This is a review for iEntertainment’s Warbirds: Dogfights 2016. I was given a free Steam key to review this game and share my thoughts, so let’s get to it.
First off, the developers emailed me and recommended that I use a flight stick because the mouse is very difficult to play. Although I love flight sims, I don’t play them as much as I used to so I don’t own a flight stick. Having said that, I jumped into the game and started playing anyways.
I want to first point out that although it is difficult to play with the mouse it isn’t impossible, with a bit of adjustment you can do it, but I would still strongly recommend that you use a flight stick. There are a lot of options for customizing your controls if you take the time to look around the options and set everything up. I will write a detailed guide and explain how I set up my keyboard and mouse controls to make the game playable without a flight stick, but for now let’s actually talk about the game and what it has to offer.
When you first start up Warbirds you will see three game modes to choose from: Training, Campaign, and Online play. You can also use the help menu to learn about the game. Although I have experience with flight simulators, I also know that every game is different so I jumped into training first to learn how to play. Boy am I glad I did. The controls beat me up at first but I adjusted them until I got the hang of it.
Training teaches you how to take off, land, fly, and dogfight. The first introduction runs you through how to play and gets you familiar with the controls for beginners. The developers also offer live flight support classes to fly with you and teach you how to play, which I thought was really awesome. The dogfight training gave me a problem and I think it needed floating balloons for you to shoot at first, but regardless I think it is enough to get you in the air.
The campaign mode starts you off nice and slow with a one-on-one dogfight. You can choose auto-takeoff where the computer takes control of your plane, or choose to manually take off to do it yourself. Once in the air and you reach a safe altitude, the game will then teleport you to dogfight your opponent. After you accomplish the mission you will move on to two-on-two battles, four-vs-four battles, and continue on as you move up the ranks to bigger more complex missions, from patrolling, to intercepting, to escort missions.
You can also do training for ground vehicles to learn how to use them. And yes, there is land to air ground battles, you can use a variety of ground vehicles such as tanks, and jeeps with mounted AAA guns on the back. The ground vehicles more or less control like the air planes, but I only played around with them a little bit because I thought it was silly to bring a tank to an airplane battle.
The online mode is where this game really shines though… my goodness is that world map deliciously huge. I flew from one landing base to the other that was just below me, and it took me about fifteen minutes to get there. Traveling the entire map would probably take close to about an hour or so depending on how fast your plane is. This is the only recent flight sim that I have played where I actually ran out of fuel and had to land and restock.
There are literally hundreds of bases scattered across the map. Depending on the server you go to will determine the war you join. My particular battle took place in the Philippines. You can choose your side for which team you want to fly with, then select your plane. If you are a subscriber you get more planes to choose from than free to play players. Since I had the review key I was able to select any plane I wanted, as well as a custom skin for the plane. There were about five to six different skins to choose from, but it mostly was determined by your plane type because some had more than others.
The online mode is similar to a capture the base mode where you must work with your team to destroy enemy planes, tanks, and ground forces to overtake the base so that it becomes one of your bases. For every base you capture, that is another base for you to spawn at. There are about 20 different large scale map locations for you to battle across, 175 different aircraft. I’m not entirely sure how many players can play per server, but from what it looks like about 60 players per server dogfighting against each other. When I was playing there were about 40 players or so battling on the map, but it wasn’t a lot of frantic chaos since the map was so large. The veteran players would normally lead an attack on a specific base, then use the chat or Teamspeak to direct everyone else on where to go to progress our troops forward to takeover more bases to bring everyone together.
In my preview article I said that the game appeared to be more arcade like, this is and isn’t true depending on what you are looking for. If you stick to campaign and training it is a bit arcade like because you get flight assists, teleported to battles for fast dogfights, and a lot of the on-screen markers help you fly and shoot down the targets. However, the online battles are a bit more stripped down and complex without all the support. The controls for both modes are far more difficult than WarThunder Online’s arcade mode, so if you are used to WarThunder’s arcade mode controls you probably won’t enjoy this game much because of how difficult it is to fly, but it also offers more.
I also played Rise of Flight and I felt the controls and planes felt too light and it was too easy to play. I literally tried to force my plane to stall in Rise Of Flight and it never happened, I always had complete control of my plane. That isn’t the case with WarBirds because the flight physics are a lot different. However, Warbirds 2016 isn’t completely perfect either. There are a few planes like the F2A Buffalo that are incomplete without a proper cockpit (no stick or controls inside), or working flaps that move about, which gives the plane a plastic cheap appearance.
In the single player game I saw a few AI planes crash straight into the ground for no reason and not explode, instead they began grinding propeller first into the ground and scooting around until either I shot and killed them or my wingman flew by to kill them, otherwise they would continue to motor on as if it never happened. I had a similar experience as well with my plane, as evidenced with the below picture.
I also noticed that the sun glare isn’t very bright and doesn’t blind you if you fly straight towards it, so you can’t use the sun as a tactical advantage to blind your enemy. I also noticed that when performing extreme maneuvers like diving down towards the ground and than pulling up for an Immelmann turn,
my pilot didn’t suffer from G-force or blackouts during high speed dives and turns. If it’s in the game I never experienced it all while I was playing, which is also a bit of a bummer because you can often times use that as a tactical advantage when battling other players.
EDIT: The game does indeed have blackouts and red outs, it just takes a lot to get it going. I have now blacked out a few times during intense dogfights.
There were a few other things I noticed that other flight simulator games normally don’t have, they are neither good nor bad so take it as you like. When I was taking off and I did it wrong, I tipped too far to the side and scrapped my wings on the ground without tearing them off, but it made a very audible grinding noise. I also jammed my landing gear because I forgot to raise it, so in the heat of the battle I flew low and scrapped the ground to tear it off without damaging the rest of my plane (this helped fix the drag it was creating). After that, I was also able to do a rough landing by carefully scrapping its belly on the ground without blowing the plane up. Another unique feature I noticed is cutting the engine of the plane off and just gliding the plane, in other games I normally would stall, but in Warbirds I had my engine shot out and was able to glide for several miles and very carefully return to base to land the plane safely without taking any further damage.
As a result, Warbirds: Dogfights 2016 has a lot of really cool features and a lot of potential as it mixes the best of both worlds, but I wouldn’t consider it to be a complete realistic flight simulator experience. It does however satisfy my cravings to fly my favorite planes and dogfight as a team, so for that I say that it is a great game and really fun to play.
The environment and plane sound effects are nice and very well done, but the voice acting is a bit lame and sounds like a few guys from the studio decided to do it, so I actually turned it off because it was distracting and they didn’t sound like they were part of the battle which broke the immersion. The graphics aren’t mind blowing, but they are quite nice on the highest settings. The minimum requirements aren’t completely true because my old laptop with a HD3400 graphics card and Intel core 2 duo CPU could run the game with everything on almost the highest settings without any problems, so the optimization is practically perfect, and the load times are very fast. I would experience some very minor hiccups when the game would switch songs in the campaign mode, but other than that it ran perfectly.
Overall, I would rate Warbirds: Dogfights 2016 a solid 8 out of 10 and would recommend it if you don’t mind the $13.95 monthly subscription fee. The new 2016 version has added ten new terrains, six new aircrafts, as well as 22 new upgrades to improve how older models fly. Warbirds: Dogfights 2016 is listed at $19.99 from the Steam store which also includes a month of premium service. I should mention though that you can also download and play the game for free from their official website. Additional features can then be unlocked with a monthly subscription, but you can always play for free if you don’t mind the limited plane options.
For more information you can visit the official website for further details.