The time has finally arrived, WW2 dedicated flight sim and Virtual Reality brought together in IL2 Battle of Stalingrad/Moscow/Kuban. While DCS World has had VR support for some time it is not WW2 dedicated, though DCS WW2 is beginning to take shape.
1. VR support added via Open VR (HTC Vive and Oculus Rift cv1);
2. Optional post-processing Sharpen filter added;
3. Hiding the in-game HUD (H key) now stops most GUI routines, which can double your FPS in some situations. You can use this to get a performance boost while playing on a slower PC. After hiding the HUD, you can still turn object markers on by pressing I key (they won’t lower performance since they were recreated for VR in a separate module that doesn’t use ScaleForm like the rest of the GUI);
4. New option ‘Show HUD by default’ added which can be turned off so HUD won’t turn on at the beginning of a mission;
5. New graphics option ‘Dynamic resolution factor’ added. It adjusts the render resolution and the number of particles in certain effects on the fly to maintain the FPS level chosen in ‘Target FPS’ field (or screen refresh rate if the V-Sync option is checked). In VR, the target FPS is always 90;
6. Clouds detail increased for Ultra graphics preset;
7. The number of smoke particles decreased for all graphics presets except Ultra. This improves FPS while you’re chasing a damaged and smoking enemy aircraft;
8. Trees rendering technology improved, almost eliminating a tree rotation effect when you fly near them;
9. Trees LOD levels were reworked to minimize their ‘pop-up’ effect;
10. A rare crash has been found and fixed. The sim could crash in missions with more than 120 ground objects (random issue). This issue was fixed, but when there are too many ground vehicles some of them may lack effects of lights. A tip for mission designers: if you don’t need a certain group of vehicles anymore, use Delete trigger instead of Deactivate to free their effects and properties cache;
3D Model Changes:
11. He 111 H-16 bump texture corrected, reflections improved;
12. Yak-1 series 127 rear canopy transparency corrected;
13. Three new skins made by community member Stab/JG52_DiO for Bf 109 F-2, Bf 109 F-4 and Bf 109 G-2 added to the game;
14. Missing glass that covers instruments in Bf 110 G-2 engine nacelles added;
15. Fw 190 A-5 is now correctly visible at large distances;
16. Flight stick shaking at high speeds will correctly stop after rudder and elevator loss;
17. Ju-87 D-3 flutter can still happen after rudder loss;
18. Aircraft weapons damage from HE shell hits became rarer;
19. Ammo explosion simulation improved – now it happens at ammo box location instead of aircraft center and the explosion power varies depending on ammo type and its amount left;
20. Sh-37 gun ammo weight corrected for IL-2 mod.1942 and LaGG-3 series 29;
AI and other changes:
21. Single ground target attack from high altitude maneuver corrected (an AI will reduce its altitude first and then begin the attack);
22. AI controlled Ju-87 won’t crash during dive recovery if they failed to drop the bomb;
23. A rare issue in campaign when player flight could disassemble and wingmen could crash into each other was fixed;
24. Vehicle columns that were attacked on a bridge act more reasonably;
25. 61K train or ship mounted AA gun kill will be counted correctly;
26. Trees on the Ryabinki airfield runway removed.
So what different does VR make?
VR makes a huge difference in DCS World, but in BoX – where I have been using an old Track IR 3 Pro waiting for this to arrive – the difference is even bigger. I’m really happy with DCS world and I still rate it higher than BoX, but this is getting close to putting them on a level for me – in terms of enjoyment if not realism.
My gunnery skills appear to be better, I am able to line up the shots better and work out the deflection more accurately. Depth perception is so much better, I had a problem before with pulling out from some dives after misjudging the height. No such problem with VR. Not only that but formation flying is so much easier, not only are you able to keep watch on your leader in your peripheral vision you can see around the canopy framing easier. I had a problem with the Fw190 cockpit framing, the only way I could maintain station was to fly line abrest or the frame would block out the leader and the slightest movement on their part would mean that they were lost. I’m having no such problem now.
I’m not finding it difficult to spot targets, not like in DCS – where it isn’t easy even with a 4K monitor. Identification can be more of an issue, but I’ve only shot down the one friendly aircraft…and to be fair it was a cracking shot – just a shame it wasn’t the Yak that I thought it was!
The dials are all clear and readable, the shame is that there isn’t a clickable cockpit to add to the feeling, but it does mean that you are just left to get on with the flying.
Landings, not normally an issue anyway, are now easier to judge. Your height is given some real depth so you can tell far better how far you have left to drop, and you get a better sense of the angle of the aircraft making a three point landing easier.
Are there any problems?
Yes, it’s not flawless. I’m using the Rift and I am having difficulty with Steam VR interferring with the game. For example, when I want to bring up the map to check my position I generally haveto have at least five goes before I can see the map. What I get, currently, is the Steam VR screen showing the location of the two Rift sensors and any of the Touch devices that I have activated. I will also see a black box with three bars. It’s annoying and can make you miss a waypoint or rendevous with a friendly aircraft that you’re trying to help out. However, when the map is up I can see it right in front of me and I can look around and look out of the aircraft at land marks, this is not possible using the monitor and Track IR; as the map takes up the whole screen. To compound the problem though I can get the same problem with the map when I try to zoom in/out as when I try to open it. I can get the Steam screen back.
I’m having a similar problem to DCS in that I have to turn off the ASW process from the Rift, maybe my unit is defective or my graphics card just doesn’t like it, but it causes bad tearing. I don’t know if this is down to the game or the Rift software, the unit or the card, but seeing as it is happening in both BoX and DCS and it stops when I press Lctl & NumPad 1 I am assuming that it is not their fault.
This isn’t a problem with the game or the system, but you do get neck ache after a dogfight, but then I find it a lot easier to track targets that fly directly above you, or above and to the side. Track IR could get wappy if it lost sight of the clip or whatever you use to control Track IR. Rift, and I am guessing the Vive, doesn’t do this. So you can follow that aircraft all the way around without worrying that you will lose track of the aircraft.
I think the position of the eyes in the pilot’s head is wrong. You hit your head all the time just looking around. So leaning forward you hit your head on the gunsight, but the thing is there is still quite a bit of room between your head and the gunsight, so it doesn’t fit with with you are seeing. It is good that you can not stick your head through the glass, or at least it depends on your settings – as in Berloga server you can, but in Finnish Virtual Pilots you can not. There is a definite model issue to work out there as it gets annoying.
One other thing, for some reason the head position suddenly changes and you can drop about an inch, or rise about 2 inches. I don’t know why this is happening, but I end up having to recentre. I don’t have this in DCS or any other VR game; so this must be something to do with BoX.
Is it worth it?
Well, I’ve said this before, I’m not going back to using Track IR for Battle of Stalingrad. The difference is immense and this is one change that I have been very happy to see, it’s not finished, it needs some work, but it is an excellent start and an indication of the potential of VR.
For the critics…
There are people out there that insist that VR is not up to standard, that it is no use for flight sims. I disagree, I understand that there are alternatives like building your own cockpit – and some of these can be truly amazing – but it’s not the same. It doesn’t give you that all round view, it doesn’t give the same sensation. I was flying as a gunner in an He-111 with EAF602_Red piloting, and I was looking straight down at the ground with a 20mm cannon right in front of me, and it looked like I was looking down 3,000m for real. Things look as though you can reach out and grab them, the sensations are there the immersion is there. The resolution could be better, yes, but then the resolution on a monitor could always be better, or the stick could always be better, or the effects could always be better, that doesn’t mean something shouldn’t be tried out and released for use. It’s really added to the enjoyment factor for me, the immersion and the sensations are fantastic. Ok, so when the next generation comes out I’ll be very interested in getting my hands on it, but I’m really enjoying Rift CV1 and the things that it has brought to my simming experience.