After Jason’s update on the current status of the IL-2 Sturmovik: Great Battles Series, I’ve started wondering (again) about what’s just a little beyond the horizon. I’m not alone as I’ve seen several conversations pop-up all across the community about what the longer range plans for Great Battles. It seems it is long past time to do a little speculation on what the future may hold.
A couple of directions to go in
At some point in the future, Great Battles in its current iteration will probably reach some sort of end point. It’s unclear if the current IL-2 engine will be able to do what DCS has done and manage to bring all of its legacy content along with it or if it will be a clean break and the series will start fresh with a new or significantly enhanced engine and some new ideas. Both have merit and the current Digital Warfare Engine is still seeing updates to its core features (such as the new clouds system).
I see a sim that generally runs at high frame rates on most systems and offers an excellent VR experience for those who run it that way. Still there are things like clickable cockpits, enhanced graphics, and bigger feature changes that we may want to see some day. What that looks like and how it evolves are surely going to be subject of many debates. For now, the Great Battles Series continues to evolve and it seems logical to assume that development will continue on their WWII aircraft, their WWI aircraft and even on their WWII tanks.
These are some of my thoughts on where the series could go next.
Flying Circus and Tank Crew
For World War I, the direction seems reasonably clear as 1C Game Studios and Ugra Media finish their work on Flying Circus Vol 2 and seem almost assured with their goal to bring us Vol 3 right after. Rehabilitating Rise of Flight aircraft with upgrades seems to have gone well so far despite a few bumps.
As map, aircraft and gameplay variety grow, it seems likely that the series will grow with it.
Flying Circus is also going to benefit from core feature investments and the new clouds system will probably have just as dramatic an effect on the WWI aircraft as it will on the WWII. Thicker clouds and slower planes are going to introduce some more interesting tactical challenges as well as potential avenues to escape or evade an attack.
Tank Crew’s exact future is less certain but I strongly suspect that the team have plans to forge ahead. Digital Forms, the team building the models of the tanks, is now confirmed to be on tap to build two new Collector Tanks with a release scheduled for Q2 2022.
We don’t know what the two tanks are going to be, however, 1CGS team member BlackSix gave us some insight on what some of the possibilities might be.
I can’t confirm anything, but the list of candidates from the Soviet side is rather long, there were T-60, T-70, SU-76, M3 Stuart, M3 Lee, Mk.IV Churchill, Mk.III Valentine and Mk.II MatildaBlackSix on the IL-2 forums
These are less based on the internal decision making process and more on his extensive research on the Kursk battle. Jason confirmed that the new tanks would fit into the pre-existing Kursk battle.
As exciting as this is, it might also be a way to tide the team over while new plans are put into place for a follow-up Tank Crew title.
Suggestions have been made by the community for future Tank Crew titles including battles nearer the end of WWII on the eastern front featuring some later tanks on both sides. A jump to some earlier tanks on the eastern front or even a jump to the west and more Allied tanks in the 1944/45 time period also seem like strong candidates.
World War II aircraft expansions
The big primary draw for the series of course remains World War II aviation and here we have a bunch of options that I can see as being likely.
One is for the team to tackle the end of the war from the eastern front perspective. Long have eastern front aircraft fans called for some of the ultimate in Russian combat aircraft technology of the time. The Yak-3, La-7, IL-2 1944 and IL-10 all immediately spring to mind. Other types like the A-20G, P-39Q, and Tu-2S might help round out an aircraft set.
The German side things are more complex as there are fewer options to include. We’ve been told that a Bf109G-10 and Fw190A-9 would both hypothetically be part of a late war east front scenario. That would also essentially finish off the two aircraft families in terms of major sub variants and while some would bemoan any new Bf109 variant at this point, there are others who have made it their top wishlist item. To each is own!
Other possibilities range into the more exotic including the Ta152H, He162, Me163, and Do217K with that last one on the list armed with the first generation of guided bombs. For some of these their service records are short. Some, like the Ta152 and He162 seeing service only at the very end of the war in the April 1945 time period. The Me163 has never really been on my personal wish list unless the 1CGS team was able to give it a credible experience. Namely… the interception of large bombers.
It could also be time for the 1CGS team to finally attempt to find a business model to bring us a B-17 or B-24 bomber. Although these behemoths by WWII standards would be a challenge, with the right business model and sim engine modifications I could see it potentially working its way into the series. Would they be flyable? That would be the dream and would cement the IL-2 series as one of the greatest WWII air combat experiences around.
Another option might be for the team to jump to the Italian campaign with a Sicily or Italy battle title that the series could use to offer some interesting aircraft types. In addition to what we already have that could be used, Italian aircraft ranging from the MC.205, G.55, Re.2002 and 2005, to the tri-motor SM.79 could be up for potential inclusion.
The Allied side could also potentially pick up some unique types like the P-51A and A-36 Apache, an earlier model of the P-38 such as the F, G or H, the P-40L with a Merlin engine, plus the B-25 and A-20C/G could all be included. British types like the Beaufighter, tropicalized Spitfire Vc, early Spitfire IX (with enough differences to be a separate aircraft) or Spitfire VIII could also make their way in.
There are countless other battles for the series to represent but not all of them will be viable. Would I buy a battle based on the Khalkin-Gol incident? Yeah! That’d be really interesting. Could I get excited about a diversion to the Spanish Civil war where German and Soviet aircraft engineers learned all kinds of lessons for the coming battle? For sure! I would be very interested but I suspect the market interest would be somewhat lower.
There’s also the chance that the 1CGS team have managed to make some research breakthroughs in the last couple of years and now have enough to properly model a fully realized Japanese aircraft set for Midway, Okinawa, New Guinea or some other Pacific battle. I still have high hopes of this happening but I don’t know if that time is yet at hand.
That’s the big question and of course it all comes down to how the current projects are progressing and to what can be funded for the future. 1CGS, funded by parent publisher 1C, will have to walk that careful line as they always do with revealing future plans and keeping the interest high while also finishing up some of the content currently planned for.
With the C-47, the two new Flying Circus Collector Planes, two new Tank Crew Collector Vehicles, and plenty of new content for Flying Circus Vol 2 and Battle of Normandy still to come, there’s no shortage of content already on the way. There’s core features like the Advanced Quick Mission generator, new free and paid campaigns, a new fuel system management system, continued development of dynamic vehicle damage and tactical codes systems and the new clouds just to mention some of the big things on the list right now.
As always, I’m optimistic about the future of one of my all time favourite sims. It has a ton of content packed into it now and it has good options for the future. Those are the ways that I think it might go, but what do you think? Is it something else than the above? Let me know in the comments!