The state of DCS: WWII

In 2013, Ilya Shevchenko (with Oleg Maddox and Igor Tishin) started a kick-starter to bring WWII to DCS World. The kick-starter was initially successful but the project ultimately ground to a halt before it was injected with new life thanks to Eagle Dynamics. It’s been six years and the question I want to ask is: What is the state of DCS WWII now and what is it looking like for the future? Is the current model working or does it need a rethink? Let’s discuss!

The most important thing…

A pair of P-51D Mustangs in the Blue Nosed Bastards of Bodney campaign.

For me and for many other WWII simulation fans, authenticity and historical relevance play at least part of the equation in what makes an excellent sim. The IL-2 series has, for years, done this fairly well (with a few missteps) and under the current shepherds (1CGS/777 Studios) has made a name for themselves in releasing some quality packages that have good aircraft sets that are also historically coherent. This is something, by comparison, that DCS WWII has ultimately done poorly. Presumably it was done to appease backers who were burned by the WWII kickstarter project’s failure but it has left them in a complex position.

For reference, these are the aircraft from the initial Kickstarter list:

  • Republic P-47D-28 Thunderbolt;
  • Supermarine Spitfire Mk IX;
  • Messerschmitt Bf-109K-4;
  • Focke-Wulf FW.190D-9 (from DCS: World);
  • North-American P-51D Mustang (from DCS: World).

Frankly this list makes no sense given what came later outside of trying to appeal to some interested players who wanted to fly these aircraft. I suppose that’s what a Kickstarter project tries to do but the list never felt that cohesive.

DCS Normandy received a visual update mid 2018.

The first, and only, map to release for DCS WWII so far has been the 1944 Normandy map. Of the five aircraft listed in the above list, only three of them are historically connected to the D-Day invasion and post Overlord period of time (the Spitfire IX, P-51D and P-47D). The Bf109K-4 and FW190D-9 came months later and so they are out of place lacking a scenario or appropriate competitors to do battle with.

This was all not the best start in my mind, however, it is now water under the bridge.

The tide is turning

For all that I’ve said above, the tide appears to be turning for DCS World and their WWII content. Eagle Dynamics most recent comments on their FW190A-8/F-8 developments tell a lot of the story:

The Fw 190 A-8 will be an excellent counterpart to the Spitfire Mk.IX and provide a period-correct aircraft for the Normandy map. The F-8 version will provide the Luftwaffe a capable ground attack aircraft to match the upcoming P-47D and Mosquito.

DCS World Weekend News

This tells me that Eagle Dynamics is going to aim to focus more on the types that fit their already established scenario of Normandy 1944. That doesn’t stop third parties from doing the I-16 or the F4U as is currently the case but it does mean that there will hopefully be more focus from Eagle Dynamics themselves.

The current aircraft under development include the Mosquito FB.VI, P-47D (is it still a D-28?), FW190A-8/F-8 and the Me262. In addition to these aircraft are a collection of AI only (for now anyways) types like the Bf109G-6, Ju88A-4, A-20G, and C-47. This set helps fill out the DCS WWII line-up with Normandy 1944 authentic aircraft types that will help make that scenario stop feeling like a kludge of types and more like the down to the rivets accurate simulation that I know it can be.

Eagle Dynamics is also still working on improving their damage modeling. Their current system is adequate for missile lobbing and rapid fire cannon firing jets but far less so for WWII warbirds and so Eagle Dynamics announced quite some time ago that they would be overhauling the system (before ultimately implementing it across the entire line-up).

There’s more work to be done too to bring in period accurate voice overs that don’t use modern terminology.

There are definitely some weaknesses in the presentation so now let’s talk about strengths.

Playing to strengths

What DCS WWII and DCS World in general do well is extreme attention to detail. Look at the work being done on the FW190A-8 for DCS World as an example. The modeling of the internal engine bay is not just an aesthetic consideration either as DCS World goes extremely deep into the simulation of the engine and the conditions that make it work.

That attention to detail also exists on the Spitfire, Bf109K-4, FW190D-9, and P-51D models and these aircraft have all seen revamps of their aesthetic qualities over the last few months bringing them up to the very latest standards from Eagle Dynamics.

DCS WWII is not going to quickly build a large collection of WWII warbirds to fly. However, the ones that they are offering will have the highest level of detailing possible and they will come with the complex system modeling that DCS World fans know and expect from the more modern jet modules.

DCS Spitfire IX from The Big Show campaign.

I hesitate to compare to IL-2: Great Battles but I will allow this one comparison as I think the two series are doing two different things: IL-2 is offering a lighter take on the systems modelling (i.e. no complex click pit start-up procedure) so that it can be a wider scope of battle simulator.

DCS World is doing what it does best – focusing on the small details and doing it for a small number of aircraft. This has resulted in DCS’ WWII aircraft being at the absolute peak of accuracy for systems and flight modeling (if not currently damage modeling)… but it takes a long time for just one plane to appear on the scene. The series is in urgent need of the line-up being filled out a bit and that is simply not something that will happen quickly.

Still, what aircraft we do have appear to have been modelled at incredible levels of artistry and programming detail. Each switch, knob, and intricacy is there in the start-up and systems management for each of these warbirds and they seamlessly integrate into the rest of the DCS World ecosystem.

What will be

Projecting forward into the future, DCS World and their WWII themed content offerings have or will have a map (Normandy), one Axis fighter and fighter bomber rolled into one that is historically appropriate, three Allied fighters and fighter-bombers that are historically appropriate, and one Allied twin that also fits the Normandy/D-Day/Overlord scenario. Plus eventually we’ll have the Me262 which doesn’t fit the current map all that well and the already released Bf109K-4 and FW190D-9.

On top of those flyable aircraft are several dozen ground vehicles and AI aircraft available as a separate content package (that can be combined with the DCS: Combined Arms package allowing for limited control over ground vehicles). Together, these assets should help fill out the scenario nicely. They will help make multiplayer more balanced and more historically accurate and do the same for single players too.

Speaking of single player scenarios, DCS WWII is doing their campaign making fairly well with a slow but constant stream of new campaigns coming out on a semi-regular basis.

For the P-51D there’s the new The Blue Nosed Bastards of Bodney Campaign by Reflected Simulations and Charnwood Campaign by B&W Campaigns, for the Spitfire IX is The Big Show Campaign by Reflected Simulations and Operation Epsom Campaign by B&W Campaigns.

All of these would (and hopefully will retroactively) benefit from having some more aircraft types available.

One other problem

DCS WWII has one other stumbling block that I alluded to at the start. The method in which it has been sold. To get an authentic WWII simulation you will need to shell out some cash on a few separate items:

  • DCS: Normandy 1944 Map for $44.99
  • DCS: WWII Assets Pack for $29.99 (though the price is set to climb)
  • DCS: WWII aircraft module (Spitfire IX, P-51D and all others are $49.99)

There’s also a bundle deal for the Normandy and Assets Pack that brings the price to $59.99 for both (saving you $14.99). At full price it will be $109.99 USD just to get started with the scenery, assets, and a single aircraft. Of course, nobody said that flight simming was cheap but all of the steps required to get started with DCS WWII can feel daunting at times.

I advocate for buying during a sale which helps bring the price down for Normandy to $22.50, a WWII fighter to $25 and I’ve never really checked on the asset pack but I presume that it drops to around $15. This is a more reasonable proposition for most.

Ultimately, its not the price but the way that it’s been packaged that I think throws some potential buyers off. Eagle Dynamics has tried to keep the permanent Normandy/Asset Pack bundle going but I know that separation still puts some off.

Final thoughts

DCS WWII is an interesting experiment for Eagle Dynamics, one that they appear to intend to continue supporting and one that is slowly growing into something that hopefully matures into a cohesive package. For years it has been trying to come together into something great. It isn’t quite there yet but I see light on the horizon.

With a more cohesive aircraft set in development, more supporting aircraft and vehicles, and continued support from Eagle Dynamics, this area of the DCS World franchise can be just as strong as its modern jet aircraft side of the business. More exciting, the series is starting to grow its early cold war set too and that offers some great possibilities for the future of DCS’ combat flight simulation spanning a significant chunk of the last century of combat aviation.

DCS WWII got off to a rough start and its been stuck there for years, but I think we’re now about to see it turn around in a brilliant way. At least… I hope so!

Let me know your thoughts in the comments! I know some of you are fans of the WWII content that Eagle Dynamics has released over the years.

Advertisements

30 Comments Add yours

  1. Jp says:

    I honestly can’t wait. DCS can be a fantastic Warbird sim.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      Given enough time I think it will be too!

      Like

  2. Simfan says:

    Hi simmers,

    AFAIK DCS World is about the only sim/game one can buy as an investment with sure benefits in due time.
    The WWI assets and planes, being great at this time already, will grow on us and, say 5 years from now, it probably will cast a big shadow on similar WWII efforts (like of course the famous IL-2).
    I bought all DCS WWII modules and of course map and am not dissapointed.
    Even just flying circles in those warbirds is quite an experience.
    BTW … thank you so much STORMBIRDS for your valuable coverage of all my favourite titles !

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      Thanks Simfan!

      Like

  3. 303_HOLY says:

    Hello there.
    Thank you for your article.
    We 303 Sqn are very old sim fans and “we was in hope” that DCS WW2 will be just the best ever sim. Unfortunately and here my personal thoughs, behaviour of my beloved plane P-51 is just bad. Lack of yaw stability when you flying about 300mph is just not real. I spend hours with talking about it with real P-51 pilots. Effectiveness of 0.5 cal – bad, very, very bed. I’m sound engineer so sound of merlin engine – pooorly don. Fortunately we can implement perfect sound mod from Jaffa. Of course 3d model after last refreshing just perfect. Generally I’m waiting for new damage and FM model and then, for shure that will be my first flight sim. Regards 303__HOLY

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts Holy!

      Like

  4. Blue 5 says:

    My friend, you are truly a glass-half-full kinda guy.

    At the moment, the WW2 stuff is an example of everything poor about DCS: the pieces do not fit, there is no structure, no one has any idea when new parts will appear, what does anyone do with the elements etc.

    The underlying system has great promise, but as you observe (rather forgivingly) the time-frame is long or unknown, crucial aspects (damage system) is WiP to put it politely and cost is astronomical.

    Come back in 2022 (with deep pockets) and you might have something. Right now it is a joke compared to the modern stuff or Il-2 which – despite lacking some of the deeper elements – works.

    I appreciate the ED inherited a mess, but it has not really improved inless you are really into wobble pumps.

    Oh, and don’t get me started on the ‘why are my controls reset again’ issue. Seriously, after all these years?

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Blue 5 says:

    But, I should have said, thank you for the article and your assesment.

    Like

    1. Aaron C White says:

      That’s always been my biggest issue with DCS as a whole. Since ED focuses on their own things (sim engine as a whole, specific planes) and 3rd parties do their own things, you get a bunch of stuff that largely doesn’t fit together.

      While Il-2 lacks the depth and detail of some aspects of things that DCS does well (3D modeling, clickable pits, etc) I think what it does well (aside from the damage model. DCS’ damage model is definitely suited to the “one hit and it’s dead” that most modern missiles bring to the table) is that everything works together, because it’s all being build by the Il-2 team for that specific theater/time period.

      In DCS we have the Persian Gulf, but we don’t have desert camo vehicles from them, nor most of the Iranian equipment properly represented (their naval vessels are pretty sad for the main “bad guy” of the map). We have some WWII stuff sprinkled in, with no real connection to any of the others. We have some Cold War, some Korean War, some 90’s…it’s just a mix of everything, which I get is part of the appeal, but also makes it tough to really enjoy the game.

      I love flying my Viggen, but it’s a bummer to not be able to fly the Viggen on a map against appropriate other fighters, while bombing/attacking the appropriate ships and ground vehicles.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Francesco Kasta says:

    Kick-starter always felt like gambling to me so I kept my bet low and threw only $40 at Ilya Shevchenko’s campaign.

    That $40 got me the “Bf-109K-4; FW.190D-9; WWII Normandy map and WWII Assets pack.” From this perspective it was a bargain but the whole thing has been such a mess that that was the last time I ever Kick-started something.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Eviscerador says:

    I think in this case is a matter of not wanted bussiness. Several times in the forums some relevant members of ED had said that they really want DCS WWII to take off (pun intended) because one of their biggest partners is The Fighter Collection, which in fact it is a warbird association.

    That is the reason one the only free clickable module is a trainer mustang, because they expected people would buy the mustang module, even when it was just nonsense in the caucasus map. They even have a campaign for it in a modern setting!

    Other than that, it is not that bad. Sure the entry price is quite high, but let’s be honest here, buying the hornet and the PG map bundle (which sold like hell) was 90 € total price, and the whole Normandy + AI pack + any warbird module will cost you 50 € in a sale. I know it, I ALMOST got the mustang + Normandy + AI pack + blue nosed bastards campaign in the last sale. But then they teased the Viper and the Mi 24 is also on the horizon. And the Farmer is becoming a fine plane, and MAC will be released sometime into the future…

    So I hold my money back, because I really like to fly the Civil mustang from time to time, but I’m currently so used to jets (even if my beloved Hog is actually slower than a mustang!) that I can’t go back to the glory days of sweat, oil and pistons.

    Maybe someday, when the DCS:WWII has evolved into something more fleshed out.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Just looked at my profile on DCS and for the WWII planes still to be released there’s the P-47 and the Me-262. I have dug in my heels and will not buy another module from DCS until they give me what I have already paid for or refund my money. But I don’t believe I will even play the WWII because it’s just so lacking in substance, and the map looks awful and i have a descent computer and 1070 nvidia card.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      It definitely needs more content before the whole thing starts to feel more put together. That may start to come together this year although I don’t think we’ll be seeing both the P-47 and the Me262 this year.

      Have you checked performance in the last several months on Normandy? I don’t have the map but they did put some performance improvements in. The map still needs SpeedTree to really get some performance benefits – supposedly that is still slated to happen.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. 1_Robert_ says:

    At the end of the day, this is still just a game. Yes you can call it a sim-we are indeed simulating combat aviation, but the problem is there is no gaming substance.

    I’m not so sure that one needs a huge plane set (to begin with). Even with a limited number of planes, you can create a successful combat game when you incorporate a proper combat environment. If DCS WW2 only featured 2 flyable fighters to start (say a P51 and a relevant and historic adversary), and a combat rich environment full of ground and air AI, it would do fine. Get all that right first and then build the plane set.

    Imagine taking a popular game like Call of Duty and offering up a more realistic gun. How the gun loads, how it sounds, how it looks, how it operates- all more realistic. Then completely strip the combat environment allowing one to only walk around and fire at rocks, or targets that make no sense. This is what DCS WW2 is now.

    All the game needs is a couple of flyable aircraft with proper flight and damage models, a combat rich AI environment, a historic map, and you will have success in both single player and multi. Single player needs a campaign, preferably dynamic, and multi needs a stable platform.

    You begin with a popular western aircraft and a popular eastern aircraft, and once that gets established you then build on the plane set to reach a wider audience.

    My 2 cents 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Simfan says:

    Hi,

    Most people (understandably of course) look for sheer perfection from the start.
    The WWII effort in DCS is only a start because ED choose to get into the mess it did not cause in the first place.
    Indeed, I, personally would also prefer IL-2 over DCS WWII if … I didn’t own the other DCS maps and modules.
    Sure I did buy (and enjoy) IL-2 in the past, but … trying to stay into these 2 completely different flight-systems is not easy to say the least.
    I believe (mostly hope) a few years from now the WWII part of DCS will become like the rest of the jet part of it … awesome !
    But as always … YMMV.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Scott says:

    I share the same frustrations and concerns as many here have said. On the flip side, DCS has FINALLY published some excellent WWII campaigns (Allies anyway), and the Fw-190-A will be well over-due once it finally arrives. One could argue whether it should be a variant to the existing Dora (like the recent Mustang variant), and do the same with the 109 to a G-6. A long over due fix is updating the engine performance of the Mustang to ’44 ETO scenario with the higher octane that was being used & would bring more in line with the existing Axis aircraft (at least make it an option, perhaps in the weapons load-out area, and allow servers to manage it as appropriate). The Mossy will be an excellent add, and fingers crossed for the new damage model & dynamic campaigns in the works (assuming they will support WWII as well as modern).

    Liked by 1 person

  12. ShamrockOneFive says:

    I haven’t had a chance to comment on everyone’s post but I wanted to thank everyone for their comments. Really great to hear your perspectives on this subject and get a sense of what people are feeling in the community about this part of DCS.

    Thanks again to all!

    Like

  13. rustyeagle says:

    hate to say this but i dont think it will ever be very successful, certainly not as successful as il-2 great battles, which has better maps and a better plane set while also coming out with playable tanks that will be able to compete in a combined arms scenario. i would rather developers making content for DCS WW2 shift their focus and develop slightly more modern cold war era jets.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      I don’t think it will ever be as successful in this area as IL-2 is. It may have an edge in some specific areas but IL-2 brings together a complete package that DCS World just cannot do at their detail level.

      Like

      1. Blue 5 says:

        I would feel more optimistic aboit DCS WW2 if I understood what they were trying to accomplish. I might not agree with all BoX team decision, but at least they are very transparent.

        The DCS Normandy map is lovely, the a/c set is ill-aligned (and a little dull) and there are some static campaigns. But – clickable cockpits aside – I stuggle to find much it can do as a WW2 sim that BoX does not accomplish to 90% equivalent or more.

        After P-47 and Mossie I can see some USP, but I struggle to ‘get it’ as a package. OTOH, the modern DCS stuff is great, if a little disjointed.

        Like

    2. boxcarleader says:

      1CGS has stated on many occasions that it is looking to make a Korea sim … and with the 262 they are moving towards that… with the addition of Flying Circus and Tank crew they are branching out as much if not more than DCS… i have a feeling as they nixed the pacific stuff a few years back that this may be the end of WW2 air combat.. for 777 and they may move on … but i will have to completely disagree with you on the better maps … lets be honest DCS is BEAUTIFUL and only getting better. yes Caucuses is not great but its the first map based on Lock on Tech… but Persian gulf is utterly beautiful.. and the Normandy Update ..amazing… visually i think DCS is Far superior … so if they do get better damage modeling and sight lines… along with dedicated servers… and probably dynamic campaigns it will kick il2 to the curb in terms of a sim … the main difference will be cost.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Blue 5 says:

        If 1C has the courage to try a Korea sim I will give them kick-starter cash, but I can see it being a big leap of faith for them.

        I agree DCS looks lovely, but in my heart I would that they gave up on WW2 and focussed on 1960-onwards. I have been totally won-over by their jets…

        Liked by 1 person

  14. boxcarleader says:

    Hey shamrock if i wanted to E-mail you something how would i do it

    Like

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      I have just created an e-mail address for the blog (your message here reminded me I need to do that). E-mail me at shamrockonefive@gmail.com.

      Like

  15. EAF79_Topsy says:

    As a prop fan I trust that DCS will put as much realism into props as they and others do in jets. IL2 is a great game, DCS is a great sim for the jet era, I’m happy to fly around in a Spitfire drop a few bombs and to mix it with non-historical types while waiting for improvements. Hope we don’t have to wait too long – this should be months not years.

    Liked by 3 people

  16. boxcarleader says:

    yeah im kinda hoping that DCS focuses more on pacific stuff it will give them a niche and they already have carrier ops in working order..along with great water and mapping … they do bigger maps than il2 buy a long shot so if they go towards ww2 Pacific they can go to town and grab that niche that il2 threw to the curb… which it too bad as il2 is a great initial sim for new players trying to move up from war thunder… but the real gem of the idea is that the British used many many us aircraft for their navy that would allow for a lot of pacific aircraft to be reused in Normandy and because of the way the us operated they can use the P-51 and Spit 9 in the pacific… both were there

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Robert Austin says:

    No Spit MkIX on aircraft carriers, the naval equivalent Seafire Mk III would require a fair amount of remodelling. Also I would not expect DCS to fall into the same trap as IL2’s MkIX which is plausible for Bodenplatte were it not for several incorrect MkVIII markings and a wrong rudder for some of the MkIX’s being offered. Just for the record the MkIX arrived before the MkVIII, the latter being a more refined version with longer range. To avoid the confusion of managing two types in Europe the RAF sent the MkVIII to the Far East and to the Mediterranean Air Force. The MkVIII only really got to Europe during the Italy campaign and the invasion of the south of France.

    Like

  18. simfan says:

    A DCS Pacific Theather ?
    Would be great … but that would, again … take years.
    Maybe ED (or 3rd party) are already into this, but I seriously doubt it (never read anything in that direction, surely not WWII era !?).
    The problem surely is that the Axis fighters can’t be reused, we need Zeroes and the like of course.
    ED is the victim of realism … anything takes so long because of the incredible depths it should offer.
    That’s why the announced MAC module that might someday allow for more light sim/arcade theatres, planes etc. may be interesting for the many-planes-and-theatres fans.
    I hope ED will focus on the WWII theatre and map there already is and put lots of WWII era assets, because now DCS WWII asset-mixing sometimes feels more like … Ace Combat 7 🙂 !?
    Regards

    Like

  19. boxcarleader says:

    yeah but if you look at aircraft sets only 3 aircraft in the game or in development are European theater only … almost all american and British aircraft via Australia were used in the pacific theater so .. the loss of 3 aircraft is minor when you can use most in both… yeah the zero A6M3 would cover the entire war… and the D3A and Kate torpedo bomber then all they would need is the betty and Japan would be covered… then people could add Ki-61 and Ki-84 and cover the army for the most part so the japs need 6 aircraft to really cover the vast majority of the war… not much really compared to other nations.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s