Pat Wilson’s Campaign Generator is a popular third party campaign generator that includes some unique features. Among those features is the ability to run a multiplayer co-op campaign. Intent on checking it out, that’s exactly what I did together with Requiem from the Air Combat Tutorial Library and several other friends over the last few months. This is an overview of our experience.
The story and the challenge
For each of us, the experience with this co-op campaign is unique. For Requiem, his challenge was to try and match famous Ace Johnnie Johnson’s 33 kills and do it in a dead is dead fashion. That is, we’d maintain the score for a virtual pilot for as long as that pilot was alive. Die for any reason and the score gets reset. For me, a lot of the challenge was just to fly without dying.
We were placed into an RAF squadron flying the Spitfire IX during September of 1944. Most of us have a lot of stick time with the Spitfire IX and, although I can’t be sure, I suspect that it is probably one of my most flown types in the IL-2 series thanks to its excellent handling, legendary reputation, and high availability in IL-2 multiplayer servers. And I was back in its cockpit again!
Co-op campaign time
Until we started this campaign, I have used the IL-2 co-op functionality maybe twice or three times. It’s always worked fine but a dogfight server is easier to get into and just fly. Fortunately, Requiem is pretty good with servers and the co-op system itself works really well. He did tweak a few settings to get optimal performance but we did find a pretty good balance of ground objects, air objects, and a suitably challenging number of friendly versus enemy aircraft in our scenarios. Your mileage will vary depending on your system and internet connection of course.
Requiem has done a great video out on how to use the campaign system to create co-op missions which I encourage you to check out if you’re interested!
Although IL-2’s mission builder is a bit challenging to use for casual use, utilities like Pat Wilson’s Campaign Generator are fully capable of creating and maintaining a campaign for you and your friends. It’s easy to manage and setup.
Mission stages starting with the briefing
Using Discord to share screen, Requiem would host a briefing screen for each mission featuring all of the same information that you’d normally get from a single player PWCG mission. Then he’d start the server and we’d select our pre-assigned aircraft based on the pilot name that each of us had been assigned.
Before long, we’d be on the runway with our engines hot and ready to fly the mission. A note and warning to the wise, always reduce your throttle back to zero. More than one of us, myself included, have started into the scenario with engine running and gunned the aircraft right into another parked on the runway. That was a restart! Ooops!
Other missions have gone more smoothly with three or four of us taking on a mission at a time. Some of us have been flying sorties, particularly in the Spitfire IX, for over a year now and we’re well versed in team tactics and what a good combat spread looks like.
Friendly banter, moments of terror
PWCG has been well known for creating a relatively wide variety of different scenarios for pilots to fly in. Fly just a single mission and you don’t get the whole picture but fly several back to back and you start to see how much variety is packed into each scenario.
We conducted mostly three types of sorties including fighter-bomber escort missions, ground-attack missions, and fighter sweeps at both high and low altitudes. Sometimes we saw intense action with a couple of missions seeing us come into contact soon after we’d formed up. Other missions we flew with relatively little opposition – mimicking the kind of experience that pilots in the 2nd TAF flying Spitfire’s would see. I suspect we were still seeing more activity than some pilots may have experienced but it was still nice to see the variety.
In one mission we encountered just a pair of Fw190’s while in another we were bounced by a swarm of Bf110’s, Fw190’s and more. Another saw us intercept Ju88’s with their fighter escort. We shoot down several bombers and ended up abandoning our original objective in favour of making sure the enemy didn’t attack our own troops.
Of course, the benefit of this kind of co-operative scenario is that you get to fly it together with friends. On those long patrols you get plenty of chances to practice formation flying, to keep up your spotting, and to banter away.
Not everything has gone our way. Many of us has been shot down on more than one occasion. I, have twice been shot down and killed by enemy flak during airfield attacks. In the one case I was doing well until the flak got wise to my treetop hugging ways and let me have it as I turned to attack another flak gun. In another, it was the flak battery that I didn’t see behind me that splattered my Spitfire all over the airfield.
Watch the action
Requiem, has been more skilled (or more lucky) and to date is still alive and closing in on his target goal of beating Johnnie Johnson’s score. Documenting the co-op campaign with a series of videos, Requiem’s channel has kept up with most of our sorties and, at the time of this writing, is up to mission 8.
His first mission is documented here in this video.
The first mission that I joined in on was mission 4 involving a P-47 escort.
The latest video in the series is mission 8 with a pretty cool ‘offensive patrol’ mission.