Air Brawl – What We Think:
Air Brawl is a multiplayer aerial dogfighting game by Wilnyl’s Game Company AB that excels in the art of immersing the player in action-packed combat while also offering a multitude of game modes, planes and maps that ensures a unique experience every time. Even though it’s still in Early Access, the core gameplay is complete, with further updates aiming for additional planes, maps and modes.
Fly Like an Eagle
Air Brawl’s game controls are very satisfying from the get-go. It feels very good to fly around the maps, and there’s a sense of freedom in being able to flip sideways or even upside down so smoothly. Maneuvering around obstacles is a big aspect of the game, and mastery of the controls results in being able to zip through even the tiniest of openings without fear of crashing the plane.
The extra keyboard controls are also quite nice. You can switch to cockpit mode, look behind your plane for approaching enemies, and speed up to dodge retaliating fire.
You’ll find the black bars that remain on the screen are also great for clarity. It lets you know how much health you have, how much ammo for skills are left, and the cooldown for your ability, all of which are important elements to keep track of while playing.
A Mixed Breed…of Planes
There are six planes to choose from, each with their own abilities and skills. Each plane is different, which allows players to decide how they want to play the game. Take, for example, the Fatbird, which focuses on close combat and setting up traps throughout the map. Then there’s the Witch Doctor, which has several damage-over-time poison abilities.
Players can fine-tune their plane preference even further by picking what skills to take into battle. The Cyber Priest is a supportive plane, so many of its skills focus on either healing or disabling the enemies for allied team members to go in. Players might prefer more offensive abilities for this plane, so they can decide to forgo the healing skill entirely in favor of more damage.
Rock the Vote
Game modes are chosen using a voting system between teams, which seems pretty fair, but there’s no information on what the game modes are until one is chosen. Once you enter the plane selection screen, there will be small description. Many game modes are shortened to initials, so I found myself just picking one randomly and hoping it might be fun—or chosen, for that matter.
The ones I played the most of were Capture the Flag and FFA (Free for All), both of which were extremely fun and quite challenging when playing versus other players. It’s great that new players are automatically placed into teams to fill holes, as it allows everyone to get in on the action while avoiding queue times entirely.
Game maps are also voted on after each game, and to that end, it was hard for me to vote on a favorite map. The areas are all gorgeous and well thought out, with large, scaling obstacles that loom over the area and great little tunnels and hidden paths scattered all over the place. The screenshot above showcases the park, a map with a wide open park area surrounded by water and small buildings where you can zip around unhindered.
During one game, I lurked just above the water and watched the other planes fight above me. Like a hungry shark, I went after the first enemy that strayed away from the rest, shot it down, then dove back into my little area like a ninja plane. It was quite satisfying, and it’s great to know that each map rewards skilled players who can create their own strategy on the fly.
Set Up a Playlist
While not terribly significant to the gameplay, I would like to note that there is currently no music in the game. There are plane sounds, and that’s great, but it’s not quite the same as having music that fits the action-packed vibe of shooting down planes left and right. Until then, turn on your preferred music of choice and keep on flying.
Air Brawl is a multiplayer game, and as a result, that can affect the player experience due to the lack of other players at certain times of the day. For example, I tried looking for matches this morning, only to find that there wasn’t a single person playing. The game tries to help out by supplying bots whenever there are a lack of players in a game, but the bots don’t really do anything besides fly around, so it’s not nearly as exciting as playing with real people.
I figure this is something that will fix itself when the game is out of Early Access and as it continues to rise in popularity. Besides, depending on when you play, you may not even come across this issue. There were always matches going on in the afternoon and at night on the US server. You can also host matches for groups of friends to join in on the action with you.
And I’m Free, Free Flying…
Overall, Air Brawl is a fun aerial action game with great controls, great visuals, and lots of emphasis on player choice. While there are a few things to nitpick, like the lack of music and the lack of game mode information, the rest of the game is very impressive, and very much worth playing.
Watch the trailer for Air Brawl below: