Forces (and terrain) option. Equally, a full package can be downloaded that encompasses all of the above. The full download sits around 93GB and is completely free to all players, old or new.
War Thunder is available on PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.