With 2018 now receding into the rear view mirror I think it’s time to look forward to DCS World in 2019 and what we’re expecting to see from Eagle Dynamics and some of the third party module makers this year. There’s certainly a lot to talk about so let’s get to it!
The early parts of 2019 look to be bringing with them the release of two modules from DCS World third party module makers. Heatblur’s F-14 Tomcat and RAZBAM’s MiG-19P “Farmer.”
Heatblur has given themselves a launch window of Winter 2019 (stretching into March 2019) for the early access DCS: F-14 Tomcat and the launch of the F-14B variant into the hands of DCS World pilots.
The hype surrounding the module is high although its important to note that the F-14B won’t come with some of the extras such as campaigns, the Forrestal-class carrier, AI A-6 Intruder or the other variants of the F-14. These will be coming later in 2019 and some features may stretch in 2020. Still, this all sounds like it undercuts what should be an extremely exciting year for fans of the Tomcat and all of the iconography that comes with that aircraft. It’s going to be great even if it comes with some bugs out of the gate.
I feel like RAZBAM’s MiG-19 is flying under the radar compared to the F-14 (although I’m trying to give them roughly equal representation here on the blog) and it appears that an early 2019 release is likely with RAZBAM reporting that most of their features are already done and the external model is now in the final passes to being finished.
This second generation jet fighter has far more limited systems than more modern modules but should find itself at home in a growing array of Cold War 1950s and 1960s era jets that seem to be slowly emerging and highly desired by fans of DCS World.
Hornet heads towards being feature complete
Eagle Dynamics current premier module in the development pipeline is the F/A-18C Hornet. Long awaited and making its appearance into early access in the first part of 2018, the Hornet has slowly gained features and systems through 2018 and its rapidly beginning to feel like a more complete aircraft.
There are still dozens of systems and feature still coming to the Hornet and a recent update indicated that Eagle Dynamics has four engineers working on filling those out. Now possessing a good array of precision ordinance including Paveway II and Maverick missiles, the F/A-18C will also gain the HARM missile sometime in the first part of 2019 with any luck.
The JDAM, JSOW, Link16, are just some of the features planned for the near future. Although I have no inside information on the speed with which these systems will arrive, I expect by the middle part of 2019 that we’ll see a majority of systems on the Hornet finished and the module begin to feel feature complete. It may yet take until the end of this year to finish everything up.
Eagle Dynamics has been good about keeping us in the loop with mini-updates so no doubt we’ll hear much more as we progress through the year.
The Viper strikes
We’ve seen our first teaser and official statements saying that Eagle Dynamics will be releasing the DCS: F-16C into DCS World sometime starting in 2019. Although many have assumed that this is far too much hype too early on, information coming from Eagle Dynamics suggests confidence that the F-16 may well be a significantly evolved module already and well on its way.
With the F-16 and F/A-18 sharing some of the same big features and the art and flight model team no longer making any big changes to the Hornet, it stands to reason that they are working on other projects and the F-16 has been a project that Eagle Dynamics has slowly been working on for about a decade.
I expect big news will be coming by summer 2019 about the F-16.
Ready for the Thunder?
Deka Ironwork’s DCS: JF-17 Thunder looks like it will be making an appearance in 2019 with recent news suggesting that the developers will be aiming for summer 2019 for early access.
This multi-role, fourth gen, fly-by-wire fighter jet will offer a unique mix of weapons and systems for fans looking for something a little different. It’s going to be very interesting to see this aircraft be developed.
Hind and Cobra
Fans of rotary-wing aircraft should have some news to look forward to in 2019 as well with the Mi-24P Hind gunship being another module that may release in this year. We’ve been hearing about the Mi-24 for quite a while and sneaking a look at Matt Wagner’s DCS World main screen during a recent live stream has revealed that there are regular updates coming to that module suggesting some active development and a potential reveal later this year.
The AH-1 (exact version unknown and seemingly in some state of flux – although it won’t be the AH-1Z) is also on Eagle Dynamics roadmap although we assume that it may be much further out on the timeline than the Mi-24P is. Still, we are likely to hear a lot more about the AH-1 in 2019 and there’s an outside chance that it too is further along than we think.
The Mud Hen in 2019?
RAZBAM is also working hard on the DCS: F-15E module. Development work has been on-going for a long time now (with the earliest efforts dating back many years ago) and so rapid progress may not be too surprising if all goes according to plan. 2019 may yet be optimistic to fly the “Mud Hen” in DCS World, but it will definitely be a year that we see and hear more about this module from RAZBAM at the least.
Fans of the Eagle, and those pilots interested in the kind of capabilities that a supersonic fourth gen strike aircraft with equal parts air-combat capability and ground strike should find lots to be interested in with this module.
New maps under development
A Syria map, under development by the same third party group that brought us the Normandy map, is currently under development for DCS World. We’ve heard conflicting reports on the exact size but recent chatter suggests that we’ll be hearing more about this map soon.
An Afghanistan map is also reportedly under development although not much has been said for some time on this project.
The scale and scope of both map projects is also unknown but both should be good fits for modern combat aircraft simulation.
A Strait of Dover map has also been mentioned in the past although I suspect it may be a project that is no longer under development and was the early prototype concept for DCS: Normandy. We do know that another WWII themed map is under-way and was mentioned as recently as this developer update.
RAZBAM has gone somewhat quieter about their DCS: South Atlantic project featuring the Falkland Islands, however, it is likely that we’ll learn a lot more about that project in 2019.
Again, the exact scale and scope is unknown, but this map appears to be focused on the Falklands conflict and at least some of RAZBAM’s future roadmap may be devoted to making sure that there are sufficient aircraft to simulate both sides of that conflict – a Mirage, A-4 Skyhawk, and a Sea Harrier FRS.1 or Harrier GR.3 would be welcomed and RAZBAM already has expertise in this area. Surely 2019 is not long enough of a time frame for this but we will likely learn plenty more!
DCS World becomes a better game?
One of the stated goals from Eagle Dynamics is to turn DCS World into a better game on-top of being an excellent and detailed simulation. DCS World aircraft are some of the most detailed and authentic recreations of aircraft anywhere, however, the entertainment value of those aircraft can be limited without proper single player campaigns and features to support them.
One of the ways that Eagle Dynamics appears to be approaching that is with an effort to create a dynamic campaign system that can auto generate complex and persistent scenarios that players can then participate in with their chosen aircraft. This will hopefully evolve into an approachable yet deep system to help generate much greater playability in the single player sphere.
Another way is with Modern Air Combat (MAC) which will release sometime in 2019 after being delayed from a late 2018 release. This more action oriented take on Flaming Cliffs 3 is set to introduce a new mission generator emphasizing action and quick air battles. We’ve even heard that this may come with its own separate GUI. How this spills over to the more hardcore DCS World modules is unknown but 2019 should prove interesting here.
For multiplayer, Eagle Dynamics is also now trialing their dedicated server module after years of talking about but ultimately neglecting this feature.
The popularity of DCS multiplayer grows and continues to be showcased by groups such as r/wingmanfinder and The Reapers as just two examples of playing large scale scenarios out with dozens of participants at a time. Servers like Georgia-at-War have AI scripted scenarios that players and server administrators have made work providing endless replayability. A dedicated server should help make life easier for groups attempting to put these kinds of scenarios and events together.
The year that DCS: WWII really finds its footing?
It’s been a tough couple of years for fans of DCS’s WWII expansion as a lot of work is being done behind the scenes. However, we’re ending 2018 on a high note as the Spitfire, Mustang, FW190D-9, and Bf109K-4 all received visual upgrades (particularly to their cockpits) and the Spitfire saw a few upgrades through the year including clipped wings and bomb carrying capabilities.
Speaking of upgraded cockpits, definitely check this video out by Spudknocker featuring the upgraded P-51D which saw some of the biggest changes.
In 2019, we’re also slated to see a whole bunch of new AI aircraft being added to the WWII Assets module including the P-47D, Ju-88, Fw 190A-8, A-20G, C-47, Bf 109G, Mosquito, and C-47. A couple of these, the P-47D, Mosquito and FW190A-8 are slated to become flyable and that may happen in 2019 as well. There has been several mentions over the last year and a half of an I-16 module for DCS World too – but no word recently on when that may appear.
Lots to be excited about
I’m generally upbeat and positive about most things but I do think that we’re heading into a particularly strong year for DCS World. Last year we started the year still separated between versions 1.5 and 2.0 and the series has grown considerably since everything became housed under the single DCS World 2.5 banner.
We’re seeing many third party module makers thrive and while the sudden departure of VEAO from the scene and the challenges there is a black mark, I generally see things progressing extremely well.
With groups like Heatblur and RAZBAM doing well and seemingly thriving while others like Magnitude 3 bringing their own style and substance. Even Aviodev, a developer that we just had not heard from very much, made a last minute update in 2018 that brought their C-101 module back into the limelight. Developers like MilTech-5 and Polychop also may have some interesting news in 2019 and I’ll be trying to keep an eye on that too.
I have high hopes for all and considerable optimism as we head into this new year. I think it’s going to be great for DCS World fans!