The DCS: Mi-24P Hind is out and I’ve had a few hours with the helicopter now which means its time to write a bit about my first impressions with this new module.
Makes a great first impression
The Hind really makes a great first impression. A quick look around the cockpit and then at the exterior and I’m taken aback by just how much attention to detail there is on every texture, on every surface and on every 3D modeled component. If there’s something unfinished here… it wasn’t noticeable to me.
Flying the Hind is also feeling really good right now. Taking off for the first time, I noted that I needed more collective than I might have assumed based on my experiences with other helicopters. Then again, the Mi-24 is a big helicopter. Despite that size, it’s quite fast and very responsive in most maneuvers.
It’s much more responsive with faster reactions to most maneuvers than the Mi-8 of which it is a descendant of. Get it up to speed and the Mi-24 is impressively fast with almost aircraft like handling. It rolls and banks confidently and has good initial turn in. We had some discussion in one of my flight sim circles that the Mi-8 might turn more tightly which I think I agree with but the Mi-24 can turn at a faster speed with far more confidence.
The sounds on this are also extremely good both inside and out.
Let’s talk Petrovich and the challenges of two seat helicopters
Eagle Dynamics has implemented their first AI assistant in a DCS module and called that AI ‘Petrovich.’ I like the control scheme where you can bind a hat switch to issue orders and commands to the AI. There are some graphical elements but I’m already missing the como-rose UI elements of Jester on the DCS: F-14. Something more contextual, popping up briefly on the screen, might help.
Petrovich does seem to be quite competent using the ATGMs to engage targets at a distance and the spotting mechanics are quite good. What the AI doesn’t do right now is a IFF check so you have to make sure that you’re engaging the correct targets.
I haven’t tried it in multiplayer yet but I have heard that there are desyncronization issues that can happen where aircraft state is not the same on each crew members screen. That’s problematic and I hope that things can be solved there. Although the Mi-24 isn’t the first module to get a more significant multi-crew capability, it is a premier one that has just released and will have a lot of eyes on it. I hope it pushes ED to invest more in that technology.
There’s another practical issue with multiplayer that is problematic. The forward observer position is responsible for countermeasures and right now it’s not possible to tell Petrovich to prepare countermeasures or to deploy them.
You can bind controls and try and memorize the positions but in multiplayer you cannot hop into the forward position and do it yourself. Eagle Dynamics would do well to enable position swapping for when a player is not in the seat. To be clear, you can still deploy them as the pilot but you can’t easily select which row of countermeasures to employ and that is vital on complex missions.
So, there are some challenges here to be solved and that is representative of this being both an early access module and one that is helping to blaze a path for future multicrew aircraft.
It’s no F-16 early access launch
The DCS: F-16C launched in a rough state when it came out in the fall of 2019. Although there was a lot to like about it, there were a few notable omissions that we really should have had from the start and the Hind, fortunately, doesn’t have those issues.
A big issue with the F-16 was not having a damage model. Not the case here.
From what I can tell, the damage model is sophisticated and damage will cause pieces to break off when hit. The Mi-24 can take a surprising amount of small arms fire from the ground and systems will being to fail as they are compromised. I haven’t had enough damage taken yet to say that this is feeling final state but I can say that it’s already working well enough.
The Hind also comes with a couple of skins which is nice too. There’s a pair of Russian skins, there’s a UN skin, a Syrian skin, Georgian and perhaps some more that I haven’t spotted yet. I’d ultimately like to see some more before final launch but I am happy with the initial compliment.
Finally, the Mi-24 already comes with an ample supple of instant action missions and a few more significant single missions. A campaign is also planned but in the interim, these are good single player experiences. The one mission puts you just a dozen kilometers from target and provides for an open ended experience engaging a vehicle convoy across a river. If you only had 15 minutes available, you could easily boot that up, fly the mission, feel like you did something and land at the FARP again.
Early access review to come
I’m going to spend a lot more time over the next several weeks with the DCS: Mi-24P Hind before writing an early access review. Over that time, we’ll see how much Eagle Dynamics smooths over a few of the rough edges but in the meantime I think I’m going to enjoy every moment with the Mi-24. It’s really well done already.