Angle of Attack is a subscription based video service that specializes in flight simulator training using real world standards. Whether you are a seasoned flight sim pilot ready to take on PMDG’s 777 or a beginner just starting out in flight sim, Angle of Attack is a realistic, impactful, and entertaining training resource. The entire first series of videos, Aviator 90, is available for free on their website to members (signup is completely free). We will be re-posting one video from the Aviator 90 series once a week here on Saitek.com.
A study guide for all the Aviator90 episodes can be downloaded here.
Today, Andrew Stevens from Fanbolt.com dives into the megapopular online multiplayer air combat game War Thunder. Take it away, Andrew…
War Thunder is an interesting flight game to get into because it is, or at least seems to be, based on gameplay that is designed primarily for keyboard and mouse. Like most hardcore flight fans I’ve enjoyed numerous games with either a flight stick or controller, but never with a keyboard and mouse. So this was definitely a unique experience at first as I began my journey into the game. Continue reading →
I started out using the joystick only to find myself fighting with the controls the entire time. Meanwhile, a friend of mine was telling me how easy it is to aim and shoot with the keyboard and mouse, and so I decided to stop struggling with the controls and move over to what seemed to be a more simplified gaming experience. It still took me quite a while to familiarize myself with the flying and combat situations in the game, but having experience playing one too many first-person shooters on PC, I immediately found the mouse and keyboard familiar and much simpler when aiming and shooting. However, I still found it to be a mighty difficult task when it came time to maneuver the aircraft away from enemy fire.
It’s easy to say that the first impressions of taking flight in War Thunder aren’t the greatest because the controls are simply odd, especially for those who love their flight sticks. But honestly, after spending hours getting used to the keyboard and mouse set-up, it eventually grew on me to the point where it was playable and enjoyable in its own way.
I spent quite a few hours playing War Thunder the way it is “seemingly” intended to be played for the casual and less patient gamer. And guess what, I still found myself enjoying this unique set-up.
However, I wasn’t ready to throw out my flight stick just yet! After doing some additional research into what others had to say about using the joystick in the game, I decided not to give up on it.
While I did end up having a good time with the keyboard & mouse, I eventually stumbled across a thread in the War Thunder forums (http://forum.warthunder.com/index.php?/topic/71765-joystick-aiming-tips-how-not-to-completely-suck-with-a-joystick/) that pressed me to start toying with the sensitivity settings with my joystick so I could establish a better sense of gameplay with it. I still can’t say I have the perfect settings or that what I found had made the aiming much easier, but at least it’s a start and it gave me something to work toward in terms of having just the right movements in order to maneuver across the battlefield in the skies.
The thread helped me find a good balance between control of the aircraft and aiming options so now it’s less wobbly and more stable than before. So even though I’m having an easier time now, it can still be a difficult task to learn and perfect. But at least while I am becoming familiar with the sensitivity issues for aiming with the joystick, it’s still far more enjoyable and natural to fly around with the joystick rather than the keyboard & mouse. So far, while I still get shot down plenty of times, I have found it easier to evade enemy fire with the joystick rather than keyboard & mouse.
I can certainly say that this has been the most unique flight experience I have had in a game yet and I actually enjoyed playing with the keyboard and mouse. I also got to the point where I was able to establish enough patience that allowed me to semi-correctly configure my joystick settings, thereby creating a more natural flying experience. The great thing about War Thunder is that it’s worth the struggle to figure out what works best for you. There’s a lot to like about the game, it’s an MMO in the skies with many players to battle against in entertaining multiplayer matches. No matter what type of setting it’s played on, whether arcade or simulation, it’s a demandingly good time. Plus the game also looks beautiful and has single player campaigns to engage in as well.
I’m currently using the Saitek Pacific AV8R as my joystick which came bundled with Pacific Inc. when it released on the Xbox 360. It currently handles my in-game needs just fine at the moment, and if anyone is looking for a stick to try out before committing a lot of money, the PC version of the Pacific AV8R is currently on sale for $19.99. Not a bad buy!
In addition to becoming more familiar with the gameplay this past weekend, I also took flight with the “Ultra Advanced Pack” that includes five airplanes (Fw.190D-13, Typhoon Mk.IB, XP-38G, A6M5 Ko and Pe-2-205), two single player campaigns (USA Pacific Campaign, 1941-1943 and Japanese Pacific Campaign, 1941-1943), premium account access for two months, and 10,000 golden eagles which I spent way too fast! Even though the pack comes with 5 new aircraft, I couldn’t help but use some of my golden eagles to purchase the Spitfire and XP-50.
Having one of the packs has definitely helped me form a good squadron of airplanes to have right from the beginning. It’s obviously a lot nicer than having to slowly build up a squad and being stuck with weaker, lower tiered aircraft for a longer period of time. I still tend to struggle a bit even with the better aircraft, but having heavier firepower and a larger arsenal of aircraft at least keeps me in the multiplayer battle a lot longer. It has also made the game more enjoyable and finally increased my appetite for wanting to continue to play more.
Here is a video from one of my online sessions using both the Spitfire and XP-50, along with another video from a campaign mission that feels far too familiar to other titles I’ve played. I do hope to improve on my combat skills so I can start live streaming some sessions where I can consistently end up in the top half of the team leaderboard, rather than the bottom half. For now, check out the Spitfire and XP-50 in action while doing your best to ignore my beginner level pilot skills. The first two videos are using the keyboard and mouse controls.
USA Campaign Mission
Here are two more videos using the joystick controls. Again, there is one multiplayer match and another campaign mission from the Ultra Advanced Pack. I did end up screwing around a bit in the campaign mission after I took damage.
We’re starting a new feature here on Saitek: guest bloggers sharing their thoughts on current games and topics in the flight sim community. Up first is Andrew Stevens from Fanbolt.com. Take it away, Andrew…
My name is Andrew Stevens, Managing Editor at FanBolt.com, and I’ve been a journalist in the gaming industry for three years now. However, I’ve been in love with aviation for pretty much my entire life. My dad is a pilot, so in my formative years he flew us around to various events and fly-ins which sparked my admiration for aeronautics. I was also inspired by “Top Gun” when I was young and played with numerous model aircraft while listening to the soundtrack. That’s why I was happy to hear that Kenny Loggins was performing at this year’s AirVenture. DANGER ZONE!!!
I also play a role at the State Aviation Journal (SAJ) as project manager and journalist. SAJ is best known for its digital magazine which releases quarterly, along with a special NASAO issue. It’s a pretty neat gig as I get to attend AirVenture and be one of the official photographers and journalists for the magazine.
That’s pretty much me in a nutshell. I love aviation and video games, and I love having journalism as a job that allows me to discuss these two passions. So, of course, with an appreciation for both flying and video games comes the enjoyment I get out of flight and space sims, and even the hardcore arcade titles. It really doesn’t matter how real or fake it is as long as I get that sense of flying!
I grew up playing different simulators with early memories of Blue Angels: Formation Flight and Microsoft Flight Simulator. That eventually led to getting my first flight stick along with a game called F-22 Lightning II. Good times!
Community question: What are some of your first or favorite memories playing flight simulators?
Ever heard of a game on the Xbox 360 called “Over G Fighters”? A friend and I used to play this one online all the time. We wouldn’t play against each other as we would instead simply fly around, try stunts, and land on the runway to watch each other perform acrobatics. This was the first game I played that gave me the opportunity to play online with other people, so I especially love this particular one.
Why am I here?
My goal for writing here on the Saitek blog is to use my journalism skills to bring this community closer to Saitek products and aviation related games. Is there a game coming out that you would like to learn more about? I can interview the developer to gather more answers to your questions and maybe even uncover some new secrets. Would you like to see gameplay video and live streams of games while using Saitek gear? I will do a lot of that as well, especially when I get my hands on preview code for upcoming titles (if they allow me to capture footage). It is my goal to better connect you with the games you’re most interested in.
That leaves me to my last question: What flight related games are coming out that you would like to learn more about? This can be anything from IL-2 Sturmovik: Battle of Stalingrad to Star Citizen. If it flies, so will I.
What’s that? Never even knew it existed? Or hadn’t visited there in so long that you forgot it was even there? Yes, the Saitek forum continues to see some small activity from time to time even though new registrations have been closed for some time now. The decision was made about a year ago to let the domain expire and have the Saitek forum fade out gracefully.
The question is, would you like to see a new Saitek forum open up? The old one was strictly used for official announcements and peer support; if a new Saitek forum where to open up there would be some differences:
1. The forum software would be updated to Vanillaforum‘s software which is feature-rich and upgradeable.
2. We’d like it to be a more open forum where the community sets the discussion on flight sim and aviation and combat sim games and space sim games and anything else related that strikes their fancy. Pictures of your home rig setup and descriptions of how you tweaked on it for the last 5 hours are not just tolerated but encouraged.
3. We’d like the moderators to be community members themselves, not Saitek staffers, who are committed to keeping discussions moving along.
4. No trolling. No flame wars. The new Saitek forum should be a little slice of zen you can visit during your hectic days. Contests for schwag and other prized are certainly a possibility.
5. Last and most important, this forum should be a repository for all of the great community knowledge for Saitek products. Looking for a suitable profile for the stick you fly, or the latest community-made drivers? Or even suggestions for mods? Come here to find all that stuff out.
What do you think? Should we start a new Saitek forum? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
We’ll probably make a decision on this right around when the old forum is taken down, about a month.
The New Zealand Aviation News, which has been around since 1978 and is the only aviation newspaper in New Zealand, has recently started a monthly feature on home flight sim written by Andrew Underwood. We were happy to provide him with Saitek hardware for his article and in turn the paper has kindly agreed to let us repost the first three months’ of features.