How to re-acquire DCS

I’ve been flight simming on PCs for 20 years. It goes in phases, the last one having been the DCS A-10C, which I managed to learn thoroughly in the Beta before becoming a very active member of the community and publishing many full-featured missions. I guess because it’s such a time-commitment, I take long breaks and am about to come off one now, intending to make one more deep dive into flight simming – principally DCS – with a very capable new PC and a collection of new peripherals and layers of utilities that would have been almost inconceivable a few years ago.

As I wait for the rig to arrive, I am trying to work out the most orderly, productive way to re-acquire DCS after five years of inactivity. I have no great desire to re-download bits and pieces of DCS that I’ve bought before; I figure I’ll make a “clean start”. Mainly as a result of my time away, I have some essential questions and I wonder if you gents could give me the benefit of your wisdom and experience in these matters.

  • Steam or not, disc or download and are the Torrent sites still as skeezy as they once were?

  • Is there any point at all trying to acquire the “free gift” of Nellis that I earned, but never claimed, all those years ago when I was a Beta tester for the Hog?

  • I generally avoid installing games on my C: SSD boot drive, preferring to put them on a capacious HDD. I’m getting a 1TB SSD boot drive on the new machine, however; for either MP or SP is it worth making an exception and putting DCS on that drive?

  • After years of Caucasus-only, I am eager to acquire Nellis and Gulf theaters; is there any reason not to, or to hesitate?

  • If I decide that it’s foolish to buy the A-10C twice, how would I go about convincing ED that I already own it? Lord knows where I put the files, it’s been a long break, one PC ago.

  • I intend to learn the L-39, the Harrier, the Hornet and the Tomcat (when available). Any reason to reconsider, or to add anything?

I guess what I’m asking for is an overview of DCS acquisition and installation, i.e. which modules are necessary as a baseline these days and which are, if not necessary, then highly recommended. When I’ve figured all this out, I will need to address the installation of a blizzard of secondary programs such as voice comms, TacView, TIR, HOTAS software (brand new Warthog) and, eventually, VR to name just a few. It’s going to be, as they say, “a process” and I’d like to make some kind of roadmap while I wait. I could use some insider knowledge. Thank you!


Welcome back @BarryJI !

  • No Steam, download DCS World directly from That way, more of the money goes to the developers and you have less stuff running, taking up precious memory. If you really want to be able to do all the social Steam stuff while playing DCS, that can also be arranged without buying through Steam. Just ask Mudspike. The built-in DCS Updater uses torrent for downloading, and it has worked magnificently for the past few years. There were some hiccups the first times maps became available but I believe this process has been streamlined to require zero effort from the user.
  • I am not sure if this is still possible, but knowing DCS customer support, they will probably fix this for you. File a ticket on their site, or read the FAQ first and you will find out. If you need any more help than these first indicators, I can look it up tomorrow. You do need to log in for this, best use the same log in you bought A-10C with. EDIT: Here is the answer, make sure you log in to your old account on for this to work though.
  • Definitely put DCS on an SSD. It helps to avoid stutters. 1TB should be enough for quite some time.
  • Nellis and the Gulf are marvellous.
  • When you start up DCS: World, you will be prompted to log in. If you still have the log-in details you used to buy the Warthog, fill them in and you will be promoted to install the modules you bought with that account. Just click ‘yes’ and you are good to go! If you lost your log-in details, go look for a reset password button on the site.
  • Seems like a solid list. Only gripes are that the Hornet is still in active development, so do not fly if you do not like an incomplete aircraft/constantly updated systems and manuals. Same for Harrier, except development on that one has slowed down a bit and it is more feature-complete (though not fully I think? I don’t own it, @TheAlmightySnark is a fan though). Also, check out the free A-4E mod (<- this blue text is a link, click it!) especially if you like carrier aircraft. It has a fully clickable cockpit withany systems modeled, such as the air to ground radar.

Do yourself a favour and consider skipping TrackIR and the expensive monitor if you are starting anew. Most proper graphics cards on the market now can handle DCS in VR fairly well.
Advantages of DCS in VR:

  • you feel like you are actually there in the cockpit!
  • price is no higher than for a proper monitor
  • the resolution is not as high as of an equivalent monitor, so it may be more difficult to spot targets if you fly a lot of air to air. (like @near_blind, he does not like VR, unlike pretty much all other Mudspikers who have tried it. He is also one of the best, if not the best, at modern air-to-air combat) Also, some people get nauseous at first but the large majority can get used to it within a few days.

The Steam advice is not valid if you bought DCS modules on Steam while Steam keys were incompatible with standalone. However, in the distant past, they were still compatible.

EDITs: added links to A-4, Snark, and FAQ


This is tremendously helpful, thank you!

Re. VR, I already bought a 34", 2K monitor, which justifies itself for other uses/games, but I absolutely see your point. I am eager to try out VR but am just a little concerned about how I’m going to manage all sorts of subordinate apps (comms, etc.) that might require peeking at a keyboard. Also, while on a steep learning curve, surely it helps to be able to refer to manuals, etc…

It will be interesting to see if DCS still has any record of my ancient purchases. I don’t even have any experience with DCS World, as this didn’t exist five years ago as a baseline product. Is DCS World the essential product I need to acquire before building on it with aircraft modules and theaters?

Again, many thanks for your very helpful and detailed response, it’s much appreciated.


DCS World is a free download. It is the simulation environment in which all modules play together.

You probably have at least an e-mail and/or order number I hope?

If you have tried the “forgot my password” and it does not work, you can make a new account and contact customer support with your order details. However I am fairly sure you should have an e-mail with a password to log in

EDIT: also, 5 years ago? I thought I joined DCS in 2013, after a hiatus from Flaming Cliffs 2, and am fairly sure DCS World had been around for at least a year back then

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Yes, I am pretty sure I have a retrievable login, email address, PW etc. I can start to work with that. I can’t actually acquire and download any of this until the new PC is up and running very early in the new year.

You may be right about DCS world. I remember I had two orange and two green desktop icons, which I guess were for DCS World. In those days, all I ever flew was the Hog (and before that the F-15 in FC2) and there was only the Caucasus map so I never had to switch modules around and therefore paid little attention to the infrastructure, if you see what I mean.

For your amusement, here is a video I cut together of an online A2A engagement I fought – and, miraculously, won – in Lock On, in 2004!! Thanks again for your help.

Dance Into the Fire


You are welcome.
What you can do already, is try to log into that account and recover the password, and claim that Nellis map. That way, it will install automatically once you do get your new PC and have installed DCS World.
You can also buy stuff ( for example when there is a sale) if you have your log-in details.

Probably echoing everything @Freak has said but:

  • Steam - as 1: you could get trapped in being unable to pre-order something that you want before it is released on Steam; or 2: updates may be delayed on Steam;
  • For the Nevada map and your older A-10C purchases, see if you can recover your account at and if that doesn’t work, work, try through support (it never hurts to try) plus …
  • The Persian Gulf is an excellent map and, in my opinion, one of the top two with Georgia (I know, I like the Georgia map) and waiting to see if you can recover your Nevada free gift, the Gulf will certainly suffice;
  • Hornet is certainly a solid recommentation at this point as the progress is been steady and relatively swift… The Harrier is good but it might be frustrating waiting for its updates. The L-39 is cool and I would also recommend the Mirage-2000C. So my recommendation list by priority looks like this: F-18C, L-39, Mirage-2000C, Harrier and insert the Tomcat as soon as it is available. Plus, that allows you to fly something while waiting to see if you can recover your A-10C module as well;
  • SSD - I recommend installing to the SSD as load times can be significant;

VR, for me, is in a wait-until-the-next-version situation. There are a ton of good uses for it, and it works well in other sims, but in DCS it is hard (for me) to read the gauges and the Field of View limitation makes air combat a ‘challenge’ (ie: you are at a significant disadvantage due to FoV).

At the risk of starting a VR discussion, let me just add one thing: I thought similarly until Amazing Odyssey

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Thank you for your advice, Fridge, it’s well-taken.

What is Amazing Odyssey?

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The samsung odyssey VR headset.

I am on an oculus rift and I refuse to fly any other way. It’s like getting TrackIR working right for the first time, but ten times stronger!

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Don’t have much to add except that VR has pretty demanding system requirements. On the flip side, I saw a VR headset being sold for cheaper than TrackIR. That blew my mind. I still think certain titles designed with VR in mind from the start (like VTOLVR) are a bit more adept at the experience than games made prior to VR’s popularity.

I stayed away from DCS until this past summer due to problems with the original Flaming Cliffs and Starforce. It’s completely different in 2.5 and both the Harrier and the Bug are my favorite aircraft. The community Scooter is also a hoot. Once ED sorts out the content parts of the game, it’ll all be even better!

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Samsung + autocorrect :wink:
Thanks @schurem

What’s a community Scooter?

Sorry, nickname for the A-4: NOW AVAILABLE: Community A-4E-C Mod - DCS Mods - ED Forums

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Thank you. I obviously have much to learn.

With SRS for radio, you are in for a real treat. It’s become far more mainstream in the online community and integrates into the games radio model rather well. Just bind your radio buttons to your Hotas and off you go. I don’t really have a reason to alt-tab away from the game anymore.

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To add to that, most DCS pilots who fly in VR use VoiceAttack for those buttons you only need once in a while and don’t have space for on your HOTAS. For example the F1-12 buttons in DCS.
The free version allows you to set 21 commands, so that should be plenty to get you going.

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Barry welcome back, baby! (Weird Tomcat reference)

The visual fidelity of the sim is miles ahead of when you left, and you have stumbled into the best flight sim community on the net. Good luck getting everything sorted!

Thanks, Gunny! It’s going to be interesting. I got the ingenious Monster Tech chair mountings for my brand-new Warthog HOTAS, which will make the ergonomics of flight-simming without a dedicated sim-pit so much better. I will need to reacquire and install all the DCS software, program the HOTAS, get my TIR up and running again, investigate VR, locate and install all the lastest utilities like those suggested in this thread and finally learn an a/c or two (probably the L-39 for starters) so I have my work cut out for me. And apart from setting up the chair mounts, there’s nothing I can actually do until the Uber-PC arrives, probably in the first week of the new year. I am very grateful for the positive responses to my post here and happy to sit here “strategising” because it helps to make a road-map for what I need to do to get up and running again after so long. My favourite part of DCS was making pretty elaborate SP and MP missions so I will need to reacquaint myself with the Mission Editor in pretty short order too.

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Just a reminder :slight_smile: