Open Beta DCS World 2.5.6 officially arrived yesterday and it has come bearing a tremendous list of updates, changes, fixes, improvements, a relatively significant change to the graphics, and its share of bugs and issues. I’ve compiled a list of some of the most significant changes along with approximately 50 screenshots detailing some of the visual improvements to DCS World and a look around the community at the reaction. Let’s go!
DCS World 2.5.6 brings with it some GUI changes, a major update to the lighting system, much improved nighttime lighting, and so much more. Here are a few highlights from the change list:
- Added High Res cockpit pilot body with animations (DCS: M-2000C)
- Added Red Flag 16-2 Nevada Campaign free for all Viggen owners! (DCS: AJS-37 Viggen)
- Added Cage the Bear campaign COOP version, thank you Kaba! (DCS: F-14 Tomcat)
- Added EEGS Level 5 gunsight and improved EEGS Level 2 – WIP (Dogfight HUD will come a bit later) (DCS: F-16C Viper)
- Improved accuracy of gun funnel (DCS: F/A-18C Hornet)
- New light sources with increased visibility range, Higher accuracy and resolution of seabed to meet new water requirements, Improved sea shoreline, Fixed PAPI lights on airfields (DCS: Persian Gulf)
- Spring and Fall textures and trees updated (DCS: Normandy)
- Pegasus Bridge and Chateau de Falez were added (DCS: Normandy)
There are dozens more changes listed for this patch so be sure to check out the full patch notes if you want to read every single one of them.
Many of the lighting updates are prelude to further updates that Eagle Dynamics has talked about with making things like floodlights on airbases real light sources that light up their surroundings rather than just appear as painted on textures.
The changes to water visibility levels mean future features including air dropped torpedoes and operations against submarines will be more authentic looking and visually satisfying than before. It also means that things like shorelines in DCS: Normandy and DCS: Persian Gulf are absolutely beautiful. DCS: Caucasus appears to look about the same as before in my estimation although I can see it being updated as well.
There have been mass tweaks to how lights are displayed meaning nav lights can be seen from kilometers away, formation and cockpit lights give off a soft glow, and day and night scenes are much more visually rich. Afterburner effects have been updated too! A few situations are perhaps even a little too saturated depending on who you ask – but the overall effect is very impressive.
Persian Gulf compared: day, evening, night!
I thought one of the best ways to show off the changes was to compare DCS: Persian Gulf and the DCS: F-16C during the day, in the evening, and at night to show off the different visual effects. Let’s begin with daytime which feels just a little more saturated and a less less blown out than before. Everything feels a bit warmer as a result – not a bad thing on a humid 40C or 104F day over the Persian Gulf.
Moving to the evening, a time of day that DCS World 2.5 has looked visually stunning in for a long time now, and we see some brilliant colours splashed all over the place. It’s beautiful at sunset.
The thing I particularly notice here is that the cockpit isn’t quite as dark as it used to be. There’s more reflected or ambient light in the cockpit. The displays also shine a bit more but at the same time they remain readable and so the effect seems to add only a very slight amount of washing out with the reflected colour coming from the rest of the environment. It’s very convincing.
The lighting at dusk is perhaps a bit overdone and the result of still using environment textures to trick us into thinking its a light source. Still, it’s an improvement and another step on the road.
Then I turned it to nighttime. My first night flight over Dubai was flown with a full moon present and the moon now contributes significantly to the night time lighting. We also see lights from many kilometers away which makes the Dubai skyline come much more alive than we’ve ever seen it before. You can also spot the new afterburner effect on the DCS: F-16C which is much more elongated and apparently accurate to the real one. Superb!
A full moon really lights up the scene so I decided that the next thing I needed to look at was a halfmoon. That changed the scenery quite a lot with far less illumination from the sky and on the ground though with some reflected shine from the moon.
And then to a new moon with no illumination. Things are dark, very dark, except over Dubai which is brilliantly lit in a way that we’ve never seen before.
Of course these updated night textures also affect other urban areas in DCS World and they have a slightly more limited effect on the Caucasus map – but it’s Dubai and the surrounding city area that really shows off the big differences here.
I also did a little flying with the MiG-19, the M-2000C, and the Spitfire IXc over different maps and in different lighting situations. Have a look.
Most of the changes are dramatic improvements with better colouring, more lighting effects, and an overall even more convincing visual scene. There are some areas that I think Eagle Dynamics may still tweak. That one shot with the Spitfire’s propeller reflecting brightly might feel a little overdone. Overcast clouds are as luminous as ever – and in desperate need of the forthcoming cloud upgrade. There’s also some weird weather effects with the snow in one shot.
Most of the time, DCS World looks better than ever with this update but this is a major step forward. It’s also an open beta and that usually says to me that things will no doubt be tweaked and modified before this rolls out into the release builds. And that brings me to the next item.. on the list.
And there are some bugs
DCS World is nearly always a two steps forward and one step back kind of experience when you’re on the open beta release cycle as most people who fly multiplayer typically are. Even if you aren’t a multiplayer pilot but have to have the latest updates, DCS 2.5.6 may pose some problems.
Some users have reported issues with the patching process with the process sometimes failing. Then there have been issues with anti-virus software accidentally flagging DCS World’s new content as being potentially harmful (although I experienced no such issue). Still others have had problems getting DCS World to go beyond 10% loaded before it crashes. Still more are having problem with modules not working correctly in multiplayer and server owners are having trouble getting the new update to work properly without crashing their servers.
A post made on r/Hoggit suggested that anyone wanting to play their Persian Gulf at War or Georgia at War servers should roll back to the prior 2.5.5 open beta version instead. That post contains details on how to roll back. Another thread on the DCS World forums is examining some of the crash and server logs.
Although these are frustrating to some, it is also part of the open beta experience and we share equally in having the latest bleeding edge updates for DCS World as well as dealing with some of the problems introduced by those updates. Eagle Dynamics has had a history of having some buggy updates but they have also always brought fixes to bear and typically they have done so quickly when the problems were as far reaching as they are now. I have no doubt that we’ll see an update early next week to address the most critical issues first.
Until then, you can roll back or ride it out!
Videos around the community
DCS World’s YouTube community is busy providing some video content to show off the latest updates. Sometimes you need to see the updates in motion and so I recommend these three videos by different content creators to see just what’s changed and how everything looks in motion. Enjoy!