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.