DCS Gaming Real Life Resources

DCS Syria Map: Postcards From the Real World

A comparison between real life and the DCS Syria Map thanks to the picture taken by 132nd.AssafB in his recent trip to the Northern Golan Heights.

After the brilliant introduction to the Syria Map and the theory lesson about the Close Air Support (CAS), 132nd.AssafB is back, this time with some great pictures from his recent trip in the northern Area of the Golan Heights.

The two observation points where the pictures were taken are marked in the magnified, right-hand map.

Note: The cover image of this article is a view of Mount Hermon, the snowy peak lies just a few kilometres North from the location where the picture was taken.

View from Saar waterfall

Approximate Google Map location

The elevation is quite off. The DCS view is elevated above ground level to a point where the landscape made sense, but it’s kinda OK.
To the Left is part of the Hula valley. The peak in the middle should be Mount Dov.

From the same location looking NE towards the Hermon (the snowy peak).

View from Saar waterfall to the North-West.
A piece of the Hula valley is visible to the left with some of the northern Galilee mountains.
The ridge to the right is climbing towards mount Dov (The Western should of mount Hermon). The white route zigzagging to the right is the Israeli-Lebanese border.

Looking further North-East. The Nimrod Fortress is visible on the ridge line.

Mount Varda towards Hermon

Approximate Google Map location

This photo is taken from mount Varda, looking North towards the Hermon.

Lake Ram

Approximate Google Map location

A view of Lake Ram, from the Northern bank to the South.

Golan Heights “Tel”

In the center/south parts of the Golan heights that’s a typical terrain: flat with distinct hills (Tels as we call them, not sure of the English term). Those are volcanic domes or volcanic mountains that are no longer active that bumps above the relatively flat terrain.
With the nearby Syrian neighbours, needless to say that most of those hills are used as military outposts of all sorts and are littered with bunkers, barb wires, minefields, antennas and so on.
And yes, it’s way greener IRL than in DCS (at least in this time of the year)

Can’t argue with the general desert-ish style of the textures in DCS!

The meaning in English and the Origin of the word “Tel” intrigued me so AssafB provided more info:

Tel in Hebrew is an elevated area. Like a hill. It usually refers to ancient ruins covered and re-populated more than once, but it can also mean – and that’s the more precise reference – to a hill formed due to volcanic activity.
The entire Golan/Syrian heights is a volcanic feature. Some of the Tels are inactive volcanic mountains and others are just hills formed during volcanic activity but not necessarily volcanic eruptions. A good example for volcanos are Tel-Peres (with a really cool caldera I got to see from above once) and Tel-Avital/Tel-Bental.

Update 18/03/2021
According to a friend, Flash from Sabre Squadron, a tell in English is an artificial mound, not originated by volcanic activity.

Golan… Volcanos?

Update 15/11/2021
An aspect I ignored about the Golan Heights, until Mr AssafB recently enlightened me, is the volcanic activity of the region.
The following short documentary illustrates this fascinating aspect of the geology of the Golan Heights:

Observations and Conclusion

Before wrapping this up, I asked AssafB what he thinks are the aspects or features that Ugra did not nail entirely.

1) The map’s resemblance to RL terrain is generally OK and is probably “good enough” to provide a quite realistic setting for scenarios even to those who are familiar with the RL terrain.
2) The most upsetting deviation is the huge distortion of elevation in the Great Rift Valley (The valley running N-S between Israel and Jordan and proceeds North between Lebanon and Syria). Much of this valley is IRL very low terrain: around 200m (600ft) BELOW MSL around the Sea of Galilee and down to -400 further south just outside the map area (The lowest terrain on Earth I think). In DCS this rift starts at 10ft ABOVE MSL. This distortion makes the terrain East and West of it (I.e. the Western cliffs of the Golan Height and the Eastern slopes of the Galilee mountains) far less steep than they should actually be.
3) The map lacks a LOT of villages and other terrain landmarks that exist IRL. Again this is annoying to anyone who has RL acquaintance with the region and “knows” that those villages should exist but probably not so critical to everyone else! 😛
4) The desert-like colors of the map is grossly inaccurate. RL terrain (Again at least where I travelled) is covered in much more grass and forests. Some of that have a brownish color in the hot summer months but by no way not a desert climate or desert look.
5) Roads – those are also had some noticeable differences from RL but again like “3” it’s probably more of a problem to local flyers 🙂

The inability of DCS’ 3D engine to render negative elevation terrain is probably due to the fact that the water is always rendered, this is noticeable whilst loading complex maps. Going forward, and perhaps with new versions, Ugra will be able to properly implement the Great Rift Valley.
I’d also love to see more villages and roads that are currently missing, as AssafB mentioned, but Ugra may have skipped them to reduce the amount of memory this incredible map already requires.

That being said, a huge thank you to 132nd.AssafB for providing his insight and pictures. As someone that loves hiking, I definitely need to schedule a trip around Israel at some point!

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