I’ve resisted the urge to write about the new upgraded damage model system for IL-2: Great Battles almost immediately after it came out with patch 4.005. Sometimes it’s good to let things settle a bit and see how the new system is working in practice. This core system update to something that IL-2 was already doing extremely well is a mostly excellent upgrade to what we had before… with a few caveats. Let’s have a look!
Time for some upgrades
As good as IL-2’s damage modeling system is, there is always room for improvement and so the developers of IL-2 have been hard at work recently making sure that their system is working better than ever before. One of the main complaints that most people had surrounded two specific elements: engine and wing durability.
While the damage model seemed to work fairly well for aircraft like the Yak, LaGG, and Bf109 series, most felt that aircraft that were known for their durability including the P-47 and the IL-2 were folding up a little too quickly. There were times where a P-47 would shed a wing after a few precious hits and it just didn’t feel quite right.
Perhaps more egregious were the aircraft with engines that were dying rather quickly when they again were known for flying home with cylinders missing and still landing at base. While the new damage model focused more on aircraft structure, the developers snuck in some partial upgrades to the engine damage model too.
What kind of difference has it made and has it worked out universally across the board?
Two stories to tell
I will lead off an say that the damage model updates for the most part have made a huge difference. Aircraft can now take damage and still return to base compared to scenarios in the past where a more minor hit could cause a critical mission ending piece of damage.
Wings now more readily stay attached and engines will, where it seems appropriate, keep running under reduced power. Crucially, those aircraft that were known to take a hit and keep on going can now do-so. It’s a fine balance between aircraft that can be damaged and still fly and the other side of the coin where they become too much like flying tanks. I think the developers have found a good spot for that.
Crucially, the it appears that upgrades to the damage model haven’t resulted in aircraft “tanking” hits. Instead it’s added some subtlety to the damage effects so that well built aircraft will definitely take some hits before things start to go wrong… but at the same time they won’t be impervious or appear to be taking shot after shot with no effect. Go back to the replay and you’ll quickly see things are going wrong.
Even better, we’re seeing some new effects. For example, the tail wheel of an aircraft has snapped off under fire. Wings may not snap off nearly as often but we’re seeing other effects where a chewed up wing looses lift and aircraft tumble out of controlled flight. Fuel tank explosions are happening a little more often and seemingly with a lot more detail behind the scenes contributing to when that should happen most appropriately. Apparently more individually modeled engine parts are now making sure that aircraft like the P-47 can fly back on reduced power without the engine instantly stopping turning the large size of the R-2800 radial from a liability in previous patches into a historically recognized strength.
That is one story to tell, however, there is a second one that is a bit more troubling. Although I was pleased to hear that Flying Circus aircraft were part of the damage model upgrade, it seems like there may have been some unintended effects.
I was pleased to see that things like wire snapping is back (from Rise of Flight) and wing struts, where they exist, are now part of the damage model whereas seemingly they weren’t before. Unfortunately, there also seems to be some problems with how the new system works with Flying Circus aircraft. There’s no consensus yet but evidence from the community suggests that many or even most Flying Circus aircraft now seem to suffer from cumulative damage effects that cause wings to rapidly rip off their aircraft.
While you’d expect a fair bit of wing shedding from aircraft from this era, the effect appears magnified to the point where only a few bullets seems to have the potential to cause a total loss of all control surfaces.
Community members have been posting videos to show off just what they are seeing. Check out these videos from Wolfpack345 and The Gamecock to see a couple of the best presented examples.
I am, as most readers of this blog know, a huge fan of Flying Circus and the potential that including the expertise that 1CGS already has with Rise of Flight into the IL-2: Great Battles Series can do (not to mention the fun factor). These damage model problems I suspect will be temporary as 1CGS looks for solutions on this but this does put a bit of a damper on the nascent WWI experience in the title. One I hope is temporary as I’m still rooting for a Vol 2!
Developers are sometimes accused of neglecting core functionality for chasing the latest shiny graphical or content driven object and here I think we see a very good example of 1CGS doing the opposite. This effort is about going back and reworking one of the core fundamentals for their sim. Even with some teething issues that this kind of shift may cause, it’s still a good trajectory for the sim as the improvements to the damage model are fundamental to a combat sim like this.
My overall impression is overwhelmingly positive. The effect is both subtle and at once obvious as there are just more layers of detail to the whole combat experience and more opportunities for pilots to bring back stricken aircraft that are no longer combat capable but may just be able to squeak in a landing or at least a ditching somewhere where it may just not have happened before.
Flying Circus damage issues notwithstanding, this is an excellent update and it’s a very good thing to see the 1CGS team tackle as they continue to both expand the series and provide across the board updates. Things are looking good, even if there are a few challenges to overcome and I believe they will be.