Early look at DCS’ new clouds system

In the recent AMA over at Mudspike, it was mentioned by Matt Wagner that DCS World would be getting an upgraded cloud system. Now we have our first look at those clouds with a very early preview. Let’s have a look!

New clouds!

New work in progress clouds from Eagle Dynamics

When DCS World 2.5 came out, Eagle Dynamics revised their cloud rendering technology to better support and fit in with the new rendering engine. But they also always maintained that they would be doing a more sophisticated cloud rendering system later on. We’re now starting to see the fruits of that labour.

Mentioned in the AMA was the ability to have different types of clouds and multiple layers. While IL-2, X-Plane, and others all have the ability to display a variety of cloud formations and multi-layers of clouds. DCS World has lagged behind though clearly Eagle Dynamics has been working hard.

The above image looks fantastic and gives us far more realistic looking clouds than the puffy fluffballs that DCS World does not. To be fair, DCS World’s current clouds are fine but they don’t offer a lot of variety nor do they feel particularly dense when you fly through them.

The current DCS World 2.5 clouds

The current cloud implementation was not built with VR in mind and apparently spinning clouds can be an issue. This new system is intended to correct that issue too.

What DCS is up against

Rendering clouds is a challenging thing for any flight sim. For years we’ve seen flat bitmaps approximating clouds but they were never really that convincing. These days with more layers and more images overlayed things can start to look fairly convincing.

Sims like IL-2 are using a fairly complex system to display clouds and they have great variety of appearance. Starting in version 3.01, IL-2 has been able to display multiple layers at a time. The team has further improved rendering giving clouds a smoother more realistic appearance and those changes are coming soon.

We’re also seeing full volumetric cloud systems take shape both with current sims and future ones. For X-Plane 11 we have xEnviro, a paid add-on, that improves the look of X-Plane using volumetric clouds (and other rendering improvements).

xEnviro volumetric cloud rendering

Of course, Microsoft Flight Simulator is looming in 2020 and it’s volumetric cloud rendering technology and weather injection appears to be a step ahead of anything else that we’ve seen (at least from a visual standpoint). With a huge number of possible layers and volumetric rendering, we’re looking at a significant jump in visuals for cloud rendering.


We don’t know when this new cloud rendering technology will be made available but the new system appears to be looking fairly well evolved now and hopefully that means we’ll be looking to 2020 for some improved visuals.


10 Comments Add yours

  1. Francesco Kasta says:

    Exciting news, clouds can make or break a sim and are too often underrated. Albeit far from perfect, I love how IL-2 renders them, it is fun getting in and out of those clusters, I especially appreciate the water droplets forming on the canopy. Can’t wait for the new clouds in DCS.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      Indeed! People have argued with me that DCS’ clouds are better than IL-2’s but I can’t say that I agree. IMHO, the new clouds we’re looking at here are similar to IL-2’s though perhaps a bit better.

      Looking forward to this upgrade!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. DA says:

    The big thing for me with clouds, aside from the eye candy is for others to see the same clouds… Nothing quite like trying to hide in a cloud only for the enemy to see you not in one…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      That’s an excellent point! IL-2’s clouds are synced but DCS doesn’t have that right now.


  3. Det says:

    Huge step in the right direction for DCS! Though I have to disagree with your comments on clouds in regards to the genre. The renders in FSX were amazing (w/addons) and P3D’s weather and cloud systems are simply stunning.

    P3D Examples:


    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      Admittedly I don’t have much experience with FSX and none with P3D. I’ll have a look!


  4. VK-94 says:

    There is an ETA that most people did not see I think. Eagle Dynamics made a comment on their Facebook page stating : “a new cloud rendering system will be coming to DCS World later this year.” This comment is the description of their picture showing the new clouds (used as the header of this post).

    Christmas can’t get soon enough !

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      I certainly didn’t see that. Interesting if they do manage to deliver before the end of the year. Time is short!


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