Yes, IL-2: Great Battles is also getting new cloud tech

There’s a been a lot of focus on clouds in flight simulation in 2021. DCS made a massive update to their cloud technology, Team Fusion is now showing off their efforts for Cliffs of Dover, and even X-Plane next generation now seems slated to get a new volumetric cloud technology. So, what about IL-2: Great Battles? Well there’s good news there too.

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Even in 2015, IL-2 had some of the best looking clouds on the market and they still hold up reasonably well now.

IL-2 Sturmovik: Great Battles has had volumetric style clouds since 2013 when Battle of Stalingrad was released. They weren’t the first to use the technology but they were among the first and IL-2 has always had good looking clouds. They have made improvements to the technology solving problems to do with blending aircraft and clouds together, they have added higher detail levels on higher end clouds eliminating some of the stutter in the visuals, and they added multi-layer clouds.

But, time marches on and so do flight sim developers and most sims are upping the ante when it comes to cloud rendering.

Back in early June, Jason Williams, Executive Producer for the series, mentioned that new cloud technology was under development.

And we continue to work on the new AQM feature, fuel systems with drop tanks, Air Marshal and even improved cloud technology. All of which I hope to show you pictures of in upcoming Developer Diaries.

Jason Williams

Now, responding to a question about Cliffs of Dover, Great Battles and the use of trueSKY technology, Jason chimed in with some extra information.

We have our own clouds system and yes we are working on a new version of it that shows a lot of promise in our early tests. We so far have not seen the need to invest in True Sky which is a third party system. Our clouds and just about anyone else who makes clouds uses a similar bit of technology so there is no big new magic here. However, I look forward to seeing TFS’ result working with it and best of luck to them in that endeavor.

Jason Williams

What can be improved?

Landing on a carrier deck in DCS World with rainstorms looming in the distance during a Liberation campaign mission.

One of the most impressive things that I’ve seen from the new cloud technology is not just in the display of the clouds but also in the ability to localize them. DCS World currently uses a fixed pattern while Flight Simulator uses a more dynamic model but in both cases you have to face localized rainshowers or storms that change the dynamics of your flight.

Your target may temporarily be located in a rainstorm or your flight path may be made safer by detouring around a small localized storm system. In both cases, the clouds have real world implications on your flying. Hopefully IL-2 can pick up at least a few of these tricks.

There’s also the visuals which have an impact on your flying as well. Low level clouds, dramatic cumulonimbus, and even more layers of clouds can have an impact on how you fly. Imagine a dogfight that suddenly ends when you duck into a thick cloud layer and escape. You can already do that to some extent but the clouds in IL-2 could be much thicker or more localized.

Big Radials P-40B flying through some dense cloud near St. Petersberg.

Whatever the case, Great Battles is not staying still and they are actively working to improve the clouds in whatever way that they can. I wouldn’t expect MSFS’ full weather model but I can still see them aiming high and keeping up with the other sims.

I wouldn’t expect them to arrive anytime soon but it is something to look forward to as the series progresses and as development continues on Battle of Normandy and Flying Circus Vol 2. Stay tuned for more on this!


14 Comments Add yours

  1. harryvoyager says:

    I still remember playing around in the Stalingrad summer map, and trying to figure out why different patches of it were darker than others.

    Then I realized, it was shadows from the patchy clouds overhead. I hadn’t felt like that since the first time I saw the wheels keep rolling after the plane left the ground in the first Il-2.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Veillantif says:

    Hope they will also have look at their tree tech. Rotating branches is not from this time anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Firdimigdi says:

      I’m rather partial to being the local flora’s center of attention.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. ShamrockOneFive says:

      I suspect that would be a separate effort but as the sim has become more grounded (with Tank Crew) I think we’ll see some improvements there eventually.

      Liked by 1 person

    3. Det says:

      The trees are just your basic sprites and really have no impact from an aviation standpoint. Come on now, you’re really not going to notice it at 1,000+ in excess of 300.

      Using Tank Crew on the other hand, well, that’s a different story and I agree completely. They also need to greatly extend the default draw distance for foliage as well as making said foliage (grass, wheat, etc etc) far more dense, realistic, HD, and greatly increase the ground clutter so you barely see it.

      GB looks great from above. In the cupola of a tank it most certainly does not, which in turn detracts from the entire experience.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Redeye says:

    Meanwhile; for those of us who enjoy using mods, there is one for IL2 that dramatically improves the look and detail of the clouds (To the level it actually baffles me that the sim has not just integrated it).


    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      That’s a good point Redeye. I was aware of the mod but I had forgotten all about it. I’m sure 1CGS is aware of the work done here and it does highlight how much further the current tech can be pushed even without source code access.

      I think 1CGS will aim even higher than this.


  4. Oyster_KAI says:

    Rotating trees, boiling clouds, doughnut clouds, and super-long grass with a single style are the 4 things I fear most in IL-2 GB Lol

    Liked by 2 people

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      Remember, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself 😉

      I’m sure some of these will be resolved!


  5. CanadaOne says:

    New cloud tech is always welcome, but I’m sold on the DCS clouds. It was the 2.7 clouds that put DCS head and shoulders over all other sims for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      Those clouds and the ones in MSFS are definitely the benchmark that other sims will have to try and hit. Both have pros and cons but ultimately they are really impressive technologies.

      For DCS’s sake, that’s just phase one and phase two of their cloud and weather system updates should provide for some more dynamic experiences there.

      IL-2 is a smaller studio and so they may not be able to quite match DCS or MSFS in all of the same ways but I think they will come damned close.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Firdimigdi says:

        Here’s the thing though, the clouds in IL-2 are the same quality (hardware and settings permitting) when viewed in VR and on a screen.That cannot be said for either DCS or MSFS; both of those lack the definition you see them having on a monitor when viewed in VR.

        IMO if cloud cover, and ultimately the weather system as you wrote already in the post, was more dynamic in IL-2 then I think their current rendering tech is not that far off quality-wise; in fact there’s at least one mod on the official forum that shows how it can be pushed and tweaked to generate some pretty interesting skies. Also, if you play around with the mission editor you can see that even with the basic settings it presents you can come up with some pretty believable and varied cloud cover which can get rather dramatic depending on time-of-day settings – in the latest TAW, that didn’t shy away from having mission maps with clouds, wind, turbulence and haze this was quite apparent.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. ShamrockOneFive says:

        All great points! 1CGS has always walked very carefully down the performance/eye candy line trying to limit the increase in resources required while still making things look better. It’s part of the reason why VR is considered to be so good. I have high hopes they will keep that up with this upgrade as well.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. CanadaOne says:

        The atmospherics in IL2 have always been top notch, that’s for sure. The moisture effect on the canopy when flying through the clouds is second to none. I guess for me it’s the DCS ability to go fast and high in a high-tech premium quality plane – or slow and low in a chopper – and really play with the clouds. That’s the kicker.

        But credit where credit is due, IL2 had great clouds when DCS was just offering cotton balls.

        Liked by 2 people

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