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World of Tanks vs War Thunder review

Viktor Korol

Leading software analyst in fintech, crypto, trading and gaming. An active trader and cryptocurrency investor.


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Two massive multiplayer online games with military action during World War II. Both games are free, or F2P, yet with paid content, and both are often referred to as tank games. Similarly to ever ongoing Coke or Pepsi, Android or iPhone discussions, World of Tanks vs War Thunder is one of such debates in gaming. On a path to break it down, many details, features and trivia unravel. So we’ll take a look at various aspects such as game mechanics, modes, graphics, physics, vehicles, crews, etc. 

A word about developers. Both games come from the CIS countries (ex-USSR), namely Russia and Belarus. War Thunder is developed by Gaijin Entertainment, who have designed Dagor Engine and many more. The game runs on PC (Windows), Xbox, Xbox 360, PlayStation, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. World of Tanks is by, who also developed the engine for WoT – Core. Offices and servers of both companies are spread over the world. 


Modifications are integral parts of both games settings, affecting the gameplay.There are several types: 

  1. Appearance. Change visuals for combat vehicles, camouflage, etc.
  2. Sound modifications. Soundtracks, gun sounds, engine sounds, voices.
  3. Combat modifications. Sights, markers, interfaces, etc.
  4. Hangar modifications. Background, interface, details.

The difference in World of Tanks vs War Thunder modifications is that WoT provides more of those. For example, you can even amend the look of penetration textures, add new minutia to tank models or camouflage. Also, there is the XVM (extended visualization mod) – a global free mod that significantly changes game interface and adds new functionality. 

To bounce back from this disadvantage, War Thunder offers gamers to create unique content and make  money on it. War Thunder CDK, Content Development Kit, is a set of tools for creating different custom content (missions, locations, models) that could be available to everyone. Players can share generated content on the Live portal.


War Thunder has several vehicle categories: aviation, navy, and tanks; whereas WoT only has  tanks. The amount is about the same, but the number of countries you can play for is different. Let’s compare various types of ground combat vehicles.

Light tanks – fast movement, rapid-fire, almost no armor. Mostly used to inspect enemy positions, lure the enemy camper, call for artillery support.

light tanks in games

Medium tanks – mobile, rapid-fire, good armor. A crucial role on the battleground, capturing flags and moving quickly from one flank to another. Can call the artillery support too. 

World of Tanks vs War Thunder

Heavy tanks armored, well-armed, but slow and less mobile. The leading role is to take fire, hold the positions on the map, destroy enemies with large-caliber guns.

heavy tanks WoT

Tank destroyers have the most powerful and accurate guns for a slow sniper game. The main disadvantage is no turret – for barrel sight you must turn the whole hull. 

war thunder tank destroyers

Also, both games have their unique class of combat vehicles. In World of Tanks it is a slow artillery unit that fires high-explosive shells over long distances and can damage several vehicles in one blow.

War Thunder vs World of Tanks

War Thunder has anti-aircraft vehicles to shoot down planes, although with armor-piercing shells these machines can break low-rank tanks as well.

World of Tanks or War Thunder

Rank improvement, battle rating

The improvement in both games is similar and different at the same time. The similarity in World of Tanks vs War Thunder is a so-called tech tree. You are not able to jump from the first rank of machines immediately to the last without improving the ranks between them. Everything is gradual and takes time.

All WoT machines are divided into tiers 1 to 10, or from weakest to most powerful vehicle. To open the next tier, you have to go through a number of fights and collect experience points, or gold to buy an  improved version. When searching for a battle, the game takes into account your rank. The range does not exceed 2 units, i.e. with a 4th rank tank, then on a battlefield you may face 2nd to 6th rank machines. 

War Thunder improvement has the same structure but different essence. Each combat unit also has a Rank, similar to vehicle tiers in WoT. Yet to access a particular tank, you can play on any other tank. The selection of players is different in a way that the game takes combat rating into account, regardless of rank. In other words, this will be the basis for the game setting, not tank ranks. The combat rating ranges from 1 to 10, as do the ranks in WoT.

Note that it takes a considerable amount of time to boost up a tech tree branch, as well as to upgrade vehicles (unless you buy upgrades). When buying machines in World of Tanks, for each unit you need a new slot in the hangar and a trained crew.

Game modes

Both representatives of the genre have several types of combat modes, but systems are different. In WoT we’ve got random battles, training battles, clan battles, stronghold battles. And there are 4 types of random battles: Standart, Assault, Encounter, and Grand battle.

Game modes in War Thunder are divided into multiplayer and single (PvP, PvE). For example, Dynamic Campaign, Historical Campaign – as the first type, and Individual Missions as the second. Gameplay reconstructs specific historic battles that took place during World War II. To participate in those, players need a particular equipment. For example, the Battle of Berlin requires 3 types of aviation vehicles from the USSR or Germany. 

Additionally, in War Thunder you can choose difficulty level – arcade mode, realism mode or simulation mode. In arcade mode enemies and allies are highlighted with specific markers, and there are auxiliary markers for fire. In simulation mode it’s a first-person interface. Overall, we’d give out an upper hand to War Thunder in this round, as it offers more flexibility with gameplay modes.

Crew differences 

A tank and its crew are one, they are very dependent on each other. In the World of Tanks vs War Thunder contest crews are almost identically classified. Each member is assigned a specialty in regards to specific parameters of a tank:

  • Commander – a leading crew member in any machine responsible for crew efficiency.
  • Gunner accountable for the speed of aiming and shooting at targets.
  • Driver – maneuvers the vehicle.
  • Radio operator – communicates with allies, provides display of opponents on the map.
  • Loader – responsible for the speed of reloading the gun and changing shell type.

If one or more crew members are injured, tank characteristics drop down. If the entire crew is disabled, the vehicle is considered destroyed. Crew difference is in mechanics. For example, Tanks offer lots of options to manipulate crew, yet at the same time, makes it challenging to upgrade. In War Thunder, on the contrary, this is simpler. You upgrade the whole crew at once, and when it changes vehicles it does not lose skills. 

In World of Tanks a radio operator can become a commander. During retraining, a crew member loses some experience in the primary specialty. There is a Barracks for tankers appearance, we can see both active and non-active crew members in it. It allows to save crew after transfer to another machine, discharge tankers, manage recruits, etc.

Since in WoT, crews consist of particular tankers, they have documents. Each crew member in the game has a portrait, name and surname (Documents tab). The information is selected randomly during recruitment. Of course, this has nothing to do with combat efficiency. However, you can change any personal data at any time for realism effect, which is not present in War Thunder.

WoT crew management

Gameplay mechanics

Let’s start with the damage system. Tanks use the health points system, while Thunder has the modular damage system. In WoT to disable the enemy vehicle, one has to make a number of shots – to lower the health scale to zero. 

The engine of WT game calculates not only armor penetration, but also damage inside the combat vehicle. To completely destroy a tank, one needs to either set it on fire, kill the entire crew, or achieve the detonation of ammunition. Individual modules are most often damaged. This approach brings more realism and emotion to the game. Yet many players rather prefer the health points system. This is not a dealbreaker in World of Tanks vs War Thunder debate.

In terms of gameplay properties War Thunder is more realistic, and at the same time harder to comprehend. Spotting, enemy marking, vehicle concealment, camouflage and armor are aspects with differences. In WoT spotting is straightforward – if the enemy gets into view, it is marked with a marker on the map. If not spotted and out of sight, hitting the enemy won’t be possible even shots are fired in his direction.

war thunder gameplay

This mechanic in War Thunder works differently, especially in realism mode. Even if no one has marked the enemy on the map, it doesn’t make it completely invisible. One has to spot opponent vehicles, no matter how far or close it is.

warthunder realism mode

In Tanks camouflage is crucial on the battlefield. The higher the rating of tank camo is, the longer it will  go unspotted by the enemy. For example, 0% camo grade means instant visibility within sight, and 30% means the enemy has to get into 1/3 of field view to be spotted. In WT camouflage is more realistic – the better the disguise, the harder it is to spot. One can add many details to tank camo here.

war thunder camouflage

In general, penetration ability, armor thickness, impact angles and recoils are about the same in both games. But there is one differentiator – shot trajectory. To reach the target in WoT, you have to aim, time the shot and consider it’s speed. In WT it gets tougher – you have to determine the distance and use a vertical range scale.

Battlefield peculiarities. In Tanks, you can use slow artillery units as full-fledged combat units, unlike in Thunder. By the way, artillery in WoT inflicts more damage than in WT. In WT some tanks can use the smoke grenades to create a smoke screen for hiding from vision. 

tank games comparison

Some tanks in WT have missiles in the arsenal, and almost all can use a machine gun. A small portion of tanks can use several weapons at the same time. This feature is currently not available in WoT. Also, unlike Tanks, War Thunder has aircrafts on the battlefield, making combat more dynamic and challenging.

aviation in war thunder

Graphics and physics

The graphics in both games are outstanding. And each new update aims to better it more. Let’s consider various combat aspects and how they are recreated. Hangars and backgrounds in both games are typically just people going about their business, while a player improves or buys a tank. It  looks quite lively, but only in WoT, there is no such feature in War Thunder.

In WoT there is a so-called “live” sky. Clouds are gliding, leaving shadows on the ground. Clouds are present in WT too, but aren’t as visible and it feels like the sky is much lower.

graphics in tank MMO games

Interaction with water in both cases is realistic. Vehicles drive and cause spectacular waves, diverging to the sides when firing from a weapon. And when the machine emerges from under the water, it spills over the surface of the tank. In this respect, in Tanks it all looks more spectacular. Even wetting and drying are visible through slight color changes. In WT there is the effect of drops on the armor, and water dripping from the sides.

physics in tank games

Exhaust pollution by tanks may act as a disguise tactic, and in WT looks pretty cool. In the water, the mud is washed away. There’s also a track mark on soil effect, that is also more realistic in WT. In terms of landscape impact, when you shoot into the ground in WoT, there forms a funnel felt by suspension if driven over, and in WT only a dark spot. Players can destroy objects, fences, trees, and if it’s a house, it bursts into sections.

World of Tanks vs War Thunder comparison

Damage and armor piercing look and act similarly in both games, yet slightly more true-to-life in WT. Hits by all kinds of ammunition are visible here. War Thunder also has damage visual effects – to gas tanks, screens, shelves, tracks. In WoT this is still missing.

Premium accounts

First of all, both games are in the free-to-play segment (F2P). To cover development costs there is a  paid content, that’s reasonable. Getting upgrades is the key part of collecting gaming points, or purchasing it. With more points players can get more powerful tanks, for instance. Or get upgrades of  specific modules, crew, etc.

World of Tanks Premium War Thunder Premium
14 days $9.39 20 days $7.49
30 days $12.59 60 days $19.99
90 days $33.89 180 days $39.99
180 days $57.49
360 days $96.49

WoT Premium account properties:

  • +50% to credits, combat and crew experience.
  • XP modifier and extra x3 multiplier – use in random battles to increase XP (up to 5 times a day).
  • Extra of up to 750,000 credits within 7 days, reserve stock. 
  • Premium missions – 3 per day.
  • +1 slot for excluded maps. 
  • Platoon bonus – 15% credit bonus, and a 10% to Platoon members.
  • Ammunition with more dominant damage and piercing power.

WT premium account properties:

  • +100% research points (RP) in all game modes.
  • +50% to in-game currency (Silver Lions) for active random battles.
  • +100% Silver Lions reward for battle time in random battles.
  • +50% Silver Lions reward in other game modes.
  • 4 decal slots (camouflage boxes).

World of Tanks vs War Thunder: Conclusion

It is safe to say that both games are MMO giants in the gaming industry today. For World of Tanks vs War Thunder analysis we’ve taken into account such aspects as graphics, gameplay, paid content, equipment, crews, battle types, realism of effects, etc. All in all, there’s no clear winner. Plus, it may be about personal preferences. But OK, for a brief and subjective summary, we’d assume the following. Gamers who prefer combat action, arcade games, shooting and adrenaline, then World of Tanks is an excellent choice. Fans of realism and maximum detail will like War Thunder.

To go through key comparative factors, we get the following:

World of Tanks War Thunder
Best vehicle elaboration ✔️
Number of vehicles ✔️
More options for modifications ✔️
Best graphics and mechanics ✔️ ✔️
Best damage detail ✔️
More options to manipulate the crew ✔️
High level of realism ✔️
More affordable prices for premium content ✔️

Read next: 10 best tank games, World of Tanks review.

About author

Viktor Korol
Viktor Korol

Leading software analyst in fintech, crypto, trading and gaming. An active trader and cryptocurrency investor.

Viktor Korol gained a passion for IT as early as school, when he began creating multimedia websites, and managing online gaming projects later. Viktor has been publishing articles and help guides for beginner administrators. For 3 years he also worked as a telecom operator and thus gained expertise in network technologies and maintenance. His graduation degree is in Software and Automated Technologies. In 2019, Viktor was appointed a software analyst at ThinkMobiles.

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