Last year was a big year for 1C Game Studios, the developers of the IL-2: Great Battles Series, when they launched IL-2: Battle of Kuban and began work on the future of the series. That future will arrive in 2019 with the expected release of all three of the products that they are currently building. A tank simulator, a World War I simulator and a World War II western front simulator are all on the agenda for 2019 and I’m pretty excited.
In this editorial I’m going to talk about what’s been announced plus my own speculations for the future for the series going forward from here. I will do my best to mark what is speculation and what is confirmed.
Bodenplatte development continues
IL-2: Battle of Bodenplatte development continues with its western front themed expansion to the IL-2 World War II simulator experience. Starting in May of 2018, content for this title began to arrive and over the last few months we’ve seen the release of the Spitfire IXe, P-47D-28, Bf109G-14, Bf109K-4 and FW190A-8 (plus F-8 and G-8).
We should see the remaining aircraft be released sometime later this year. The FW190D-9 is most likely next out the gate while the release schedule for the rest of the aircraft remains unknown. The Tempest Mark V, P-51D Mustang, P-38J Lightning and the Me262 are all planned.
The developers have repeatedly stated that work on the Me262 will require more time than other modules thanks to the complexities of simulating the world’s first jet fighter. Work on the near-Mach flight modeling is now operating in the series so work has turned to the operation of the Jumo 004 turbojet engines. Meanwhile other types like the Mustang, Lightning and Tempest will come out over the coming months – my best guess is that they will appear in that order.
Also releasing sometime in 2019, and I suspect it will be in the first half of 2019, is the Western Europe map for Battle of Bodenplatte. Encompassing a wide area and featuring several urban areas, I’m pretty excited to see what 1CGS map team can do with this map and what key areas will be given extra attention – the famous rail bridges at Remagen for example?
There will also be a planned AI only (for now) B-25 Mitchel bomber as operated by RAF bomber squadrons within the 2nd Tactical Air Force. At this point we don’t know when that aircraft will arrive but it may come some time after the rest of the aircraft.
Additional Collector Planes for Bodenplatte?
I’ve previously written about this but I wanted to touch again on additional content for Battle of Bodenplatte. Tackling the Western Front in just 10 aircraft (plus one AI type) is a nearly impossible task but 1CGS has done a good job selecting a mix of RAF, USAAF, and Luftwaffe workhorses from the era. As always, we want more and there are several aircraft that are good Collector Plane candidates (sold separately) that could fit within historical scenarios on the map being provided in Bodenplatte.
These aircraft including the Spitfire XIV, Typhoon Mark IB, Mosquito FB.VI, Meteor F.III, A-20G, A-26B, Ar234 or FW190A-9. There are also outlier options like the Ta152H, Me163, and He162 although these I generally disregard as being less useful types from a historical and campaign building perspective. Rare operations with the Ju88S and Ju188 also intrigue me so I’ll throw them in there just for mention sake.
Although 1CGS has tons of options for including additional aircraft, I suspect they will have only time enough to make a couple of these and my best guess is that they will go with two: a Spitfire XIV and an Ar234. The Spitfire Mark XIV satisfies desires for a high end Spitfire with performance to match the Bf109K-4 and FW190D-9 (also satisfied by the Tempest V and P-51D) while the Ar234 satisfies a desire for a bomber and the Arado jet makes a lot of sense both from a historical perspective as well as from a developer perspective using the same Jumo 004 engines from the Me262 and requiring only a single pilot station to be developed (rather than all of the gunner positions available on most bombers).
Other types are too esoteric or will require too much developer time and I suspect that 1CGS will be ready to move towards their next product once Bodenplatte development is complete. Still, the chance to sell some extra Collector Planes will surely help their business case.
Tank Crew will mature in 2019
Right now, Tank Crew is fairly limited with just two tanks and no map, single player, or really any serious content for the product to work with. We also haven’t seen IL-2 multiplayer servers jump to support Tank Crew just yet so opportunities are somewhat limited for now. All of those issues, I think will change in 2019, as Tank Crew matures with its map, its vehicles, and a bunch of supporting gameplay technology such as the tank commander interface.
What I also hope to see are fans of tank simulators such as Panzer Elite and more action oriented titles such as World of Tanks and War Thunder check out Tank Crew. For those with an interest in a more realistic and deeper look at tank warfare, I think Tank Crew will eventually satisfy that desire AND it will come built in with growing multiplayer features and combined arms simulation like few other titles have offered.
1CGS is also showing off that they are committed to developing the necessary technology to make Tank Crew not just an orphaned tank sim in a flight simulator world but one that has legitimate ground warfare features – destructible buildings for example.
Flying Circus updates in 2019
Another title that 1CGS is working on with their partners at Ugra Media is Flying Circus Vol 1. This World War I spring and summer of 1918 themed title is, just like Tank Crew, fully integrated into the IL-2: Great Battles Series and that means that you’ll be able to swap World War I for World War II and back again within the same game experience (or in the same multiplayer or single player scenario if you really wanted to).
Flying Circus should see its remaining aircraft list upgraded from Rise of Flight standard and implemented into the series in 2019. We’re also looking forward to seeing the Arras-sector map along with supporting objects such as vehicles, AAA guns, tanks, and scenery objects that will help players get immersed into the Great War theme.
We’ve seen 1CGS put the extra effort in to make sure that the aircraft being added have had their flight model values tested from Rise of Flight levels to ensure that they are performing to historically stated values while their partner developer group have done great work upgrading the 3D models and bringing the aircraft up to 4K texture level.
I think we’ll see Flying Circus win over critics and gain new followers in 2019, particularly in the middle part of the year when I expect that a lot of the content will be delivered and ready to go.
What about the future for the series?
IL-2: Great Battles Series and the three titles currently under development should all finish up sometime in 2019 with Tank Crew possibly taking the longest while Flying Circus and Bodenplatte I expect to finish up sometime by the middle of the year. That leaves us with an important question – where do the series go from there? Well… I have some ideas!
Assuming all three titles are successes and help grow the series (and we may not know exactly that answer until the end of 2019 or even into 2020), I am going to optimistically project that all three will have some sort of future development.
Tank Crew – Clash at Prohorovka could follow up the famous Kursk tank battles with another famous battle. A good candidate would be the Battle of the Bulge on the Western front in late 1944 and early 1945. This battle would build on tanks already created (such as the M4 Sherman and Panzer VI) while taking advantage of a mature aircraft set ensuring that both East and Western Front fans have tanks that can be used in combined arms simulation.
Flying Circus Vol 2 could easily be created with additional aircraft assets from Rise of Flight. A 1917 oriented scenario using the back catalogue of aircraft such as the Albatross D.III, Sopwith Pup, Nieuport 17 and many more are a serious possibility. Growing the series and adding a Career Mode option would be a welcome addition as would a revitalized Channel Map. I’d also love to see the Handley Page 0-400 and Gotha G.V return to the series and I think bomber fans would appreciate them too.
The big question mark
Finally, there’s the big question mark on what the “main line” IL-2 series will become after Battle of Bodenplatte. The question on many minds right now is if Jason Williams and the team at 1CGS will be able to execute on the vision laid out a couple of years ago with a Pacific themed title. Battle of Midway and Battle of Okinawa were both touted as realistic options for the team, however, research snags caused the team to re-evaluate and Battle of Bodenplatte was born as a stop-gap option (and a really good one at that).
I am hopeful that the team has managed to amass enough assets to build a Battle of Midway simulation like nothing we’ve ever seen before and that they can follow that up with an equally exciting Battle of Okinawa scenario. That’s my sincere hope.
If these don’t happen, it will not be for a lack of trying on the part of Jason Williams and the team at 1CGS to make them happen. But, let’s assume that they can’t make it happen and which point where does that leave us?
I think there are still options for the series even if the Pacific can’t be made to happen and here are some realistic possibilities.
First, the developers could stick with a World War II theme and cover another major battle. Normandy, although done in other titles, is a solid candidate and it offers the chance for the team to add more aircraft that would also benefit Bodenplatte. In the same way that Moscow, Stalingrad and Kuban battles contribute to each other’s aircraft collection, a Normandy add-on could benefit Bodneplatte and vice versa. A 1943-1944 Italy scenario has been banded about as another option (and offering a more diverse Axis aircraft set) and I think it works nearly as well as Normandy.
Second, 1CGS could venture into uncharted waters and come out with the first full featured Korean War flight simulator in history. I am of course talking about 1CGS ability to create not just a couple of aircraft but a thematically appropriate map, objects, vehicles, tank, aircraft, and everything else that would be required to make this simulation happen.
Drawing on their work on high speed flight modeling, jet engine simulation, gyro gunsights, and with plenty of research options open for American, British and Soviet aircraft of the time, 1CGS would be well positioned to make this happen.
What is unlikely to happen at this point is for 1CGS to go back to the Eastern Front. Three titles and a player base that is looking for new experiences suggest to me that any follow up to the Eastern Front will be further into the future although a great many players would like to see some late war Soviet aircraft such as the La-7, Yak-3, Yak-9U, a late model IL-2 or early model IL-10, and the like.
One thing certain
The thing I am certain about is that 2019 should be another exciting year for fans of the IL-2 series and the surrounding products that 1CGS has started building this year. No matter what happens, this third generation of IL-2 title has cemented itself a reputation for offering an deep yet accessible simulation experience for fans of World War I and World War II aircraft and I have very little doubt that the same will be said about their tank simulation when that looks a little more complete at the end of this year.
Looking forward to it!