Recent air combat sim recommendations?


The flight models are the same, but it is a little easier to get the FC-level aircraft started up and off the ground.

In my experience, the DCS WW2 aircraft are quite a bit harder as far as flying goes; high-power props are trickier than jets.


I’d say the so called full fidelity modules in DCS are actually easier to learn than the old FC3 ones.

In the latter you must learn all functionality by heart and have it bound to your HOTAS for VR. The former you learn by looking at the pit, initially with a voiced interactive guide, then by experiment and closer looks at labels. Far more natural (and fun!)

Which ones appeal to you? MiG 15 and F-5E are easiest imo, or the F/A-18C which has a ton of capabilities all simmed in excruciating detail but the real machine is built to be quickly learned by warheads. It’s easy. Easy to fly, easy to make shit explode with.

The one skill that transfers across all sims is setting up an approach to the runway. Landings are hard, fun and you can get good at it.


I always cheat and let the computer deal with prop pitch and mixture. I don’t have the controls setup to be messing with that shit.


But even then tons of torque, narrow gears, edgy aerodynamics and sparse cockpits are not n00bfriendly. Compare that to a fly-by-wire (the computer flies, you get a vote) hornet with a flight path marker dot that tells you where exactly the plane is going, etc. I’d say hornet for noobs.

Another thing is a hornet will not bore you. You can do air superiority, intercept, CAP, strike, CAS, SEAD, all the things with it. But for basic pew pew it has this neat look at it and lock it helmet mounted sight. Making migs go away is relatively easy compared to making fokkers go away in a mustang.


There’s actually quite a few aircraft on their list I’d be interested in:

WW2: most interested in P-51 and Spitfire (although I’d be more interested in an earlier war variant in a Battle of Britain scenario) but the FW and the Bf109 would be fun too.

Modern: F-14, F/A-18, and Warthog would top the list, but I’d be up for the Harrier or the F-15.

Helicopters: The Gazelle, Huey, and Black Shark would be cool, and I’d totally be up for the Hind when it comes out.

I’ve noticed some of these aircraft are listed as coming with a campaign, some of them don’t say anything about a campaign, and then there are separate campaign packs. I assume you can take any of the aircraft and fly them on any map you’ve purchased. But what’s going on on that map? Are there enemy aircraft flying around normally or is there activity only going on on the map if it’s played in the context of a specific campaign you’ve purchased?


On the torque point, I’ve mentioned before the pilot of the actual Spitfire I flew in last year admitted he could never take off a Spitfire in a flight sim because it’s completely unrealistically hard to control for, and compared to his delicate touch on the flight stick (I touched them as gently as possible and felt my stomach slam into my diaphragm) he was hoofing those pedals around on takeoff.


No. You get a box full of toys. A guitar, a drumkit and a bass. You make the music. Or buy a couple records (the DLC campaigns). There’s also a ton of user content that is fun and interesting. A mission or series of missions in DCS are best compared to a song in which you get to play a part. They rarely are very dynamic in that things will play out the same way according to the script. And some of those scripts are really fucking great. You can also roll your own. The editor is not that hard.

Both the spitfire and mustang are in DCS. The spitfire is also in Il2 in two different marks. il2 is no longer strictly ww2 ostfront. They are working on a battle of the bulge late war western front map and planepack and also a ww1 western front map. The DCS spitfire gets the nod from me as a pure man-and-plane experience. It’s also really fucking hard. I would not reccomend a n00b to go and try tame those motherfuckers. You need to know flying to be comfortable in a spitfire. Or turn it around, master it and then you can master anything.
Sidenote, the damage modelling in il2 is far better currently than DCS’s so for fun and engaging destruction of planes up close (such as your own ride), il2 BoX can’t be beat.

Of these, the F/A-18 would be my reccomendation to you. The harrier is very fun, but squirrely and weird as a plane. The warthog is awesome but slow, underpowered. It does one thing and does it real good. Same goes for the F-15C (the FC3 one) which does another thing real good but that machine just is boring as fuck. It flies like its on rails, has all the power and only one role.

Now the hornet is a roaring hotrod compared to the hog but has almost all of the tools to make the things on the ground go boom. It also fights other planes quite well, and has some really nifty tools to do that such as heat seekers that you aim with your head and that can do 180s.

And you get to fail at carrier landings as well! There’s no feeling like your first succesful carrier trap.

Now the hornet is “young” and does not have all of its goodies. Stuff like guided bombs, an electro-optical targetting pod, antiship missiles, etc. Not like you’d need those as a noob. Just doing circuits and 1v1s and throwing Mk-84s at ammo dumps should keep you occupied until it’s all done and people start building elaborate scripts for it.

And the tomcat… Well it aint out yet so there’s that. It’s also twenty years older tech than the hornet, so even though it gets almost as diverse a toolset as the hornet, it will be far harder to not fuck up in. You need to do some of that pilot shit, and better know your rudder from your stick if you don’t want goose to die every time a bandit crosses your nose.

What you need to dance the pedals to counter torque in a tail dragger is your inner ear, your sense of balance and accelerations. The sim doesnt have any way to speak to that (yet!). So yeah. We need to compensate with experience or turn a realism slider down ;-)


Oleg Maddox and friends totally f’ed up WW2 simulation combat with their harder-than-reality torque and departure modeling. There’s something to be said for compensating for the lack of “feel” when playing in a chair vs. the real planes (especially when that’s why RL pilots say sims are hard to get used to).

I’ve flown laser combat in a real T-34B and you definitely could feel the plane’s “grip” on the air changing long before departure. Sims can’t replicate this.


I take it as an accomodation to “fun”. Tough as hell flight models, to balance the perfect reliability of simulated hardware (as RNG-driven unreliability is anything but interesting) and still give somewhat of a tension to the player, as her life isn’t at stake after all. In my Il-2 experience, this is resulting in a very different approach to other flight sims, in that I am happy when I simply make it back to base and still feel like something was accomplished — maybe not a realistic approach, but one that feels flavoured properly historically. I wouldn’t turn off other craft’s labels and try to recognize them through their pixalited masses any day though. It’s also my understanding you can choose to downplay the designer’s chosen approach — although that probably is only relevant to players only playing by themselves, like me.
I am finding that I enjoy early 90s sims a lot more, from a simple gaming point of view, but I’m not rejecting later flight sims either.

I must confess the thought of actually being in a position where I’d have control over my own plane in real life is nearly terrifying to me. That wouldn’t make for a fun game!


I’m really enjoying going back through time and learning about the sims from the 90s, and how they all came from a few distinct dev houses. These are games I completely ignored in the past, and I’ve really grown an appreciation for them. The one thing they lack is the situational awareness that a head tracking system brings.


I used to fight old il2 almost exclusively from the external ownship-to-target view.


Well, maybe it’s sacrilege to mention it in this thread… but Ace Combat 7 is going live in a few hours. Dis gon be gud!


Not if you’re waiting two weeks for the Steam release… :(


Maybe it is, but you have my blessing :)

Dis gon be gud indeed! (and two more weeks for steam :/ )


Any recommendations on DCS standalone vs. Steam version?

Am I correct in assuming I can play with friends that have Steam if I’m standalone and vice versa as long as we both have the same version of the DCS software?

I’m finding conflicting information on module transfer, I think in part because Google keeps on finding posts that go back to 2014. It seems clear that purchases at don’t transfer to Steam, but some posts claim all Steam purchases go to standalone others that you need a key, still others that you just link the two accounts and it now transfers automatically.


No worries, if you have fun that’s what matters.


I think most here would recommend running the standalone version because you get new modules sooner. I think Steam is still missing some modules too. :)

Module transfer, the method of transfer from Steam to standalone varies depending on when the module was released as they changed protection from Starforce to Steam key on 12 May 2017.

So anything released on Steam after that date can be brought over automatically, just go to your DCS profile and bind your Steam account there.

Anything released on Steam before that date requires a more manual process.

The faq covers most of it:

Multiplayer I’m not sure about, but what you said sounds correct.


So, I’m sure it’s in the thread somewhere, but… what do you guys use for your HOTAS?


Just go with buying from Eagle Dynamics directly, not Steam. It auto-updates on load, you get the latest fixes, you get all the sales, and ED gets all the money which supports continued support of the game. This is one of those cases where going Steam is all negative.

@Bluddy, I’m using the Thrustmaster T1600m setup with the pedals and I’m really happy with it. (The version without the pedals is fine too, you can twist the stick or use a throttle rocker for pedals, but I prefer the pedal experience.)

I’ve had high-end sticks over the years, including the old Thrustmaster F-16 stick, Saiteks, CH stuff, and most recently the Logitech G940. Really liked the Logitech, but mine started to get worn and the support’s not there for it anymore. The Thrustmaster A-10 stick seems to be a hobby in itself to get tuned and reliable, so I went for the cheaper T.1600m setup. It’s “gamey” but has a nice selection of buttons and a great layout.


Do you find that the stick provides enough buttons?