A look at IL-2’s new damage model system

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

Shot to pieces but still flying, this is the P-47 under the new damage model

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.

Though tough, the P-47 is not impervious and enough hits will cause it to light on fire or tumble out of control.

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

Shot up by light and medium machine guns, this Bf109 is still flying… just barely

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.

Hit by Hispano cannons, this Fw190D-9 is going down… but despite heavy damage both wings are still attached.

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.

The Albatross D.Va is one of the aircraft in Flying Circus that seems to shed wings more rapidly than before

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!

This Pfalz D.IIIa seems to be taking more damage than the Albatross above without shedding any wings.

Final thoughts

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.

7 Comments Add yours

  1. Voyager says:

    That overall lines up with my experiences so far.

    I do hope they are able to figure out what is going on with the FC damage model, but I suspect it won’t put a damper on FC the way people are concerned about; the Rise of Flight damage model has a similar number of wing-offs, and people thoroughly enjoyed the game, so I doubt it will have that type of impact there either.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      Thanks for your thoughts on this Voyager. I do hope that FC is relatively unaffected by this… I think it’s a minor bump in the road. Hoping for a bright future!

      Like

  2. Raptorattacker says:

    I totally agree Shamrock. Wholeheartedly. Flying Circus? Well, like you say, probable teething issues that WILL be repaired/addressed. That aside it’s all pretty good and fair play to the Team for doing what they’ve done.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      I’m sure they will have a closer look at Flying Circus’ damage effects under the new update. I’m sure things will be tweaked as time goes on.

      Like

  3. Gretsch_Man says:

    FC related issues aside, I’m also very happy with the new DM. It adds a lot of damage varierity the player can see/experience and makes that experience so much more believable.

    Overall a great job by the dev team!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. bigalrico says:

    In general I think the new DM model is great. That it has a few bugs is not that bad. At least the developers are ambitious and willing to improve it. 🙂 I’m curious to see what the engines will be like with their real upgrade. The only thing that bothers me now and then are the famous moments when a salvo of maybe 5 shots will destroy your plane (not speaking of pk’s or explosions). This has already happened to me with various calibres and in the logs there is only a minimal damage (like on Combat Box stats). But still, the general quality of the updates from 1C is outstanding and I’m happy to see more of those core refreshs in the next months 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Mischiew Rithe says:

    You nailed it down, I think, 1CGS really takes the time to revisit and improve all that can increase the fun and immersion factors. We saw the weather, the overall graphics, the AI, the pilots’ gear, the ammo, the damage model, …

    I don’t know if that takes courage to spend time on that instead of new airplanes, I suppose there is a slight risk associated with that, but I do appreciate it a lot 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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