I thought the Battle of Stalingrad campaign was pretty decent but it felt stale after playing it for a short while. The situation massively improved when the Battle of Moscow aircraft started being added in to the game. With new planes and some updated scenarios the campaign gained a little variety. Doubly so when the custom built missions were mixed in as part of the summer and autumn campaign release for Battle of Stalingrad.
Despite having access to all of the aircraft as a pre-order perk, I’m currently focused on the I-16 and IL-2 only. And I’m having a blast!
At first I wasn’t a fan of the I-16 but it grows on you despite its inadequate firepower and slow top speed. Its a fun aircraft to fly with its fast roll rate and quick reaction times. The more you get to know it the more fun you can have with it. The Bf109s clearly have the advantage, however, if you can sucker them in to a turning fight then you can eventually get some good shots into an engine and cause them to crash… or even on rare occasion, light on fire.
I’m feeling a tiny bit of the desperation that the defenders must have felt while playing this campaign. The front line slowly pushing towards Moscow with the weather worsening and chances for even individual victories a little bleak.
Mission variety has been pretty good with the Moscow campaign. I’m faced with the odd time when you intercept a solitary fighter-bomber (which my wingman promptly launched an unnecessary Taran attack!) but overall the impression I’m left with is – fun, fun, fun! Sometimes the odds are very much against you. The one intercept saw a group of 6 He111s escorted by a pair of expertly flown 109s. My wingman was shot down but he did send two of the bombers down in flames before he was shot down by one of the escorting 109s. I made it out of that one in one piece by hiding in a dense cloud.
There have also been some amazing missions where arriving at the action point had my wingman and the bombers I was escorting embroiled in a battle that was already in-progress. There were I-16s, 109s and Pe-2s flying in all directions and it was a challenge to be both an effective fighter pilot while also escorting the bombers I was supposed to protect through all of it.
Oh… and the visuals of the map have been stunning too. New morning and evening fog effects along with the already excellent cloud and lighting effects have given this version of IL-2 a cinematic quality found in few other games. The attention to detail in weather effects is quite literally stunning!
I have some complaints. I’d like to see AI planes talk a lot more about what they are doing and whats going on. Especially if they spot a bandit and are about to engage them. Its not that they don’t do this… its just that they don’t do it very consistently. I’d also like to see more variation of various kits and upgrades to other flights. Have you seen a MiG-3 flying in this campaign with gunpods? Neither have I and I think that those kinds of changes can only make the campaign system better.
What the IL-2 campaigns lack is pilot and squadron continuity and while I’m okay with that, many fans have voiced opinions on forums and in-game that they would like to see more.
Bottom line… I’m having fun! I know the campaign has some detractors but I’m having a blast with it.