Since first launching in 2013, World of Warplanes has had a bit of a chequered history. Coming up against stiff competition from the likes of War Thunder, the free-to-play, WW2 themed online arcade flight sim launched into the shadow of World of Tanks, developing a loyal audience of some 23 million people, yet one that never quite reached the popularity of its bigger brother. That's why the team at Wargaming have spent the past nine months hard at work on the latest update, World of Warplanes 2.0 - an update so huge, it's being treated more as a relaunch than an incremental upgrade.
So, what's new? Well, first off, a whole host of improvements to make the game easier to get into for new players. One of the issues people reported with the original game was that it was a bit on the unforgiving side - but World of Warplanes 2.0 has been designed to be much easier to pick up and play. Alongside the vastly improved graphics, a streamlined interface and control scheme makes it easier to for players to fly, with a reworked aiming system designed to make dogfights more fun. Getting shot down isn't the end of a battle now either, as players can now simply respawn and head straight back into the fight.
Rather than being mass free-for-alls where only the best dogfighters win, now battles will take on a more strategic feel, with each class of planes having its own set of objectives, and a renewed emphasis on teamwork. An all new type of conflict, named Conquest mode, switches the focus to capturing locations on the ground, rather than blowing up enemy planes, as you vie for control key points on a map. Destroying certain important structures within a location - and clearing the air support above them - will let you capture that location, which in turn both drains the enemy team's points, and nets you a variety of bonuses. Capturing an airfield will let you repair your aircraft, for example, while nabbing a Military Base will see it lob rockets at nearby enemy structures.
Into this mix launches a brand new class of planes - the long awaited bombers - and the ability to manually control rear gunners, with the gun tweaked to dish out more damage when you're shooting it yourself. The initial line-up of bombers appears to consist of A-26 Invaders for the USAF, Bristol Blenheims for the RAF, and the bizarre Russian jet bomber, the RB-17. Apparently, these three of the new bombers will be free for everyone to get to grips with until the 30th October, with more to be added in coming updates.
World of Warplanes 2.0 launches tomorrow, 11th October - so why not get stuck back in, or give the game a try!