So, It’s been six months already, huh?
This very promising roadmap for 2021 was shared, with the usual caveats, and it coincided with a period in which I got back to DCS and got a little more involved again. So For absolutely no reason and with absolutely no credentials, I thought it would be a good idea to reminisce on the past 6 months, and to adjust expectations to what awaits us for the second half of this year. I’ve given a ridiculous score to each topic measuring my current mood about each, regarding fulfillment and short term expectations.
So, let’s go by topics:
Existing projects they had entering 2021
Hornet, Viper, A-10 II and Supercarrier: 3/5
I think the supercarrier development has been somewhat underwhelming. I also have a very particular point of view about it as a paid module: I don’t think it should be a paid add on. Not that I don’t see value in what it offers, but just because it is charging for features that should be implemented on the sim in a general level. Anyway, I digress. Waiting for the extra features, but so far, updates to the supercarrier were far and few, with the most significant ones being proposed by Heatblur at the moment (and so exclusive to the Tomcat). The hornet did benefit from the completion burn with extra personnel and advanced a lot in the last 6 months, however that probably took longer than predicted because the Viper did stay six months without a single update (last month we finally got JDAMs to end the drought), I think it was very lousy for the people who bought in this expensive aircraft, to have to wait for 6 months after the mavericks to see any improvement. I can accept it’s middle of the road state fine, I have fun with it, but I don’t think it should be left on hold for six months. It’s still far from finished with glaring omissions, some weird bugs, and all that EA goodness. Thank god this ended and in the next 2 months we can probably expect at least a steady pace of improvements.
New Aircraft 3/5
Obvioulsy the Hind is the new shiny toy, released to a more than acceptable state and progressing rapidly. Reviews say it’s good and I believe in you rotor pilots. They promised and delivered, date was met, product is good. You see, it can still happen. I’m very glad it did. Expectations are even higher for the Apache and I am optimistic. Meanwhile the Mosquito was massively delayed. It’s too bad because I’d like to rate this higher. The Hind launch was so smooth, I wanted to give this a 5/5. I do like how upfront they were about it, I support the reasons they delayed it, and it’s a shame. But, then again, it still can happen. I am thinking there is a good chance it’s still coming this year? Let’s wait and see.
So this is still promised for this semester, but they have been super zip-lipped about it. This has me wondering one of two things will happen. It will either release sooner than later and we will find out it’s not much different from FC3, probably with better menus, 3D Models and missions, or it will be more revolutionary than evolutionary and probably be delayed to 2022. Honestly so little has been said this is a pure speculative gamble. There is no way to know. Hope it’s good, hope it means more people in DCS, hope I can have fun with it. But we can only hope at this point.
They promised, they delivered, I’m pretty happy about it. The Marianas map is what it is, and pretty good at that. Still EA, still unoptimized, but if those improvements can be transposed to other legacy maps (Maybe Top Gun Maverick may convice them to redo the NTTR?), I’ll be happy. So far no complaints.
They promised the clouds, they delivered. They kind of broke VR for a couple of weeks, but I won’t hold aggainst them. They seemed to have it under control. The clouds are beautiful, added a true improvement on the game as a whole and were very much needed for them to compete with MSFS. There is still work to be done on the clouds. They have been promising a new fog engine in the near future, and I do believe we are going to need more weather complexity eventually. Also there is still a weird parallax problem in the clouds that I fear will not be addressed. I hope I’m wrong so bad. I fear that they will slow down progress on the clouds because they are good enough and flashy enough as it is to make beautiful videos with and lure in new customers that are already used to MSFS graphics, so the priority to make them perfect will not be as high (it’s just my poor faith in capitalsm, I don’t think they would be doing that out of bad faith). However, currently, the timeframe has been pretty reasonable and those fears cannot be confirmed (and hopefully won’t). So far, they are well in the green, and viewing objectively, the clouds release was absolutely smashing. In fact the 2.7 release surprised me on how smooth it was. So, it awaits for us to see what improvements we’ll be seeing until the end of the year!
Visual Effects 4/5
I like what they did so far, and can’t wait for more. Planes flaming down in pieces are looking better than ever. Can’t wait for whatever more they have in store.
Dynamic Campaign 2/5
I doubt we’ll see it this year, but, hey, external testing should be already in the works (is it? I don’t think so). I am eager to see more, but skeptic we’ll get our hands on it in 2021. Thankfully Liberation is progressing really well and is a good substitute until we can see what they have in store. I do wish to see more updates on it, what features they think it needs to have, what are the planned goals, so I could be sure it’s going to be much deeper than liberation. 2/5 is super unfair. They are keeping true to the promise, but I don’t think it will be very exciting in 2021 yet, so I’m scoring it low because I’m human.
Damage modelling 3/5
So I only fly the modern era fighters, and mostly the Viper nowadays. I don’t have my hopes up that this is coming soon. I’d love it to, though, it can really take the C in DCS to a whole other level.
I’m glad they adressed it, I’m glad that it got into the roadmap, I expect very little for this year (maybe a new simple model for MAC), probably new voices but almost the same functionality of current model, with the possibility to expand to more complex stuff later on. I think it will be super cool when it comes, but not in 2021.
So, a lot of talk about flir and then nothing else. Is it almost ready? I’m confused. Do hope to see it sooner than later. A necessary upgrade, but so far, nothing very exciting actually was shown in that front. They promised it for Q3, and I speculate they will deliver it mostly on time.
AI Units 1/5
New 3D models with PBR textures for those aging aircraft? Honestly it took so long already and so little was released in the last 6 months. The S3 is a travesty. It’s the plane the Hornet pilots fly closest to and it’s the worse looking. Whatever happens it’s welcome but too little and too late to have me excited.
Enhanced AI 3/5
This is so hard. I hope they make progress, and eager to see the results. There has some stuff happening in the background with every little update, I can see. AI is flaring much more in close combat, cannot predict FOX-3 launches, it’s improving. Though I don’t see it being excellent in a short while.
And that was it. A lot of awesome stuff. I think all and all, despite what a post like this might suggest, nitpicking all the flaws of every feature they promised, it has been an excellent semester. I’m not even going to mention the third parties, who also have been great. I liked how ED advertised the roadmap and kept roughly and mostly on schedule and delivering quality inside what is to be expected for a developing product, steadily, responsibly and light on bugs. I think there is still some pretty nice stuff to wait for in 2021, mostly in small iterations over what we currently have, that together will get DCS a lot better even before 2022 and it’s new revolutionary developments.
I have no idea why I wrote all this. though. But thanks for reading!