Helicopters are useful because of their ability to take off and land vertically as well as move in all directions and hover in the air. Their introduction created new military tactics including airborne infantry insertions and recoveries due to the simple requirement of a clear area rather than a landing strip. They have also found use as armored mobile weapons platforms and observation platforms. They are typically vulnerable to fixed-wing aircraft and surface-to-air missiles and therefore are generally kept at low altitudes so as to use the terrain to avoid detection.
Helicopters typically appear in modern war games featuring vehicular combat, and are typically used for rapid troop insertion and air-to-ground attacks. They are sometimes a point of contention for team-mates as to who will pilot them as they are generally considered one of the more powerful and exciting vehicles to use. They are, however, typically one of the most difficult vehicles to control as the player has to account for all three dimensions as well as, in some games, the rotation in all of them. It is not uncommon to see a new player take off only to crash within a few seconds.
Auto-gyros, or gyrocopters, such as those in the Crimson Skies series are similar in appearance to helicopters, but are differentiated by the fact that they have no power going to their rotors. Instead, they are kept aloft by autorotation, in which the rotation of the rotors is powered by the force of the air traveling through them.
- There are 147 helicopters in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare - it is the highest known number of individually placed helicopters in a video game.
- Helicopters were named the Best Villain of 2009 by Giant Bomb