I said at the beginning of the year that I wanted to participate in more multiplayer experiences and I wanted to write more about the multiplayer scene for IL-2 and DCS World. I’ve started doing that more and more and I wanted to bring a little more of that gameplay experience to the blog with my first update post 4.001 launch with some IL-2: Battle of Bodenplatte focused multiplayer. I hope you enjoy some of the recaps and maybe even recognize your own aircraft here too.
Mission 1: Spitfire fighter-bomber sweep
With the release of 4.001, we’ve seen more people playing multiplayer than I’ve typically seen and a lot of them seem to be filling one of the newer entrants to the IL-2 multiplayer line-up: Combat Box. This server is focused on the late war western front aircraft set (allowing it to contrast to the east front focused Wings of Liberty or KOTA which is offering something in between).
Our first mission of the night was with a quartet of Spitfire Mark IXe’s (featuring Requiem, busdriver, and Stunner) armed with a single 500lb bomb and a pair of RP-3 rockets. No 74 squadron RAF was the only squadron to use these RP-3 rockets in combat and they were a rare sight for Spitfire’s during the war and in multiplayer servers. We were determined to use them to good effect… and we did!
We flew in a loose combat spread on our way to the target in-case we were bounced. No fighter opposition showed up at the start of our mission and so we proceeded to the target area unimpeded.
We attacked almost immediately once at the target area. On the menu were bunkers, vehicles, and armor and we quickly spread ourselves out in intervals to avoid damaging each other with bomb blasts.
I damaged but didn’t take out the bunkers that I was targeting in my run.
With both rockets and bombs expended I switched to guns destroying a AAA battery and several trucks. Meanwhile, my fellow Spitfire pilots plus a couple of Mustang’s that showed up poured more fire into the target zone destroying just about everything.
We got word that enemy aircraft were attacking the nearby airfield target so, with our bombs and rockets expended, we switched to the fighter role and made our way to the target zone.
We setup a combat air patrol (CAP) around the zone hunting for enemy aircraft.
One of our flight was bounced by a Bf109 that came out of nowhere and disappeared just as quickly. Down to three we continued to hunt for enemy aircraft (including the Bf109!).
Flying back and forth we were having trouble spotting anything though we kept receiving reports that they were out there. Sure enough a low level fight with plenty of tracers alerted us to the presence of a Bf109 (I’m still not sure if this was the same one).
The three of us moved in on the combat area and our flight leader, Requiem from the Air Combat Tutorial Library, went to full throttle and bore in at high speed on the low but fast Bf109.
A long range shot hit the Bf109 causing some damage before he shot skyward – with us close on his tail!
A few more hits and something large went flying past my aircraft. It was his canopy. He was bailing out and we were breaking off to hunt for more targets.
The rest of the mission was rather uneventful and the three remaining Spitfire’s returned to base.
Mission 2: Jet fuel depot strike
Combat Box often has a target on the map which is a jet fuel depot. The way that Combat Box has “balanced” the Me262 on the server is to provide a strategic target that either provides the Blue team with the occasional Me262 jet fighter. This starts to provide aircraft, via a clever script, to a designated base. That is, unless the depot is taken out at which point new aircraft dry up.
We flew low to the target. Very low.
We used the man-made channels and lakes as our navigational references which worked reasonably well. Except that we overshot the target zone by several kilometers before we realized what had actually happened.
Turning back on to target and successfully evading the enemy thanks to our low level flying, we passed some enemy AAA guns that at first did not seem to react to our presence.
That was about to change.
Suddenly a hail of AAA fire was being lobbed in our direction as the target zone woke up. AAA fire can be particularly intense at some of these target areas and this one was no joke. Bursts of heavy flak and lighter AAA fire was sent in all directions.
Our initial attack on the facility went well. Bombs were dropped, the factor facility was hit, and all seemed well.
But then the first of several calamities hit as one of our P-38 flight crashed to the ground in the target area. And then the second in our flight was hit and it was just me.
I probably should have turned for home but I wanted revenge on at least one AAA gun that was causing us so much trouble. So I wheeled around for another pass. That was my undoing.
My guns hit the target and took out the AAA battery but not before a devastating volley of shots hit my P-38 causing a fire on the right engine, wounding my pilot, and causing me to crash into the already destroyed gun battery.
Mission 3: Mixed group flight (A-20B and P-47D-28)
Still flying with many of the same pilots, we were joined spontaneously by other people on the server asking us if they could join us.
I’ve often remarked at how spontaneous team-up’s can happen in IL-2 servers and this absolutely happened here with a couple of P-47’s joining us on the strike mission. That was in addition to some other pilots who offered to fly escort to the target zone and provide cover. All told there were probably 8-9 players coordinating on either the same target or multiple targets in the same zone.
For this mission we were trying out the new RAF skin for the A-20B – meant to support the single player campaign for IL-2: Battle of Bodenplatte and very appropriate for this late war scenario (even if the real A-20’s operating in this area were the slightly modified A-20C).
With the release of a green flare, we were on our way in a big formation. Again flying at low altitude we headed to target. Though this is a great way to avoid enemy fighter patrols looking for higher flying targets, we faced another hazard – the hills.
Though some have said that the Rhineland map is too flat… I encourage them to fly in the more eastern sections of the map where rolling hills, ravines, and valleys are all very much part of the landscape.
We lost one of our flight to the hills before the entire group decided to add a few hundred feet to our flight and avoid some of the terrain undulations that we were trying to avoid.
Eventually we spotted the target area and began the attack. Our payload was 20 FAB-100 bombs (no British/American bombs are available on the A-20B) which we intended to carpet bomb the target zone with.
I decided to release bombs in pairs targeting two bunkers with some success. The rest of our flight was here to help too – strafing and bombing targets arranged in the valley. The map told us this was a fighter base but it looked more like some sort of forward operations base for ground vehicles.
After several minutes of sustained attack, the target zone was destroyed and we were on our way home.
It was a great collaboration and even if we lost aircraft on the way and at target, it was still a fruitful mission with the target being destroyed and all of us having a lot of fun flying together.
Mission 4: A second A-20 flight
Our final mission of the night was another A-20 flight from a new base and directed at a more deeply located target inside enemy lines.
With fewer aircraft available this time and limited fighter cover, we headed on into the target area anyways hoping to avoid enemy fighter patrols. We almost succeeded.
Diving down from higher altitude, a Bf109G-14 spotted our trio of A-20’s and began to launch boom and zoom attacks. Using the A-20’s to full ability, we decided to put up a fight and began a loose version of the Lufbery circle attempting to put some .50cal rounds on our foe.
The Bf109 instead managed to get a few shots into us. Two of our flight, including my A-20, were badly damaged with fuel leaks, the rudder and part of an elevator control shot away, we continued our defensive maneuvering until a Tempest came to chase away the Bf109.
I firmly believe that our aggressive defensive maneuvering prevented the Bf109 from being able to pick us all off and put him in a more precarious situation – when enemy fighters did arrive he wisely made a break for it.
Now damaged and with bombs ditched, I attempted to navigate the flight home with only partial success. Aiming for a base located to the south I later discovered that we were not at all where I thought we were and ended up at a more northerly base.
Despite the battle damage and the intense combat, we all managed to return to base without losing any aircraft.
Missions like these aren’t satisfying because we blasted a target but because we came up against our multiplayer opponents and prevailed through survival. Bringing home a damaged aircraft is an challenging experience and just one of the many ways that an IL-2 multiplayer mission can end.
I want to thank everyone who flew with us on Combat Box (friends and foes in multiplayer combat alike). It was great fun and a real pleasure.
This is what multiplayer can be about
Though there are plenty of opportunities for players to fly solo in IL-2 multiplayer, flying together either as an organized squadron or through loose association alike can be very rewarding.
Players offering to join your flight on the chat offering even more spontaneous opportunities to fly together are wonderful additions to the IL-2 multiplayer experience. It’s not something that the game developers can really build into the product – it’s something that happens as part of the community of virtual pilots that we exist in.
There are some great folks out there to fly with. Again, thank you all!