War Thunder vs World of Tanks: Which is Better [2020]

War Thunder and World of Tanks have been out for 8 and 10 years respectively but the debate over which is the superior game is still going strong.

Read on for a detailed explanation of both games, what they each do well, and what they need to work on.

If you’re on the fence about which of the two multiplayer vehicle combat games to sink your teeth into, hopefully you’ll be able to make a decision by the end of this article.

Tanks and Planes

war thunder tanks planes

The biggest and most obvious distinction between the two games has to do with the types of vehicles available to the player.

War Thunder began as a flight combat simulator and tanks were added in a later patch.  

War Thunder also has combined arms — tanks and planes fight in the same battlefield! 

World of Tanks has always been about just tanks from release. If you want planes in World of Tanks, you’ll have to play the aptly named World of Warplanes.

World of Tanks may only do tanks, but it does them very, very well.

There are hundreds of different tanks to choose from, each handles differently from the others.

Although it might not technically be as realistic as War Thunder, the diversity of tanks and play styles allow for a battle to play out in a hundred thousand different ways. 

Certainly, some vehicles are stronger than others, but every loss feels like it could have been turned around with better positioning or smarter timing.

Realistic Sim or Arcade Shooter?

You don’t have to spend much time playing War Thunder and World of Tanks to know that they both feel completely different.

War Thunder, though not a full on simulator, puts a greater emphasis on realism than World of Tanks.  Meanwhile, World of Tanks is a pacier, more arcade-y experience.

This is most evident in the way the two games control.

war thunder gameplay

War Thunder’s tanks are slow, but every artillery round that finds its mark is guaranteed to do real damage.

The tanks in World of Tanks, though feel like corvettes in comparison. They’re quick to change directions and easy to maneuver. 

Tanks also have “armor” in World of Tanks, which act as the vehicle equivalent of health points. Instead of rounds being essentially 1-hit kills, like in War Thunder, you have to chip your opponent’s armor down to zero if you want to take them out.

In War Thunder, wherever your barrel is pointing is where your round is launched. There’s accurate drop-off due to gravity that makes aiming intuitive and easy to understand, though actually hitting your target is incredibly difficult.

world of tanks aim

World of Tanks doesn’t have this kind of predictable accuracy. To encourage close-range combat, the HUD has a circle around your crosshair that indicates where your round might go. The longer you aim, the smaller the circle becomes, but there’s no way for you to be 100% certain of where your shot will go.

So if you’re a fan of tough but rewarding sim gameplay, War Thunder is your go to. If you want a skill-based tank fighter where skill isn’t as likely to be outshined by sheer luck, World of Tanks is the game for you.

How Do They Look?

world of tanks encore rt
World of Tanks enCore RT

There was a time when War Thunder was clearly the better looking game, but several graphic overhauls over the years have allowed World of Tanks to give War Thunder a run for its money.

The real difference lies in the visual style.

The game that comes out on top in this discussion is the one that appeals to your personal preference.

World of Tanks, in fitting with its more arcade-like action, is slightly more cartoonish in its designs and animations.

For War Thunder, it’s the tiny details that really help build immersion. Things like the way mud sticks to your tank as the battle progresses — and you can wash it off by wading into a river!

Maps

world of tanks map
Map from World of Tanks

As we’ve established, World of Tanks is essentially a tank-themed arena deathmatch.

For this reason, the maps are designed to allow teams to quickly meet. When you spawn into a game of World of Tanks, you know a firefight is just a short distance away.

war thunder map
Map from War Thunder

War Thunder’s maps are necessarily much larger because they must account for the speed of airplanes.

The map sizes have been a topic of much discussion in the War Thunder community. 

Tank players have complained that the focus on aerial combat has left them with a subpar experience.

The large map sizes mean face-to-face combat is much less likely and tank battles become like sniping duels where the combatants fire at one another from distance.

To cater to their tank players, War Thunder’s developers have also added smaller Ground Forces maps. These are tank only affairs, so you’re losing out on the thrill and danger of a potential aerial fly-by.

Progression

War Thunder lets you jump into the cockpit of a fighter or tank and start blasting enemies left and right.

The different plane and tank models are only marginally different, and the one you choose to take into a firefight is the one you’re most comfortable with.

It doesn’t matter how poorly you do, zipping around in a fighter jet or rolling around in a tank is always fun.

This contrasts greatly with the World of Tanks progression model.

The lower tiers where new players begin is a nightmare. The power curve is unforgiving and the difference in skill between advanced and new players is significant.

New players will find themselves being destroyed again and again by better players for dozens of matches in a row.

The Devs

It’s not often you find a community that hates its developers as much as the War Thunder community hates theirs.

Gaijin, the team behind War Thunder, has become known for being unwelcome of criticism.

They’ve issued DMCA take-downs of community-created gameplay videos, sued YouTubers for uploading content that criticizes them, and blacklisted players from their official forums for reporting bugs in their game.

As far as customer service teams go, Gaijin definitely has one of the worst.

war-thunder-gajin

 

World of Tanks players have what can be described as your standard love-hate relationship with its community.

Players complain about balance changes and new maps, the devs respond to feedback, and the cycle goes on.

Conclusion

So, which is the better game?

The one that you prefer.

If you tend to appreciate realism, War Thunder might be right up your alley.

Players who prefer fast-paced, reflex-based arena shooters will enjoy the tempo of World of Tanks.

You should give both games their fair shake.

Simon Purcell
Simon Purcell
Simon has invested more time and energy in DOTA 2 than he cares to admit. Nowadays he's shifted his focus on tech and finds himself more at peace knowing there's no MMR to obsess over. Now it's MHz and GHz instead.
Simon Purcell
Simon Purcell
Simon has invested more time and energy in DOTA 2 than he cares to admit. Nowadays he's shifted his focus on tech and finds himself more at peace knowing there's no MMR to obsess over. Now it's MHz and GHz instead.

8 Comments

  1. Been playing War Thunder for 7 years and haven’t lost an ounce of love for it. There have been aggravating moments, but in the long run, I’ve had many hilarious, and memorable moments with my friends. I’m not trying to be the judge, but I’ve played War Thunder, World of Tanks, and World of Tanks Blitz. Between War Thunder and World of Tanks, War Thunder comes out on top. The combination of realistic physics, realistic matches, different weather conditions, and just the better graphics makes War Thunder a better game.

    World of Tanks has less realistic graphics and physics, and even slower gameplay in my opinion. Most of the time the battle is decided from the start. That’s all I have to say on it.

    I like fast gameplay, so I do really like World of Tank Blitz. So, I if War Thunder isn’t an option, get World of Tanks Blitz instead of World of Tanks. But overall War Thunder is the best.

  2. I don’t want to make a conclusion which game is better, because I totally agree that every player has to decide on their own. I only can describe what I experienced. I started with WoT and fell in love with tank games. After I had some decent unicum matches I lost interest in the game. Too much RNG and no more thrill. I decided to give War Thunder a chance and it was a slap in the face. I was so bad at this game and frustrated. It is way different in gun handling, aiming and dealing damage. But I sticked to it and discovered realistic battles, where you don’t know where the enemy is and you have to spot him. This combined with the thrill that you can be destroyed in one shot and the combined matches with planes that can attack tanks made me fell in love with the game. So I guess I am more the player who likes the “realistic” version, than the fast arcade mode of WoT.

  3. WOT is far more expensive to play because the tanks cost an arm and length. However as new player WOT is easier to understand because it allows for more mistakes due to the HP system. War Thunder feels like several different genres in the same game tanks, planes and ships. Even in tanks they have WW2 tanks and MBT in the same line which leads to tier compression and long battle queue.

    WOT has issues too like the premium ammo, premium consumables and lack sixth sense as default to mention a few.

    I feel both games are too Grindy to be called a game and require the Gamer to sacrifice his life and time to accomplish the skills which for a gaming enthusiastic like me is too much to ask for.

    In my opinion any game should have an average life of 2 to 3 years max. After that the players should move on to a different game.

  4. Being a Closed Beta tester for World of Tanks, I prefer War Thunder over World of Tanks. Giajin does far more for its play base that Wargaming has. Going through the promises that were broken over and over again with no word from Wargaming or having to find it burred in the forums, or a third party report is not a good way to conduct a company. Good example is where is that rebuilt Maus they promised? Or the destructible environment? Or what about when they punished anyone who complained about Warpack? The illegal mod that many top clans used to gain unfair advantages.

    As far as World of Tanks graphics giving War Thunder a challenge, not sure how that is true. The tanks in World of Tanks have an odd almost lead or pewter sheen making them toy like. War Thunder having added the new effects, changing weather and time of day, as well as better shading has given it a clear edge over World of Tanks.

    The last points I want to make out is the broken design of World of Tanks. Spotting, as everyone who plays it knows, has been broken for years, with the Devs chasing a broken patch from back in closed beta instead of rolling it back and starting over. The map design and sizes do not work for having the light, medium, and heavy tanks fill their true roles. These allow players that focus purely on stats to refuse to actually help their team instead by time and clean up as many kills as they can before the team loses. That focus on stats has also created a very toxic community they have been trying to clean up for nearly a decade.

    1. You made good points Robert. Thank you for sharing this, it will help people decide on which one to play.

    2. I disagree. I haven’t at one instance in my thousands of games in both once had the feeling of Gaijin being player consumer centric or consumer positive. Everything has been a gutting. Wargaming has on the other hand reduced the grind in WoT by so much that it’s almost non-existent once you’re on a roll, plus all the rentals, free premium time, free multiplier missions, free premium tanks with Twitch, etc. In War Thunder there’s not a single ounce of this. Gaijin holds onto it’s premiums way harder and even the 1.7 premium in the last event took almost 4 days of grinding for me to get. Truly unpleasant.

      I’m not saying WoT is better, I’m just countering your opinion on the companies perspective on users. I play both on a regular basis and I’d say I feel much better taken care of by Wargaming than Gaijin, by a long margin and that my dollar goes way further in WoT.

      I’d also argue that because of War Thunder’s damage model the game is far, far easier. That contributes to the feeling of grind because there’s hardly any rewarding games, where in WoT it comes to the wire pretty often and because of the HP system it’s much harder to take people down. It’s more frustrating, but more rewarding as well.

      Also to your point on people stat padding, this does not contribute to team loss like it does in War Thunder. Because of ground rb respawns, people farming kills in premium tanks and then leaving after 1 life is WAY worse of a problem that in WoT. I love having someone cleanup 4 or 5 tanks in WoT, because those players are gone for good. Camo is kinda broken but so flashes in Counter-Strike. I don’t think this contributes to the negatives of the game more than it’s just a mechanic you learn to use and counter.

      I’d also argue that because of intense imbalance in War Thunder with the factions at certain BRs that is forced in RB in ground AND air, you really don’t even benefit from trying to win at all since some games are unwinnable depending on faction lineup. Meaning that even with the camo issue and people stat-padding, you’re still getting a way more comprehensive competitive experience out of WoT.

      I love them both. I also hate them both. I play WT more because I’m a flight enthusiast first but over the years I’ve really grown to appreciate their differences and play either or when the time is right.

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