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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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?
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.
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!