With 2019 nearly behind us and 2020 ahead, it’s time to do a review of some of the highlights of 2019 for fans of DCS World. There were new modules, new features, and lots to talk about this year as one of the longest running combat flight simulator series strove forward. Let’s talk about some big moments for DCS World in 2019.
New modules span 1930’s to 2010’s
DCS World had a bumper crop of new modules released over the course of the year with a wide range of aircraft being added that have historical in-service dates ranging from the late 1930’s to the early 2010’s and almost everything in between. 2019 has been a real showcase for just how flexible DCS World can be.
DCS World started the year with the launch of the Christen Eagle II aerobatics plane by Leatherneck Simulations. This quirky addition to the DCS World stable represented the first flyable civilian aircraft in the sim and saw a few updates through the year to sort out of a few of the type’s issues.
Coming second was RAZBAM’s MiG-19P which emerged into early access on March 1st to an initially cool reception. The jet had flight model and graphics issues that needed to be addressed early on in it’s release but were quickly addressed by the developers and by the mid part of the year became a fully realized early Cold War jet fighter. The addition of Baltic Dragon’s Crime and Punishment campaign helped put the cherry on top for the module.
Heatblur’s DCS: F-14B release into early access was one of the most eagerly anticipated modules for DCS World – perhaps in the series’ history. Tackling the legendary F-14 Tomcat was a third party developer team that had the reputation and the pedigree to bring something special to DCS World and they did, releasing the F-14B and providing a series of improvements and fixes over the year. Though the F-14 is not yet done (an F-14A, a pair of campaigns, an AI A-6 and an aircraft carrier are still expected), the launch was still one of the most complete in DCS World history and I was and remain very impressed with the DCS: F-14.
Eagle Dynamics launched two modules this year into early access with the DCS: Fw190A-8 “Anton” being the first to arrive. This DCS: WWII module was not part of their original WWII plan but it quickly became clear that the aircraft variant was needed to help fill out the DCS WWII experience.
The second of Eagle Dynamics releases this year was the DCS: F-16C Viper. The fourth gen multi-role fighter is one of the most well known, most exported, most well used combat jets of the fourth generation and it slides into the mix of modern jet fighters efortlessly. Despite some early launch issues, the module has moved forward gaining features and capabilities. 2020 should be the year that it comes into it’s own.
Octopus G released their DCS: I-16 module into DCS World. It’s perhaps not the most well known DCS module, but the aircraft has it’s own charms and a dedicated fan following. Although it lacks a historical place to be flown in, seems to be a lot of fun for the people who own it. Hopefully the I-16 will have a more compatible aircraft set and historical scenario for it to slide into in the future.
Another developer bringing their first full fidelity DCS World module to the sim this year was Deka Ironwork Simulations. Their impressively complete early access launch of DCS: JF-17 Thunder for DCS World has put both the aircraft it was based on and the developer on the map of sim pilots everywhere. I was very impressed with the JF-17 and consider it to be an ambitious start for the module. A unique aircraft for the series in origins if not in abilities, DCS: JF-17 looks to have a bright future ahead as its development goes into 2020.
Other aircraft saw serious updates over the course of the year. The P-51D and Spitfire IX both saw some revisions to their cockpits, new much more realistic sounds, and various other tweaks bringing the oldest of the DCS WWII aircraft up to the latest standards. Other aircraft saw new cockpits including the AV-8B and Mirage 2000C from RAZBAM and the A-10C from Eagle Dynamics.
Module updates aplenty
There were plenty of new features added to many new and existing modules this year too and it’s been great to see the evolution of many of these aircraft over the course of the year.
The M-2000C starts off this section as it saw an incredible overhaul of both the visuals and its systems. Many of those updates were influenced by none other than the French Air Force themselves who have been using the M-2000C module in DCS World in some capacity for training.
The AV-8B saw major progress towards being completed as well with the most recently added systems including the implementation of the JDAM bombs – originally planned but missing for most of the modules life so far. RAZBAM seems intent on making the AV-8B feature complete sometime in the coming year if all goes well.
Eagle Dynamics DCS: F/A-18C Hornet also saw a large list of updates including the addition of the Link 16, the AGM-88 HARM, AGM-84 Harpoon, AGM-154 JSOW, the Litening II targeting pod, LTWS and TWS tracking modes on the radar, and the list goes on. While there have been criticisms about the focus or lack of focus on the module, when tallying the list of new features that the jet received in the last year, I come to a rather different conclusion that the Hornet is emerging as one of the most capable jets in the series.
This year was a great year for the Hornet and I can see some of the last major updates on the module coming sometime in 2020 as Eagle Dynamics completes their work.
The DCS: MiG-21bis is one of the oldest third party modules in DCS World and authors Leatherneck Simulations have rolled out a number of updates to the module in the last few weeks with the intention to bring their 2.0 update to module owners. The goal is improved performance while also improving the visuals and making it more compatible with DCS World 2.5. More updates are expected to come to this module in 2020.
DCS: Persian Gulf also became a completed project in 2019 with the map taking a position within the community as a favoured map expansion. Persian Gulf offers the visuals and flexibility required for both single and multiplayer missions and it’s my go to map for a lot of DCS flying these days – I wrote my full thoughts on this back in April. Look to see Persian Gulf in a number of planned campaigns and expansions coming in 2020 including Bold Cheetah from Sedlo and Baltic Dragon’s campaign based on the novel Raven One.
Another module seeing a few tweaks and moving towards being considered finished was the AJS-37 Viggen by Heatblur. The updates to this module were far less dramatic than some of its hangarmates and a lot of that had to do with just how good the Viggen already was. Still, we’ve seen it’s cockpit improve, tweaks to the exterior have made the jet even better looking, and Heatblur has added new content including a new campaign just before the end of the year. 2020 should see the finalization of this fantastic module for DCS World.
Finally, DCS: Normandy also saw an update late this year. The update involves a major change to the textures, the use of SpeedTree technology to improve tree and vegetation rendering as well as adding more details and landmarks in some areas of the map.
There weren’t as many core world updates this year as I’d like to see but we are starting to see news about more in the new year and beyond as Eagle Dynamics begins to work on features that will ultimately support a dynamic campaign system, revise their weather and cloud rendering technology, and begin to add VOIP support directly into DCS World.
Eagle Dynamics did make some improvements to the engine rendering techniques which in some cases have improved VR performance but I know those advantages were not always felt. Again, these updates are often just part of a process that helps lay groundwork for the future and we know that Eagle Dynamics is aiming to see performance improvements when they move to the Vulkan API rendering system sometime in the future.
More in the new year!
2019 has been a busy year for DCS World adding plenty of new aircraft, refining old ones, and making some updates to core technologies and laying the groundwork for others. Third party developers made successful inaugural releases and others recommitted to finishing modules and making major progress forward. RAZBAM in particular has turned 180 degrees from their course at the start of the year when it comes to their reputation and they have made some major headway with their modules this year.
As always, there’s more to strive for and more to hope for in the next year but I think, when all things are considered, this was a good year for DCS World with plenty of new content and new modules to support a growing ecosystem and I have high hopes for 2020!
These are some of the highlights for me but I’m sure I’ve missed something too. What were your highlights for 2019 and what are you most excited about for 2020? Let me know in the comments!