Command the seas and the skies with Drydock Dreams Games’ Task Force Admiral

With the Stormbirds blog I tend to focus very specifically on flight simulation and with a bit of a specialization on the combat flight simulators. For this article, I go off topic a bit and talk about Task Force Admiral Vol 1 which is not explicitly a flight simulation title. However, as an emerging title that is simulating the carrier battles of the Pacific from 1941 through to 1943, I feel it is at least adjacent to flight simulation and features many of the iconic aircraft of the war.

I thought it’d be fun to have a look at especially for the many readers out there who I know really want some more Pacific theatre based simulation. The Wildcat, Zero, Devastator, and Kate are just some of the aircraft that Drydock Dreams Games is simulating as part of their “command simulation” experience along with the fleets of the American and Japanese navies. The developers were keen to share some materials with me for this overview (thank you Drydock Dreams Games) so this article will contain at least some exclusive content! Let’s have a look at this new title in development!

What is a command simulation?

If commanding entire fleets and directing the operations of a major battle is more your thing, Task Force Admiral aims to fill that niche in a way that I haven’t seen in quite a while. This is a bigger picture look at simulation where the player is in control of a carrier task force during the intense carrier battles from 1941 through to 1943. It’s this time period that saw the most pitched and critical battles of the Pacific war and the biggest carrier battles in history.

The title has you in overall control of a U.S. Navy carrier taskforce and very explicitly in control of carrier operations. Everything happens in real time although it appears to favour a more carefully thought out approach rather than snap decision making and rapid clicking of some other titles in the real time strategy genre. It’s still very much a real time title which developers feel is the best way to represent everything that happened while opening up some fun gameplay options.

The GUI includes a plotting board which starts off in this room but then as you zoom in goes from plots to 3D rendered ships, weather, islands and ocean.

The developers are taking a very serious track with building this title as they aim to realistically simulate sea states, weather, sea handling of various ships, armor and hull penetration from enemy fire, as well as the more command oriented tasks such as the time it takes to schedule, set, and launch aircraft.

The launching of aircraft is a piece that the team is currently working on with realistic deck handling from the ground crew to move aircraft into position for takeoff, turn the carrier into the wind, and then launch missions. Even the elevators are functional with aircraft being carried into the depths of the carrier.

Watch a SDB Dauntless take the deck elevator down into the carrier.

The interface appears to be something very cool as well. Ship course plot charts and graphs zoom in to reveal detailed 3D ships, animated water textures, and volumetric clouds. The graphics are sharp although seemingly with enough emphasis on speed to allow for large scale battles.

The battles are handled through some detailed planning as well as the ability to set things like defensive doctrines for your ship fleets when they come under air attack and detailed planning for things like combat air patrols, scouting missions, and full up strikes against the enemy fleet (once they are spotted).

And there are large scale battles planned as the series has already shown large flights of aircraft such as TBD Devastators going up against defending A6M2 Zeros. One could easily mistake this for a flight simulation though the objective for the player is definitely on the larger scale. Take the air operations together with carrier and task force handling and you have what looks to be a very comprehensive naval simulator.

An A6M2-21 Zero up against the hapless TBD Devastator

Another feature that the developers have listed is getting reports from your frontline commanders. More than just faceless entities, Drydock has created artwork based on famous commanders of the war and intend to bring some depth and character to their title. Very cool!

Focused development on a big subject

Drydock Dreams Games have wisely decided to focus their development efforts and offer up a title that has quite a lot of core gameplay built into it but with obvious potential to expand their efforts. Perhaps more to the point, Drydock has decided that volume 1 is focused entirely on single player gameplay and explicitly on the U.S. Navy’s viewpoint of these carrier battles.

A trio of TBD Devastators visit a burning Wake Island. Note the clouds, the water, and the raging fires in the distance.

There is no campaign or multiplayer planned for volume 1 but that doesn’t mean that there won’t be a lot of content as they intend to bring 30 single player scenarios to the table with both scripted and random elements thrown in – an obvious attempt to ensure that you can replay scenarios and get different outcomes.

Then there is the scope of the model creation. How does 91 ship classes or 42 aircraft types sound? Then there’s that accurate weather system, day/night cycle, and battle planning systems that the team has taken great pains to build as an accurate and detailed simulation of carrier operations. You can even do some customization of the squadron emblems via the editor.

The editor will also be provided to let you create your own scenarios and I can easily see a community building up around sharing new possible situations of a given situation. With the strategy element built in, there are lots of what-if scenarios that could be proposed – especially if you’re a real fan of carrier operations.

The list of ships is very impressive as is the list of aircraft. Drydock Dreams Games could have included the Wildcat, Dauntless, Avenger, Devastator, Zero, Val, and Kate and then called it a day. Instead, there are 24 types for the Allies that include the above plus types like the B-17E, A-20, B-25B, P-39D, OS2U Kingfisher, and Hudson. The Japanese line-up includes aircraft such as the G3M Nell, G4M Betty, D4Y1-C Judy, E7K2 Type 94 and the H8K1 Emily. It’s a full slate of aircraft and aircraft types!

I wanted to close out this section with a video that the developers included in their media package to me which showed an SDB Dauntless performing an attack on a Japanese carrier. It’s an iconic scene of the Pacific war and particularly of the battle of Midway. It appears replicated here in a visual format that is dripping with authenticity (Hollywood producers, take note!) and showcasing some of the physics and detailed simulation work that the developers have put into sequences.

It’s this 46 second sequence more than any other that has me really interested and that shows off a key moment in the gameplay loop that will exist for this title.

When is it coming out and what happens from there?

Based on Drydock Dreams Games FAQ for the title, there is no release date but the developers are keen to release once they feel like they have met their gameplay objectives. They want to make sure that the experience is tight and that everything works and it is going to be particularly important for a title such as this and from an independent developer that is aiming to make a name for themselves. Drydock has hesitated to give any estimates on how long it will take to complete which is fine with me and in-fact a laudable goal.

With Vol 1 focused on core mechanics and gameplay along with generating an absolutely massive list of ships and aircraft to support it it seems that Drydock games has an obvious trajectory and that a follow-up volume or volumes could aim to explore. The rest of the Pacific war features such as multiplayer and a Japanese carrier fleet operations are natural areas of expansion that the title could go in. The Vol 1 title suggests that potential.

If you’re interested in learning more, why not hop over to their website or check out the trailer that introduces the title.

You can also give them a follow on Twitter where they are frequently posting development updates on technologies and graphics that they are working on or refining such as these tweets that they have posted regularly.

I hope you enjoyed this diversion from the regular flight simulation content that I put here on Stormbirds.blog. I am hoping to occasionally post more about Task Force Admiral and the developers and I have even talked about doing a Community Q&A. Until then!

Screenshots

11 Comments Add yours

  1. HomeSlice says:

    I can’t believe it. I just finished reading the book Shattered Sword(great book btw) about the Battle of Midway with a Japanese focus(Kido Butai), and thought this would make for a great game! Being the fleet commander and making decisions of search patterns and your strike force. Do I launch all my planes or some? Was that sighting accurate? Are those all the carriers or could there be more??
    This is definitely on my radar(pun intended!) Thanks for the great write up!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      Great timing indeed! I haven’t read that book but I’ve heard great things from it. Would you recommend?

      Have had some great positive feedback from this article so far. Will keep an eye on what’s going on with Drydock Dreams Games and Task Force Admiral and do some more updates over time!

      Like

      1. HOMESLICE says:

        I would highly recommend Shattered Sword if you have any interest in the Battle of Midway, or even just Japanese Navy in WW2. Actually I read the book some years back and just recently I “re-read” it as an audio book. I think I got more out of the audio book. Really well done. Goes into a lot of detail and covers the battle from the Japanese side. After reading it was wondering what book would do such a good job from the American side.

        I checked out Drydock Dreams Games website and the game does look really promising! Looking forward to future updates.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. Hello Homeslice!

      Thanks for the kind words, much appreciated 🙂
      Regarding the US side of things and with the same kind of effortless reading as Shattered Sword proposes, I certainly advise you to get John Lundstrom’s fascinating Black Shoe Carrier Admiral. This should quench your thirst, and along with Shattered Sword it is one of our main sources of inspiration 🙂
      There’s a passage about it in the interview I gave to Rock Paper Shotgun.
      https://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2020/02/14/the-flare-path-talks-task-force-admiral/

      If you’re into fighter planes (which is, technically, the reason why most of you are reading Stormbirds anyway!) don’t hesitate to get the two volumes of The First Team, by the same author, which focuses more specifically on the F4F squadrons.

      Cheers! And take care!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Michael Dwyer says:

    I have to agree, it looks pretty good. I plan to keep track of this game and see how it goes.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      It does look good! I’ve had good feedback so I will be keeping tabs on development and make some updates over time.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Imac says:

    Wow, looks super impressive

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Chuck Owl says:

    Seems like an incredibly ambitious project. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      For sure! I will definitely be making a few posts about them as time goes on.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Vorenus81 says:

    Thanks for bringing it up. I have been watching the development of this game since they announced it and I’m really looking forward to it. For those who don’t have the time to read such a long (albeit great) books as Shattered Sword I can recommend Mark Stille’s Osprey series books. They offer great introduction into the topic.
    P.S. The greatest carrier battle was in fact in 1944 – The Battle of the Philippine Sea.

    Liked by 2 people

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