DCS, Past, Present and Future?

So, I haven’t been following closely what has been going on the past few years with DCS. I have always liked the sim, bought Flaming Cliffs long ago and just sat on it. Now I am starting to play it and follow threads. However a few years back on their forums there was a rather large area of third party people developing add-ons and new aircraft. Now it seems that much of that has disappeared and only a couple of groups are still around. I understand there can be a lot of enthusiasm at first and after reality hits and development slows and they realize how complex it is to create quality add ons, that will change. Am I answering my own question? I don’t know, I’ve heard rumors that there is more to it.

Currently I purchased the Nevada testing grounds map, and since I just visited Las Vegas (also spent about 2 hours watching planes at Nellis! before flight back home). I am happy flying around and completing missions there. I have a short list of purchases that I want (AV-A8B, Tomcat, Viggen) as sales and money allow I will show my support with purchases.

But, I am reading confusing takes on where the future of DCS World is headed. They added the Normandy map, and a few WWII planes, but this seems a rather half-hearted effort (and expensive!) compared to a rather more focused and rounded out sim as il2: BOS/BOM/BOK series, even CloD. I look at DCS for modern aircraft. I’m not sure what to think of the WWII efforts. I also am surprised that I have to pick now between Nevada and Russia(?) with 2 completely different applications. I guess 2.5? is supposed to fix this, but it just seems the whole process is going at a snails pace for a rather well established company with a decent simulator history. Where presumably smaller teams (il2) are seemingly making better progress.

I am not trying to pick on DCS nor am I being impatient, but I think I last flew DCS in 2013 and installing it again last month, there hasn’t been any remarkable changes in that amount of time.

Anyhow, since I see this forum keeping the most stable and reasonable people, I thought I would post this here instead of various other places.


Well, I’m a bit strapped for time at this second, but there have been some significant progress, releases, and improvements to the base sim, modules, and campaigns since 2013. From both ED and third party vendors. And we are on the cusp (hopefully) of some really great content and The Great Unification of betas. That’s the short answer anyway…

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If you’ve last flew in 2013, then there are tons of things that have changed.

  1. DCS 2.5 (integration of new caucasus in 2.0 engine + nevada + normandy) is a huge bottleneck at the moment. Once ED gets that out of the door (probably this year), then their development process will be sooo much easier for them instead of having to maintain 3 versions at once.

  2. Between 2013 and now there are important performance changes under the hood that happened with 1.5. Using .50 cals on any aircraft does not cause huge stutters, framerate is much, much better, lighting effects have improved tenfold and visibility range has been extended.

  3. The content since 2013 has increased by a lot. Back in 2012, the only modules we had were Flaming Cliffs, Ka-50, A-10C and the P-51. Now, we have the Huey, Mi-8, Gazelle, Mirage, Viggen, F-5, MiG-21, Hawk, C-101, L-39C/ZA, Bf.109, FW190, Spitfire, F-86, MIG-21… and in the next 6 months or so we’re expecting a F-18, F-14 and Harrier.

  4. Regarding the WWII content, I see it this way. It’s not for everyone. Personally, I really like it and I’m thrilled to see a map like this. For others, WWII is not made of jets for the most part, therefore it’s irrelevant.


Let’s not forget VR integration that takes the DCS experience to a whole new level (IMHO).


I short DCS has a bright future. Dcs ww2 is a result of the failure of the orgininal Dcs ww2 devopment team. When they folded ed took over the project as not to leave many kickstarter backers out in the cold. It’s slowed development in other areas but it was the right thing to do.


… of combat ineffectiveness.



Of immersion and realism. It’s not all about winning at multi-player.


All the above comments :slight_smile:

Plus I would add the following. ED seems to be focusing more on the engine but still dipping in to the module creation (the F-18C). There is a lot of work going on at ED but I think that a lot of it is not obvious to most of us in user-land. The underlying technology has come a long way in the last 4 years: with DirectX updates, VR, collidable trees, a new lighting engine, rivers and streams, new water dynamics (waves that reflect the wind).

The third party module companies have picked some of the slack, where they can. They have also pushed the capabilities engine, pushing ED to keep paces. It has been interesting to see just how complicated it is to make a module and just how much the teams have been get out of the design. Some teams can pull it off whereas others have fallen behind after announcing grand plans and proving unable to keep pace. Pretty much all of the third party modules that have been released have been very nicely done and the potential is there to do a lot more. It has take a lot of time (and some are still in ‘early access’) but movement and success can be seen.

Scripting and mission design have also started to get a little momentum with some very nice, detailed and well designed linked-mission-campaign style commercial options.

One thing I would note: The WWII ‘thing’ has been, in my opinion, an unfortunate distraction/side-show. That is not to say that I don’t 100% appreciate the work on Normandy, the WWII asset pack or the WWII aircraft modules coming from ED (I have them all and I enjoy them all) but this all started … badly. It was a Kickstarter project by an ambitious potential third party partner that was, from the start, destined for failure. The schedule was too ambitious and the assets and promises were too ambitious. The money quickly disappeared and progress quickly fell appart. ED picked up the promises and delivered on as many as they could but it set all of the other plans back by years. I appreciate what ED did and I appreciate what they delivered.

This has lead many to be concerned with the apparent (evident?) shot-gun approach. There are valid criticisms that there is a lack of focus to the whole DCS World approach but I would argue that, with the release of DCS World 2.5 (a merging of DCS World 1.5 (Georgia) and DCS World 2.1.x (Nevada and Normandy)), we will be getting a relatively stable platform and putting the product into a position that will allow resources at ED and the third party partners the freedom to really start to innovate.

There is a lot of room for improvement but that does not (for me, anyway) take away from the fact that what we have is pretty darn cool, interesting and fun.


Though that is less about VR in DCS than it is about the current VR hardware technology and it’s limited FOV and resolution. Outside of that it’s still pretty immersive :slight_smile:

How dare you? You’re not a REAL armchair pilot until you’re the biggest, baddest F-15-loving-Ken-doll-terror-of-the-skies-on-the-104th-server. It is known.

(of course, I’m kidding)


That’s ok Chuck, I don’t feel I have anything to prove :wink: . Multi-player is just not the be all and end all of combat sims (again, IMHO). Also, I seriously get the impression that a lot of people think you should be able to reliably spot, identify and determine the aspect of a fighter sized jet at long range. Having spent many hours in the flight levels trying to spot (airliner sized) aircraft that can get surprisingly close before you get visual contact, I don’t think VR is as bad as many people might think.


I dunno, I find not being able to see things without labels outside the canopy glass pretty unimmersive for a combat sim

I kid, I kid.

Actually replying to the topic at hand:

I’m generally optimistic. Coming from four years ago, the program has made leaps and bounds. There is a much greater number of modules spanning an impressive breadth of roles and time periods. The underlying engine has improved since the days of 1.2.X, and the game has generally gotten better looking, both in environment and terrains. In the coming year two of my all time favorite aircraft will be released, a third has been announced, and the Harrier ain’t half bad either. My suspicion is that 2.5 will hopefully bring a fair amount of quality of life improvements for mission makers and players, and I’m hoping it will be as great a leap as 1.5 was two years ago. Also we’re getting A FREAKING F-14

All that said
There are a number of issues I have with the engine and ED. I’ve spent the last half hour trying to coherently list them, but they intermingle so much I’ve given up. Put broadly they need to get 2.5 out so we have a baseline of what DCS will be. Following that the game is in dire need of a suite of new features to better utilize the aircraft we’ll soon be receiving. The Naval jets need a better ATC, parking, taxiing and marshaling logic for Carriers. Missiles and thermal need fundamental fixes. The in game multiplayer could benefit from a radical redesign to allow players to plan their own flights in the mission so aircraft like the Hornet, A-10 and Viggen can properly utilize their weapons. Some, all or none of this could be planned, but we wouldn’t know because ED is generally uncommunicative. I think that is what gets my goat the most.


I think we will just have to agree to disagree on the VR thing @near_blind, because on this point we are at polar opposites. On everything else though, I’m 100% with you.

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I wouldn’t be posting GIFs if I was seriously arguing.


What VR headset are you currently rockin’ NB?

I have the distinct honor of being both the first VR-er and Vive-er on Mudspike.

Ooooo! Consider me impressed! :+1:

Thank you! My choir doesn’t feel so lonely now.

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There has already been a lot of good feedback. I would say that we are in the second Golden Age of flightsims, and DCS is a large part of it (together with 777). It is different than the first golden age though. While in the 90s we had gameplay reigning supreme, which has never been matched again, now we see the perfection flight itself. The feeling of flight has never been better, thanks to excellent flight models, highly detailed 3d cockpits, great graphics and VR offering an unmatched level of immersion. It is a great time to play flightsims and DCS in particular, though for different reasons than in decades past.

The aircraft ecosystem of DCS has developed very well. We have a steady stream of wonderful high quality aircraft modules. In fact I feel that we might approach a level of saturation shortly. With the release of some key modules within the next year, there will be more desirable aircraft available than I could ever hope to use with mission-proficiency. I consider myself lucky because with the F-14A and the F-4E I will get some of my top most-wanted aircraft. In fact, if ED were to announce that they will freeze all aircraft development by 2019, I could live with it. Sure, there are more favorite aircraft I would like to have and I will keep buying modules as they come. But with the aircraft at hand by next year or so, I would probably be happy and satisfied for the next decade (provided there are new theaters and content to use them with).

The theater situation in DCS is still rather limited, though the Nevada and the Normandy map have provided some much needed relief. Personally I feel that the current reboot of the Caucasus map is wasting a lot of time and resources, as it is basically the same tired old map (it is REALLY old). I am sure it will look fantastic, but it has the same functionality, the same problems (100% Soviet airfields) and I feel I have exhausted its possibilities a long time ago. The future looks bright though, as I feel after 2.5 we will see a great increase of productivity in the theater area. I think with the saturation of aircraft modules, new theaters will become even more important than new aircraft.

There are also some areas which do not look that bright. I have great concerns about AI in DCS, both about the current state and the almost nonexistent rate of improvement. AI has never been something to write home about in DCS and there is a huge list of issues. And this list grows larger with every new aircraft released, as new aircraft keep tapping into new areas requiring custom AI solutions to be programmed by Eagle Dynamics. Just one example among many, the AV-8B will require new AI capable of making a vertical landings on LHAs, which is something that not RAZBAM but ED will have to implement. Or Heatblur’s Viggen, an aircraft designed for low level nap-of-the-earth strike operations, has exposed severe AI problems with actually doing this mission. In fact the AI is unable to do it. ‘Some’ users on this forum would be very unhappy to discover that your AI wingmen or AI flights of a newly released F-111 module would be unable to fulfill their primary mission-profile in DCS as it stands now. And the AI list goes on forever (GCI for MiG-21, SEAD for F/A-18C, pop-up anti-tank for Gazelle etc.). I am very pessimistic about the future of AI in DCS, as this has a huge impact on missions and especially dynamic campaigns. I think ED needs to fundamentally change their approach to this area. I will gladly trade in multiple aircraft for better AI.

As you may know I have a special interest in dynamic campaigns. Unfortunately this year has been pretty frustrating for me. Not only have many of the AI issues mention above fundamentally hampered development of new dynamic campaigns. DCS also introduced some new bugs which broke all my previous dynamic campaigns and keep blocking new ones for months now. There is hope that 2.5 will bring some much needed stability to DCS, but I would advise to keep expectations in check. There has always been the next big thing around the corner (Lock On 1.1, Lock On 1.2, Black Shark Integration, EDGE, Nevada, Normandy). This was always followed by the next big thing. I do not think it will be any different with 2.5 (“3.0 will finally solve all our problems, when will it be released already?”). DCS is in a constant state of development, for the best and the worst.


As someone who doesn’t fly against humans, only AI, my main concern is “how much does this put me at a disadvantage compared to the AI?”
If it takes me even longer to acquire a threat than it did before, but the AI have no such hindrance…nope. Also, I can’t see my HOTAS and those buttons at the base of the throttle are not things I can press in a second without seeing them. By feel it would take me long moments of counting from the left or right.
When VR offers only advantages, and no disadvantages, then I will consider it. If I flew FSX, sure, no problem, but not combat sims.