Flight sims, gaming and media to keep you entertained

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.

DCS World

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.

Cities: Skylines

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.

Media

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.

24 Comments Add yours

  1. Splash says:

    I’ve been flying the Museum Relic campaign until mission 8.2, Memory of the Hero campaign and this evening I started the MiG-19 training missions. In IL-2 I flew several Flying Circus missions.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      Thanks for sharing Splash. How’s your MiG-19 training going? I’ve been meaning to get back to that jet.

      Like

      1. Splash says:

        Your welcome! I have got the module from the beginning but I have had it abandoned. The training missions bear the Baltic Dragon stamp, so little to say, they are excellent and very detailed. They are worth playing and then start the campaign, that is my plan. I was kind of bored with MiG-15 and have switched to MiG-19 now.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Splash says:

        I forgot to tell you MANY THANKS for your post and this blog in general.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. ShamrockOneFive says:

        You’re welcome!

        Like

  2. Fernando says:

    Thanks for all the great recommendations! (have some of them already) Here watching the news a lot but maybe I will switch to sims a little more for don’t over saturate. Good luck to you and all out there!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      Happy to share and definitely welcome any flight sim or other distracting experiences that you’re looking for as well.

      The news is a little grim these days for all of us so I’m doing my best to look for ways to distract.

      Like

  3. Martin says:

    Hi. This weekend I been making my own TrackIR following the help I found in IL-2 Forums. Its coming quite good I even print it in 3D..! I can point where to find it if anyone is interest.
    Sham do you have one or a VR?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      I currently use a Delanclip with the PS3Eye camera and OpenTrack. It works really well and I intend to write a review at some point.

      VR is on my list but I’ve needed to make some other upgrades to my sim setup first.

      Like

      1. Martin says:

        Oh yes I heard of that company. Sadly I can’t get it here.
        I bought that camera, they say is the best and Im going to use the same software. I dont know why I didn’t before.
        By the way great movie! kind of funny when they jump together to the cockpit… I thing I would have prefer been caught by the germans.. haha

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Percy Danvers says:

    I just watched Battle of Britain for the first time this last Friday. Incredible film! Looking into it I see that they had a bunch of big names from the real Battle of Britain like Robert Stanford Tuck and Adolph Galland as technical consultants. The scene where the German fighter pilot answers that Goering could help by giving them spitfires was an actual event taken from Galland’s memoirs.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Geoff says:

    I was part of the Air Cadet Guard of Honour for Robert Stanford Tuck and other BoB veterans when the film opened at our local (Margate) cinema. They didn’t stop on their way past but at least we did get to see them – and the film for free! A few years ago I spotted the Stanford Tuck name where I was working in Wiltshire and discovered that it was his grand-daughter. She said that although in the wider world he (and the others) were being forgotten, the family was still very proud of him.
    As to the film; I loved it at the time but now wish that they had made a better fist of it. There was so much more that could have been done better. At least it wasn’t chock full of impossible CGI aircraft manoeuvres though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      Thanks for sharing that memory Geoff! As with everything, more can always be done, but I do think it impressive that so many years later this movie is still the best portrayal of that period of time.

      It has gritty realism that others have lacked.

      Like

  6. Chris says:

    I have been playing a flight sim called Condor 2.
    (http://www.condorsoaring.com/)
    It has a superb weather model with thermals based on weather and ground.

    Take good care everyone.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      Cool. That’s a new one for me. Thanks for sharing and take care as well!

      Like

  7. CanadaOne says:

    Great article. Love your upbeat nature.

    All the best to you,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      Thanks CanadaOne! It’s not an especially optimistic time so I’m doing my best to remain somewhat upbeat where I can. The flight sim hobby works well in these times where staying at home is important so I’m doing my best to encourage some distraction and enjoyment.

      Like

  8. HBPencil says:

    I don’t have Cities: Skylines but have long been tempted as I enjoy watching city build videos on YouTube, especially those of Sanctum Gamer, as they can be a pleasent way to pass the time. Likewise watching vids of people painting miniatures.

    In terms of games that have good mileage, House Flipper (+ Garden Flipper dlc) on Steam is good for some easy and slow paced fun. For more of an instant hit I also play World of Warships with standard (i.e. free to play) account.

    Like

  9. schurem says:

    I have two kids, 6 and 3 cooped up with me while my wife wants to continue working from home. That means I actually get *less* sim-time than in normal times :/

    I just upgraded my home pit with a very excellent gimbal from Virpil, the T50cm2. Also a long curved extension. It.is. exquisite. Gunnery improved, I can now (sometimes) hover a Mi-8.

    I’m looking forward to settling in with the ‘memory of a hero’ campaign. It has a delightfully silly premise. To the guy flying the MiG-19, once you finish training, get on with the campaign, it is *fine*. Just don’t hesitate to abort when the brass is sending you up the creek without a paddle 😉

    Also have the Kaiserschlacht campaign lined up, looking forward to that. And of course my ongoing Soviet il2 career. Podcast and long flight over the frozen steppe, gaming bliss.

    And of course reading, a lot of reading:
    I think you might like this book – “Sagittarius Rising (English Edition)” by Cecil Lewis.

    Start reading it for free: http://amzn.eu/8kTQQG2

    I think you might like this book – “Lords of the Sky: Fighter Pilots and Air Combat, from the Red Baron to the F-16 (English Edition)” by Dan Hampton.

    Start reading it for free: http://amzn.eu/fHPAtjJ

    Like

  10. Meplanes1969 says:

    the 1976 film aces high is a good watch

    Like

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      Never seen it! Must find a copy.

      Like

  11. PHANTOM1 says:

    Good article Shamrock! Just got notice here to start working from home tomorrow, but have been reading Robert Coram’s book on John Boyd – very good so far. Also have seen Blue Max recently, another good classic WWI movie. Otherwise fitting in some IL2 campaigns when possible, muddle through some xplane11 (really an excuse to kill time waiting for FS 2020) etc. There’s so much available on aviation now that I don’t think anyone will be bored anytime soon (no complaints there)! Great community suggestions also. Stay healthy guys, we’ll get though this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      Some great suggestions in there Phantom1! Thank you for sharing!

      Staying safe and healthy. We will get through this!

      Like

  12. Francesco Kasta says:

    “Many readers are now in countries that are locking down, banning or limiting social events”

    I think I beat you all here: I live in Northern Italy, at the Euro-heart of the worst pandemic since the Spanish flu. I have wife and kids stuck at home, yet I am working over time at a job in which I have to deal with the general public, it is nerve wrecking let me tell you that.

    I too watch a few TV shows when I get home but in these times I find it difficult to enjoy the things I used to love.

    Liked by 1 person

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