My squadron and I fly in under the cover of darkness toward the target. We’re a small group consisting of a couple of bombers and four fighters soaring through the sky with a coal factory in the distance. It’s heavily defended with flak cannons, barrage balloons and AA batteries all around it. The order is given to the bombers to start their bombing runs, while I peel off the pack to meet the enemy fighters that have come out to defend their prize. Soon the sky is filled with planes firing at each other, and by the end of the battle, there will be only one winning side.
Warplanes: WW2 Dogfight is mostly air combat with some base management elements mixed in. As you may glean from the title all the action takes place during World War II and you can choose to play as either the British, Soviets or Nazi Germany and take to the skies in planes from those factions. Outside of that choice, there isn’t really much bearing on any plot or mission types, though the locations will change from the green fields of the UK to snow-covered forests of the Soviet Union.
There is some variety to the missions which range from engaging in battles in the sky to defending your base or perhaps going on the offensive and bombing enemy ships, trains, or industrial targets. The difficulty of these levels is not just determined by how many enemies there are in the sky and on the ground, but on how many planes you decide to take in your squadron and that’s where base management really shows itself, and it can be a bit of a slog.
You have two currencies in play for base management, silver and gold. Silver is used for repairing planes, keeping the base running, training pilot skills whereas gold is used to buy planes and some pilots. Both currencies are also used to upgrade the base structures like workshops and hangars, as well as defences such as AA guns. While you can earn skills by getting prestige points to lower costs there is a grind in being able to unlock new planes or to upgrade the ones you have. This may be linked to the game’s mobile heritage where it is a free to play title, though the visuals are decent, with plane designs distinct from each other, and markings appearing correctly. You can even customise your plane style if you wish.
The gameplay itself is relatively simple and has made the jump to Switch really well. Flight controls are simple to pick up as is the aiming. You have the option to hold the aim button to lock on to enemies once they’re in range and fire at them to take them down quickly, but if you want more of a challenge you can turn aim assist off. Switching between planes in the squadron requires a simple press of the d-pad while issuing orders is simply opening the menu and selecting an icon. The UI is easy to read and intuitive enough you won’t get stuck with what signs mean. Each of the nations has voiceovers in their native languages and the line delivery is generally good, if a little bit hammy in some instances.
The main issue with Warplanes: WW2 Dogfight is the inherent repetitiveness of the gameplay. Yes, the objectives change but there are only a few of them and you’ll cycle through those pretty quickly. Most of those will revolve around destroying a certain number of enemy planes and there’s little beyond that. This is a game that is fundamentally built for short bursts otherwise you’ll see all it has to offer very quickly, but . The grind doesn’t really help at times with all sorts syphoning the silver pretty quickly, and outside the introduction there isn’t really a plot to speak of which seems like a shame when it gets a lot of other things right. Still, for the price it’s good value.