November 20th, 2015 by ShamrockOneFive
The developers of IL-2: Battle of Stalingrad have been keeping very busy with periodic updates to the series’ first release while also developing for Battle of Moscow, the follow on product that is due for final release sometime in 2016. Patch 1.104 brings some big updates and we thought it would be a good idea to do a review!
The Seasons Be A Changin!
The biggest and perhaps most profound change with the new patch is the release of the new seasonal maps. The original product launched with the Stalingrad winter map and the campaign that shipped with it focused on the battle during the early to late winter period. This new patch brings us some welcome seasonal variation with the dry steppes of the Stalingrad region’s summer and beautiful colours and burnt brown and oranges of the fall.
The new versions of the Stalingrad map are beautiful. They are both set during the period after the bombardment of the city by the Luftwaffe so Stalingrad still lies in ruins. It would have been even more special to have a non-ruined version but that is of course more development work. Realistically just being able to fly across a more varied terrain is worth it alone.
Aircraft performance is also affected by the much warmer summer temperatures as aircraft overheat more quickly and overall performance is slightly diminished.
There’s some wonderful grass effects at low altitude, however, even on the highest settings these don’t go out very far and its obvious where the draw distance for the grass stops. It’s a minor annoyance but probably one that keeps the game running smoothly.
I give the new maps a 9/10 on my wholly unscientific rating system.
And A New Campaign Too
The patch breaks the Stalingrad campaign into two parts with a Part I representing the earlier parts of the campaign during the late summer and autumn and Part II representing the previously available siege, counter offensive and recapture of Stalingrad.
Structurally the campaign system remains largely unchanged with one addition. One base on each side now represents a special custom built selection of missions. Aircraft are restricted to the ones selected by the mission builder and long briefings and a story like narrative accompany each of the missions. The missions themselves are what mission builders call “hand built” and are more unique than the typical dynamically generated ones. They add some spice to the grind that is Battle of Stalingrad’s unlock system (that is assuming you haven’t already unlocked everything).
It’s a welcome change and one that we’ll be seeing more of in the Battle of Moscow product as well. I doubt it fully addresses the issues that many brought up when the campaign was introduced but I still appreciate the casual nature of the system that has been built and the ability to jump in and have fun with whatever aircraft you’re feeling like.
The new custom campaign missions add some variety of the campaign system and I still like the overall structure but it still lacks features such as squadrons and unit progression. Something still to hope for in future releases. I give this a 7/10.
Speaking of Battle of Moscow…
Enter the ‘Emil’
Also included in Patch 1.104 is the addition of the German Bf109E-7 ‘Emil’ fighter to the aircraft lineup. Having this fighter has been a great addition to the series.
Adding a third variation of Bf109 seems overkill, however, the E-7 is based on a much earlier design and you can tell. Less automated systems, more reliance on the machine guns and two weaker MG-FF/M 20mm cannons in the wings, and a slower top speed and climb rate make this the lowest performing aircraft in the Bf109 lineup. Yet it is wonderful!
The aircraft turns tighter and feels more ‘tossable’ than the later Bf109 variations available. This version of the 109 has a tighter turn and easier handling it with its overall lighter weight and lower wing loading. At higher speeds its less capable than its more advanced siblings.
Used as both fighter and fighter-bomber, the Bf109E-7 comes with a variety of armament and equipment options. General purpose SC250 or a rack of SC50 bombs, optional armor plating along the lower sections of the fighter, and an armored windscreen offer up varying levels of protection. You can also remove the armored plate behind your virtual pilot for better performance and visibility – at the expense of pilot protection.
The Bf109E-7 addition is a 10/10 in my book!
Back in June, 1CGS announced that the I-16, MC.202, P-40E and Bf109E-7 would be released in that order, one each month, leading up to the release of the Bf110E-2 in November. The Luftwaffe heavy fighter and ground attacker is a fan favourite of many and it should arrive sometime in the next couple of weeks.
After that we don’t have a definitive timeline for the next aircraft arrivals nor do we know when the Moscow map will be unveiled. But here are a few things we do know:
- An announcement will be made soon regarding the second half of the Battle of Moscow content release
- The Moscow map will be coming with the same three seasons worth of variations as Stalingrad did (Summer, Autumn and Winter)
- The new map will, according to the developers, use a new mapping approach. “For Moscow map we use a new approach for landscape texturing which should make it even more realistic looking and impressive.” Link
- The MiG-3 Series 24 will be released before the end of the year
- The Ju88A-4 will be the last type to become available (sometime in early 2016)
And Now For Something Completely Different…
Recent developer blog update has shown us an early look at a drivable Russian T-34-76 as well as the German PzKpfw III Ausf. L tanks. Yes, you read that correctly, the developers are working on tank warfare as a side project using the same Digital Nature engine. Beta versions of these may arrive as early as the next patch and they will have authentic sighting and command posts.
The developers seem intent on keeping this a prototype but it could grow into something larger at a later date and being able to integrate a combined arms scenario in multiplayer where some players fly aircraft while others are engaged in ground warfare would be something pretty exciting.
It looks like 1CGS has successfully replicated the success of the original IL-2 Sturmovik product and the future looks bright despite early misgivings about the project and the team. This simulator/game still has its issues but it has come a long way and it looks like it has a lot of room to grow.
I give this patch a 8.5/10 (not an average). The campaign doesn’t improve a lot but the new maps and new content are huge.
November 3rd, 2015 by ShamrockOneFive
The latest update in the IL-2: Battle of Stalingrad series brings with it some fairly extensive changes and another new plane for the early access release of Battle of Moscow. It’s the biggest content release the series has seen since the initial campaign launched.
What’s in the update? If you have IL-2: Battle of Stalingrad then you’ll be gaining access to a new campaign. The winter part of the campaign that was previously available is now considered Part II while Part I features the lead up to the fall of the city and it spans the late summer and early fall parts of the campaign.
If you’re early access on Battle of Moscow then you’ll also be getting access to the Bf109E-7. Used as both a fighter and fighter-bomber in the early days of the Eastern Front battles, this is a lower performing Bf109 and yet I’ve been having a ton of fun flying it around and facing off against the I-16 Type 24.
A full review is forthcoming but in the meantime… checks these screen shots out!
October 7th, 2015 by ShamrockOneFive
Il-2: Battle of Moscow, the follow up release of 1CGS’s IL-2: Battle for Stalingrad, is a few steps closer to completion. The Premium fighters, available early to those who pre-ordered, have arrived and they are so much fun! Let’s have a look!
Fine Italian Thoroughbred
The MC.202 ‘Folgore’ (or Thunderbolt) was an Italian built fighter that served mostly in North Africa and in the skies over Italy but also made a brief appearance on the Eastern Front. Not specifically used at the Battle of Moscow, the MC.202 follows the developers desire to use the Premium fighter releases as a way to introduce interesting period aircraft.
The MC.202 matches up with some of the earlier Bf109 models in overall performance so it’s well suited competitively in the rest of the BoM lineup.
Flying the MC.202 is a great time. The aircraft will perform most maneuvers without any serious issues and it is less likely to stall than you might assume seeing as the aircraft has no leading edge slats. But definitely watch out when it does stall because it can be vicious at times.
The cockpit is beautiful detailed although the canopy struts at times appear to be a little lower resolution than you might like to see.
The Achilles heel of the MC.202 is its firepower. Although heavy machine guns in this version of IL-2 do much more damage than before, there is still the feeling of having to chip away at your enemies. Armament defaults to twin Breda SAFAT 12.7mm machine guns up front with optional 7.7mm and MG151/20 gunpods which up the ante significantly although they impede performance as well.
Fun to fly and beautiful to look at. Completely worth checking out!
Tough American Metal
The second and final Premium fighter arriving with BoM is the American made P-40E. Thousands of P-40 models served with the Russian airforce from Murmansk to the Kuban region and the P-40E was a fairly common model. Historically it was active in places including Stalingrad so it makes an excellent addition to the aircraft lineups of both products.
The P-40Es performance is hit and miss with a fantastic dive speed and a powerful array of 6x.50cal machine guns which are absolutely devastating (I took out two Bf109G-2s in a single firing pass recently). Lacking is its climb rate and top speed which is generally surpassed by other fighters currently available.
If well flown the P-40E is an able fighter with the ability to soak up a lot of battle damage and dish it out even more. With optional rockets and bombs the P-40E is also an excellent fighter-bomber capable of hunting vehicle convoys and trains with ease. Chewing up a train with the .50cals is a blast… sometimes literally.
The cockpit is one of the best in the game so far and the external visuals are the most accurate P-40 representation in a game anywhere. A lot of American aircraft fans are going to love this!
Other IL-2 News
Although no official date has been indicated yet, IL-2: BoM will release sometime in the first half of 2016 and anyone with early access will continue to see content rolled out in pieces.
The next major patch version will include new content for Battle for Stalingrad as well as one new plane for Battle of Moscow.
With Stalingrad we’re leaving the frozen steppes behind with two new seasonal maps and updated campaign missions built around the new map. Both a summer and autumn version of the Stalingrad map are on their way with some beautiful and much more colourful scenery.
New mission types including ship hunting along the Volga River. You know what that means? We’re getting a small selection of ships to work with as well. Gunboats have already been shown off but apparently there are a few other options. It adds another dimension to ground targets not previously available.
Coming next in the BoM stable is the Bf109E-7/B, a fighter and fighter-bomber version of the 109 ‘Emil’ and the earliest representation of the Bf109 in the series so far. We’re expecting to see the Bf110E and the rest of the Battle of Moscow lineup in the coming months along with . See our preview article to find out about the rest of the lineup.
And… if you missed it. Don’t miss out on the newest YouTube videos from 1CGS showing off the Bf109E-7/B and a FW190A-3 flying a skip bombing mission against a ship.
July 31st, 2015 by ShamrockOneFive
The developers at 1CGS have been pretty busy the last several months. We’ve seen frequent updates but now the content is starting to arrive. And how sweet it is!
Polikaprov’s I-16, sometimes known as ‘Rata’ (Rat), is a short nosed and highly compact fighter that was the primary fighter of the Soviet fighter force for most of the 1930s. The most advanced fighter of its time, by World War II it was outclassed but not entirely outmatched by newer fighters.
If you already did the Premium Pre-order of Battle for Moscow, your new fighter already awaits you in the hangar. If you didn’t you can still have a close look at it is now available for those who did the Premium pre-order of BoM and it’s the first of the Battle for Moscow content to be released.
The version we get is the Type 24. This is a late model I-16 with an upgraded engine and four ShKAS 7.62mm machine guns as standard. It also comes with a variety of unlockable options including the ability to make this a Type 28 – the two wing machine guns get replaced by the much heavier hitting ShVAK 20mm cannon.
Performance? Well… we can only compare against the later model Bf109F-4 and G-2 at the moment. Both of which are far and away superior to the I-16 in speed and climb rate. But the handling on the Rata is extremely good with a rapid roll rate, a very good turn rate, and excellent cockpit visibility. The stall is vicious if you let it get out of hand and it’s easy for a new pilot to really mess things up in a hurry. I found out the hard way!
Against the earlier Bf109 models coming in BoM you can expect to be able to at least keep up in some situations. But you won’t be winning any races!
Summer and Autumn Stalingrad Campaign
The developers have been teasing us with images from upcoming versions of the Battle of Stalingrad map. We’re getting new summer and autumn versions of the Stalingrad map which will take us away from the snow covered fields of the Stalingrad Oblast region and show us some summer and autumn fields.
The change of scenery will be a welcome change for the series and it also introduces new campaigns covering the time period between September and November of 1942 as the German assault on Stalingrad intensified. The developers are aiming to increase mission variety by mixing custom built missions in with the auto generated missions and adding new objects like gunboats along the Volga river. This new theatre and campaign are being shipped free if you already have Battle of Stalingrad so bonus there!
There has been much criticism leveled against the 1CGS developers for Battle of Stalingrad. In our review we’ve talked about a few of the main issues that the simulation/game has. It’s still the most focused and cohesive next generation WWII flight simulator out there (DCS’ Normandy map still hasn’t landed yet) and it’s immensely fun to just fly around the landscape.
New updates that have recently added to the IL-2 Battle of Stalingrad lineup include the Ju52 (AI plane) that adds so much needed presence of the Luftwaffe’s massive airlift effort and new features such as 64 player servers and the much awaited return of the F11 free look mode that movie makers love so much.
If you have pre-ordered the Premium pack for Battle of Moscow then the MC.202 (August) and P-40E-1 (September) are on their way soon. In October the Bf109E-7 will arrive closely followed by the Bf110E-2. 1CGS has not stated when the remaining 5 aircraft will arrive.
Want to catch up on more stuff? Check out the 1CGS Dev Diary and join us on the Battlefields IL-2: Battle of Stalingrad multiplayer server!
June 7th, 2015 by ShamrockOneFive
The officially designated IL-2 1946 Team Daidalos development team has released the long awaited (and delayed) IL-2 1946 4.13 patch. The patch weighs in at just over 400 megabytes and it comes with new content, fixes, and changes across the board. We’re going to take a short look at some of the highlights.
New planes include the flyable B-24D (its beautiful) American heavy bomber, the Japanese N1K1 fighter series (including the J, Ja, and Jb), SB-2M-103 Russian light bomber, and the Yugoslavian IK-3. The P-40E, M-105 Field Mod., and P-40M receive an external visual overhaul courtesy of artist Macwan. You can also try out the Ju88A-5 (Late) and Ju88P-1 with a massive 75mm cannon. Several new AI types show up as well including many Ju88 models that were missing previously, the German He177A-3 heavy bomber, and a Japanese scout seaplane in the form of the E-13A.
There are also new vehicles and maps with the New Guinea, New Britain map (several versions), the far northern Svalbard, Slovakia Autumn and Tobruk maps joining the mix.
Changes to the bombing mechanics for coop, advanced bomb sight details, damage model tweaks for the engines on the Spitfire, P-51, P-47 & P-40 round out some of the highlights. There are many more details and comments available on the 1C forum for IL-2 1946. Check out the full list.
The Battle-fields team are currently working on updates for our IL-2 1946 servers to support the latest content. No doubt our players are itching to see a B-24D up close and personal! Check out the status on our forums!
March 22nd, 2015 by ShamrockOneFive
People sometimes ask if PC simulators are still a thing. Us simulation gamers like to think so but do our thoughts match reality? I’d like to think they do!
Exciting new developments in the PC simulator world mean that 2015 and beyond are shaping up to be exciting times for those of us who want the most realistic flying experiences around. A new game engine and content for DCS, the new 4.13 patch for IL-2 1946, and new content and a new product announcement from the 1CGS IL-2 Battle for Stalingrad team have me pretty excited about what is coming soon.
IL-2 1946 gets a new patch
The folks at Team Daidalos have been hard at work on a new patch for IL-2 1946. There’s a lot of content coming very soon now. Let’s have a look at what we are getting in the new patch.
New flyable aircraft:
- N1K1J, N1K1Ja and N1K1Jb
A fully realized USAAF heavy bomber has only been a dream for most of us but now we’re looking at not just a good entry into this category but a really spectacularly put together one. Some turrets feature gyro gunsights, the belly turret moves up and down and ammo belts are animated making this a highly detailed recreation of the B-24D. We’re going to find this very useful in our multiplayer scenarios from the Pacific, to Burma, to long range flights over the Eastern front, the Mediterranean and Europe.
The N1K1 will now be a flyable type as well. The redesigned N1K2J has been a flyable for several years now and earned praise from our online community (affectionately called “Niki” by some members). The earlier model is like a whole other aircraft with both some great attributes and also a few flaws. I think this will be a favourite as well.
Cockpit and external view of the N1K1-Jb
For the rare aircraft fan we have the Yugoslavian IK-3. The fighter saw limited combat but is something of a cult favourite for some aircraft modellers and I’m sure we’ll find a way to get it into our multiplayer.
Sparse… but pretty!
Two new AI planes are also being added to the mix:
The E13A is a single engine Japanese seaplane and the He-177 is the problem plagued German heavy bomber with a unique 4 engine arrangement in only two engine nacelles. A separate team is working on making this bomber a flyable in the future.
He117 bomber and the E13A seaplane add some extra spice to single player missions
More detailed bombing controls and the addition of a co-piloting feature for certain medium and heavy bombers round out the new features coming in 4.13. There are also a few new ground objects too!
Check out these development videos for details on the new bombing systems (sure to delight our Dedicated Bomber Squad). And visit the 1C Forums to see the full list of Developer Updates.
IL-2 Battle for Stalingrad loads up fixes, new content
The folks at 1CGS have made some big announcements in the last couple of weeks including announcement of continued development on Battle for Stalingrad and some free new content.
Battle for Stalingrad gets some new features starting with the ability for Premium owners to unlock all of the loadouts for aircraft automatically. You have to do it from the IL-2: BoS website but once done you’ll have every armament option available to you. The extra built in skins still need to be unlocked via campaign play although many players are now using custom skins anyways.
Coming for all owners of Battle for Stalingrad are two new versions of the Stalingrad map with new Summer and Autumn time of year variations and new single player campaign chapters covering this part of the battle. The dev teams have shown us a few images of what that will look like.
First glimpses of the summer maps for IL-2 Battle for Stalingrad
Finally, patches 1.010 is out with dozens of fixes and the beta release of the Dedicated Server and Full Mission Builder. Quite a lot happening with Battle for Stalingrad as the produce matures slowly.
That’s not all that 1CGS has announced…
Battle of Moscow joins the collection
The battlefields west of Moscow are the location for the next IL-2 release from 1CGS. IL-2 Battle of Moscow takes us back to the fall of 1941 and early winter of 1942 for this pivotal battle on the Eastern Front. Eight new flyable aircraft in the standard edition and two additional premium types are the core of the content with new single player campaigns and undoubtedly some new unlocks to collect (or unlock automatically with Premium). Battle for Moscow can be purchased as a separate game or, similar to the way that Pacific Fighters operated with IL-2 Forgotten Battles, you can merge the two together for the full experience.
So what do we get to fly in the Battle for Moscow? Let’s look at the list:
- I-16 Type 24
- IL-2 (model 1941)
- Pe-2 Series 35
The focus is definitely on the early war period on the eastern front with the I-16 and MiG-3 fighters challenging the German Bf109E-7 and F-2. These earlier Bf109s have less firepower and engine power than the later versions and should match closely with their Russian counteparts at the time.
The Bf110E-2 is a dedicated fighter-bomber variant of the famous heavy fighter and the IL-2 we all know and love is back with an earlier 1941 model edition with no turret gunner and probably lacking some of the heavier firepower that the 1942 model added. Pe-2 Series 35 is an early version of the famous Russian bomber and this early version is even faster than the heavier more heavily armed later versions. For Germany we get the versatile Ju88A-4 with its excellent balance of speed, defensive power, and dive or level bombing abilities.
The Premium release aircraft are less relevant to the Moscow theatre but they do represent interesting and fan favourite types that fought on the Eastern Front. The P-40E saw plenty of Russian use in World War II and the MC.202 fought a very limited number of East Front battles but players have been asking about this plane since nearly day one.
Any disappointments? So far we don’t know if we’ll see any variations on existing types that haven’t been mentioned (like the earlier M-105P Yak-1) and there are some repeat aircraft like the IL-2, Bf109F-2, and Pe-2 which are different and highly relevant but also very similar to the later versions we already have. The details and some of the unlocks for these aircraft may give us some fun differences and those have not yet been revealed. Others are still holding out for several other planes to be added to the series and while we definitely know what the guys at 1CGS are working on, I doubt they have told us everything yet.
DCS World Goes 2.0
We’ve known for a while that Eagle Dynamics was working on an updated core game engine that would power all future additions to the series. It looks like 2015 will be the year that we finally see an update to DCS World called EDGE 2.0 along with the highly anticipated Nevada map where the famous Red Flag training exercises take place. This will fit well with the A-10C and it should be a blast for anyone who wants to fly over the Las Vegas strip or cruise at high speed over the desert floor.
Pre-orders are happening for the nearly finished MiG-15bis (which joins the Leatherneck Studios MiG-21) and Eagle Dynamics is bringing together a collection of World War II materials including the already available Bf109K-4, FW190D-9, P-51D plus the all new P-47D, and Spitfire IX all flying over DCS 2.0 EDGE enhanced Normandy. We’re expecting a lot from this area in 2015 and beyond.
Check out some of the development videos from EDGE 2.0 over Nevada.
War Thunder keeping it casual? Maybe not.
War Thunder’s reputation as the more casual flight simulator/game experience might be changing as revealed by the Developers Blog. A new IL-2 AM-38 1941 series (the same type coming for Battle for Moscow) is being added to the game and in the developers own words, “This IL-2 model has the most detailed and precise damage model compared to any IL-2 ever created in a game and sets a new quality standard for all of our aircraft.” Might be some competition heating up in the world of IL-2 simulators.
Uhh… did you know your wheels are down?
Look for more information on their Developers Blog to see what the War Thunder team is up to.
It looks like 2015 will be a busy year in the simulator arena with lots of interesting announcements and additions coming to a PC near you (and hopefully a server near us).We haven’t even talked about what will probably be a future blog entry on Star Citizen and Elite: Dangerous yet.
There is a lot of activity for this small niche market and I, for one, am very happy to see it!