Since the live stream a few days ago I’ve been trying to put different pieces of this puzzle that we have together. Thanks to some of my regular readers (shoutout to Blue 5), I have really come around to the idea that the next in the series might be a jump forward to the Korean War. It’s an idea that’s been floating around for a long time and I have some thoughts on how this could work.
New technology, new time period, similar gameplay
Everything you read here right now is pure speculation. I could be guessing wrong on the clues that we have but there was just too much here for me not to feel compelled the write about it.
First, I sometimes think back to an early IL-2: Battle of Stalingrad live stream in the early days of the project circa 2013. A question was asked about an eventual Korean War combat flight sim title. The reply was unusually enthusiastic about interest on the team of eventually simulating the aircraft of that conflict. Interest by the development team is a good place to start.
From there many of us have put together some of the pieces to this puzzle based on recent comments. No large urban areas, interesting scenery, piston engine aircraft (perhaps mentioned almost as a reassurance that they’d still be present), and a conflict where tactical air power was used extensively.
Although it very much sounds like new technologies will be key to this new sim I also think that the gameplay that IL-2 has, the focus on tactical air wars, is probably the “fun” part that draws many in. Large bombers and the like still remain an interest of course but for many its the low altitude dogfights, strafing runs, dodging tracers and trees in sometimes equal amounts that still appeal. I can’t see the series diverging from that too much.
All of this makes a potential Korean air war simulation more and more likely in my head.
Some of the aircraft
I’m not going to get too hung up on the exact composition of the aircraft set, however, there are some obvious aircraft to include that make this all make even more sense.
For the UN forces, the majority of which were American, you have some very obvious types. The F-51D, F4U Corsair, A-1 Skyraider were very much the pinnacle of WWII era piston engine types and thus satisfying that requirement. The F-80 Shooting Star was a key type early on with it being increasingly used in the fighter-bomber role. The F-86 Sabre needs no introduction. F-84 proved unsuitable as a fighter but performed well as a fighter bomber. When it comes to bombers, it was the B-26 Invader (renamed A-26 from WWII) that performed the role for much of the war. And yes, the B-29 Superfortress, which I can’t see being a flyable airplane but perhaps suitable for an AI-only entrant? I hear the boos from the bomber crowd already… I’m sorry.
Commonwealth types were also involved including the RAAF’s Meteors which were used first as fighters and then later as fighter-bombers. There were carrier borne types as well but I’m going to skip them for now.
Opposing them we also have types like the Yak-9P and IL-10 that formed the core of the North Korean air force early on. The MiG-15 was then deployed leading to classic Sabre vs MiG scenario that many combat sim pilots would enjoy. The Tu-2 bomber also played a minor role and the U-2/Po-2 had its place as a night attacker too.
This, to me, would be a very fun setup and one with a good variety of opportunities for combat flying. One of the things that the IL-2 series has done reasonably well is not only offering fighters (although they are the majority) but also offering other roles. We do have a few bombers and a good number of attacker types and this set has that too.
And, because a little bit of symmetry and connection is important, this title would still have a classic Ilyushin attack airplane with the IL-10.
More fidelity, fewer planes?
Whatever business model 1CGS chooses to follow, it may no longer be possible for a 10 airplane product. If the details keep being pushed then inevitably we creep towards DCS module levels of detail and that means pricier individual modules or packages of aircraft.
Something has to give and recreating the current WWII aircraft set at a higher level of fidelity sounds like a frustrating experience to go through yet again for many long term fans. I can’t rule it out of course but if we were offered a fundamentally different scenario it would allow for a clearer delineation between the products while also offering a scenario where smaller numbers of aircraft could still provide for a compelling experience.
Beyond that, I could see more releases gradually filling out the set to include more beyond a core few. A process that could take years to complete but that would be eminently more achievable in a Korean War scenario than in the dozens of different scenarios that World War II offers up.
This could be the way of things for the future.
Still not conclusive
I could be wrong about all of this but I have a hunch that this may be the direction that they go. It would help that Great Battles may very well stick around for quite a while yet and recreating WWII in the new sim engine may not be something that the team would be eager to do. So, instead of doing that, going to another similar yet different scenario would create something unique and new and let the old title continue to live.
We’ll see but I had to write it down while it was rolling around in my head.