The forums are abuzz right now as people sense that development for IL-2: Battle of Bodenplatte, Flying Circus Vol 1, and Tank Crew – Clash at Prokhorovoka are all starting to enter the final stretch of development. To be clear, each of these is still at least a few months away from being done, but with development likely to wrap up by the end of this year or into early next year, people are starting to get excited about what is next. Here are some of my thoughts on how this might go in my latest editorial on the future of this series.
What’s next for the mainline product: IL-2: Great Battles
There’s a through-line for the 1CGS team from IL-2: Battle of Stalingrad to Battle of Bodenplatte and this is what I would call the mainline or the centerpiece of the series. Everything else is surrounding these titles and they are the primary focus for the 1CGS team.
One of the great things about the Great Battles Series is that they have done a few titles in a row focused on a specific battle. It has culminated in a really solid trilogy of Moscow to Stalingrad to Kuban. Fans of the Eastern Front and the WWII air war in general I’m sure appreciate just how strongly these three titles are now connected and how a player can enjoy a career that stretches from 1941 through to the fall of 1943 all on the Eastern Front.
Similarly, multiplayer battles can also strongly make use of that continuity both for big group organized events like the folks at the Air Combat Group or even more casual organized events that run scenario to scenario on a nightly basis.
If IL-2 goes on to do the Pacific theatre (or Korea) as their next stop after just the one title release for the Western Front, I’d be fine with that. That said, I think it’d be magnificent in my opinion if the series had a second Western Front outing as it would strongly build up that continuity providing an interesting and challenging set of scenarios from the channel war to the end of the air war.
Scenarios like Normandy and Italy have both been floated but I think its the Normandy scenario that is most compelling for me and this is why.
From Channel War to Normandy
The IL-2 series has always done tactical air war really well and one of the long fought but oft neglected air wars in the West is that of the channel war in the lead-up to the Normandy invasion. This would again feature the forces of the Luftwaffe defending (and sometimes attacking) against the cross channel attacks staged by the USAAF 9th Air Force and the RAF’s 2nd Tactical Air Force in the lead up to Operation Overlord.
From fighter sweeps to raids on radar stations, bridges, airbases, ammo dumps, and the like, there is significant activity (detailed in the magnificent 2nd Tactical Air Force, Vol. 1: Spartan to Normandy, June 1943 to June 1944 by by Christopher Shores and Chris Thomas) that a career mode and the appropriate map could tackle. Normandy and the D-Day raids have been done before but what about the lead-up to that scenario as well as the aftermath? The green hedgerows of Normandy in full bloom are well known but what about a bleaker winter and spring over that same scenario.
The reason why I get most excited, however, is the aircraft. The P-51B and early P-47D series with their razorback canopies would be enticing. So too would the Typhoon Mark IB. The Luftwaffe used small numbers of Me410 and Do217 aircraft during this time.
Then there’s an aircraft like the Mosquito which I think will be incredibly popular. Bombers like the B-25D could be finished or new ones like the A-20G (with its array of .50cal machine guns) or the Martin B-26 could be introduced. While Bodenplatte had a near wall to wall array of fighters and fighter bombers, a Normandy scenario could help fill in more attack and bomber aircraft (while not leaving fighter fans out in the rain either).
Not only do I think that this would be interesting for Normandy but it would fill in the gaps for Bodenplatte as well. Razorback P-47, P-51Bs and their RAF Mustang Mark III equivalents were were used well into 1945. The Typhoon was an incredible tactical strike force for 1944 and 1945. Though limited in presence, players have oft mentioned aircraft like the Me410 (used as a bomber, a bomber interceptor, and more) as an interesting type to fly.
The biggest problem? The new title would probably need to retread over some familiar territory to fill out the aircraft set. Would 1CGS add the Spitfire IXc to the mix? The same would be for the FW190 with a small window for the A-6 or A-7 variants or a late model Bf109G-6 that would be distinct from the several months earlier Bf109G-6 Collector Plane.
Development time would probably be very short for these fighters but I could be sold on that idea by offering up some more bomber/attack aircraft. A very short developer time on a Bf109G-6 (Late) could be poured into an interesting bomber like the Do217.
And the Pacific?
I would be overjoyed if the IL-2 series eventually returns to the Pacific. One of my first flight sims was Dynamix’s Aces of the Pacific. In my youth I played that sim to death (and probably annoyed everyone by talking about it – I have a blog now to solve that problem :)) and the great carrier battles to the war over New Guinea to the final push at Okinawa and on are all extremely interesting air battles.
There’s been speculation about if the series can do the Pacific, can it do carriers and torpedo aircraft, etc. I honestly think that the only thing holding us back are those Japanese aircraft resources. Getting the full details on the operation and technical details to do these aircraft justice, the way the German, Russian, American and British types have been done, is important. Would we lower our expectations or have 1CGS make some educated guessses? Maybe a little to make it work but not by too much.
What about Tank Crew and Flying Circus?
I have no idea if either of these titles will continue after their current inception, however, if Tank Crew and Flying Circus continue then I see some obvious options.
Tank Crew could make a jump to the Western Front and cover Normandy or the Battle of the Bulge and do so with what I assume would be great interest. Later versions of the M4 Sherman, the M10 Wolverine and Churchill tanks would be fascinating to see modeled. That connection to the air war at the same time would provide ample combined arms possibility.
Flying Circus has the most obvious path forward with another 10-aircraft from the Rise of Flight library perhaps going to 1917 and capturing Bloody April or another scenario from that year. I know I’d love to see the series reintroduce the Handley Page 0-400 and Gotha G.V. The series could also, for the first time, introduce Zeppelins into the mix.
There are of course a million ideas out there including the air wars over Italy, Malta, various points in the Pacific, and even a few have called for a return to the Eastern Front sometime.
At this point we don’t know what 1CGS is planning or if we’ll see a different effort from them in some way. Would consumers be interested in seeing one of the third party developers try and build a heavy bomber for example? Would people pay $60 for a fully positioned B-17 with career mode and a scripted single player campaign for example? It’d take 12-16 months to develop from what I’ve been told but maybe it’d be worth it. There are all kinds of wild possibilities for the series.
One thing I think the vast majority of us agree on: We want to see 1CGS succeed and we want to see the series live on. I sure do!
Feel free to share your latest thoughts and ideas in the comments.