Rise of Flight: A sim ahead of its time

I missed out on the heydays of Rise of Flight. I bought in within the last year and when I did I realized just how much I was missing out on. The earlier World War I aircraft weren’t originally a draw for me but they have become more interesting to me over time and now I love flying them. But what really strikes me, playing Rise of Flight, is just how ahead of its its time this sim was.

Early adopter of the digital storefront

After I discovered and got interested in Rise of Flight, I ended up buying about 1/3rd of the aircraft in Rise of Flight and was generously gifted the Channel Map. And this all brings me to the first part of what Rise of Flight did before everyone else.

Rise of Flight took a whole different approach to making a flight sim available. You needed an online account that you signed in on. Rise of Flight tied everything in to your account so that everything you owned was unlocked via your account. It’s something that IL-2: Battle of Stalingrad borrowed later on (they are from the same developers after all) and DCS only just now is finishing their transition to that model.

On Steam, aircraft are still sold in DLC packages while on the official website you can buy whatever aircraft you wanted. This wasn’t the original scheme but it was something that Rise of Flight switched to early in its existence.

Out of 40+ available types, Rise of Flight let you buy just one or a whole bunch. Those buying a large number were rewarded with volume discounts.

These days its not that radical but back when Rise of Flight came out this was still new. The developers took a lot of flak for this model too. A community notoriously difficult at accepting a fundamental change like this had a lot of trouble with it and it kept some people away at the beginning. Now, many games use this model and its become accepted around the industry.

Advanced flight modeling

A Sopwith Camel pulls away from a Halberstadt D.II over the Belgian port of Zeebrugge.

Rise of Flight brought some fairly advanced flight modeling to the flight sim world running the gamut of features like air temperature, density, pressure, wind and turbulence modeling, and advanced damage modeling and physics calculation for individual components.

This was well ahead of IL-2: 1946. DCS had released DCS: Black Shark the year before Rise of Flight came out and that was also fairly sophisticated. Of course that series continues to grow now but at the time these two combat flight sims were offering some seriously advanced modeling.

Check out this promotional video that was put together around the time that it came out to get a sense of what they were already doing. Now imagine that things have progressed since then!

Beautiful terrain

Spad XIII over a French village

Rise of Flight had full forests populated with individual trees. Trees that you could collide with and a large scale landscape that only became more complex with the channel map that was released a couple of years later.

Neither DCS nor IL-2: 1946 had the same capability at the time. In the original IL-2, forests were made of overlapping textures approximating a lot of trees. There were individual tree objects too but only a few of them could you crash into. DCS had the trees but you couldn’t crash into them and there were limits to how many the engine could handle at once. The situation is different in 2018 but we have to remember that Rise of Flight released in 2009 and already had most of these features enabled from the start.

Much like its successor, Rise of Flight also had some good looking maps for the time and the objects to match. Detailed cities, grass at low levels, and a variety of WWI era vehicles, trains and the like were all there to help make you feel part of the sim world.

Single and multiplayer features

The interface for Career Mode in Rise of Flight

Rise of Flight still has an edge over IL-2: Great Battles and arguably an edge over at least some of what DCS has to offer from the single and multiplayer gameplay perspectives.

It took time to develop and in the early days Rise of Flight had scripted missions and campaigns along with multiplayer and quick battles. Later a Career system was added much as it is currently being added to IL-2: Great Battles.

Complex scripted missions for both multiplayer and single-player are all possible doing things that IL-2: 1946 certainly couldn’t.

A retrospective and a look ahead

In looking back at Rise of Flight I see an extremely well polished sim that offered and still offers players a really great World War I flying experience. The content and gameplay offered is similar and in many ways more expansive than what either IL-2 or DCS are offering and its doing it with a simulator engine that is just now only really starting to show its age.

Despite that, Rise of Flight has seriously impressed me. The more I’ve played it, the more I’ve recognized what it is and what it represented. It also helps show what great world the 1CGS and 777 Studios team can do together for the future.

And that’s a nice segue to talk about the future. Rise of Flight as we know it has reached the end of its life in terms of regular updates. While the community is still active there are now fewer players and for a while there was a sense that 1CGS had moved on completely.

Flying Circus will be available for pre-order in the first half of 2018

That changed in the fall of 2017 when 1CGS and 777 Studios announced their next phase of development. A three pronged product offensive that involved both their own studio and some third party developers to create three titles: IL-2: Battle of Bodenplatte, Tank Crew: Battle at Prokhorovka, and Flying Circus Vol 1.

Flying Circus is the spiritual successor to Rise of Flight bringing the content of that series into the modern IL-2 newly renamed ‘Digital Warfare Engine’ and linking all three new titles together with the already released IL-2: Battle of Stalingrad and IL-2: Battle of Moscow.

Offering up some of the most popular Rise of Flight aircraft on a mid sized western front map and bringing the old aircraft models up to the latest standards is something to be excited for. Inheriting the already developed VR support for the series is a dream come true for many Rise of Flight players.

The future is bright for fans of WWI aviation. Rise of Flight broke considerable ground and was truly ahead of its time – but its time has come and Flying Circus will slowly take its place. Vol 1 offers up 1917 and 1918 aircraft but if successful there’s great hopes for a Vol 2 and maybe more!


16 Comments Add yours

  1. 79vRAF says:

    I’ve always had an interest, but I have never bought it. I am almost certain to buy the updated version though. WW1 aircraft in VR seems too good to miss.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 1_Robert_ says:

      Is VR implementation planned for ROF or will we have to wait for FC? I’m looking forward to giving this a go but I’m holding off waiting for VR.


      1. ShamrockOneFive says:

        For WWI VR the only game in town (right now anyways) will be Flying Circus as it’s already implemented in the Digital Warfare engine underpinning the IL-2: Great Battles series that Flying Circus is being developed (redeveloped) for.


  2. Couldn’t agree more. In case you are interested in WWI aviation, you should also definitely check out Wings over Flanders Fields. The graphics are a little bit outdated when compared to RoF or even newer flight sims, but in terms of atmosphere there is no equal. The Devs are currently also working on a WWII era sequel called Wings over the Reich.

    Thanks for your wonderful blog btw, I check it everyday 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 79vRAF says:

      I thought OFF was based on CFS3?


    2. ShamrockOneFive says:

      I haven’t heard much about Wings Over Flanders Fields or their follow on project. I’ll check it out!

      Thanks too! Much appreciated.


  3. 79vRAF says:

    It’s moving to BoX which has full VR support, so at some point soon we’ll have VR WW1 dogfights!


    1. 1_Robert_ says:

      Can’t wait!


  4. Habsburger says:

    Thank you for mentioning Rise of Flight once in a while 🙂 Il-2 Sturmovik is great, but WW1 aviation is my greater passion. Can’t wait for news on Flying Circus.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      You’re welcome! I’ve been slowly getting sucked into flying the WWI birds too. WWII is more my focus but RoF is so well done.

      You can count on me to report Flying Circus news as soon as it surfaces.


  5. The Blue Max says:

    I pray they can bring over any RoF tech that may not be present in the IL-2 engine currently. RoF is an amazing title that was ahead of it’s time. It still has a level of immersion that is tough to find a match for.


  6. Want info on VR equipment recommended for FC.


    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      Is that a question about Rise of Flight (this article’s subject) or generally about VR for the IL-2 engine? I’m writing a hardware article that’s help answer that soon.


  7. Donik says:

    I hate that I missed the prime RoF multiplayer days. I bought in around 2010-2011 and always played single player. I had no clue about the draw a MP match can have and at the time, wasn’t interested in trying. I definitely prefer WW1 over WW2 — looking forward to a proper map for FC as well as an eventual Volume 2!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      I missed RoF in its prime too.

      I highly recommend checking out the now weekly JG1 server events that are being hosted for Flying Circus. They are drawing sometimes 20-30 players at a time which is incredible for an early access title with only 4 aircraft available right now. I see only good things for the future there.


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