1CGS’ new IL-2: Tank Crew – Clash at Prokhorovka is just weeks away from an early access release (sometime in July) and information has started to appear thanks to a major developer update that came out last Friday. In writing the article for that update, I posited the question to readers: Should I cover Tank Crew? I also have tried to gauge the interest around the community on Tank Crew as a concept. Here are some of my thoughts.
A tank sim inside a flight sim
Tank Crew is very much a part of the IL-2: Great Battles Series which comes with a whole bunch of advantages and possibly a few downsides.
Until recently, graphics weren’t really at the point where making something look good at ground level would fully translate into something that looked good at high altitudes. Especially when the world around was a few hundred kilometers square. We’re at the point where it IS possible to make it look good at all altitudes.
1CGS is building a higher detailed ground mesh for this map and then limiting the size of the overall map somewhat so that it performs well on most player’s systems. 100x100km square is pretty good for a flight sim map (being larger than the Lapino test/dogfight map) and that is explicitly because 1CGS wants this to be a combined arms experience.
Tank sims of the past have been developed as tank sims and then have include airplanes as part of the experience. In this case, the aircraft are already fully developed and done so to a high level of fidelity. Interactions between planes and tanks should therefore be at a very realistic level like never before.
War Thunder does this but the aircraft in their Armored mode are very much within the very limited tank sandbox while they are there. Calling them in as a kind of “power-up” further puts the experience in the realm of an arcade experience and that’s not what 1CGS wants to develop here.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with War Thunder’s model but it does change how players approach the scenario.
In a potential Tank Crew based multiplayer match, the teams would be divided into air and ground players with potential further interaction from things like artillery batteries and other static and mobile vehicles. Players in aircraft would have a fairly typical IL-2 multiplayer experience flying above the battlefields and conducting strikes and fighter sweeps. Dogfights would break out, bombers would hit bridges, ammo dumps, and industrial targets and attack planes would be hunting for ground targets of all kinds.
Plenty of gameplay possibilities
It will likely be the attack planes (like the IL-2, Ju87 and Hs129) that will probably interact the most directly with players who have Tank Crew. Driveable and usable self propelled AA guns will also have an effect.
Together, teams can accomplish objectives by capturing territory (on the ground) with success and failure determined by both the battles in the skies and on the ground. Left without effective fighter protection, attack planes may take out too many tanks for the team to capture a certain objective area. Or they may simply not have enough tanks to defeat the enemy team of tanks opposing them. A last minute airstrike could also turn the tide at a crucial moment. Or an attack plane could fall victim to a SPAA vehicle.
There are lots of possibilities for teamplay with the expanding ground forces combined together with an already well established flight simulator.
And the reactions are?
There’s a general sense that Tank Crew offers a net benefit to the IL-2 series. The reactions range from mild interest to gung-ho excitement as some players have said they won’t go back to War Thunder once Tank Crew becomes established. War Thunder does offer a good vehicle gameplay option and Tank Crew’s slightly more gritty realism probably won’t capture all War Thunder enthusiasts (nor does it try to be a direct competitor) but it will appeal to those wanting a more simulator driven experience.
1CGS is likely to spend a lot more time on each individual tank than other current titles do. Full interior modeling is there and crew AI is a major component. The player can jump between most of the roles in the tank (except for loader) which leaves the AI in charge when you’re not doing one of the other roles.
Also, 1CGS has put some serious effort into the VR support on the series and that automatically extends to Tank Crew being within the same engine. This makes Tank Crew the first, to my knowledge, VR experience featuring simulator level tanks and armored vehicles. That has people excited too.
Tank Crew on Stormbirds
Reading the comments and thinking a lot about what I want to write about on the blog, I’ve decided that I will be covering the development and general gameplay behind Tank Crew.
My decision on the types of content I cover does tend to change over time. I do sometimes cover off topic related items such as movies coming out that may be of interest to readers and less serious “sim lite” games like Ace Combat. I’ve also briefly touched on Star Citizen a few times as what happens with that title will sometimes have a major impact now or in the future on flight simulators too.
I have decided then that Stormbirds, as a blog and news site, is firmly staying the realm of a flight simulator blog (and mostly combat flight simulation at that), however, I think that the connections between Tank Crew and the rest of the IL-2 series are so deep that the interactions, gameplay features, and general development is worth covering. I may not devote as much interest to this title (my own interests remain mostly on the air) but I think its worth covering and having heard from some of you out there, it’s clearly of interest.
A lot of exciting news will hopefully follow on the heels of this developer update on both Tank Crew, Battle of Bodenplatte, and Flying Circus Vol 1! There will be much to write about! (Now we just need a few more armored vehicle game enthusiasts to join us)