War Thunder: An Excellent Free to Play Online Game with Planes and Tanks


This is a review about War Thunder online game. If you have not played this game yet, you do not know what you are missing. It is just a whole lot of fun.


I am not usually too enthusiastic about trying out free online games. As I have stated before, I do not expect much when something is free. Either the graphics are terrible or the gameplay is just silly. Sometimes, you find a game with good gameplay and graphics, but you do not get very far before you have to pay for the “premium” content. While War Thunder does have premium content that you must pay for, there is plenty to do with the free version.

As a side note, War Thunder won the 2013 games.com award for Best Simulation Game.

War Thunder Free To Play

War Thunder


How to Begin

The first thing you need to do is download the game client. Go to War Thunder and click on

You will then be prompted to save the game client:

Click on “Save File” and your download will begin. The game client is a large 6.2 GB file. The entire process, from client download to installation of the game, took a whopping 6 hours to complete. After you begin the process, find something else to do for a while. Depending on your internet provider, you may want to leave the computer alone. My internet company, which is one of the major companies, likes to throttle your bandwidth if they see you are using more than they think you should. Originally, I was trying to download the game client and another item at the same time (nothing to do with the game) and my internet kept crashing. Once I left the game to dl on its own, my connection was fine.

During the lengthy dl, you can choose your resolution, sound, and graphics. You do have to dl the entire client before you can begin gameplay; you cannot play and dl at the same time.


Once the client has finished downloading and installing, you have the choice of signing up with War Thunder or signing up with Facebook or Google. You will be asked to enter your email address for email confirmation; you do not have to confirm your email address but your gameplay will be limited. The game will auto- assign your Nick, Username (which is your email address), and Password so be sure to write all of these down.


The game begins in one of five countries. You are permitted to choose your starting destination from: USA, Germany, USSR, Britain, and Japan. Other countries will be unlocked as gameplay proceeds.  You will presented with a tutorial options. I *highly* recommend that you complete the tutorial. Not only will you learn how to play the game, you will also earn 100 gold wings (currency).


The graphics are excellent. The interface is sophisticated and, to me, a bit confusing. I wish there had been a tutorial to help explain what all of the options are for.  I also do not like the fact that you can only play in full-screen mode; I would have liked the option to play in a window mode. Perhaps the option is there, but I could not find it.

I loved the idea that you can choose I of 3 views: third person, cockpit, and virtual cockpit. Although I prefer third-person, cockpit is pretty cool.


Basically, your objective is to complete missions. When you complete a mission, you earn experience and modes of currency. You can choose from custom battles, world war, tournaments, single missions, and dynamic campaigns.

Money and Items

There are several types of currency in War Thunder: research points, silver lions, and golden eagles.  Golden eagles are premium currency that must be purchased with actual money. Silver lions are used to purchase in-game upgrades and research points are also used to upgrade items. You can buy different planes and weapons, but they must be researched first.


You are able to purchase different weapons, such as rockets and other artillery, but you need to research them first. Researching takes time; you cannot instantly add new weapons to your plane.

Plane design is also customizable, but this is a premium feature.


Yes, there is social gameplay. You can enter group missions where you get queued for group battle. The objective is typically taking out enemy ground tanks, but you can also take out the planes of opponents.


There is the ability to voice chat with your group, and you can message each other as well.

The controls are advanced; you can even throttle the plane to slow down and you can speed up as well. You have to keep an eye on your gas tank and your altitude. Opposing players can take out your plane and your plane can be wiped out by friendly fire. Make sure that you are firing at the enemy! You will have some angry teammates if you take out one of their planes by accident. The goal is to take out enemy ground units, but people like to chase the enemy planes for fun. If you are in a group with hard-core gamers, you will get blasted for wasting time on the enemy planes. If you want to take out enemy planes, try to do it while you are concentrating on the ground units.

I wish there had been a tutorial for this type of gameplay. I often found myself running out of gas and I had no idea why. I couldn’t find a way to refuel and my plane would crash. I think I may have been throttling too quickly since I like to travel at max speed.


In short, this is a great game. It can be very addictive; I had a hard time stop playing.  As you level, you unlock more planes, crews, and artillery. Did I mention that there are tanks? Yes, at some point, you can control a tank. I haven’t gotten that far yet, but I’m sure it is awesome.