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
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.
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
It’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.