A Flight To Remember: IL-2 Sturmovik

IL-2 Sturmovik blew me away at Gamescom last year. With only a couple of weeks until I fly out to Cologne again, I’m enthusiastic about the prospect of another unexpected champion of gaming emerging from a cloudbank and peppering me with excitement. A year has passed since I took to the skies and development has continued at a steady rate. New planes are appearing and the modelling of existing ones is improving, but it’s the dynamic campaign I’m most excited to see. Glorious great maps. Two new videos below.

I told a slight fib in that previous paragraph. That’s the new video but because it isn’t packed with in-game excitement and doesn’t even contain a single map, I’m including footage from a stream that took place a couple of months ago. This is what you came here to see. Maybe. It’s entirely possible you came here to see gifs of cats and teenagers falling off skateboards, in which case I direct you toward the rest of the internet.

Graham is planning to check out a recent build in the near future, to tell us more about the state of the skies. In the meantime, some words from Tim Stone.

Back in my own personal golden age of flight sims (1994’s Dawn Patrol was one of the heroes of that age), I thought I’d be spending a good portion of my adult life in virtual cockpits, clutching a £100 stick with sweat-soaked palms. The chunky great manuals, incredible graphics and sheer complexity of flight sims were a defining aspect of PC gaming. For more than a decade, PC gamers who didn’t regularly play flight sims would find the ‘mark of the beast‘ carved into their doors, placed there by members of the elite who considered those who hadn’t earned their wings to be outside the elite fraternity.

If you’d have told me back then that I’d spend more time driving virtual trucks than flying virtual planes, I would have thought you were speaking in jest.


  1. FurryLippedSquid says:

    Looks decidedly simmy, which is nice. I’ll have to pick up one of those cheap-ass Sidewinder HOTAS jobs.

  2. peterako1989 says:

    The only thing I will remember is that La-5 and FW 190 are DLC instead being included in the basic version by default!
    I will wait until some sort of goty edition that will no cost me like 70 euros for just 2 extra planes humph. 1c, Im sooooo dissapointed!

    • wellen says:

      Take a look at RoF (Rise of Flight) and see how 777 did and does it there. New planes every now and then, all well made with good textures for a couple of bucks, pick and choose what you like with tons of sales all the time.

      It’s a niche game that takes tons of money to make and get right (Gaijin, I’m looking at you…), so I for one do not care if I have to pay a handful of bucks every now and then to get planes that interest me.

      Not saying that they couldn’t have included those two from the start, but they were the incentive to get folks to pre-order the game before they offered the cheaper “Standard” edition.

      • Stellar Duck says:

        I dunno.

        It’s looking to be more along the lines of Flaming Cliffs 3 than a DCS module, so I think the price is quite steep indeed, considering the price of FC3 and a DCS module. Granted, it does look to be more detailed than FC3 but it’s decidedly a survey sim despite that.

        A DCS module usually goes for 50ish € but considering the level detail and modeled systems in that I can’t really begrudge that price. Not sure how you argue that they’re only a couple of bucks per plane. It’s 20$ per plane, as I don’t think a gold tag and a label actually counts and I don’t even know what an air craft set is.

        This one costs almost 100$ for the gold pack which really is rather steep for a survey sim.

        • Reapy says:

          Yick. High price point for me, probably accurate though as I keep wanting to get into flight sims but always see how they kind of have to be a full time endeavor to get the most out of them, and end up dropping it after a couple days. If I were going to invest 100% of my gaming time into it though, probably would be willing to drop the 20 a plane.

          Still, blach, maybe they will have a cruddy free to play plane to get you started possibly.

          • Stellar Duck says:

            Well, that’s how Eagle Dynamics did it with DCS World. It includes the Su 25 and no guns version of the P51 Mustang that you can play with for free and then buy modules as you prefer later on. I think it’s a pretty good model.

          • All is Well says:

            “Still, blach, maybe they will have a cruddy free to play plane to get you started possibly.”

            I may be misreading you here, but if you’re talking about Battle of Stalingrad, it absolutely includes aircraft in the base package (which is like $55) – 8 of them to be exact, presumably modeled to the same detail as the two premium planes.

            edited for typo

        • wellen says:

          Err, that’s the price right now, prior to release.
          I was orientating myself on the prices for RoF for after release with new planes, a.k.a. DLCs, as I kinda expect the prices to not differ too much from those.

          Maybe a slight hike as the systems of the WW2 planes are more complex compared to WW1 ones, but certainly not 20 bucks.

      • peterako1989 says:

        how about no? how about they can start doing this after releasing the game? How about stop excusing them when they pull this kind of practices, practices I would expect from EA or Ubisoft? Being niche is not an excuse! No, no and again no!
        RoF has being in the market for years now and it turned free to play(the 30 euros they were asking for the base were absurd). IL2 BoS is as much of an Il-2 sturmovic as the first one. A complete game, not a base for DLC. The day one DLCs are just that. Nothing related to the bussiness model they intent to go with. Oh and BTW I hate RoF’s bussiness model. I would love to own all the aircraft for like 70 euros. That many aircraft can launch replayability to space, but the cost even If you buy the aircaft in bundles is lunched to space too.

  3. ooRay says:

    You can get Cliffs of Dover for 9,99€ at Steam and Team Fusion is delivering for free what Maddox has promised to do with that title. Imo Cliffs of Dover + TF Mod is the best WW2 Flightsim to date.
    Afaik 1c sold IL-2 to 777 and is working on their own WW2 title in cooperation with DCS. I wonder if any of the three can deliver as much content for the buck as TF is doing right now for CloD. I guess, we´ll see…

    • Joshua says:

      Esp. with the new Maltese theater coming out soon.

    • JS says:

      “Afaik 1c sold IL-2 to 777 and is working on their own WW2 title in cooperation with DCS”

      Not anymore, for “undisclosed reasons”, Eagle Dynamics (makers of the DCS series) had to step in and take over the project, and the continued development of DCS WWII is now done in house by ED.

    • Aborted Man says:

      What exactly is it that everyone thinks TF is doing to CloD that is so awesome? Adding smoke effects, new machine gun sounds [read: fart noises], shimmering reflections, and editing flight models to their own will isn’t exactly revolutionizing the derelict/abandoned/incomplete state of CloD.

      The game still micro-stutters on anything not running Windows 7, still has significant objects limitations on online mission capabilities, still has striped shadowing errors (even on max graphics settings), absolutely zero effective anti-aliasing, and the daily online missions you’ll find on any TF servers are inundated by trolling airquake enthusiasts that want nothing more than to shoot at you while you’re taking off.

      I really don’t get the hype…or maybe I just refuse to drink the juice.

  4. Jekhar says:

    So, i was itching for some WW2 flight action lately. What’s the best title a casual simmer like me might take off with? Should i use my copy of IL-2 1946 and apply some mod? If so, which mod would you recommend? Is Cliffs of Dover the better option? I would have to buy that one, first. Should i reactivate my long dormant War Thunder account? Or maybe should i wait for this title?

    • All is Well says:

      I’d personally recommend Cliffs of Dover is the best option of the three once you get the mods installed, so I’d say buy it and you can try them all out, since you already own 1946 and WarThunder is free.

      • Reapy says:

        Hrmm will have to investigate, I kept reading and following cliffs to see if it would get to a playable state beyond the first couple months where there was a lot of negative writing on it.

        I watched a quick overview video of the fan patches, but has the performance and all the crashing of the game been addressed at this point and it’s pretty flyable? If so I’ll probably have to make a weekend project of checking it out.

        • All is Well says:

          I never had any crashing issues really (I only played it after the devs had done some patching), so I can’t give you a comparative statement on that, but the performance is very much improved, between the official patches and Team Fusion’s. I’m on a i5 2500k with 16GB RAM and a HD 7950 and, while running at max settings @1920×1200, I never experience any slowdowns or stuttering except while flying low over London, and lowering the buildings detail fixes that. You should also look into using SweetFX for it’s post-processing anti-aliasing (SMAA or FXAA), as the game’s anti-aliasing doesn’t work properly, unless you’re on Windows 8.1 which isn’t compatible with SweetFX (yet).

  5. Dozer says:

    No wonder he got shot down. His nav lights are on! They’d have seen him coming from miles away.

  6. Hunchback says:

    I’ll probably be eaten alive by the hardcore sim fans out there, but… watching this 30 mins video, i can’t see much of a difference between this and the simulator mode on WarThunder, except that you can manually control the turrets/mgs in first person in this game. Obviously WT has no single player, but in terms of gameplay, why will this be any better?

    • Zenicetus says:

      I haven’t played the sim mode in War Thunder (or IL-2 BoS either), but based on what they did in Rise of Flight, I’d expect the flight models to be more accurate on a per-aircraft basis than a “light” sim like War Thunder, and for the damage modeling to be more extensive and accurate.

      Those were basically the two high points of Rise of Flight — each plane had its own unique quirks that required a different combat approach, and the damage modeling was fun to cope with. The enemy and friendly pilot AI in RoF was mediocre at best (made up for with too-accurate gunners), but of course there’s multiplayer to make up for that.

    • Eggman says:

      It’s hard to see the difference in flight model quality from a video. When you’re in-game, the sensation of flight and fidelity to realism is many levels above WT.

      Imagine eating icecream through a sock*. That’s how I’d describe the sensation of flying in WT, compared to sims like IL2 Bos, Cliffs of Dover or DCS.

      The graphics are also much clearer and more detailed when you’re in-game. Easier to spot contacts in an icons-off server. No contest, compared to WT.
      The gameplay vid posted here gets muddied from the youtube rendering.

      And the map is huge.

      *Originally used by cycling manager Jonathan Vaughters to describe sex with a condom. The difference between WT and real sims is larger than sex with/without a decent condom, though.
      But just like sex with a condom has its pros, a semi-arcade game like WT in simulator mode is not a bad choice if you’re looking for quick uncomplicated action, no strings attached.

    • Gap Gen says:

      That first video with everyone running head-on into each other is basically the opening portion of most Arcade battles in WT.

  7. omegacute says:

    ‘Internet Connection Required for Registration, Career Mode, Multiplayer and Statistics Tracking. 256 Kb/s for single-player and 1 Mb/s for multiplayer’. No, just no.

    • Stellar Duck says:

      Oh. That’s a shame. :(

    • Zenicetus says:

      That’s what they did with Rise of Flight too, so this doesn’t surprise me. Ostensibly it’s about keeping track of player stats for leaderboard stuff, but I couldn’t care less about that. I think it’s mainly about DRM. They did offer an offline mode in RoF for flying single missions, but you had to log in to fly the campaign.

      It’s a stupid design, but us hardcore flight sim fans will put up with anything to fly something new, especially with the slim pickings in the current PC sim market. And they know that.

      • Stellar Duck says:

        So you need to be signed in at all times?

        The need to activate DCS modules is bad enough, but I can accept that as it’s not all the time.

        I’m afraid a constant connection requirement is a deal breaker for me. Which is a big shame as the game looks good.

        • Zenicetus says:

          I haven’t bought into this one yet, so I don’t know the exact arrangement. I just assumed they’d offer at least one offline mode where you didn’t have to be online, like the single missions in RoF. They made that concession because people complained about the online requirement, so it was a compromise. Best to check on the IL-2 BoS forums to see how they’re doing it this time.

  8. Zenicetus says:

    New planes are appearing and the modelling of existing ones is improving, but it’s the dynamic campaign I’m most excited to see.

    Waitaminnit…. last I heard, they announced there would be no actual campaign in the game, not even the stripped-down “campaign” we got in RoF, let alone a fully dynamic one. It’s going to be scenarios, basically. Modders would have to eventually cobble together a campaign from the mission builder.

    Maybe this is old information, or I got it wrong? I haven’t been following developments that closely, so maybe someone in the know can clear this up. Is there a full campaign, or not?

    • sgt. grumbles says:

      Someone answer the man! Haven’t played a sim with a good (or any?) dynamic campaign other than Falcon BMS, so if this has one, it’s a buy. Otherwise, probably no… strung-together scenarios is a boring campaign, imo.

    • All is Well says:

      link to forum.il2sturmovik.com
      This is a summation of the current information about BoS. In regards to your question, the campaign seems (from the info in the link) to be randomly generated from a given set of parameters, which vary depending on which “phase” of the battle during which your mission is supposed to take place.

    • Zenicetus says:

      Ok, I found it. Here’s the info from Developer Diary #66 that caused some consternation for us single-player types. Quoting the relevant bits:

      “Our goal is to tell the story of Battle of Stalingrad to as many players as we can. This approach along with restricted development period surely limits us in comprehensive recreation of smaller details. Thus it will not be a single player campaign about a pilot or a squadron. It will be about aircraft and war history.
      “Missions are not connected with each other. There’s sort of a “groundhog day” within each single phase. Time of a day, weather conditions (within a list of historically correct ones for each period) will vary every time you start the mission. And you play this or that phase as many times as you want. Several successfully completed missions open access to the next phase leaving the completed one available for reply at any time. This is akin to sand-box style gaming.

      The full info is here:
      link to forum.il2sturmovik.com

      This will probably still be a fun WW2 sim where we can roleplay our own story lines, but it’s not going to be a full campaign the way most of us would think of it. And certainly not a dynamic one. Those days, with campaigns like we had in Falcon 3.0 and AH64 Longbow with a dynamic, living world affected by our actions seem to be over.

      I blame it on the increasing availability of broadband connections and more robust protocols that make multiplayer easier for game developers to support. The developers lean on multiplayer to supply “content” so they can focus on the flight modeling stuff, with only minimal attention spent on traditional campaign design.

  9. CookPassBabtridge says:

    How can this be a real flight simulator when the ground is actually quite nice to look at? In Real Sims its 2014 in the cockpit and 1995 outside. I call FUBAR. Or BOHICA. Or BHS. One of those.

    Seriously though, is this a ‘sim’ sim, or a ‘notsim’ sim? Are we talking A-10C in DCS, or A-10C in Arma?

    edit: ah answered my own question link to forum.il2sturmovik.com

    • Eggman says:

      It’s a “sim sim” in terms of flight modelling. It doesn’t have the clickable cockpits of DCS or Cliffs of Dover. The value of clickpits is subject to much heated discussion… it’s up to you if it’s important to you or not. :)

      (The discussion boils down to which option you find more realistic; using a mouse to click on an animated in-game switch to perform an in-game function, or pressing a key on your keyboard or stick/throttle. )

      Personally I find clickpits bring great immersion to the start-up sequence. Once you’re in the air in a combat sim, it doesn’t make a difference, you don’t have time to wave your mouse about your cockpit.

  10. mvar says:

    The chunky great manuals, incredible graphics and sheer complexity of flight sims were a defining aspect of PC gaming

    It’s funny because my memories of playing Flight sims have vanished, only to come back after reading this line..holy cow did I enjoy flight sims back in the day..Falcon, Yeager, Red baron..And this one looks really promising

  11. helenbrown says:

    Reasons not to buy this game

    link to bikechatforums.com