Aaron "Ribbon-Blue" Mendoza
Worlds at War: Space Cruiser Interception
Rolling out of a dive to see a space cruiser filling your windscreen isn't an everyday view for the average fighter pilot.
Worlds at War (March 18th, 2018) is a virtual reality arcade flight sim set in a version of Earth following an alien invasion. Players pilot various vehicles to fight against the ongoing alien occupation with the remaining multinational armed forces. Fighter jets, attack helicopters, and even small armed boats are at the player's disposal.
Most enemies the player will tangle with are alien craft similar to Earth's fixed-wing aircraft and drones. The more exotic foes include giant walking mecha, capable of firing at players as they pass. The most prominent behemoths the resistance fighters of Earth face are capital ship-sized spacecraft that cross the battlefield raining laser bolts from above.
We've all played enough games and watched enough movies to know that any large spacecraft is usually presented as a "boss." A giant adversary that must be defeated near the story's climax. They typically have seemingly invincible energy shielding and lasers powerful enough to wipe cities from the land. Fortunately, the adversaries in this game can be brought down by conventional weapons without a plot-driven deus ex machina. For someone that needs a pop culture reference, they're more like the enemies seen in Battle: Los Angeles than Independence Day.
There certainly are "boss" type ships that act as motherships in Worlds at War, but the spaceships this article focuses on are the more common mid-sized ships that are about the size of an aircraft carrier. They operate more like cruisers or destroyers that make up the backbone of many earthbound navies.
The firepower these alien warships can bring is enough to change the course of battle in a short amount of time. Their many laser cannons and missile launchers can shred an aircraft carrier in just two passes. Their hull designs vary, meaning the type and position of their weaponry also vary. Some are more specialized in ground attack with more turrets beneath the ship; others are more defensive with many turrets mounted top-side, only able to intercept Human aircraft. With most of their hulls being impenetrable, only areas like the turrets and select weak points are susceptible to cannon fire, rockets, and missiles players have access to.
The constant forward speed these alien ships typically fly is one of the more challenging aspects of fighting them. Effectively intercepting them is most easily done with fixed-wing fighters or attackers and rotary-wing attack helicopters.
Though the attack helicopter will need to manage its speed well to intercept the ships even for a short period, timing when to accelerate and plot an interception course is required to get the helicopter into a suitable attack position. Attack helicopters have the advantage of loitering around the spaceships, destroying multiple targets in a short amount of time, depending on the pilot. The downsides are that helicopters are more susceptible to receiving counterfire because of their lower speed, and repositioning themselves around the large ships can be complicated by their forward speed.
Fixed-wing jet attackers and fighters have no problems with an interception. Their speed is more than enough to catch the alien warships, but that speed makes attacking the weak points harder. The fixed-wing aircraft will only be able to hit one or two targets during each pass, depending on how they use their weapons. Evading incoming fire is easier because of the high speed, but the massive size of the spaceships becomes an obstacle. Accidentally smashing into them is just as dangerous as being blasted out of the sky by them. Energy management is especially important in Worlds at War, as each fighter and attacker seems to lose airspeed and energy faster than they can regain it. Starting attacks from longer distances, taking time to extend from the target, then re-attacking from long distances again is the easiest course of action.
Having the usual fighter vs. fighter combat broken up by visually intimidating alien warships lumbering through the sky works well in Worlds at War. Solely because they are enemies that can be beaten with the right set of skills and planning. Expertly flying a lone fighter against a seemingly unbeatable enemy is the stuff of big-screen heroes. It's cool to be able to live the dream a bit without relying on story plot points to do all the heavy lifting.
About the Writer
Aaron "Ribbon-Blue" Mendoza
Co-founder of Skyward Flight Media. After founding Electrosphere.info, the first English Ace Combat database, he has been involved in creating flight game-related websites, communities, and events since 2005. He explores past and present flight games and simulators with his extensive collection of game consoles and computers. Read Staff Profile.