You might be the types who only likes flight sims that can make full use of a HOTAS rig, or you might prefer a more streamlined arcade-like approach. Regardless of which kind of dogfighting game you might prefer, we have you covered. This quick list of World War era games will bring you to danger filled skies across various theaters of war. The only question is: are you good enough to be the last man flying?
Starting off this list is a game that will go well with both hardcore fliers and those who are still making the transition from tradition action-shooter/FPS style games: War Thunder. The amazing thing about this multiplayer-only game is that you get to choose whether you will be flying a plane or be driving a tank on the ground. It is versatile, action filled, and chock full of historically accurate vehicles. The visuals are well detailed –from each rivet on your plane's surface to the bullet holes you are puncturing on your target. This game is all about bringing you the action in the most appreciable way.
The best part is that the game is also nicely balanced. There's a tier system in plance that keeps account of player ranks and more often than not, the automatching system will place you in battle alongside and against players of more or less equal skill levels. Of course, the best matches happen between teams of extremely skilled players –coordinating strategies between their land and air units.
Those who like their military combat to be realistic to a fault will also appreciate War Thunders Simulation Mode, which is a massive step over the default Arcade Mode and the median Realism Mode. With Survival Mode on, every single action you make should be one that is pre-determined, planned, and decisively executed.
IL-2 Sturmovik: Battle of Stalingrad
This game is named after a very important fighter from the Soviet Army: the Ilyushin IL-2 Ground Attack Fighter. As you can surmise from the name, this plane was designed for air-to-ground combat and as such, had pretty amazing stability, a good payload of armaments, and was excellent for a variety of missions. Of course, this will not be the only plane you get to fly in the game. IL-2 sports over plenty of different planes that you can access in your hangar and once you head into battle, you will also encounter an even larger variety of fighters on the opponent's side.
The game's missions take you on a historic trip through several World War 2 skirmishes. Expect to fight over land and sea as you lay siege on enemy fleets, base installations, and advancing troops. Dogfights are fast paced and intense, with the AI pulling various maneuvers in order to get on your tail.
Wings of Prey
Wings of Prey is one of our favorite flight simulation games despite it being so old. And there are plenty of good reasons for it to stay on that list. First, the game itself is versatile –it manages to capture the essence of a quick-paced, straight to action arcade style game that a lot of players love while at the same time, it has all the necessary options that will make flight sim enthusiasts happy. Sure, it is not the best in either of the two categories, but it is nice to see a game address both sides of the big picture.
Second, visuals as astonishingly well done; the planes are based heavily on their historical appearance and the skies really look vast and overwhelming. But what makes Birds of Prey stand out is the way the terrain is presented. More often than not, ground details are taken for granted in plane games. And we are so used to seeing bland, blocky details during bombing runs.
This game presents the world differently, the ground looks real and if you fly low, you get to see the details in the structures and the terrain. It makes the game feel so much more immersive. This level of detail even applies to the animation and lighting. Real time shadows and light will affect how the world looks –even on the inside of the cockpit. Damage on enemy planes can cause fires that slowly spread (eventually engulfing engines and causing terrific explosions).
The only drawback to the game is the lack of good multiplayer – it does have the option, but the servers it uses are very unreliable and you are better off playing a different game instead of trying to get into a match (and even when you do, there are a lot of lag issues). Get this game for the impressive and fun single player mode instead. It is totally worth it even if just for that.
World of Warplanes
World of Warplanes is heavily purchase driven considering its F2P nature, and the depiction of the various planes is hardly anything that we could consider realistic. Worse still, the matchmaking system is a nightmare that can have you flying a biplane against twin-engine monsters. So what is this game still on our list? Because despite of everything that it has going against it, World of Warplanes provides some of the most intense and exciting dogfighting action you can get on a desktop.
The sheer volume of players alone means that even if you had a bad run, you can jump back straight into the action in minutes (you do need a pretty decent network connection however). Once inside a lobby, it does not take too long to jump into the game. Getting into the queue is actually the long part as the population of active players is immense. Also, once you find yourself enjoying the game, plopping down a little bit of moolah for that premium account upgrade is a no-brainer and well worth it (and that goes double for anyone who is also curious about World of Tanks as the upgrade also affects your account there).
So why is World of Warplanes so fun? Because the game is designed to be action filled from beinning to end. Matches take about 10 minutes and players start off a fair distance from each other and within moment of starting, you can expect bullets to go zipping past your cockpit. The controls are pretty basic and lots of players are using a mouse and keyboard setup. It does support a controller which we highly recommend using. The only thing lacking here is TrackIR camera controls; this means that if you want to look around, you will have to move the camera using the manual controls.
Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII
Blazing Angels is an arcade style flyer that puts you in the shoes of an American pilot during the days of the Second World War. Mission locations vary as the narrative jump across different important moments of the war and the player will find themselves protecting friendly units, taking down enemy bases, and of course, intercepting and engaging enemy fighters. The controls are pretty solid, though it is easy to notice that the game seems more attuned to a controller setup –which is not surprising since the game is also developed for the PS3 and the Xbox 360. Still, adjusting to the game's control scheme is a minor thing to worry about.
What matters is the action, and this game has it in spades making it one of the best air combat games from the collection review at jetgames.org. Flak cannon fire will fill up the skies as you chase down bogeys, enemies swarm all around you, and it never seems to end until you clear the map objective. The good news is that the "Angels" bit in the title being plural is an intentional thing - you do fly with some useful AI controlled allies who can be given orders.
Blazing Angels truly shines in the multiplayer mode, which allows for various modes of play. Ace mode allows for one key player to become the target of the entire group while regular Dogfights are deathmatch events that can be played in free-for-all modes or with teams.