First impressions of the DCS: Spitfire IXc and Normandy map

I thought it was long past time to jump in and check out DCS WWII and I decided that I would do that by purchasing the Spitfire IXc, the Normandy map, and the WWII Asset pack to get myself started. Oh… and the Operation Epsom Campaign as well. I talk a little about why I’m jumping in these now and what my initial impressions are.

2020 is looking like a good year for DCS WWII

This year looks like it might be the year that DCS WWII starts to really feel like something that has become built-out as a full product within DCS World. I’ve always been left with the feeling that DCS WWII has taken kind of a back seat and that it just didn’t have the variety or diversity to be more than a demonstration of what was possible. This year I think that is going to change.

The DCS WWII Asset Pack is looking more complete now and with the details released recently showing off more ships, vehicles, and aircraft, I think we’ll start to see the kind of diversity that the WWII experience needs to be an entertaining one.

The addition of the Fw190A-8 also makes the DCS WWII experience more realistic with the Normandy era appropriate Focke Wulf being far better to fly and fight than the long nose D-9 variant (that came into regular use months after the Normandy campaign concluded). We still need a Bf109G-6 Late to help add to the accuracy of the experience – but it’s a very good start.

With a new map, the Mosquito FB Mk.VI and P-47D Thunderbolt coming soon, I think we’ll also see some wider variety of player experiences. And then there is the new damage model that is due this year as well which should make things far better when it comes to the aerial combat that DCS WWII represents.

All of these are going to make the experience considerably better than we’ve seen so far and now feels like a pretty good time to check it out.

Sale pricing

The other issue I’ve had with the DCS WWII experience is bang for the buck. While DCS World aircraft are modeled at a higher level of detail, I still want to be able to fly them on a map and in scenarios that make these aircraft make sense.

So, for any DCS World WWII module to make sense, it kind of has to be surrounded by assets and objects that make me feel like I’m there. That means that any DCS WWII purchase right now needs DCS Normandy, the DCS WWII asset pack, and at least one aircraft. With the sale (ending tonight) that’s been going on over the holidays, I was able to pick up all of the above plus the Epsom Campaign for $59.97 USD. That’s better value and it starts to make dipping my toes into this a lot easier.

Though this sale is set to be over in a matter of hours, another will be along before long.

First impressions of the Spitfire

Having flown Spitfire’s in simulations since Dynamix’s Aces Over Europe through to IL-2: Ace Expansion Pack and IL-2: Great Battles, I’ve put a lot of stick time on the Spitfire and the Mark IX version in particular so I feel a great deal of familiarity with this aircraft.

That helped considerably with take-off, flying around, and my first air combat encounter in the DCS version. Unlike some other DCS World modules that I’ve jumped into in the last couple of years, I know where almost everything is in the Spitfire already and coming fresh off some IL-2: Great Battles flying in the Spitfire IXe there last night, jumping into this today was easy.

I’ll keep comparisons with other Spitfire’s to myself right now as I want more stick time with this version. I, however, will say that the thing I needed to immediately do was tone down the stick sensitivity curves – something I tend not to need to do with the hardware setup I have right now. Once sufficiently tuned, however, I was flying the Spitfire and enjoying myself thoroughly.

The aircraft is beautifully detailed and, thanks to the recent sound update, sounds fantastic. There’s nuances to the sound that I’ve not heard anywhere else. The flaps for example have their own unique sounds. I guess it pays to have direct access to The Fighter Collection aircraft at Duxford.

I’ve taken the Spitfire out in my first dogfights and found the aircraft to fly predictably and the tactics that I was using the other night in IL-2 applied to this version of the fighter as well. Two Bf109K-4’s shot down by the end of the fight and a lot of fun had!

First landing in the DCS: Spitfire IXc!

Landings were the same thing as I had prepared myself to deal with a particularly troublesome aircraft on the ground, however, even that seemed to feel very familiar with the usual dancing on the rudder to make sure that the aircraft didn’t ground loop. So far I haven’t ground looped it but I know that it’s only a matter of time before I do… either accidentally or because I want to check out the handling.

I’ll leave it at that for now but I can say without a doubt that DCS’ version of the Spitfire IXc is a beautiful aircraft and I’m glad I bought it.

A quick look at Normandy

Caen castle

My only flights over Normandy have so far been limited to areas along the coast including the Gold and Juno beach areas from the D-Day invasion as well as a quick jaunt over to Le Havre and down to Caen. This is yet another case where I’ve spent so much time flying over the old IL-2 Normandy map that I immediately knew my way around and so flying over this version has been a pure joy to see the advances in details that we have now over that now decade plus old map.

Just a few weeks ago, Eagle Dynamics and third party developer Yugra Media made big updates to this map. Not having experienced that version of the map I can’t really compare what the old and new experiences are. I heard that there were performance issues and the trees and vegetation were not at the same level as some other DCS World maps.

It sounds like all of that is in the past. DCS Normandy didn’t skip a beat on my system and the trees, shrubs, and grasses all look just as good as other DCS World maps. Caen castle looked beautiful, the beach areas looked decent, and the coastal cliffs (apparently given a facelift) look pretty convincing to me.

The airbases I checked out also looked beautifully detailed with their own hangars and unique configurations. The ‘Marston’ matting looks great and the base details really capture the sandy soil that I’ve read about in so many books.

I also love the little details like the ancient stone bridges, farms and fields that I was flying over. There’s considerable detail here that befits a scenario set in the skies over Normandy.

I think DCS: Normandy is a great map with lots of details that I’ve spotted so far and I look forward to flying over more of the map as time goes on. My opinion could of course change after some time but I think that the facelift that was performed on this map seems to have worked. More sightseeing trips on this map planned!

Overall impressions

I had a little trepidation going in and I still worry a bit about how much depth DCS WWII is going to have but I’ve come away understanding why many are fans of this part of the simulation and why there is a dedicated following here. DCS Normandy is beautifully detailed, the DCS Spitfire IX has plenty of depth and detail within the aircraft module itself.

DCS Normandy as a scenario needs more aircraft like the Mosquito, the Thunderbolt, and more. How about a P-38J and Bf109G-6? Or the A-20G AI aircraft made flyable? There’s plenty of room to grow.

All that remains is for Eagle Dynamics to remain focused on the 1944 time period producing more aircraft and assets that fit into the scenario. Every release that stays focused here makes every previous and future release more appealing and so I hope they can continue to execute that vision in 2020 and beyond. Look forward to digging more into this!

Screenshots

Plenty of DCS Normandy and DCS Spitfire IXc screenshots to follow.

14 Comments Add yours

  1. CanadaOne says:

    Good review. Thank you.

    I can attest that before the update, the Normandy map was (IMHO) a dog’s breakfast. I bought it and returned it the same day. But I bought it recently after the update and I think it’s very nice and it runs well.

    I’ll buy the Spitfire the next time it’s on sale.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      Great to hear! Which WWII module(s) do you have right now?

      Like

      1. CanadaOne says:

        I went a bit nuts on the last sale and picked up a bunch of stuff. In total I have:

        Low fidelity: A-10A, F-15c, Su-27. High fidelity: P-51, F-86, F-5E, Harrier, Yak-52, Huey. Maps: Normandy, Nevada, Persian Gulf. Also have WWII Assets and the Combined Arms module.

        Winter in Canada, you want to have a lot of stuff to fly.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. ShamrockOneFive says:

        That’s awesome! I have some but not all of those.

        Also, winter in Canada is something I understand very well! 🇨🇦 ❄️

        Like

  2. BlueHeron says:

    I’m glad to hear the updates were effective. I was getting really frustrated with the performance of the Normandy map, so I look forward to giving it another shot.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      Would love to hear how your experience is now after the update. I can’t compare so I’m interested to hear other experiences too!

      Seems like a great step forward!

      Like

  3. Mischiew Rithe says:

    Same reaction as Canadaone and BlueHeron, it was hard to get decent performances (even more so with a few airplanes around), but my PC isn’t recent.

    But then I’ll have to test again, I was completely unaware they improved the map recently!

    Congrats on the doughnut-less landings, that and taxiing are not the easiest tasks for many people 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Blue 5 says:

    Shamrock, did you have take-off assist (or whatever it’s called) on….🤪

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      Not intentionally so. I’ll have to check it out. This is in special settings yeah?

      Like

  5. Mischiew Rithe says:

    Well, I just tested the updated Normandy map and it’s simple, I can’t use that map anymore, even without any other plane around. The performances are much worse than before, I get 30 FPS in the best case, and it freezes for several seconds everytime I look in a new direction.

    This is strictly for high-end PCs now.

    The Caucasus and Nevada are still perfectly fine (except the famous spot halfway along the coast in Caucasus where the framerate drops quite a lot). So I’ll stick to those until I get a chance to get a top-notch system again (mine isn’t that bad though).

    Like

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      That sucks. I’ve heard from many that performance is up for them on this map.

      I assume you tried shorter pre load radius and other performance tweaks? We’re you also having difficulty with the new A-10C cockpit?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Mischiew Rithe says:

        I tried a few things, but apart from using low-res textures it’s not helping much.

        The A-10C cockpit seems to slow the rendering down a bit too but as long as it’s the Caucasus or the Nevada map, it’s OK, though perhaps not as responsive as I’d like.

        More VRAM and NVMe seems in order 😉 Do you have an RTX card?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. ShamrockOneFive says:

        Not yet. Just over a year ago I bought a GTX 1070ti that serves me well. A CPU and RAM update are probably coming next as the system is approaching 5 years old. I tend to make them last 5-6 years or more on occasion.

        It runs extremely well right now though. 16GB of RAM and the 1070ti really improved my performance.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Eviscerador says:

    I’ve been flying the Normandy map almost non stop to the point I seldom fly modern planes anymore since it was updated. The visual improvement is amazing, not only the lighting, textures and new zones but specially the speed trees.

    When you have a map which mainly consists in small farm patches flanked by tree rows the difference in visuals is amazing. Also, airfields and specially the new grass airfields look amazing with all the added scenery and high res textures. Finally, instead of a big plain the map now reflects the small hills and valleys in several parts of the terrain. Sure it is not the Caucasus or Iran ranges, but it gives the map more of a realistic feeling.

    Now add this to the new mustang model released a few months ago, the new mustang sounds and two great campaigns by Bunyap and Reflected and you have the best WW2 experience ever both visually and in simulation.

    Of course there are still nuances. WW2 assets are lacking variety, AI flight model and behaviour is a bit messy (all they do is looping) and the damage model is still WIP. AI not being affected by clouds is also a pain (they are working on it when they release the new synced clouds)

    But the immersion while flying operation Charnwood campaign is amazing. The flak puffs, the radio chatter, the mission objectives (you have objectives but completing it is not necessary, all you have to do is go out, try your best and come back to fly another day) and the beautiful, beautiful new map makes you forget about the bad things and just enjoy.

    Performance wise I haven’t noticed much difference, but my rig is on the high end of the scope, with a brand new RTX 2070. It runs smoothly at top settings.

    I haven’t flown the BoB game, but I’ve been watching some videos, specially Magz P38 campaign and to be honest DCS looks better and feels a lot more “simmy”. On the other hand BoB still looks amazing (specially clouds) and you have a lot more variety, albeit with reduced realism for better price.

    I guess if you are not into DCS and want to play warbirds BoB is the way to go, but if you already invested heavily in DCS and are used to study sim levels, why not?

    Liked by 1 person

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