What’s next for Tank Crew?

The IL-2 Sturmovik: Great Battles Series has expanded well beyond its original Battle of Stalingrad title adding not only a series of follow-on flight sim titles encompassing World War II and World War I but it also ventured out into more risky terrain by building and integrated a tank sim into the experience. Tank Crew – Clash at Prokhorovka was the first and is so far the only release in that series alongside four collector vehicles. Two of those collector vehicles have been released and an additional two are in development right now.

The series seems to be quietly moving along with a few pieces of new content but the real question is on where Tank Crew goes next. Today I want to explore what comes after and what kinds of things Tank Crew needs to add to the experience to grow.

A new theatre

The first thing that I think Tank Crew needs is a new theatre. Clash at Prokhorovka was a really good way to get into the series and its relatively well realized. Building on an already strong eastern front aircraft set, this piece of the Battle of Kursk was ideal as it enabled the series to bring some classic tanks to life and set them in one of the biggest tank battles in history.

A follow-up title could conceivably jump forward (or backward) to another Eastern Front battle introducing more tanks from that front. But I think it may also benefit the series on the whole if it expands outwards and goes west as the flight simulation has.

There’s already plenty of speculation that the new Churchill Mark IV collector vehicle portents a move to the western front. The tank fits the Prokhorvka battle well but I also see this as a potential gateway.  Building the Mark IV means that building a Mark VII would be likely easier as the foundation is already there.

A western front battle would probably overlap with Normandy or Bodenplatte in the combat flight sim space but there’s still some space for a significant battles and a focused map – such as the battle around Bastonge where the series could focus in on the battles there. That overlap would be of potential benefit too as we now have ample aircraft to interact with such a battle. Typhoons and Thunderbolts swooping down from overhead while Shermans and Churchills drove into battle would be very historically cinematic.

Such a scenario would bring in some later war tanks and some favourites in the west. Later model Sherman tanks with the 76mm gun for example. The Cromwell, M10 Wolverine, Jagdpanther, Tiger II, and late Panther tanks would surely interest a wide variety of tankers.

Mission generation

One of the things that Tank Crew is lacking is in replayability. The included single missions and scripted campaigns are fun but with only a limited range of experiences possible. Multiplayer is of course infinitely replayable but not everyone loves to hop into a multiplayer match.

The rest of the IL-2 series benefits from the more endless replayability of the included Career and Advanced Quick Mission experiences that let you have a far greater variety of situations. Although those can also become stale over time, they still offer a far greater range of flexibility.

Tank Crew would benefit from joining in on the AQMB experience – which is admittedly still new and not available to Flying Circus or Tank Crew addons. Selecting from a range of missions from defensive to offensive missions, scouting, and recon in force would probably help satisfy tankers beyond what is currently available.

Infantry

Every time I mention Tank Crew, someone invariably brings up the issue of infantry. Although the 1CGS team have indicated that large scale infantry battles are not likely, they have said that more infantry would be included and was under development. These features have likely taken a bit of a backseat while the team presses towards release of Battle of Normandy and Flying Circus Vol 2. Still, we know that improvements here are already planned and may well be in some stage of progress.

Infantry inclusion doesn’t have to mean massed infantry attacks. Small clusters of infantry with basic move and fire capabilities linked to the already well animated soldiers we see running from tanks and walking around on airbases would probably suffice. It’s no small ask but one that I suspect may be technically feasible.

The other element would be including more infantry in anti-tank roles would prove interesting. Anti-tank rifles, rockets, and recoilless weapons were commonplace on most fronts of WWII. Operated by infantry, these weapons would add additional threat types beyond artillery and tanks that are the primary threats faced on the battlefield (along with the occasional airstrike).

Enhanced terrain, trees, and vegetation

I can forgive a lot of how Tank Crew looks because of its roots and direct connections to the IL-2 series. Having and maintaining that integrated experience is among the things that I think makes Tank Crew so unique but it comes with some visual downsides. Typical buildings and vegetation features are more than enough to look good while flying over them at high rates of speed. But in a tank you get closer – a lot closer – and while they are adequate it would be great to see them take a step forward.

Prior to release, the IL-2 team made an effort to improve the terrain and they did a great job of it adding visual details on the ground that benefitted tanks and aircraft pilots alike. I’d love to see them take this further and continue to improve the ground visuals.

Beyond that, I’d love for the team to tackle the visuals of trees and vegetation. Fighting “in the weeds” a Tank Crew speciality and for all of the fields that I’ve found myself fighting in, I’ve always wanted to see better grass, vegetation (such as bushes and shrubs) and trees. This would be no small task with the feature having effects across the series. IL-2’s trees are already impressively dense at times so this is more of a visual with enhanced rendering for all of these effects making the tank battles across grassy fields more visually impressive and immersive. Extending the grass rendering distance even further than it is now would be of a significant benefit if it can be done without a huge hit to performance

Fixes to legacy maps

If you’ve driven a tank on any map beyond the Prokhorovka map, you’ll know that there are some problems. Although most of the time these “legacy” flight sim oriented maps are just fine, there are sometimes issues near tree lines where you’ll suddenly run into an invisible obstacle. So disruptive are these obstacles that they can damage and put your tank out of commission for extended periods of time. Implementing a more global fix would be a tremendous benefit to all Tank Crew players – particularly those who play online on some of the mixed use maps.

The Prokhorovka map is also problematic online with many servers electing not to use the map. Both Wings of Libery and Finnish Virtual Pilots – Dynamic War have rolled out scenarios on this map only for it to not work correctly. Some sort of fix is hopefully possible although I’m sure the unique terrain features on the map play a role in this.

Final thoughts

Tank Crew is a unique aspect to the IL-2 Great Battles Series. Although no formal follow-up has yet been announced, there is still interest out there for Tank Crew. Having tanks operating alongside aircraft has become normalized in the IL-2 multiplayer experience to some extent. To have staying power, Tank Crew does need some further development and a sequel would certainly open the door to more sustained improvements that would benefit Tank Crew players and flight sim pilots too.

1CGS continuing to engage Digital Forms with the Churchill Mark IV and StuG III suggest to me there’s a sustained effort for Tank Crew still possible in the future. Building these new Collector Tanks keeps the Digital Forms team building a couple of single additions while the 1CGS team finish other projects and plan future ones.

Tank Crew does need a little extra to really boost itself beyond its current form. Although lots of fun already, Tank Crew is a little light on some aspects that the rest of the IL-2 series benefits from such as enhanced replayability and greater immersion. I think these are goals that are within reach.

14 Comments Add yours

  1. harryvoyager says:

    I wonder if it would be worth reaching out to some of the old World of Tanks and Warthunder Ground Battles streamers and see what missing features could make it more accessible to mainstream?

    Like

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      That’s not a bad idea!

      Like

  2. Oliver White says:

    The section “ypical buildings and vegetation features are more than enough to look good while flying over them at high rates of speed. But in a tank you get a lot closer to

    Prior to release, ” seems cut off there under the enhanced terrain section, where you thinking of adding more?

    Like

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      Yep there was definitely an extra sentence that was supposed to be in there. Fixed! Thanks for pointing that out.

      Like

  3. Juri_JS says:

    For me the main problem is, that the terrain is just not detailed enough for immersive tank gameplay. Too many small details that would make maps look more lively are missing, for example fences, telephone poles, trenches or haystacks. Of course this would all have an impact on performance, so it might be a good idea to create smaller 50 x 50 km TC maps in the future.
    Apparently the team working on the Tank Squad game will also do a Prokhorovka map. It will be interesting to see how a smaller, more detailed map of the area will look like.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      Yeah, those kinds of details would be great to have as well. I think IL-2 could potentially get there within the current context. I know they work hard for supporting much older PCs but adding some details here and there would be good and rows of telephone poles (for example) sound like more of a challenge for a map maker than anything else.

      I imagine Tank Squad doesn’t have the aerial component. That’s what makes Tank Crew so unique.

      Like

  4. Novice-Flyer says:

    I just hope that there will be a TC2 before FC3 as we can already fly these planes in RoF and WoFF and have the same, if not very similar, experience.

    With TC, never before AFAIK has anything like this happened so there would be more disappointment if TC2 was delayed by another development cycle than FC3.

    Falaise Pocket or Battle of the Bulge are my picks!
    🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      I’m going to make a guess that Flying Circus Vol 2 lays enough groundwork that they can continue on with the already announced Vol 3 without as much of a resource outlay. And that then lets them work on a Battle of X title and Tank Crew 2.

      Or perhaps that’s just wishful thinking 🙂

      Like

      1. Novice-Flyer says:

        Well, if FC3 includes the Italian Front and has some aircraft which also saw action on the Western Front then they should do FC3 before TC2, if not and it’s just another Western Front volume then do TC2 first. I recall Jason saying that they weren’t going to do Battle of X, FC and TC at the same time again as it was so demanding for the team when they did do that.

        Like

  5. JG4_Moltke1871 says:

    In Flying Circus I spottet:
    A7V, Schneider, Renault 17, Mark V, AA Trucks….
    How about Tank Crew WW1?
    ….. 😜

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      Hah! I don’t think the gameplay would be has engaging but I could be wrong.

      Like

    2. ZOOMY says:

      I think the downside to a WW1 TC game is that, at least historically speaking, there was very little tank vs. tank combat. Still that’s just historically speaking. Perhaps the greatest tank battle of WW1 actually occurred online in 2026.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Mike says:

    I put off getting tank crew because I despaired it ever would be expanded upon , but the possibitybof having a good crew based game won me over recently. I’m kind of impressed by it, but the control set up seems needlessly complex and in some cases contradictory. I like the vehicle specific bindings of dcs. Its fun but long term I want to play in an M10 or something similar. Its not the eastern front being unsuitable its just not what we know over here. Its a harder entry point. I’d love to run around in m3 scouting for a battery of priest… but its kind of the same issue with dcs ww2 right now. It needs a library.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      Yep all great points! I’m hoping that it does get expanded upon. That they are still doing Collector Vehicles with their third party fills me with hope.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s