Heroes & Generals ‘Ihlefeld—Warbirds and Tail Gunners’ is the newest update for the free to play online multiplayer fps franchise Heroes & Generals by Danish game studio Reto-Moto. The update features the addition of a new aerial fighter class—the reconnaissance plane, as well as a revamp of the old aircraft models along with changes and improvements to flight mechanics.
Right away, Ihlefeld—Warbirds and Tail Gunners captured my attention by its ability to keep the pilot constantly engaged. As a fighter pilot, once you are either shot down or crash you must wait for a new plane in order to take to the skies again. During this short waiting period you have the option to spawn into an allied recon plane as a dedicated tail gunner. This position allows you to assist your teammates already engaged in an aircraft as well as efficiently utilize downtime while waiting for the option to deploy into your own aircraft. In my experience, this game mechanic added a welcome dynamic to a team based game by alternating between carrying and “supporting” your teammates. In my experiences in other team-based fps games similar to Heroes & Generals, there can be at times a lack of players opting for supporting roles which can affect gameplay and balance. Although the tail gunner isn’t really a traditional support class such as a medic, in my opinion this fight and support style while waiting to deploy automatically acts to remedy that. In addition the support gunner position has been added to the tank class, allowing players to support friendly tanks and then deploy to their own tank when ready.
In terms of the flight mechanics and controls in this new update, I found that the flying was very similar to other FPS games such as the Battlefield franchise. Although I wasn’t personally able to experience and offer a comparison between the previous version of Heroes and Generals and its flight controls, I found that overall the mechanics handled fairly well. The flight speed of the different aircrafts was also spot-on in my opinion. The Ihlefeld update increased the flight speed of some aircraft (almost by a factor of two) and at maximum throttle, the planes really felt like they were moving which made maneuvering and fighting around other players not only challenging but also fast paced like any aerial dog-fight should be. In addition, I personally enjoy realism and I appreciated the fact that decelerating by decreasing the throttle would eventually cause the aircraft to stall out and crash.
In regards to the model improvements in the newest update, I felt that the detail and quality were quite acceptable and more or less what I would come to expect from a free to play online game. While the graphics aren’t the prettiest compared to other similar games on the market, I didn’t experience it detracting from the gameplay and player interaction. However, when it comes to the physics and particle effects in Heroes and Generals I found the destruction of vehicles lackluster. When a tank is destroyed it explodes and then immediately disappears into thin air. Although this may seem trivial to some more hardcore players focused solely on PvP interactions, I find that added realism can increase the depth and enjoyment of a game such as real time destruction of terrain, buildings, vehicles etc. Another con I found was that at times while piloting an aircraft I felt inept at helping my team on the ground and bombing enemy players. Sometimes it would take me 3 to 4 bombing runs to effectively hit my target. Additionally, the recon plane felt lackluster in combat when compared to other fighter planes due to its weaker armor and guns. Likewise when it comes to buying upgrades for weapons, planes and classes Heroes and Generals becomes quite the time devotion or alternatively expensive when purchasing perks and veteran memberships with real money.
Overall I found the game fairly enjoyable to play, but the combination of flaws in gameplay, setbacks in farming in game money and lack of dynamic realism lead me to rate Heroes & Generals ‘Ihlefeld—Warbirds and Tail Gunners’ a 5/10.