IL-2 Career Mode: RIP Lukyan Bykov

One of the things that IL-2’s Career Mode was supposed to do is make you feel more connected to the life of your virtual pilots. Yesterday, my fictional (of course) Russian fighter pilot flying with 812 IAP named “Lukyan Bykov” died in combat and I have to admit – I’m feeling a bit of a loss here!

A distinguished (virtual) career

An early victory over a Ju87.

The first career I took on in IL-2: Battle of Kuban (after the launch of the feature in 3.001) was this very career. I picked 812 IAP partially because I was looking forward to flying the Yak-1B S.127 a lot and partly because I had actually done some research on the unit when I built a campaign for it in IL-2: 1946 called The Dragon Skies.

I’ve slowly been playing this career over time and was enjoying it quite a lot. You can see by the score below that Lukyan, as a virtual pilot, had advanced to the point where he/I was on the top of the scoreboard with plenty of air-to-air kills.

For those of you without any experience with IL-2’s career mode, you create a pilot, join a squadron, and start flying missions in the name of that pilot. He becomes your virtual avatar in the IL-2 career mode world and as you fly missions, your achievements are tracked per career. It’s very simple in its execution but extremely effective and easily one of the standout features that the team has added to the series since launch.

A career cut short

The last few missions had involved a few long range escort sorties, a repositioning to Novotitarovskya airfield, and a ground strike. I’m happy to say that all of these were successful and I was feeling pretty darn confident with the Yak-1B as a fighter in these situations. Against the AI it really is a potent contender (and against humans online its no slouch either).

Our next mission was an extra long range strike towards targets near Novorossiysk and it was a disaster all around. Two IL-2s collided in formation enroute to target. The remaining IL-2s seemed to have difficult locating their target and seemed to be largely ineffectual in their strike. Then the Bf109 arrived.

The Bf109G-2s were flying with gun pods which made them easy targets for us but also effective at shooting down our IL-2s and two IL-2s went down before we could deal with them. We returned the favour and one of my wingmen shot down a Bf109 quickly… Meanwhile I latched onto the rear of a second Bf109 and flamed him quickly.

My virtual pilots final kill.

Then the Bf109s caught on to what was happening and I found myself with a Bf109 on my six and firing.

I was able to avoid his attack with a rapid evasive maneuver but it wasn’t as well controlled as I would have liked. My normally expert Yak piloting failed me completely as I lost control of the Yak and then briefly regained it. Thinking I had this under control I tried to pull back again but … the Yak had other ideas and we went straight into the water.

This wasn’t the first time that something bad had happened. I crash landed a Yak-1B earlier in this career near a stream… but my virtual pilot escaped and after a few days was re-posted back to the unit. Not this time.

Rest in peace

812iap-LukyanBykovCard.jpgIt’s a funny thing but if IL-2’s developers were trying to make you feel more connected to your squadron and your virtual pilots, I have to say that 1CGS has succeeded.

To put this into some perspective, these virtual pilots are all still just bits on the screen but making you feel like you’re there and fighting for the virtual life of your pilot is actually an interesting part of the IL-2 experience. Its the only sim that I know of right now that is succeeding in this area.

It’s a really cool experience.

Rrest in peace to my virtual pilot, Lukyan Bykov. Your name may have been autogenerated, you may never have existed outside of a photoshopped photo and a fictional backstory, but for a little while you lived on in a simulation.


18 Comments Add yours

  1. rgargente says:

    Nice post! Seeing that you are quite experienced with career mode, I wanted to ask something. I wonder how poor Lukyan dealt with the boredom coming back from escorting bombers. My virtual pilot finds it unbearably boring having to sit there just flying circles above the slow bombers. Even using autopilot and max time compression it feels like ages. is there no way to skip it? THanks 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. TJR says:

      RGarg is right! give me the skip to next action option or give me death! (There doesn’t seem to be a skip button) Seriously though, I wont play some sqns in career mode as they are too far behind the lines, and therefore to much travel time.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. ShamrockOneFive says:

        It’s definitely a realistic experience. At least we’re not flying Iwo Jima to Japan and back.

        There’s no skip button and it may be an extremely difficult thing to do. First gem IL-2 had trouble with time compression and this third gen does too.


    2. ShamrockOneFive says:

      There’s no real way to skip that process. IL-2s AI and physics are complex and difficult to get more than 2x compression.

      I throttle way back and browse on an iPad half the time. It’s not ideal but it is what it is.


  2. rgargente says:

    Guess we have to learn and live with it…


    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      There really isn’t much else we can do.

      Old games that I used to play like Aces of the Pacific (1992) had instance zones where they would spawn aircraft and objects in a specific area. We still kind of do that because 1CGS spawns in and out objects as necessary but the requirements for simulating everything are so much more complex… they just don’t speed up well.

      DCS World has the same issue. You really can’t speed up long missions. Just set the autopilot hold and enjoy the experience. And maybe get your phone/tablet out.


      1. TJR says:

        I was thinking of when I used to play Aces of the Pacific(92) on my Grandfathers Compaq when I was writing my comment about fast travel!!

        I did not know that it was an actual processing issue. That’s good to know, and the series is too good to really complain about having to hit auto pilot and compress time.

        I personally hit Autopilot and turn on a podcast in the background.

        Ref the article, I just lost my Stalingrad 109 pilot who was a scourge of the red air force… I had to just get up and walk away for the day.

        Shamrock did you end up getting a Track IR system? I have had mine for a bit, and I swear by it, for immersion and ease of use!

        Anybody heard anything about the arrival timeline of the sweet sweet Jug?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. ShamrockOneFive says:

        I’m definitely aiming to get a TrackIR. I’ve got an upgrade path that involves getting a headset (done), a more capable GPU, and then a TrackIR. Have to spread costs or this hobby will make me go broke.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Francesco Kasta says:

        If you are interested my TrackIR 5 has been sitting in a drawer for 2 and a half years now.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. ShamrockOneFive says:

        Have you gone full VR now?


      5. rgargente says:

        It’s true DCS has the same issue in theory. However in practice I find myself much busier in DCS and I hardly ever have this issue. I guess part of it is just mission design, another is that the complex systems can keep you busier during cruise, and on average missions the sim can just go much faster than IL2 on career, at least on my system.

        BTW regarding TIR I got mine I think back in 2006 or so and I can’t imagine simming without it now. It’s a total game changer. I’d definitely go for it before a new GPU. I’d prefer having my graphics at minimum and having TIR than better graphics and using a hat or mouse.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Francesco Kasta says:

      Definitely. I just cannot go back to a triple screen setup when playing simulators. I even got “FlyInside” to be able to use VR in FSX. I am so used to VR that when I stare at a screen it feels like looking at the outside world from a window… it feels distant and unattached. It feels like you are just a spectator.

      On the other hand whenever I put my Rift CV1 on I always think: man, this would be really awesome… if it didn’t look like somebody smeared Vaseline on the lenses! It feels like suffering from a light form of cataracts.

      I hope one day we won’t have to compromise.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. ShamrockOneFive says:

        I’m sure in a few years we’ll get there! 4K or higher resolutions and more effective GPUs. We’re getting there.

        I may be interested in that TrackIR.


  3. TJR says:


    I just got the VKB Gladiator that you recommended, which was an awesome purchase, if a little pricey here in Canada-stan. Now I am waiting out till Xmas for a GPU, hopefully the 2800 series will drop the price of the 1080/1070s!


    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      Glad the review was useful! It’s been a year and a half since I bought it and my impressions haven’t soured a bit. The cheap plastic trigger on the Mark I was replaced by a better system on the Mark II and when my trigger broke I went for the metal one. The only weak spot in the design (relatively speaking).

      I had the same pricing issue also coming from the snowy north (currently experiencing a heat wave!).


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