I like tanks, and even though I don’t have complete knowledge about every World War 2 era tanks(or even modern ones) I enjoyed games that showcases tank combat. I played World of Tanks a year ago for a few months and really enjoyed it. Of course the fact that I used some mods to make the game more reminiscent of a certain anime also helps further improve my overall enjoyment of the game.
War Thunder have been around for some time but only features aerial combat with the promise of ground combat in a future update. Now after months of waiting, Gaijin Entertainment have added tank combat to their game, War Thunder: Ground Forces as they call it, adds various tanks for(currently) 2 countries: Germany and Russia. U.S., Japanese and British tanks are planned but are not available for now.
The tanks are divided into Tiers, just like in World of Tanks but Ground Forces tanks starts with better known tanks and does not feature prototype tanks like the Maus. Upgrades are handled a bit differently with upgrades consisting mostly of internal components. Different weapons are available but that means changing into a different tank entirely as Ground Forces divides them all into different vehicles like the Pz. IV Ausf. C, Ausf. F1, Ausf. G and so on.
Graphically, the game looks great with tanks having a lot of details that you can see up close. There are also a lot of vegetation and objects in the environment, which makes hiding your tanks quite an easy thing to do. There are some annoying problems however like getting stuck on rocks and hitting on ground that looks traversable ending up in disabling the tank. The game sometimes takes time to load up tank models when the match has started, resulting in people hitting other tanks that are invisible, creating chaos at the start of the match.
There are currently two game modes which are minor variations of the usual domination game mode where two teams compete to take control of some important points in the map. If your tank is destroyed, you still get a chance to get back into the match with reserve tanks. This helps a lot considering you could sometimes get destroyed from a distance and doesn’t have the chance to do anything. Those who want better realism in their tank game could try out Realistic and Simulator battles which offers even more realistic and challenging gameplay.
The combat in Ground Forces is brutal, even in Arcade mode. Tank crews gets unconscious or wounded easily and parts of the tank can be easily damaged. Targeting weak spots are important in tank vs. tank combat but it is even more important in this game as one good hit could destroy an enemy tank. Even when you’re not destroyed in one hit, chances are your tank will be immobilized and you will be a sitting duck for quite some time while waiting for your crew to finish repairing the tank.
The main weakness of the game is that it really lacks proper visual feedback and with the game having quite a complex gameplay this is somewhat of a big problem. Crew status, tank status, enemy being spotted, ally and enemy indicator in the screen and the map of the game itself doesn’t give information in a clear way. Having to constantly peek to the lower left part of the screen each time you got hit gets annoying after a while and no audio cue or any clear visual indicator that an enemy is spotted nearby(aside from having to peek at the unclear map) makes it really hard to have proper battlefield awareness.
The map, which should be a very important part of your screen in relaying ally and enemy positions are practically useless in Ground Forces with tiny and blurry blue and red lines moving unseen in a badly designed minimap that even fails to show you where objective points A, B or C are when they are not being captured.
Another case of the game failing to give information? Ammunition types. Tanks have different types of ammunition that the players can choose but aside from a few that has clear difference in armor penetration, some of them have unclear description. What is the difference between an APHE and HE shells? And what does the APCR shells do? Those who have prior knowledge of tanks might know their usage but an average player will have no idea what ammo type to use on a particular situation.
Aside from these negatives though the combat in this game is really solid and provides tons of fun. While improvement on visual feedback is sorely needed, the game is completely playable at this point and hopefully Gaijin Entertainment improves everything at the end of this Open Beta period.
Final verdict? As a game in Open Beta, War Thunder: Ground Forces is definitely showing a lot of promise. With a few improvements on how they provide information to the players and a rework on how the enemies are highlighted and shown in the map, the game should provide a great deal of entertainment to those who likes tank combat or competitive games in general.
Note: This article is an old article I wrote for another site that is now closed. The content might not be relevant anymore right now.