Plenty of attention is on IL-2: Battle of Bodenplatte now with the latest patch coming out and bringing with it four aircraft and the new Rhineland map. But that shouldn’t overshadow another momentous occasion for IL-2’s World War I oriented Flying Circus Vol 1 as the Arras map has also arrived. Here are some of my first impressions of the new Arras map for Flying Circus!
A first look at Arras… and area
One of my first flights was in the S.E.5a over Arras and the surrounding country side. This is a key area on the map and definitely features some highlights.
The nearby airfield features all kinds of great looking WWI buildings, barracks, tents and a striped guardhouse. The models looks to have been all upgraded from older versions from Rise of Flight or perhaps they were built from the ground up. Either way, the details are a significant improvement and there are plenty of details and the texture quality is great!
Flying to Arras and surrounding area was also impressive. Textures on the map are equal (and nearly the same) as those for Rhineland though the area has few standout terrain features. The fields of France here at relatively flat and that’s represented by the map as well.
The technology used to create western European towns and cities for the Rhineland map was also used for Arras. The look is convincing and it provides strong visual queues and references for visual flying and navigation – absolutely essential for a WWI map. The map has its own look about it, despite drawing heavily on assets used for Rhineland and that becomes even more evident as I flew over Arras itself. Citadelle d’Arras is a standout landmark and it looks superb!
No-man’s land was something that we all wanted to know what the team might be able to do something about. This bleak and desolate looking area is adequate but it doesn’t push the needle very far forward from what we had before. The trenches remain painted on and don’t have much depth to them. I know at least some were hoping for more 3D trenches but that may just not have been a technical possibility.
That minor mark against is hardly a show stopper even just for this one area on the map. Dust clouds dominate the area from some vantage points, the occasional large explosion from artillery over the area show off the devastating effects of the war going on, and the shattered remains of defoliated trees look pretty good too. On the whole, it’s convincing, and throw in some aircraft above and plenty of active flak and artillery cannons on either side and this scene should start to come alive.
Small but useful
The rest of the map, outside of the highly detailed, urban areas, is filled with farmers fields, the odd farm house, smaller villages, and of course the airfields on either side of the front. This is all contained within an approximately 100x100km map area that is small but reasonably useful. Especially so with the speed of your typical World War I aircraft.
A bigger map would be better and having multiple seasons available would be too but for the moment this is what 1CGS was able to do for us and frankly I’m pretty happy with the result. It looks great, it has great utility in showcasing the spring 1918 time period, and I’m confident that the map will serve as a great backdrop for both online and offline scenarios, campaigns, and more. Bigger and better things may yet come in a hoped for Vol 2 and that will make this initial map a great starting place.
Flying Circus Vol 1 is pretty close to completion. There are still some outstanding items that I’d like to see tackled such as improved AI for WWI aircraft and there’s time between now and the next patch that should help bring everything together.
Flying WWI air combat is a very different experience than WWII. That 1CGS has been able to give us both, together, in a single package, is a very compelling reason to get into Flying Circus if you want to have that kind of simulator experience.
The Arras map helps tie together the ten released aircraft in ways that the placeholder maps just haven’t been able to do. A strong multiplayer community has built up around Flying Circus and I’m excited to see what they can do with this map. I am also excited to see what people like SYN_Haashashin can do to build out the single player experience for Flying Circus.
More to come on Flying Circus and the Arras map as I get more time to fly with it.