IL-2 unlocks removed, new content details

August 21st, 2016 by

 

Good news for Willy who hasn't finished doing all of the unlocks!

Good news for Willy! (He hasn’t finished doing all of the unlocks from IL-2’s single player campaign *tsk tsk*)

Some big changes are coming to IL-2: Battle of Stalingrad and Battle of Moscow. Jason Williams, the Producer for IL-2 announced late last week that starting this coming week, you will find all of your unlocks have been removed for equipment, weapons and skins. It won’t matter if you have the Premium edition or the Standard edition and it won’t matter if you have a Collector Airplane or one of the eight standard that come with each of the releases. The doors will be thrown wide open and all of the formerly locked items will be made available.

There is just the one caveat. If you have the Russian market Starter Edition of IL-2: Battle of Stalingrad then nothing will have changed. You will still need to progress through the ranks to gain equipment modifications.

Coming next!

No formal announcement has been made yet about what the team is working on next for their next major project. What we know is that the team has gotten together and that plans for the next two major expansions to the IL-2 franchise have already been planned out and pending the availability of funding, 1CGS will be working on them until completion.

In the meantime, two additional Collectors Aircraft have been announced. The Yak-1B and Ju 52 continue to make progress and Jason’s developer update also showed off some tasty screen shots. We’ve got a few for you right here!

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Work on the Yak-1B external model appears to be nearly complete and is now fully textured. The Ju 52 internals continue their progress as well and in this shot we get a good look at the rear gunners station.

We also get a early look at the Odessa map work-in-progress by Zeus and a team of third party and internal developers. With vast stretches of open water, rolling hills and open fields, Odessa should be a familiar but unique map that will add greatly to the eastern front experience.

News surrounding the next release from 1CGS is still to come with Jason indicating news will be made available sooner than later and pre-orders for that and for the Ju52 and Yak-1B collectors aircraft will be forthcoming very soon as well. Stay tuned folks!

 

New flyables and more coming to IL-2

July 30th, 2016 by

Dev Diary #129 from the 1CGS IL-2 team was published a couple of days ago and it gives us a taste of what is to come.

The Yak-1B, an improved version of the Yak-1 and a work in progress shot of a cockpit for the Ju52 all but confirms that the famous tri-motor will be one of several new flyable aircraft in the future. Multiplayer compatibility is getting new changes which allow owners of BoS or BoM to fly on servers with maps from the product they don’t own. Changes to sounds and new aerobatic smoke generators round out some of the more immediate updates coming in the next patch along with news that IL-2: Battle of Moscow will finally release to the Steam Store.

A bigger announcement is expected before the end of August detailing the next theatre and other future plans for the series. You can bet that improved VR support will be part of that too.

Read the whole update right here!

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Rise of Flight Summer Sale

June 26th, 2016 by

The folks of 777 Studios have offered up another sale (the last one feels like only a short time ago!) for Rise of Flight.

They are calling it their ‘Big Summer Sale’ with a 66% discount on most items. It goes until July 4 so if you’ve been thinking of adding to your Rise of Flight hangar, now is a great time to pick up a few more aircraft from the store.

Rise of Flight dogfight

 

IL-2: Battle of Moscow Review

June 7th, 2016 by

IL-2: Battle of Moscow (v2.001) has been out for a few weeks and its time to review this addition to the IL-2 world and see how it scores up against Battle of Stalingrad.

A couple of things have happened since I did the review on Battle of Stalingrad. First, I think 1CGS was able to prove that they could release a potentially worthwhile successor to the original IL-2 series. Second, that the Rise of Flight Digital Nature engine could be adapted successfully to World War II aviation. Third, that the community was interested in more World War II air combat and that we would snap up some more content if it was good. And it was good!

Something else happened recently. I started up a blog called Stormbirds and its all about PC Flight Simulation. Writing there doesn’t mean I won’t be updating here but it did give me a great platform to write a second review.

I scored Battle of Stalingrad at 7.5/10. The first in the series was great but it was also seriously flawed at launch. How did I score Battle of Moscow? Read my full review here!

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Another Rise of Flight Sale

May 24th, 2016 by

Yearning for the early days of armed combat in the skies? Check out Rise of Flight’s latest 66% off sale. The sale started today and goes until May 30th.

I just got into flying Rise of Flight and its spectacularly done. I’m a couple of hours into the free version and I figured, what the heck, lets buy some planes on sale. It’s a great sim and a different flavour from some of the higher speed WWII and modern combat sims that are out there.

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Battle of Moscow is here!

May 19th, 2016 by

Game version 2.001 officially ushers in the first expansion to IL-2: Battle of Stalingrad with the new Battle of Moscow release.

Here are some highlights from the update:

  • Customers who pre-purchased Battle of Moscow and don’t have Battle of Stalingrad can access the game today (previously only the players who own both theaters of war could play the Battle of Moscow)
  • Piloting tips added (they can be switched off in user interface settings)
  • Video cutscenes added to Battle of Moscow campaign
  • Scenario missions added to Battle of Moscow campaign
  • More combinations of weapon modifications are allowed for MiG-3 and P-40
  • Pine trees added to forests
  • Stalingrad navigation map updated to match the new Moscow map features (visible airfield layouts for instance)
  • Joystick IDs won’t be erased during each game update

There are a ton of other updates including some updates and fixes for IL-2: Battle of Stalingrad content too. For those on the fence, Battle of Moscow is everything that Battle of Stalingrad was with plenty of new content (8 regular planes, 2 premium, and the excellent fall and winter Moscow maps) with a slightly revised campaign. It has some of the same flaws too but the whole package is really coming along. A full review is coming later on. Until then!

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IL-2: Battle of Moscow 1.201 Patch Brings a Lot of New Content

April 15th, 2016 by

The latest patch released by 1CGS in the IL-2: Battle of Stalingrad and Battle of Moscow series brings with it a ton of new content. The long awaited Ju88A-4 enters the game with a brilliantly flyable German level and dive bomber, the Moscow map arrives along with the Moscow campaign and the game client gets 64bit support. It’s quite a bit to digest!

The Ju88A-4

New aircraft added for the Battle of Moscow series has included a list of iconic aircraft and the Ju88A-4 is easily on the top of the list. Produced in the many thousands, the A-4 is the definitive version of the successful Ju88 series seeing use on the Eastern Front from start to finish.

The A-4 boasts an impressive bomb loadout with a huge selection of standard and unlockable options. As it currently stands, the Ju88A-4 has the biggest and most flexible bomb loadout in the game. It also beats the He111H-6 in the versatility department offering both effective level and dive bombing capabilities.

Fast and capable... the iconic Ju88! Pretty good looking office!Defensive armament is comprised of MG81 and MG81Z (twin) machine guns in the nose, ventral gondola, and top sections of the aircraft’s small crew compartment. These are rapid firing machine guns compared to what you would find on the Heinkel H-6 and that should make the Ju88 a tougher plane to attack, however, there is a caveat. These machine guns overheat quickly (after very short bursts) and the dispersion becomes difficult to make these useful at times.

The Ju88 can climb reasonably quickly and it maintains a higher top speed than the He111. Overall this bomber is fast and maneuverable, especially once the bombs are dropped, and it rises to the top of the list, being one of, if not the most, effective bombers available, in-game, on either side of the conflict. It’s that good!

Moscow Map

Patch 1.201 also brings us the Moscow map. First question that everyone asks is, does the map actually have Moscow on it, and the answer is… Yes. Sort of.

moscow-fog moscow-riverMoscow is many times larger than Stalingrad and with more complex city objects. The devs decided that the best option available to them was to build the city but in a lower detail than they might on objects you get close to. Moscow is just out of reach of the flyable area of the map. It’s a compromise that lets players see the titular city they are attacking or defending but not actually be forced developing a performance and development time sucking city.

Moscow aside, this map is impressive in its details. The villages and towns are impressively detailed, the forests are denser than those at Stalingrad, and indeed the whole map has a different aesthetic quality to it than the Stalingrad map that we’re familiar with.

Airbases are similarly detailed with good texturing details (not the best but good) and more object complexity. There are larger scale hangars in the Moscow area than Stalingrad and the detailing on the map reflects it.

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New atmospheric fogging effects at low altitude during dawn and dusk are also a small but subtle way that makes this game even more beautiful than it was in the past.

 

The campaign, break it to me doc!

So… the campaign. Is it good? The answer is: it depends.

Battle of Stalingrad released with a fairly basic single player campaign that offered easy access to a series of missions for whatever plane they wanted. Rather than be locked into a single type or option, the campaign let you generate whatever mission and fly whatever plane you wanted (assuming you had unlocked them).

bf109andi16-battleThe Moscow campaign has a near identical approach. What it benefits from is increased diversity. The missions themselves are more random with greater chances of random occurrences and interception by enemy or friendly forces enroute to target or even a long time after. Players have been jumped shortly after takeoff and soon before landing adding to the challenge and interest.

If you hated the premise of the old one, then the new one doesn’t do much to change that. There is no pilot narrative and unit/squadron identities are not something that gets any play. What you do have is a good progression of missions through the Moscow campaign (from autumn to winter) with an endlessly replayable random mission generator.

New 64bit Client

The other update is the new 64bit client which is supposedly improving performance by 10-20%. I don’t have numbers but I will say that the game is overall smoother and it runs better when there are large numbers of aircraft and objects in an area. Even my newest PC used to be bogged down by a dozen flights in a given area, but no more!

Is there anything next?

Release for IL-2: Battle of Moscow is imminent. Everyone with the latest patch has access to what is now a near content complete version of Battle of Moscow but there are still a few things left to do including campaign cinematics and some custom hand built missions sprinkled into the campaign. My guess is that those final pieces of the puzzle are weeks away at the most.

Is there anything after that? We don’t know yet and 1CGS says they haven’t had a chance to discuss internally what their plans are. That may have changed more recently but speculation is rampant covering the range of WWII theatres from Kursk and the Kuban/Crimea battles to North Africa, Malta, and D-Day. There is also no guarantee that the series will continue although I think nearly most of us are hopeful that it does. Time will tell!

 

Filling in the Gaps – IL-2 Patch 1.107

February 15th, 2016 by

1CGS’ IL-2 series has reached 1.107 and as always I like to review the major content additions as they arrive to the series. This patch adds three aircraft to the lineup meaning that we are one away from being content complete for the IL-2: Battle of Moscow lineup.

Time to review some aircraft!

Friedrich Arrives at the Party

Fred doing a pretty good Gustav impression

Fred doing a pretty good Gustav impression.

The first of the three new types that I’m reviewing is the Bf109F-2. Located in between the Bf109E-7 and Bf109F-4 in performance, the F-2 is visually identical to the F-4 but under the hood is a slightly less powerful DB 601N engine (1159hp in the F-2 vs 1332hp in the DB601E in the F-4).

The F-2 sports the sleek appearance of the F and G series of 109s with the cleaned up aerodynamics and it has the performance to match. With an overall higher top speed, the F-2 is the fighter on the German side to beat. Combined with excellent handling, the F-2 exceeds the MiG-3 overall with better handling than the Russian fighter and at most altitudes it has a higher top speed (except at very high altitude).

Where the Friedrich is less effective is in its armament. The early versions of the F-2 were fitted with the MG151/15 cannon. The 15mm x 96mm cartridge has excellent ballistics against fighter targets but its less effective against bombers. A field modification swapped the smaller gun for a 20mm MG151/20 and that is represented as an unlock. The F-2 has no access to gun pods either.

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The MG151/15 works on IL-2s… but it takes some effort to bring one down!

This all creates an interesting choice. The earlier 109E-7 is lighter and has greater firepower (dual MG-FF/M 20mm cannons) while the F-2 is heavier with excellent handling and a higher top speed that it reaches more slowly.

Overall, the Bf109F-2 is an easy fighter to jump in from any other 109 variant and fly it nearly to its max immediately. Its flight performance matches or exceeds that of any Russian fighter in Battle of Moscow (I-16, MiG-3, P-40E) but it is by no means a wonder weapon.

Solid tactics still help win the day here!

 

The Early Shturmovik

Look out!

Look out! Yes, you!

The early IL-2 model 1941 represents the earliest series of IL-2 to see combat. While that doesn’t sound exciting at first glance, the details are everything.

The downsides to this IL-2 include no rear gunner and no 37mm gun pod options. But it does come with a great selection of upsides – an all metal construction (the later model used much more wood for wing and fuselage sections) means that this model is lighter and tougher and it handles much better than the 1942 model.

Just a scratch... model 1941 can take a beating!

Just a scratch… model 1941 can take a beating!

By default it comes with twin 20mm ShVAK cannons and a glass rear canopy. You can upgrade to the 23mm VYa cannons but you lose the glass rear canopy (a historical consideration). All manners of rockets and bombs are still available here and this IL-2 model is still excellent at ground attack. Its agile enough in a pinch to be a fighter too.

This model of IL-2 is better in most ways to the later ones. The 1942 model represents the strains of the wartime economy on the production of one of the most numerous aircraft types in the Russian airforce and its interesting to see the evolution of the type.

Check out our detailed comparison:

IL-2 model 1942 with wooden fuselage, wings and a field modified gunner station

IL-2 model 1942 with wooden fuselage, wings and a field modified gunner station.

IL2 model 1941 with all-metal wings and fuselage

IL2 model 1941 with all-metal wings and fuselage.

Faster and Fancier – The Pe-2 Series 35

Rockets away!

Rockets away!

By now you might be sensing a trend in Russian aircraft. The Pe-2 Series 35 in many ways is superior to that of the later Series 87 (and 110). This earlier series has more glass in the nose thus better visibility out the bottom. This earlier model is lighter and faster with better handling.

There are downsides as well. The earlier series lacks the heavier rear armament with a single ShKAS 7.62mm machine gun located in a retractable glass fairing instead of the heavier UB 12.7mm. Bomb and rocket armament remains familiar to those who regularly fly the later model.

In the current patch there is also a bit of an issue with the top gunner and the retracting faring. The Gunner doesn’t always lower the glass and man the gun quickly enough to respond to lightning fast attacks. Something hopefully the devs are able to address in future updates.

The Pe-2 Series 35 represents a subtly different model of the famous light bomber and dive bomber series from the later Series 87 and 110 that we have in IL-2: Battle of Stalingrad. Again, we see the strain of the wartime economy in the reductions of glass and the battle lessons learned with heavier defensive armament on the later model.

Compare early and late models:

The Series 35 with glass nose and top gunner station fairing.

The Series 35 with glass nose and top gunner station fairing.

More metal pieces and no more fancy glass fairing on the top

More metal pieces and no more fancy glass fairing on the top of the Series 87.

Conclusions and Updates

Bomber fans are going to love the Ju88's versatility.

Bomber fans are going to love the Ju88’s versatility.

Some may lament that the three new aircraft added are infact not new but earlier versions of types we already have. That may be true but they are also important types in the earlier Battle of Moscow time period and perhaps most interesting to people who enjoy the details – Each of these represent the gradual evolution of some extremely important and notable aircraft types. These are not just a copy and paste job by the developers. They are recreated in exceptional detail showing subtle yet important differences. Each of them fly in a familiar way, yet they have notable differences and you can tell what you’re flying just by the feel.

With the release of these three types there are some other important changes detailed in the change log.

Closing in on release we have only a little more content yet to be released. We’re eagerly anticipating the release of the Ju88A-4 bomber which will nicely round out the Luftwaffe’s selection. The developers are also finishing work on the Moscow map and we’re expecting both of those major pieces of content to arrive in the next couple of updates. The single player campaign is also due sometime after that.

Double rail bridge, like a double rainbow, isn't something you see everyday!

Double rail bridge, like a double rainbow, isn’t something you see everyday!

Look for updates on those two items plus a full scale review of the finished product after release. It’s fun to write and I hope everyone is enjoying our write-ups on IL-2: Battle of Moscow.

 

New Fixes and the MiG-3 Round out Patch 1.106 for IL-2: BoM

January 16th, 2016 by

The developers at 1CGS contine to pump out a steady stream of updates. Just last month we gained access to the Luftwaffe’s heavy fighter and attack aircraft, the Bf110E-2, drivable tanks, and huge selection of features. In late December we were once again treated with some great updates and, for those of you in the IL-2: Battle of Moscow early access program, the MiG-3.

It’s time we looked at the MiG and some of the other changes that have arrived in this latest update.

Mikoyan’s Hot Rod of a Fighter

The MiG (Mikoyan-Gurevich) design bureau has become synonymous with Russian fighter aircraft in the view of the general public. Back in 1940 they were a struggling group of designers and engineers trying to bring an advanced fighter-interceptor to the front lines of an impending war and their reputation was in the production of an unproven and technically difficult design.

MiG-3 cruising along at high altitude!

MiG-3 cruising along at high altitude!

Picked up some damage but that bomber is in real trouble!

Picked up some damage but that bomber is in real trouble!

Patch 1.106 brings us a later version of the MiG-3 fighter. The Series 24 version entered service sometime in the later half of 1941. By the time of the Battle of Moscow, several sub variants of the MiG-3 were on the scene with a wide variety of armament options but most of the front line versions were represented by this later version.

The MiG-3’s handling is a mixed bag of trade-offs and issues. There are improvements to handling over the early 1940 MiG-3 thanks to leading edge slats, improved center of gravity, and the removal of unnecessary fuel tanks. Turn rate is average to good but it gets very unhappy very quickly and it will sometimes flick your out of a turn in a very undesirable way. If you get into real trouble it will eventually correct itself but you can flip flop all over the sky and you can bet your enemies will be aiming to get you before you can recover.

The MiG-3 is fast at altitude with its high altitude rated AM-35 engine but it loses speed superiority rapidly at low altitude. We don’t have the Bf109F-2 yet but even against the Bf109E-7 it has a little difficulty running away. At high altitude the MiG-3 is a strong capable fighter, however, and its interceptor abilities against bombers is good – If you take the optional armament packages that is.

It Has Options!

Stay on target!

Stay on target!

The MiG-3 looks great, even on a dull cloudy day!

The MiG-3 looks great, even on a dull cloudy day!

The MiG-3 has an interesting array of options for its forward armament. The default armament is a single Berezin UB 12.7mm heavy machine gun and two ShKAS 7.62mm light machine guns. Optionally you can unlock a twin UB 12.7mm arrangement in the nose or go up to twin ShVAK 20mm cannons in the nose. Any of these can also be paired with performance sapping gunpods. Rockets and small bomb loads are also an option if you want to press the MiG-3 into fighter-bomber duties.

The MiG-3 is a quirky fighter with quirky performance and handling but it’s another one of those fan favourites. If you know your fighter you can do well but if you mishandle it then prepare to suffer the consequences. Fly it as a boomer and a zoomer and others will have difficulty keeping up. Try and turn fight it all day and it will push you around.

Other Changes

There are a ton of changes to the game as well. Some of the highlights:

  • Previous ‘radar’ around airbases has been changed to a more general ‘under air attack’ or ‘under ground attack’ so that players know that they are entering a hot zone and may not want to spawn there.
  • New early war tanks have been added to the game (in preparation for Battle of Moscow no doubt)
  • Changes to the damage modeling for tanks have spilled over and have slightly improved the way that aircraft damage modelling is handled. I’ve seen a few more broken wings and cool things happening when you really beat up an enemy aircraft.
  • More transparency for the tank gun barrel smoke – Previously you couldn’t see anything and now you can kind of make something out after you shoot. This is great!

There really is a huge list of changes.  If you want the full list… It’s right here.

Don't think we had these nice hangars over in Stalingrad eh?

Don’t think we had these nice hangars over in Stalingrad eh?

Location, location, location! (Moscow Map)

Location, location, location! (Rzhev near Moscow)

If you missed the most recent development update, head over and see what they have been up to. Some of the screen shots of the new autumn Moscow map are phenomenal. Seriously!

Coming up in future updates are the Bf109F-2, the Pe-2 Series 35, IL-2 Mod. 1941, and finally in February we’re expecting to see the Ju88A-4 takeoff. Battle of Moscow is nearing completion and release and we will update you as the expansion of the IL-2 world continues!

 

Battle for Moscow on the Horizon

December 11th, 2015 by

Development updates and a new patch bring us a little closer to the IL-2: Battle for Moscow release while improving Battle for Stalingrad at the same time. Let’s see what we have coming down the pipe!

Patch 1.105

Patch 1.105 adds some new content to the mix including the preview of the Bf110E-2 from Battle of Moscow, mouse control, and user controllable tanks. We’ll review the Bf110 in a moment but let’s talk mouse control and tanks.

Mouse control as demoed by the development team gives full control over aircraft using only a mouse with no joystick required. Its been a contentious issue to say the least in the community – used to dealing with purely joystick controls is something that tends to provide a dividing line between more serious simulators and the ones that are more of an arcade experience (War Thunder tends to pick-up this label).

Player controllable T-34 on the Russians Steppes.

Player controllable T-34 on the Russian Steppes.

1CGS implementation doesn’t simplify the flight modeling, despite the initial concern, and controlling aircraft remains quite complex. In some ways the mouse will never be able to live up to the flexibility that a joystick requires – its precise in some manuevers but hamstrung trying to do more complex aerobatics.

The mouse controls bring more people into the fold and ensures future development but I suspect that many mouse users will gravitate to bombers or attack aircraft where precision flying is valued above the reflex testing fighter operations – and that’s ok!

Controllable tanks remain an online only option at the moment and it isn’t something that I’ve had a chance to try out just yet. It sounds like players are having a great time with it (again, despite the initial outcry) and finding the experience to be very authentic. Improved detail in the armor world has also made anti-armor operations more nuanced for attackers with improved ballistics and armor simulation.

How long before we get a user controllable mobile AA gun?

The Luftwaffe Gets a Flexible Heavy Fighter

At one point the Luftwaffe high command thought the Bf110 to be the ultimate expression of a fighter. Something to be flown by the elite units that would destroy the enemy fighter operation in long range missions. It didn’t work out that way… But they got something else.

Victory!

Victory!

New to IL-2: Battle of Moscow preview is the Bf110E-2, a fighter-bomber version of the famous heavy fighter, optimized for attack missions on the eastern front and coming with a solid selection of equipment that makes it a versatile attacker as well as bomber hunter.

Armament is a key thing for this fighter so it packs a pair of MG-FF/M 20mm cannons in the nose along with four MG17 machine guns. The ammo supply feels endless and IL-2 BoS kicks the realism up a notch as the MG-FF/M guns are fed by ammunition drums – and reloaded by your rear gunner.

Several bomb options come with the Bf110E-2 including a twelve-bomb rack of small SC50 bombs up to a single SC1000 loaded on the main fuselage for heavy hitting attacks. There’s also an array of armor plates for the crew and underside armor to protect against small arms fire.

A lot of SC50 bombs can be carried on this unlockable bomb rack.

A lot of SC50 bombs can be carried on this unlockable bomb rack.

Although a powerful fighter from a firepower standpoints, it lacks agility and the power to weight ratio to make it competitive with single engine fighters. Elevator reseponse is adequate and you  can get into some tigher turns but the roll rate is slow and changing directions rapidly is not something this aircraft likes to do. Not compared to a fighter.

On the other hand, you can definite go bomber hunting with it! IL-2s and Pe-2s will fall quickly to the incredible firepower. Rely on fast diving passes before turning around and climbing for another run and you’ll score quite a few air to air kills.

A Small Campaign Change

Sometimes small changes make for bigger impacts. We’ve discussed the IL-2: BoS campaign several times before (here, here and here) so we don’t need to rehash some of the less good parts about it. The one we will focus on was essentially necessary when you start out with a new product and only a handful of planes – diversity was a huge problem.

A La-5 lands the killing shot on a MC.202.

A La-5 lands the killing shot on a MC.202.

Every mission was predictable – You always knew which fighters you would be facing and there was really very little diversity. With the latest patch and recent additions to the aircraft lineup…That all changes. Now you’ll see the La-5 escorting IL-2s and P-40s fighting it out with MC.202s. I-16s go on escort missions and attack bombers while Bf109E-7s fly fighter-bomber runs on friendly ground forces. The diversity mixes it up – Big time!

The MiG-3 and Future Developments

1CGS says that the MiG-3 is in final beta testing now and should be available before the end of the year. Seeing as we’re just a couple of weeks out from there, except the MiG-3  to arrive sometime in the next week or perhaps week and a half.

The developers have released a great selection of screen shots and detailed information on the MiG-3 in their latest update. You should definitely read it if you find that kind of thing interesting!

The Moscow map itself (conspicuously missing Moscow-city proper) is due to arrive sometime early next year along with the Ju88, Bf109F-2, Pe-2 and IL-2 1941 series. The thing I’m most interested in seeing is how they make the Moscow map distinct from flying over Stalingrad – How they achieve this is something very interesting to watch for. More of the same or with a style all to its own? Stay tuned!