I’ve been thinking about doing a monthly update on the kinds of flight simming that I’m doing with a few screenshots and a brief run down of my experiences. A few have told me that what I write has inspired them to try something new and that they have often enjoyed the experience and I’m all about promoting the hobby and having fun with it as much as possible. I will start that series very soon.
What I wanted to kick off in the meantime is more of a collection of suggestions for things to do and watch that are flight simming related to keep you entertained. Many readers are now in countries that are locking down, banning or limiting social events, and many others are in countries like mine who are suggesting social distancing and cancelling events. In my case, my social life has essentially dried up in the last 48 hours. So what am I doing to pass the time? Let me share some of what I’m flying, watching, and otherwise enjoying in the meantime!
IL-2: Great Battles
If you missed the news, IL-2: Great Battles is offering 50%-75% special voucher sales on most items in the IL-2 store which makes stocking up on IL-2 content a great bang for the buck. I’ve been doing a mix of single and multiplayer piloting including:
- Started a new La-5FN Battle of Kuban campaign that gives me a mix of LaGG-3 and La-5FN flying in a single squadron. We’ve escorted IL-2’s and engaged bombers. It’s been fun so far!
- Been flying plenty of sorties on Combat Box, Wings of Liberty and Tactical Air War with my flying group. We’ve flown P-38’s in some great precision attacks on TAW and carpet bombed airbases from low altitude on Combat Box. I’ve also had a brilliantly fun high altitude bomber escort mission on Combat Box that deserves its own write-up. We flew a Yak-1/1B/7 fighter sweep on Wings of Liberty that ended up being very fun too!
- I’ve been taking the Ju52/3m out a bit recently. I haven’t flown it much and wanted to start up something interesting with that aircraft. So far it’s just been a shakeout to have fun flying it and that has been great but I want to do some more with it soon.
Patch 2.5.6 came with some great visuals, however, the follow-up patch reduced the performance of the sim significantly for me. Right now I’m waiting for the next follow up patch before being able to resume my regular flying but I have been doing a bit of flying anyways including the following:
- F-16C doing some basic CAP missions. This hasn’t gone well under 2.5.6 because cockpit performance is extremely low (FPS drops are significant right now) but the F-16C itself has become one of my favourites and I look forward to returning to it soon.
- The AV-8B I haven’t flown in months but flying it again was like putting on a pair of ice skates as I remembered everything I needed to do for basic CAS practice. Guns and rockets on target!
- Back fly the F-15C after a very long time away in honour of the free weekend. Been flying some of the included Flaming Cliffs 3 scenarios (all of which seem to work better now than the last time I went up in the F-15C soon after 2.5 released). It may not have a click-pit but it’s still a great aircraft to fly and learn in.
I bought Cities: Skylines over a year ago and have fallen in love with this city simulator. Creating a city in this game is a bit like painting on a canvas except that canvas is a real time simulation of a city with each individual citizen modeled and going about their lives. They drive cars, ride bikes, walk around, take transit, and otherwise go about things that you’d expect people to do in a town or city.
The base game gives you a lot to work with but the DLC packs help expand the experience with deeper layers to things like entertainment, industry, and transit. I’ve slowly been buying up the DLC as sales come along (making most of them cheaper than buying lunch) and having a great time.
I haven’t taken any screenshots of my current work in progress city but I really should.
Cities: Skylines is available on Steam.
House of the Dying Sun
A friend gifted me House of the Dying Sun on Steam by Marauder Interactive. Until I was gifted it, I had never heard of the space sim but after a few minutes of playing it I quickly got sucked into the fun.
Not as deep as Star Citizen or Elite: Dangerous, House of the Dying Sun instead focuses on quick, fun and fast paced gameplay and it works really well if you only have time for 10-15 minute gaming sessions. Most missions only last a few minutes at the most before the enemy’s Flagship shows up and chases you away (or obliterates you) so you feel the constant pressure of needing to get in, get the job done and get out.
The space sim physics feel good, the interface is reasonably intuitive, it is definitely inspired by Ron Moore’s Battlestar Galactic in feel, and it has VR/TrackIR support. Graphics look great although they don’t chase the extreme detail that you see with Star Citizen but rather it has a stylized look that works nicely. It also immediately picking up my VIRPIL WarBRD and MongoosT-50 setup – though I did have to bind the controls. It’s great fun and worth a look! It’s available on Steam.
Train Sim World
Although flight simulation is my true joy, since I was a young my father helped get me into trains as well and while few train simulators over the last several years have ever captured my attention, Train Sim World has. With the ability to walk around the train as well as get in and drive it plus the Unreal engine graphics that drives this, I think it looks fun. I’m going to be checking it out and with a Steam sale on for another few hours… it’s reasonably affordable.
I’ve been watching plenty of media and the first one I want to share is an absolutely spectacular 24 minute look at the Battle of Midway. It doesn’t feel nearly as long as the narration and graphics are excellent and it goes overall of the critical moments of the battle without lingering too long or resorting to any sort of over hyped explanations. It’s extremely enjoyable and its narrated by Craig Symonds, Distinguished Visiting Ernest J. King Professor of Maritime History for the academic years 2017-2019 at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island.
I’m also going to rewatch the Battle of Britain yet again. Filmed in 1969 featuring an all-star cast and an impressive budget for the time, Battle of Britain is my favourite air combat flying movie. Although other movies have surpassed it in budget and effects, Battle of Britain just gets the details right by doing justice to the lead up and execution of the battle. Many of the scenes are drawn from actual events or combine a couple of events together to give us a summary. And the flying sequences for 1969 are extremely good.
I also think I’m going to watch the Spitfire documentary from 2018. I’ve heard good things and I’ve been meaning to watch it for a while now. The trailer is brilliant!
What are you doing?
What’s what I’ve been watching, flying and playing recently but I’m also interested to hear from everyone out there. What are you doing to pass the time? Have you tried out a new aircraft? New flight sim? Started a new TV series? Watched a documentary? Love to hear from everyone in the comments.
As I’ve taken to saying recently, I hope everyone is safe and healthy out there and wishing a quick recovery for everyone affected by the current situation.