Another year is nearly over and what a year it was for the IL-2: Great Battles Series. Let’s have a look back at 2018 and appreciate what kind of year it has been for fans of the IL-2 series.
A slow start and then… a bang!
January and February were slow in the news department for IL-2 as 1CGS pushed forward through the last of their development cycles on IL-2: Battle of Kuban. With players sticking at patch 2.012 for several months in a row, it often felt like we had ground to a halt while the developers worked hard on some core gameplay features – ones that needed to be released all at once.
IL-2: Battle of Kuban was officially launched in March with the release of patch 3.001. This was a game changer for the IL-2 series introducing some fundamental changes to the series:
- Revised environment graphics and a 4X increase in draw distance dramatically changed the look of the series, particularly at higher altitudes
- New Career mode single player generated mission system put players into a historical squadron flying realistic, yet randomly generated, missions for all three released titles in the series
- New Co-op mode for new multiplayer experiences
Of course, Battle of Kuban also introduced the final 3 aircraft from the IL-2: Battle of Kuban aircraft line-up: the Yak-7B, P-39L-1, and A-20B. Joining those were two new Collector Planes that also released in 3.001… the La-5FN and Bf109G-6. Collectively these added a huge amount of content to the series above and beyond what was already available and it made a heck of a splash and absolutely shattered the status quo.
Beginning of Bodenplatte
The future of the IL-2 series was set in motion in May when 1CGS released the first two aircraft for IL-2: Battle of Bodneplatte. The Spitfire LF.IXe and the Bf109G-14 were the first two aircraft for Bodenplatte and they represented a start of new Western Front themed content.
While the Bf109G-14 was a fairly well known quantity in terms of its features, the Spitfire was the first to introduce a new type of feature: a gyro gunsight system – one that has since been introduced on the P-47D-28 and will surely become available on other types that had it such as the P-51D Mustang.
These two aircraft were just the start but they made a great impression right from the beginning.
Another major milestone
With the July patch, 1CGS hit another milestone for the year with the launch for both Tank Crew – Clash at Prohorovka and Flying Circus Vol 1. The 3.005 patch introduced us to the KV-1s and the Tiger I for Tank Crew and to the SPAD XIII and Fokker Dr.I for Flying Circus.
The introduction of these aircraft and tanks to the series were another big change for the IL-2: Great Battles Series being the first time that the series had included the air battles of the two world wars and included a detailed tank simulation inside a flight simulation.
3.005 also brought with it the FW190A-8 which was, I think, an initially overlooked aircraft but came with some smart extras from 1CGS. The FW190A-8 has options that turn it into the related FW190F-8 and FW190G-8 fighter bomber variants of the FW190, each with their own features, and a unique addition in the ability to carry the massive SC1000 bomb.
More changes and more content
Under the hood, the IL-2 series evolved through the year with changes to the AI improving performance and helping to ensure that they crash into hillsides less and strafe targets better. It’s not solved but there is a continued evolution.
There’s also been some more recent changes at the end of the year focused on multiplayer performance aiming to improve the online experience with less lag, fewer weird moments, and better performance overall.
One of the biggest changes to the series this year under the hood has also been to the damage model. IL-2 already had the best damage model in the combat flight simulator world and the update further refined some of its features. Revised structural strength and a greater variety of ways for aircraft to go plummeting towards the ground have expanded how each aerial battle goes. No doubt, this isn’t the last time 1CGS will make tweaks to this area of the simulation either.
Vehicles have also been given a slight damage model change with more component parts such as engines, wheels, and tracks being damageable components. A near bomb hit now will knock the track off a tank. and a heavy machine gun round will stop a car dead on the road.
First of the legendary trio of American fighters
Another big addition to content this year was the addition of the P-47D-28. The Thunderbolt was a highly successful high altitude interceptor and low altitude ground attack fighter-bomber. Oversized and overpowered compared to most of its contemporaries, the P-47 brings with it eight .50cal machine guns, rockets, bombs, and the K-14 gyro stabilized gunsight.
The Thunderbolt is also one of the three American fighters that formed the core of USAAF fighter operations in all theatres that it fought in alongside the P-51 Mustang and P-38 Lightning. All three were used in large numbers, shot down large numbers of enemy aircraft, and left an indelible mark on history. For the first time in many years we’re able to fly a beautifully detailed P-47 with a top notch cockpit.
New single player and mod content
There are just too many new mods being made to list but this year was also the start of official support for a sandboxed mod mode for players interested in trying out and making changes to some of how the IL-2 series works. A summer Moscow map, Zoom for VR, and a pilot in the cockpit mod are just some of what the community has been up to this year.
This has also been a great year for single player content with the release of three new premium Scripted Campaigns (one shipping with IL-2: Battle of Kuban) and free ones like “Fire and Ice” for the Bf110E-2, “Taman Bridgehead” for the Bf109G-4/G-6 (which saw a major upgrade this year), and the Platzschutzstaffel Pitomnik Campaign for the Bf109G-2 (I think it’s the G-2) are just a few of the examples of campaigns coming out this year.
Here comes the U-2VS!
The first third party aircraft has come to IL-2: Great Battles as well with the U-2VS – an aircraft barely out of the World War I era that found a role for itself in World War II and in the skies of Korea in the 1950s.
Making a surprise appearance in patch 3.009 coming in December, the U-2VS (or Po-2) is as close to a general aviation aircraft as you’ll see in the IL-2 series. Fit the right modifications, however, and the U-2 turns into a combat aircraft that saw action flying night raids, performing artillery spotting and providing medivac services.
The U-2 is a fun aircraft with a lot of future potential.
A milestone year for IL-2
The release of Battle of Kuban and the introduction of three all new directions for the IL-2 series has setup a series of milestones for the the IL-2: Great Battles Series under the almost herculean efforts by 1C Game Studios and Lead Producer Jason Williams. Major strides have been made for the series expanding the scale and scope of the experience and turning weaknesses into strengths.
The series continues to evolve adding tanks, WWI aircraft, WWII aircraft from the Western Front, and adding new maps, Collector Planes and no doubt many more surprises. 2018 has been a great year for the series and I think 2019 is going to be another big one too.
How about you? What stands out for the IL-2 series this year for you? Let me know in the comments!