Topic I: Iran – Iraq War
The Iran vs Iraq War was a gruesome, bloody long war started in 1980 and concluded 8 years later. Long story very short, the Iraq invaded the neighbouring Iran, initially piercing through the defences but eventually losing steam. The Iranian even counter-attacked, pushing the Iraqi back into their own territory. Eventually the situation stalled in an almost WWI scenario, with entrenched positions and static defences. Meanwhile, modern attack helicopters such as SuperCobras and Hinds, and jets such as F-4 and MiG-23 roared over the battlefield, which saw a number of important tank battles.
Besides the political, religious, economical implications, topics I do not want to discuss here, the conflict can be a very interesting setting for a DCS campaign. Unfortunately we do not have an appropriate map for the conflict: we have Syria on the West, Iran on the East. With a bit of ingenuity and imagination they both somehow work.
DCS shines when it represents conflicts antecedents of the 90s. Due to the Russian “nope” to the development of high-fidelity Russian aircraft, the best we can hope to get from ED is an early MiG-29A (I’d love to be proven wrong on this!). RAZBAM instead is working on the MiG-23 MLA. Therefore, we have post 2000s platforms for the NATO, and mid 80s for the Russia / Warsaw Pact.
The involved aircraft and helicopters are what make this conflict easy to reproduce in DCS. The following is a list of some rotary and fixed wing aircraft involved:
¹ = already flyable in DCS;
² = planned.
Between the planned modules, some should be released very soon, such as the Mi-24 or the F-14A early Iranian version, and the released modules, a good number of aircraft that fought during the Iran-Iraq war will be flyable in DCS. In a perfect world we would have the F-4 and the MiG-25 as well!
This scenario can be expanded with relative ease, by involving for example the Soviet Union / Russia if we will ever get the MiG-29A, or F-15A and early F-15C is we will ever see them as full fidelity modules.
The ground war saw iconic tanks fighting each other. Just to name a couple: Chieftain and M-60 for the Iranians, T-55 and T-62 for the Iraqi. The dream would be having a realistic simulation, similar to the one that the devs of Gunner, HEAT, PC are putting together.
Topic II: Mi-24P Pre-Order
A few days ago, Eagle Dynamics launched the pre-orders for the Mi-24P, with a 30% discount over the final price.
The Early Access (EA) should start in Q1 2021, so it’s not too far. This is the pre-order video:
(I don’t know how GlowingAmraam does it, but damn, his videos are always amazing.)
The pre-order means that the module is not playable yet, and this leads to the old question…
Pre-Order Yay or Nay?
Pre-ordering or not is your decision because it’s your money. So, stop the hype train for a minute and think about what pre-ordering means. For example, consider your past experiences with Early Access in DCS, your money availability, whether you understand that completing the module may take years and that initially it may be a bugfest, if the list of EA features satisfy you and so on.
On /r/hoggit the opinions are varied: a lot of folks pre-ordered, some are against it, mostly F-16 day-one buyers. Some others said to wait until the last day of the promotion.
So, have I pre-ordered the Hind? Yep. Why? Because my experience with pre-ordering is totally positive, and I am satisfied with the features included in the EA (listed below). Also, I’m quite convinced the Eagle Dynamics realized that the status of the F-16 at the beginning of the Early Access was not acceptable. Whether the causes were unexpected delays or difficulties adapting the work done on the F/A-18C to the Viper, the result left a lot of players very unsatisfied.
Slow down the hype train!
The list of features included in the Mi-24P are (from the DCS Store page):
- Professional flight dynamics and engine modelling with high precision characteristics of the real aircraft in all ranges of altitude, temperature and speeds for different weights and flight configurations
- Two 6DOF highly detailed cockpits (RU and EN versions available)
- Fully clickable cockpits with interactive control of all onboard systems with mouse
- Multi-crew. Second crew member can be another player or “Petrovich” AI (basic AI level during early access phase)
- Detailed modeling of the entire electrical, fuel, hydraulic, anti-icing, fire protection, SAS, autopilot and radio systems
- Full modeling of armament and weapons systems with ability to use 30mm cannon, unguided rockets (S-8, S-13, S-24B) and bombs from both cockpits in addition to the guided ATGM 9M114 operated by forward seated pilot-operator
- Standard Russian new and weathered liveries in addition to Iraqi and Syrian schemes
- Early Access manual Russian and English versions
- Training missions
So, PFM check, multicrew check, AI pilot/gunner (although limited) check, basic weapons check, main avionics / systems check. Basically everything I need to learn the basics of the avionics, flight characteristics and weapon employment. The multicrew immediately available is great as well!
In fact, the features not implemented yet are not that many, it’s mostly improvements, new weapons and the campaign. None of them fundamental initially, in my book:
- Cargohold gunner with KORD machine gun (can’t wait for “Ivan the Gunner” as I named him on the Hip!)
- Advanced “Petrovich” AI features for pilot or pilot-operator seats
- Addition of ATGM 9M120 (HEAT and HE versions) and R-60M air to air missiles
- Sling cargo operations
- Advanced damage modeling
- Additional liveries and livery template
- Full manual in Russian and English (full list of languages is TBD)
- Campaign by Eagle Dynamics
These features are a “green light” for my pre-order. However, let’s say I want to play the campaign right away (totally random example), then I may want to wait.
Then there is my history with Early Access and Pre-Orders. How many modules I play? How many I purchased in PO/EA? Was I happy about them? Let’s see:
EA Modules I play
- Black Shark day-one in 2008 until a couple of years ago. No EA of course. I purchased the upgrade then BS2 stand alone, so I did not need to carry the DVD around (that was before ED changed the licensing system for the Ka-50).
- F-14 Tomcat by Heatblur. The EA was almost feature complete (I don’t care about Jester) and stable besides the lag affecting the INS and quickly patched.
- Super Carrier. I did not expect much but a graphical overhaul and that’s what I got. Mixed bag here.
- What else I pre-order that I played for more than 10 hours in the last 13 years? Maps.
EA Modules I don’t play
- Hornet, I spent 6-7 hours in the Bug, learnt to land feet-dry, then nailed a third wire at my first attempt on a CV (luck for the most part).
- Viper, opened it once for Falcon 4.0 nostalgia, then never touched it again.
- Harrier. In one word: disappointment. Day-one of the EA there was a massive FPS bug that made it unplayable for some of my buddies. That was quickly fixed, but the module did not see any major update or fix for months. The lack of keybinds was really annoying (I still don’t know if I can map the comms to my F/A-18C UFC!). Although I appreciate how RAZBAM is changing their modus operandi, focusing on finishing the current modules before moving forward or having other teams working on different projects, this experience makes me very cautious, and I doubt I will buy another RAZBAM module in Early Access (Falkland map excluded, perhaps). Again, I’m happy to be proven wrong by them!
So, I’m most definitely happy with my purchases so far, so this is another green light.
MI-24P: With Whom, When, Why
If you are one of the so-called competitive players, or want to have an EZ win every time in the easiest way possible, then consider thoroughly the module you are purchasing. In this case, flying the Hind in an airquake / random server, is not going to rocket you to the top of the scoreboard. The Hind coming to DCS is an old helicopter, most of the time the targets are tanks and a Ka-50 carries more ATGM. It does not have advanced avionics or defences. A helicopter requires air cover, it does not usually operate where air superiority is not achieved and coordination with FW in a casual server is not that easy.
The Mi-24P will be a great addition to Cold War era servers or to simulative groups, where perhaps campaigns are played realistically, taking into account logistics and inventory. If in a casual server a truck can be blown up with an ATGM, in reality S-8 and other rockets or the terrific GSh-30-2, twin-barrel 30mm cannon (or you can do it with style, using later Ivan the Gunner and his KORD 12.7mm heavy machine gun 😛 ) do the job just fine, whilst saving money, virtual or not.
There are other considerations you should make. These are just a couple:
- Are you happy and enjoy the game? I am, especially when compared to how it was years ago. In my personal YouTube channel I still have some stress tests we put together in 2012 and the experience was terrible in complex scenarios. A CBU more or less, and the server was done and crashed. If you don’t like the status of the game, then your wallet is your means to tangibly express your dissatisfaction, or top of providing feedback.
- Are you going to play the module any way at some point? If yes, then take advantage of the discount.
- Do you have expected expenses in the near future and the cost of the module can make the difference? Or perhaps you are a student with limited cash (been there!)? Can you / You have to buy only one module and make it last? In these cases then perhaps the most sensible thing to do is waiting for one of the many sales and buy a module already complete or more developed and polished.
Eventually, it is up to you of course, just don’t get blinded by the hype train and make a responsible decision before buying the module. There is nothing worse than hype-buyers rushing to the forums or reddit to complain that X or Y feature is missing.
In my case the choice was already made, and the last details about the contents of the EA sealed the deal. Wallet, reveal yourself!