- 1 Multiplayer
- 1.1 Arcade Battles
- 1.2 Realistic Battles
- 1.3 Simulator Battles
- 1.4 Enduring Confrontation
- 1.5 Events
- 1.6 April Fools (1st April) Events
- 1.7 World War Mode
- 2 Singleplayer
In arcade mode, the game draws two teams of players (up to 32 people) with planes of different nations with similar battle ratings. It is possible to see aircraft of the same type on opposing teams. Damage models, flight models, and physics are greatly simplified (e.g. in very high-speed dives, planes do not have their wings ripped off and are still controllable), but retain some realism (e.g. bombers are not as manoeuvrable as fighters), and ammunition reloads after a certain period of time without players returning to an airfield. Multiple views are available; third person view, cockpit view, gunner view (if the aircraft has a gunner) and virtual cockpit view (if the aircraft does not have a cockpit model the virtual cockpit will be used). Arcade mode games are played in either "Ground Strike" mode - where in order to win you must destroy all enemy ground units, shoot down all enemy aircraft or destroy the enemy bombing points and airfield- or "Domination" mode, which consists of seizing enemy airfields by landing your aircraft on them, causing the opposing team to slowly lose 'tickets'; the team whose tickets reach zero first or lose all of their aircraft loses. Also, to help simplify aiming, a 'leading marker' appears when an enemy plane is in range. This shows where the enemy plane will be by the time your shots reach it if the plane continues its current trajectory.
Air Assault/Ground Assault:
In Air assault mode the same rules as in arcade apply to flight and damage models and in-flight rearming. What is different is that this mode is for either random or premade team of 10 and requires at least some teamwork. There is also an unlimited number of respawns at 80% AB Silver Lion repair cost. The main objective is to defend your team's base from growing waves (15 in Air Assault or 11 in Ground Assault) of enemy AI-controlled bombers, fighters, and howitzers or tanks and fighters in Ground Assault. The bomber's gunners are active but most of the fighters and howitzers do not pose a direct threat to the player.
In Arcade Ground Forces - tank handling is simplified (tanks move faster, and turn faster than they would do in reality), spotted enemy vehicles are displayed on the minimap and have visible nametags above them when aimed at. There is also an "Aim assistant" - crosshair indicating where your shot would land if fired under current elevation, together with an indication of how likely your shell will be able to penetrate the target.
Teams are composed with no regard to nationality, the only factor is the vehicle's battle rating. Lastly, when your vehicle is knocked out, you can respawn with a different vehicle (from your line-up), up to 3 spawns total (+ 1 reserve tank).
During the battles, the player can collect the "airstrike points" by scoring kills or assists to play as a random aircraft from three different classes; fighters (costing one point), attacker (two points), or bombers (three points). Each aircraft can be controlled for only one minute. As of Update "New Power", in a battle of BR 6.0 or higher, you can spawn as a nuclear bomb-equipped bomber by scoring 20 kills, the side who were able to drop the nuclear bomb will be instantly won the round.
In Arcade Naval battles, all naval vessels receive a significant boost of engine power and traverse speed to make it easier to control, and spotted enemy vehicles are displayed on the minimap and have visible nametags on them when aimed at (similar to ground battles). There is an "aim assistant" indicating the range of enemy from your vessel, simplified "ranging" mechanics, as well as a 'lead marker' for torpedoes that show the angle that will guarantee a hit provided that the target continues moving at the same velocity and direction.
In this mode, you can spawn as a naval vessel up to 3 times, all reserve vessels can be respawned for free up to 3 times without the need of backup vehicles.
Similar to Ground Realistic battles, you can collect "spawn points" for aircraft by performing actions within the battle, and are able to choose aircraft from your own preselected line-up, provided the aircraft is not more than one BR step higher than your highest-rated vessel (for example, a BR 3.3 boat would allow up to BR 3.7 aircraft to be used). A random aircraft from game-generated pools of the same nation can also be selected instead (with a BR lower than your highest-rated vessel by up to 1.0), divided into two categories: fighters and bombers/attackers. If you wanted to respawn the same type of aircraft again (i.e respawning as a fighter for second time) the respawn price for said category of aircraft will be doubled. You can respawn as the same aircraft up to 2 times and overall up to 3 times (provided that you have enough respawn points).
Realistic mode (alias RB) is designed for more experienced players. More realistic damage models, flight models, and physics makes gameplay less forgiving, and aircraft fly much more similar to their historical counterparts, with their strengths and weaknesses more apparent than in arcade mode. Also, once all ammunition and ordnance are expended players will have to return to their airfield to reload, and there is no 'leading marker' to assist with aiming. In this mode, unlike the arcade game, teams feature aircraft from specific nations, making gameplay more accurately reflect historical encounters such as the Battle of Stalingrad, fought between the USSR and Germany, or the Battle of Midway, fought between the Japanese Empire and the US. These historical scenarios will all have different objectives similar to the battles they represent, such as destroying a German tank advance at Kursk or repelling a Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor.
In Ground Forces, characteristics of the realistic mode are similar to that of the Aviation Realistic mode - Tank behaviour is more realistic. Tanks feel overall much more "heavy" - they accelerate slower, lose much more speed in turns, do not slide so much and handle much more "jerky" as real tanks do. Traversing the turret, and aiming the gun at the target also takes much more time, some crew skills become very obvious (an inexperienced gunner first rotates the turret horizontally, and only then slowly adjusts the gun elevation, while an experienced gunner can do both tasks at the same time). Then, when your tank is hit, and needs a field repair, doing it takes much longer than it does in Arcade battles (often up to 2 minutes).
Battles themselves change as well - only certain maps are played, and they are usually larger than the original. Teams are additionally sorted by nations, e.g. USSR vs Germany in Berlin map (although occasionally mixed nation battles, like USA+Germany vs USSR, are still possible).
Unlike its Arcade counterpart, Ground realistic battles uses a "spawn points" mechanics. Players are given a starting amount of spawn points to spawn their first ground vehicles. They can collect spawn points via various actions within the battle to respawn when they are knocked out. Different types of vehicles have different spawn costs (i.e light tanks usually have lower spawn cost than heavy tanks), and the battle rating of the vehicle relative to the maximum battle rating of the battle will also affect the cost. You can respawn as long as you have enough spawn points and vehicles that are still allowed to spawn (i.e a non-reserve vehicle can be respawned one more time provided that you have a backup).
During the battle, you are also able to choose an aircraft/helicopter from your own preselected line-up to spawn. Unlike ground arcade battles, aircraft/helicopters spawned in ground realistic battles can be controlled indefinitely, and various properties from air realistic battles (i.e limited fuel and ammunition) are also applied.
As of Update "New Power", in a battle of BR 6.0 or higher, you can spawn as a nuclear bomb-equipped bomber for 2,500 spawn points, a team that is able to drop the nuclear bomb will instantly win the round.
Last important differences are visual - there is no coloured crosshair to tell you where will your shot go after being fired, or whether it can penetrate your target. Enemy vehicles are also not displayed on the minimap, and have no name tags on them - instead, only a red coloured icon is briefly displayed on the minimap when nearby allies scout or hit a vehicle, approximately showing you the position of an enemy.
SB mode is based on the most realistic simulation settings; only the first-person view in the cockpit or gunner views are available, and flight physics are at their most realistic settings, reflecting the real-world attributes of aircraft to a fairly accurate level. The gameplay of simulator mode is similar to that of realistic battles - two teams of different nations are fighting each other for dominance in the sky and on the ground to achieve their objectives, but the realism of the game at this level is even higher. Simulator settings also require players to play with a joystick, gamepad or 'mousejoy' as opposed to mouse-aim available in other modes, lead indicators are not present and players must return to airfields to rearm and repair their aircraft.
Enduring Confrontation (also known as “EC”) is a separate game mode for aircraft in War Thunder. Unlike in traditional random battles, this mode allows you to join a battle at any time. You also have unlimited respawns, subject to certain rules. In EC, the emphasis is on the players’ ability to influence the situation on the battlefield.
Battles in EC occur as Events, so you can find this mode in the “Events and Tournaments” section underneath the “To Battle” button. EC is the primary game mode for aircraft in Simulator Battles, and a simplified version of it in Arcade Battles is the only separate game mode for helicopters. To join a battle in Enduring Confrontation, you can either wait in the general queue as you would in random battles, or call up a list of active rooms (ongoing battles) sorted by country and rank and, if there are available spots on a team, join your preferred side in that room. You can call up a list of rooms by pressing the button of the same name.
Events mode is often available in realistic and simulator battle settings, allowing players to partake in battles recreated as accurately as possible using historical sets of aircraft, rather than using the regular matchmaking system of battle ratings. This allows for a more challenging experience for players wishing to play less advanced nations, whilst still providing balanced gameplay through different numbers of players on each team - the more technologically advanced team will often have several less aircraft than the disadvantaged team, whilst the opposition will retain numerical superiority. Occasionally, special community events will be held with arcade mode settings.
- Flight of the swallows
- German team has sole access to the Me 262 Schwalbe jet fighter and must bring down a bomber formation of B-17G Flying Fortresses. All while they are under attack by their escorts, the legendary P-51D Mustang. "In 1944, on the threshold of the battle of the Bulge, the US was concerned about the increasing numbers of jet-propelled aircraft in German hands. In order to put an end to this threat, an armada of B-17’s were tasked with bombing the airfields that the “swallows” were based at."
- Operation Uranus
- German forces are trying to break through the encircled city of Stalingrad.
- Operation "Chastise"
- Night time escort mission. Lancaster formation must break through German air defense on their way to an industrial night raid. RAF equivalent to 'Guardian Angels' event. "On the 5th of March, 1943, the Battle of Ruhr was begun; a campaign of strategic bombing that took place during the Second World War. This campaign was planned as an assault on the German industrial area of Ruhr, and both British and American forces took part."
- Guardian Angels
- USAAF equivalent to 'Guardian Angels' event, but in the daytime and B-17s"Schweinfurt was the location of most of the ball-bearing production in Germany at the onset of World War II, it was eventually devastated following a series of Allied strategic bombing raids. It was hoped that the destruction of the factories located in the city would cripple the production of new tanks and aircraft."
For Arcade and matched by ranks, this mode lets teams of 8 players per side duel each other for air supremacy. Matchmaker will only put squadron members of the same clan into the teams, so have 8 fellow pilots ready! Maximum opponent dispersion is one rank e.g. rank III vs rank IV is possible, but not rank II vs rank IV.
For Realistic a different setup is in use known as Tactical Battles with fixed line-ups and a team count of 7v7. Unlike common tank RB matches, all markers are enabled.
Due low attendance this event is limited to the following times:
- 17:00 -> 23:00 (West coast US time)
- 20:00 -> 02:00 (East coast & Peru & Columbia & Ecuador & Cuba & Jamaica time)
- 22:00 -> 04:00 (East Brazilian & Argentinian & Greenland time)
- 01:00 -> 07:00 GMT (British, Irish & Portuguese time)
- 02:00 -> 08:00 (Central European time)
- 03:00 -> 09:00 (East European & Near East & South Africa time)
- 09:00 -> 15:00 (Manila & Perth time)
Often enough, no available opposition caused teams of players to wait almost indefinitely, or the matchmaker to go haywire and put jet versus piston aircraft. Official forum announcement detailing these changes.
A Question and answer session script can be found on the War Thunder forum: Q&A session about Squadron Battles
Players use the plane at his disposal to fly through a marked course to get to the finish line first. The matchmaker only takes eras into account. Rockets, bombs and guns are disabled.
Lightly armoured anti-air vehicles duels each other here without the interference of their bigger brothers. For balancing reasons Era V & the Kugelblitz are not participating.
Exclusive for the Victory Day a special mission was available for play in War Thunder's event browser. "Victory Hour" was a scripted Berlin map wherein a four men tank platoon (the players) were on to repel a German counterattack and then press forwards to capture the Reichstag. In style it was similar to the singleplayer missions available for aviation, albeit earning more Silver Lions and Research Points and having the earlier in "March to Victory!" introduced spawn point system for special vehicles (here: IS-2 mod.44).
War in Mid Air
In this event, teams are split between attackers and defenders. The task of the attacking ‘aircraft’ team is to destroy the armoured vehicles that are positioned inside the city and subsequently the anti-air units as well.
The task of the defending anti-aircraft vehicles is to stop the attack from happening and hold the city. Tickets for the attacking team will reduce up to the point when all the city ground vehicles have been destroyed. If the aviation team succeeds in its task, the ticket bleed stops and the task will switch to destroying the remaining anti-air vehicles.
'100' Team Deathmatch
The '100' event features in both Air and Ground Force battles and is currently exclusive to Arcade mode. In Air Battles, the event is played on the Khalkhin Gol map, in Ground Battles the Poland map is used. Teams battle it out to be the first team to reach 100 destroyed enemies vehicles and win. The event has unlimited respawns.
Special event for ground forces. It features a modified M551 Sheridan and the Football Field map. This game mode appeared for the first time in "A fiery ball" event. The objective is to have scored more goals than the enemy team within the time limit. If either team reaches a three-goal advantage in 3v3 matches (or five in 5v5) over the other, the match will end instantly regardless of remaining time. The match features 2 regular 5 minute halves in each game. In case of a draw, players will get 2 additional periods of 1.5 minutes each. Only game time is taken into account (as in five a side or mini football). If the results after the two additional periods is still a draw - victory will not be awarded to either team.
Every year on the 1st April, War Thunder has held special one time only events. From Giant Japanese Snails and Flying Ponies to Russian Mechs and Inflatable tanks, players could be faced with absolutely anything on this day!
- 2012 - Star Thunder
- 2013 - Little Ponies in the Sky
- 2014 - GAIJILLA
- 2015 - March to Victory! & Unrealistic Battles
- 2016 - Sailing fleet in War Thunder!
- 2017 - Rank IX
- 2018 - Silent Thunder & Hats off to You!
- 2019 - Earth Thunder
- 2020 - Space Thunder
- 2021 - TailSpin & Warfare 2077
A game mode involving battles on a global map. Conflict will occur in the format of "operations", which include dozens of individual battles. The game mode differs significantly for the commander, officers and ordinary members of a squadron. Commanders and officers are able to choose which operations their squadrons will participate in, move forces in real time on the operational map and initiate battles.
In the World War game, RB game mode will be used with the marker mechanics of the AB.
Each mission unlocked by fulfilling criteria similar to achievements. Short missions usually with a gameplay twist and a short narrative.
Via selecting settings a historic campaign can be played were vehicles and missions are given by the game. After each sortie, the available missions change and the previous mission's impacts the military campaign on the strategic map.
Available only after purchasing in the store. Currently, the Pacific Campaign for the US or Japan is playable.
Community created sorties. Visit live.warthunder.
Available in the lower left corner of the test flight window once the vehicle in question is bought. Allows for creating missions with set parameters and style like Dynamic Campaign.
For testing various configurations of the vehicle, in different weather settings as well as with the possibility to chose the quantity of ammunition on-board (tanks/ships).