Ok, so I posted a pretty uncomplementary review of BoX a few months ago. I’m still not prepared to say it is my favourite sim, I think DCS has that crown, but it is starting to grow on me and I play it more and more.
What has changed?
One of the things that is appealing to me is the forthcoming introduction of Virtual Reality, but that’s not here yet. One of the things that is changing things for me is that the control assignments are finally sticking and I’m not having to assign new ones each time I go on. This means I can finally get to know the controls for an aircraft and get used to them and finally focus on flying the aircraft, instead of cursing the controls!
There are constant updates for the game, and if you watch the Facebook feed they give regular Dev updates and put up some interesting stuff. While Team Fusion, and some of the DCS developers do this, the level of detail and explanation from the developers is really good; to back it up they even respond to comments pretty quickly.
The aircraft are feeling better to fly, no questions there. The flight model is good. The graphics are good, in some parts excellent. I’ve been flying online a bit more recently and it’s been really good trying to keep track of targets when they’re suddenly obscured by the sun glaring off a lake, the surrounding shimmer was impressive.
My Track IR is now working – this was probably more an issue around using an old install, than anything being wrong in the game. It turns out that I needed to uninstall and reinstall the game to fix the problem. Combined with the TrackHat Track Clip it’s now working well and tracking precisely.
One big issue is that we have found some good multiplayer servers with objectives and fluid front lines that depend on the actions of the teams to win maps and capture bases, airfields and tanks bases. We also do go in the Air Quake servers for a bit of a warm-up and mess around; no labels though.
The unlocks system appears to have gone. That was a big bugbear for me. I have little interest in the single player aspect of flight sims. I don’t mind the odd well designed map or campaign; but I do not want to be forced to complete it to be able to use the aircraft to it’s full potential.
All of this combined does make for a better experience.
What’s not changed:
I’m still not a fan of the cockpit graphics. The more I look at them the more it can look, in some aircraft, as though the dials are not part of the control panel; then in others they can look good – the Fw190 for example.
Aircraft still fly around for ages with massive streaks of flame (some of these are wooden aircraft!) and they seem just as potent in a wrecked state as they do without damage. This gets frustrating, I don’t think it is particular to any one team, but I have noticed it more with the Russian aircraft (but this is likely because I have mostly been flying German and Italian planes)
Coming from DCS World, with VR support, I am finding going back to Track IR to feel like a backwards step, so I will be glad when this changes, but I find the view to the rear is very difficult to change – ie lean around to check six. I find this easier, oddly, in VR than Track IR. Now this could just be my Track IR curves, but if I change them then I get head movements all over the place when looking forwards too, so not really an option. This, should, be solved when VR support is released to the public. I suppose at that point I will be less concerned about the look of the dials too and the immersion factor should jump immensely.
Would I recommend it?
I think so. I know that is a bit of a non-commital answer but half of what is holding me back is waiting to see how VR support works. I am looking forward to testing it in close in WW2 dogfights and seeing how easy/hard it is to spot targets compared to on my monitor. I love some aspects of the graphics, they can be exceptional. I still don’t like not having a clickable cockpit or at least simpler control assignments. When each aircraft has elevator trim I don’t want to have to assign the same key to different commands because it is called something different in one aircraft to another. Elevator trim is fine as a catch-all.
I am starting to enjoy BoX, I am getting kills and taking part in missions that have more of a purpose. I would say I would lean more towards recommending the game than not these days.