My estimation is that 2018 will be a great year for flight sims. Probably an even better year than 2017 has been and these are the reasons why I’m so excited for the new year. Let’s look forward!
The big DCS merge and new modules promise to be exciting
For DCS World, 2018 will be a big year right from the start with the launch of DCS World 2.5. World 2.5 will finally merge old and new together with all maps and modules together at last. We’ve been waiting for this and it’s nearly here.
World 2.5 opens up all kinds of avenues for the series going forward with continually improving visuals (already at their peak for the series) and a solid platform for both modern and historic aircraft types.
DCS: P-47 Thunderbolt may release next year and I expect we’ll hear much about this aircraft in the coming months. More modules will be added to the World War II asset pack to finally begin to fill out the Normandy scenario with the appropriate aircraft and supporting assets. We’ve already seen the C-47 and Ju88A-4 AI aircraft and there are more planned such as the AI Bf109G-6 and Typhoon Mark IB. Though not flyable in the near term, these will go a long way to making the Normandy map feel like the actual WWII battleground and not just a scenery set for the Spitfire IX.
Eagle Dynamics’ F/A-18C Hornet module, much talked about and hotly anticipated, is planned for an early access release sometime later in 2018. The Hornet ushers in a high-tech 4th generation plus multi-role fighter able to carry and shoot the vast majority of the munition arsenal of the US Navy and Marine Corps. Fast, agile, well armed, and designed for carrier operations means the F/A-18C represents nearly everything that DCS appeals to.
The new focus on carrier operations will make a big difference for everyone interested in having a high-fidelity carrier operation experience. Eagle Dynamics will offer a basic bare bones USS Nimitz (already in DCS World) with some visual upgrades while a fully featured USS Nimitz class is expected to be offered separately.
Speaking of carrier operations, third-party developer HeatBlur is expected to release to early access a F-14A and F-14B module complete with CV59-62 Forrestal Class Battle Group. Together, the F-14 and F/A-18 make up a large part of what a US CVN brings to the battle and they will be in great shape to take to the skies over DCS’ newest map.
In 2018 I’m also expecting to fly over the new Strait of Hormuz map. Already progressing well, the new map looks ready for a release sometime in 2018. It’ll be the ideal map for carrier operations (although the new Caucasus map will offer that too).
Also coming in 2018, we’re expecting to see RAZBAM finish up their work on the AV-8B and M-2000C modules while simultaneously releasing at least one more module. The MiG-19P is expected to come in 2018 while the A-29 Super Tucano may yet see a release this coming year as well. While both of these are still a little uncertain, the progress we’re seeing on the MiG-19P as well as RAZBAM’s excellent work to-date suggests these are at least potentials for early access release in 2018.
Other modules that may come in 2018 include Deka Ironworks’ JF-17 Thunder (I’m still not 100% sure if Eagle Dynamics is on-board with this module yet), Magnitude 3’s Christen Eagle II, and Eagle Dynamics professionally contracted Yak-52.
In all, 2018 looks to be building on some serious momentum and some very tough work by Eagle Dynamics and a lot of their third party module producers. The merge and release of DCS World 2.5 alone is enough to make me excited but adding in a stunning array of new aircraft ranging from the aerobatic to the high performing multi-role 4th gen jet fighters is something to be very optimistic about.
In 2018, IL-2 will finally reach its full potential
The IL-2: Great Battles Series has had a difficult first couple of years. It’s initial release, IL-2: Battle of Stalingrad, was met with mixed emotions as an unpopular unlock system and a limited number of aircraft kept the title from achieving everything that it’s predecessor was. But it did have enormous potential.
A lot of the things that I hoped for the second generation IL-2 series to become are looking like they will come true in 2018. Fundamentally the series will be getting a big upgrade in the form of two new playable modes: Co-op and Career.
Co-op mode will let players fly planned missions together. This feature is a boon for squadrons and planned events. While dogfight missions in the second gen IL-2 can be setup to work this way, doing it in a co-op specific mode is likely to be a far better experience. It also brings back fond memories of Friday night co-op flights in IL-2: Forgotten Battles.
Career mode too will make a big impact on the way that players play IL-2. While Co-op will impact multiplayer, Career mode may be the biggest impact as a large number of IL-2 players play in single player modes. Career mode offers a persistent pilot experience with an assigned squadron and day-by-day operations on the front line.
This upgrade will affect Battle of Stalingrad and Moscow as well as be the new default for Kuban and into the future.
This is what we all hoped for from a single player experience point of view when the second gen IL-2 was released and I’m hoping it will be everything we hoped for and maybe more. My expectations are medium to high on this but everything I hear suggests that it will be a very good experience.
Early next year IL-2: Battle of Kuban will be released. By the middle part of the winter is what we’re hearing. With it’s release we’ll be getting the aforementioned new ways to play as well as five more aircraft – three from IL-2: Battle of Kuban and two new separate Collector Planes.
The A-20B, P-39L-1 and Yak-7B Series 28 are all interesting aircraft that will help round out the Kuban battle experience. They are joined by two more aircraft: the Bf109G-6 and La-5FN Series 2 also fit well into the Kuban battle time period adding a formidable selection of aircraft for this battle.
The other thing that I’m almost giddy with excitement about is the release schedule for IL-2: Battle of Bodenplatte. The aircraft list is incredible exciting and in 2018 I expect to see at least half of the planned aircraft from this module come out.
- Bf 109 G-14
- Bf 109 K-4
- Fw 190 A-8
- Me 262
- Spitfire Mk.IX
- Tempest Mk.V
- Fw 190 D-9 (Collector)
- P-38L (Collector)
Some of the most likely early release contenders include the Bf109G-14, FW190A-8 and Spitfire IX. These are the most closely connected types with earlier versions already released to the series. They will probably work on creating these variations first before concentrating on some of the types that are new to the series. They are also planning an AI build for the B-25C/Mitchell II for Bodenplatte.
Excitement is high both for late war aircraft and a new theatre of war – the Western Front in Europe. RAF and USAAF aircraft will appear flying in the colours and over the battlefields that many in the West have read about. Many since childhood. Living the dream of flying the P-51D Mustang or P-47D Thunderbolt will match-up with some spectacular late war types from the German side of the match-up like the Me-262 jet fighter and Bf109K-4 – the ultimate Bf109. And of course I get one of my all time favourites in the RAF’s excellent Tempest Mark V tactical fighter.
Also coming in 2018 will be early access to two additional IL-2: Great Battles Series titles: Tank Crew: Battle at Prokhorovka and Flying Circus Vol 1. Tank Crew offers up a dedicated title for tank sim enthusiasts while connecting them with one of the best WWII flight simulations around for some exciting new possibilities for combined arms play.
Flying Circus is also exciting in that it brings upgraded versions of Rise of Flight’s already excellent aircraft list and begins to add it to the IL-2 engine. Effectively bringing both WWI and WWII flight sim fans under one roof along with WWII tank battles is an ambitious and impressive feat. It looks like 1C Game Studios and some third party partners are ready to take on this challenge.
Flying Circus Vol 1 is a small scale and cautious effort with a small 100x100km (ok, really not that small) West Front map featuring no-mans land and some key bases of WWI fighters along with some of the most popular scout and spotter types of Rise of Flight. Should they succeed with Vol 1, a Vol 2 will probably bring a much more impressive map and add to the aircraft line-up. This is also a way for Rise of Flight fans to experience what the latest IL-2 engine offers AND gets them their first taste of VR.
None of these three titles is expected to launch in 2018 (expect them to finish up in 2019), however, I expect all of them to be in early access and that will mean that we’ll begin to experience the fruits of all of their labour for at least a good portion of the year.
The future for IL-2 is ambitious but also bright.
Lots to be excited about
There are lots of things to be excited about in the coming year. I think it’s going to be a bright one for flight sims and particularly for the two big titles right now. DCS and IL-2 will both reach new levels and hopefully reach their potentials as being well rounded sims with the kinds of content that make for an outstanding experience.
War Thunder’s longer range goals are a little less known so I can’t write about them in any detail except that the developers seem intent on keeping up a continuous stream of content for the series.
Old titles like Falcon BMS, IL-2: 1946 and Rise of Flight will continue on for a while yet. Some of them have outlived other newer titles and I suspect they will continue on for a while yet. Rise of Flight I think will slowly shrink into the background as IL-2 and Flying Circus Vol 1 (and hopefully a Vol 2 in 2019-2020) combine into the best WWI and WWII experience possible.
It’s going to be a good year!