Over the next six months, 1C Game Studios is set to deliver quite a bit of content for both IL-2: Battle of Normandy as well as Flying Circus and sprinkled in there are some Collector Planes and Vehicles too which will add to the experience. After that we don’t really know what comes next so I’m going to pull out my crystal ball and look to the future of the series. Everything from here-on in is a series of guesses, speculations, and wishful thinking so take it all with a pinch of salt as they say.
New theatre options
In broad strokes, the series has four different directions it could generally go in. With the content to date covering the Eastern Front from 1941-1943 and the Western Front from 1944 to 1945 in a good amount of depth, there are fewer choices now than when I speculated the last time.
That’s not to say that the historical aspect of this sim doesn’t have some rich choices still available but we are starting to venture into territory that is a bit more… niche. Depending on how you slice it. Here are some options.
The Late War on the Eastern Front
One of the obvious choices is tackling the late war on the Eastern Front. Russian aircraft lovers are still hoping to see aircraft like the Yak-3, La-7, and late model Yak-9 show up. Even 1CGS employees have stated that they are unlikely to offer types like the FW190A-9 or Bf109G-10 outside of a pack because they’d need them to help fill in the German aircraft line-up for that time period. And indeed its the German aircraft line that would be more difficult, though not impossible, to fill out. But we are starting to venture into an area where 1CGS is replicating aircraft that may have seen service in a very limited fashion. Focke Wulf lovers for example would still like to see a Ta152H show up and I admit to being a bit of a fan of that aircraft myself.
Although some may lament a return to the eastern front, others would be very happy to see it and I’d guess that it’d be a safe sales bet even if a few louder voices complained about it at first. This could take the form of the Battle of Berlin, and the approximately 3-4 months of lead-up, or another late war battle in the east.
The Pacific War
Another choice that many have been hoping for is a big one and that is taking the series to the Pacific. Indeed, back when Jason took over as Executive Producer his plan was to have already taken us to that conflict by now. However, practical realities over researching Japanese aircraft is a huge challenge. Some have, for some reason, not understood the issue but suffice to say that the research efforts required to produce these aircraft are substantial and that 1CGS does not want to fudge the numbers or make things up. I appreciate that.
It’s also not just a matter of producing one aircraft. Jason and others have already said that if they were just making an A6M Zero, that info exists and they’d be able to do it. But the IL-2 Great Battles Series is more than just having dogfights between two aircraft and its always done a great job of representing other key types so that we can have legitimate simulated air wars. The D3A Val and B5N Kate would be needed for a Midway or Solomons battle. Take us to the skies over New Guinea and we replace those with some other famous Japanese types like the Ki-43 “Oscar”, Ki-61 “Tony” and Ki-45 “Nick”. Or bombers like the Ki-21 “Sally” and G4M “Betty.”
It’s not clear if the research impasse has been sorted out but I for one hope that they can eventually take us to the Battle of Midway and Guadalcanal, or into the skies over New Guinea or to later war scenarios like the Marianas and Okinawa. I still hold out hope that this will one day happen. That may be next or later but I think one day we’ll reach a critical mass and it will.
Italy and Sicily
Another area where I could see the series going is the Sicily and Italy campaigns of 1943 and 1944. Although not the Pacific, it could potentially bring in some elements that virtual pilots would like to see such as carriers (the Royal Navy operated several and Seafire’s provided plenty of cover over the Sicily invasion and beyond). It’d also represent a slightly different visual experience from the temperate European scenarios that we’ve seen in the series to date.
There are a ton of interesting aircraft available here too. From the Beaufighter and Seafire to earlier versions of the P-38 to the P-51A and A-36 Apache on the Allied side to some fascinating Italian types like the MC.205, G.55, SM.79 Re.2002 and Re.2005. Would these aircraft pose research challenges as well? I don’t know.
I’m putting this one in the list because I think it has a chance, albeit a small one, given the mentions that have been made over the years. We know that the 1CGS team find the Korean War air battles interesting and fascinating and we know that they’d make for some interesting scenarios that are rarely represented in flight sims.
The F-86 and MiG-15 could be easily joined by a host of other aircraft both contemporary and WWII originating to appeal to a wide audience of sim pilots. So this has an opportunity to become a sim at some point but I suspect that its time is not yet here. We’ll see!
Where the series is not going
I’ve heard plenty of speculations and suggestions on other options and there are a few that I don’t think are in the cards. The Battle of Britain comes up time and again as does North Africa. Both of those are well covered by the other IL-2 series and while we don’t know exactly what Team Fusion are planning to do in the future for the Cliffs of Dover series, I don’t see 1CGS stepping into the same theatre as Team Fusion currently occupies. Jumping to Sicily is a bit of a stretch in this regard but I think its different enough for it to potentially not be an issue.
Battle of France comes up perennially and while it has some interesting aircraft it also doesn’t have the kind of wide appeal that other battles offer. The war in the Finnish Gulf holds some appeal and we may yet see that at some point but I don’t know if a full battle would be devote to it or if it’d be represented in some other way.
At the moment I also don’t think the Great Battles series is about to jettison everything and start over yet. Although I think that day may yet later on down the line I also don’t think that moment is here yet either.
Multiple products in development?
IL-2 series Executive Producer Jason Williams did, in his new year message, allude to multiple products in development at the same time. Indeed, the series is still continuing to build out its content in multiple areas at one time and that’s just with announced content.
Flying Circus Vol 2 will hopefully and even likely lead to a Vol 3 that backfills even more of the Rise of Flight aircraft catalogue. Meanwhile, the Siemens-Schuckert D.IV and Sopwith Snipe are adding the first new unique aircraft to the series that were not previously part of Rise of Flight.
The C-47, Li-2, IAR-80/81, StuG III and Churchill Mark IV are all adding to content across the series that should have far reaching implications that add variety beyond just one title. We know that Jason has also done some research and gotten hands on with a B-25 late last year so that aircraft may yet appear in Collector Plane form or as part of a major series development. Some of these new products are being done by third parties which may help open the door to more collaboration over time.
A recent thread on the IL-2 forums also had me speculating that one additional Collector Plane may eventually make the list. That in the form of the Meteor jet fighter. Although not heavily used, it was the Allies first operational jet fighter and one that saw combat service from early 1944 – mostly chasing V-1 bombs over England (a map that we’re soon to have) but also seeing some limited service on the continent. It’s about as “what if” as I’d like the series to venture into but I do think it’d be a fun addition.
I think a Tank Crew follow-up is likely and it may yet be that the 1CGS team decides to tackle all of these concepts in a new and unique way. What that looks like is anyone’s guess but I can see them carefully juggling the expansion of new theatres and while adding to older battles as they have already been doing.
These are my guesses, conjectures, and idle thoughts taken in the form of a blog post. 1C Game Studios might yet surprise us all with some other direction or by expanding the series in a way that I haven’t anticipated yet. I don’t expect we’ll know for several months yet and it may be closer to the end of this year before we know where the series is headed but when we do you can bet that I’ll be excitedly posting the latest news here.
Whatever the series does next, I’m going to be excited to see it while also appreciating the wide variety of content that we currently enjoy. At the end of the day its important not to look to far ahead and instead enjoy what we have. That’s worthwhile too.
In the meantime, be sure to keep an eye on my IL-2 series roadmap for 2022. I’ll be updating it with new information when it arrives.