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War Thunder’s latest update promises a co-operative horde mode

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New maps bring the total count up over 80

War Thunder, the free-to-play vehicular combat game, has launched its first update of 2017. Called Assault, update 1.67 will add a kind of co-operative horde mode to the game for the first time and feature new maps, vehicles and animations.

Assault Mode will task small groups of players with defending a single location against waves of tanks or aircraft. Enemies will approach from all sides, and players will have to be strategic about where and how they maneuver. Pilots will have an even tougher time, as wave after wave of enemy bombers at different altitudes will pound the area.

A new arcade multiplayer map, called Guiana Highlands, is a fantastical plateau cut through with deep canyons. The cloud layer is actually below ground level, which sits at 6,000 feet. It promises some intense dogfighting action, with a potential Death Star trench run going off in almost every direction. Other new maps include Bastogne, the site of the famous Battle of the Bulge, and the Pacific theater’s Phang Nga. Those additions bring the game’s total to more than 80 maps.

There are 19 new vehicles, including tanks, self-propelled guns and aircraft. The most notable is the American A-26 invader. With 14 forward-facing .50-caliber machine guns and huge racks of dumb-fire rockets, it promises to be one of the most devastating close air support vehicles in the game. The classic Ju-87 Stuka and the Supermarine Spitfire also feature completely reworked models with new animations.

Finally, the game is getting a modest graphics overhaul. In particular, aircraft will now feature fully animated engines. Blue-hot flashes will erupt from exhaust ports, and vary depending on how hard the engine is working.

War Thunder is available on Linux, Mac and Windows PC as well as PlayStation 4. It is also compatible with Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive.