Digital Combat Simulator

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Digital Combat Simulator
DCS World Cover.jpg
Developer(s)Eagle Dynamics
Publisher(s)The Fighter Collection
EngineEagle Dynamics Graphics Engine (EDGE)
Platform(s)Microsoft Windows
Release
  • RU: 17 October 2008
  • EN: 10 December 2008
  • GER: 7 March 2009
  • NA: 2 April 2009
Genre(s)Combat flight simulator
Mode(s)Singleplayer, multiplayer

Digital Combat Simulator World (DCS World) is a free to play combat flight simulator. It includes a free Sukhoi Su-25T Frogfoot attack aircraft and TF-51D Mustang, an unarmed training variant of the P-51D Mustang. DCS is expandable through additional modules as well as user-made add-ons and mods. While the Su-25T and TF-51D are free, additional modules (aircraft and maps) developed by both Eagle Dynamics and third party developers are only available by purchase. Upcoming modules include the P-47D Thunderbolt,[1] the F-16C Fighting Falcon,[2] and various other aircraft.

DCS: World is considered one of the foremost combat flight simulators currently available, with its fully simulated aircraft being meticulously created and accurate to their real-life counterparts. Some aircraft, such as the F/A-18C Hornet and A-10C Warthog, have cockpit interaction that is identical to that of the real aircraft.

History[edit]

DCS world traces its lineage directly from the Flanker series of combat flight simulator games. Eagle Dynamics published DCS Worlds' direct predecessor with Ubisoft as Lock On: Modern Air Combat (LOMAC). The aircraft from LOMAC are still available.

The first module (though not until later referred to as a module) added to DCS was DCS: Black Shark (released in 2008) as a stand-alone simulation of the Kamov Ka-50.[3] Originally it was an add-on for the previous Lock On: Modern Air Combat series, but was deemed necessary to use a different engine.[4]

The second module added to DCS was DCS: A-10C Warthog (2010). Originally released as a stand-alone simulation, but offering multiplayer compatibility with Black Shark, it was one of the first native 64-bit flight simulators.[5]

In 2011, DCS World was launched with concept of plug-in "modules". This allowed using previously stand-alone simulations in same scenario while sharing assets. DCS: A-10C Warthog was made available as plug-in module, while DCS: Black Shark became DCS: Black Shark 2 as part of an upgrade to the simulation.[6][7]

In October 2015, DCS World was relaunched under the guise of DCS World 1.5 via a free update.[8] 'DCS World 1.5' brought all the current aircraft, ground units, and terrain into the new Eagle Dynamics Graphics Engine (EDGE) featuring DirectX 11.

In November 2015, DCS World 2.0 was released in open alpha format via a free update. 'DCS World 2.0' gained the ability to add new theaters of war, such as the new Nevada Test & Training Range. The Caucasus map was in the process of being updated, and was not yet compatible with DCS 2.0.[8][9]

In May 2017, DCS World 2.1 was released in early access which includes support for Nevada and Normandy maps and new rendering (deferred shading and physically based rendering, PBR).[10][11]

In January 2018, DCS World 2.5 was released into open beta testing, which allowed for migration to 2.5 on steam and from 2.2 Open Alpha. It included a more detailed map of the Caucasus region along with a plethora of other changes and additions.[12][13] The release version of 2.5 was published in April 2018.[14]

Features[edit]

DCS World includes mission and campaign editors, online multiplayer, a large inventory of air, land and sea combat units, AI opponents, a mission generator, dynamic weather and seasons, training missions, a replay system, and pilot log book.

The mission editor utilizes Lua support and a campaign editor for user created tasks. This allows users to extend provided missions with content created independently from module publishers, or create their own unique scenarios. Users of DCS World can host their own servers with user-made missions for co-operative and/or adversarial multiplayer missions with or against AI units. Dedicated server support is currently under development and testing.

DCS World includes one free map, which features a large area of the Caucasus region that encompasses much of Georgia – the location of the Russo-Georgian war in 2008, as well as Crimea, the site of a Russian Annexation in 2014, and a portion of Russia's southern border. Additional maps include:

Aircraft modelling in DCS[edit]

The realism of the aircraft simulation varies according to the type of flight model, the level of system modelling, and the style of cockpit.

The following terms and abbreviations used for different models of simulation are from Eagle Dynamics to describe levels of simulation within DCS World and its modules and may not be applicable to other simulations in same way.[15]

Aerodynamic flight models[edit]

There are four aerodynamic flight models used in DCS World:

  • Standard Flight Model (SFM) – A data driven flight model, with some pre-defined scripting for some complex aerodynamic events. As of version 2.5.4, there are no longer any aircraft offered with the SFM. [16]
  • Advanced Flight Model (AFM/AFM+) – Airflow and edge of envelope simulation, using multiple points of force application and calculation on the relevant flight surfaces. Scripting of complex events is not used. An augmented AFM+ model which includes limited modelling of the fuel and hydraulic system weighting is also included in some aircraft such as the Su-25 and A-10A.
  • Professional Flight Model (PFM) – An expansion of the AFM, this level of modelling includes data from complex model wind tunnel simulation, a much more detailed and dynamic aircraft model (for example taking into consideration deployed or retracted landing gear, and the effects of deploying them in flight), complex simulation of control surface movements, complex simulation of autopilot actions, and the effects of fluid movements (fuel and hydraulic) on flight dynamics. This level of modelling also includes actual real world aircraft test data where possible.
  • External Flight Model (EFM) – A subset of the PFM made available for third party developers. It essentially defines all external forces from the PFM, but allows the developers to calculate and apply internal forces (fluid movements, control surfaces, etc.) within their own model.

Systems models[edit]

There are two levels of system modelling in DCS World:

  • Standard Systems Modeling (SSM): Only cockpit systems essential for flight, navigation, and combat are directly simulated – although the range of systems needed for these can be quite broad. Player control is limited to keyboard, mouse, and joystick/HOTAS controls.
  • Advanced Systems Modeling (ASM): Cockpit systems are carefully modeled, even if they are not directly related to flight, navigation, or combat. Almost all cockpit controls are functional, allowing the player/pilot to interact with them using mouse, touchscreen, or even certain VR interfaces. This means that for the most part, the aircraft can be controlled via on screen controls and the joystick/HOTAS controls, although keyboard controls are still an option.

Cockpit models[edit]

  • 3DoF (3 degrees of freedom): A fully simulated three dimensional model of the cockpit, which the player/pilot can rotate the camera to "look around", and control the level of camera zoom. Head tracking hardware such as TrackIR is supported. As of October 2015, following the 1.5 update, there are no longer any models using 3DoF.
  • 6DoF (Six degrees of freedom): A fully simulated three dimensional model of the cockpit is presented, which the player can not only "look around", but move the camera/head freely in three dimensional space. Combined with head tracking hardware, this allows player/pilots to "lean around" the flight stick to see controls on the panel in front of them, crane their head to look over the dash, or turn around and lean around the seat to look behind the plane in flight.

Eagle Dynamics-produced modules[edit]

Aircraft[edit]

DCS: Black Shark 2[edit]

A simulation of the Russian Kamov Ka-50 single seat attack helicopter, Black Shark was originally released in October 2008 as a stand-alone simulation, with the updated Black Shark 2 released in 2011 to upgrade the simulation, and to change it to an expansion module for DCS World. The Black Shark 2 module incorporates Eagle Dynamics' Professional Flight Model, the Advanced Systems Model, and presents the player/pilot with the full six degrees of freedom style cockpit.[17]

The Ka-50's full selection of armaments are simulated, allowing players to adapt the helicopter to gunship, anti-armour, and bombing mission roles.[17] It also employs a high degree of automation, including a complex autopilot system, the Shkval-N video targeting system, laser ranging and tagging for laser guided ordnance (Kh-25Ml and 9K121 Vikhr missiles), and a helmet mounted targeting system. These systems allow a single crew member to assume both pilot and gunner roles simultaneously.[17]

The Ka-50's battlefield data link systems are also simulated, allowing players in a multiplayer environment to coordinate, and share targeting and navigation data between Ka-50 helicopters, although data sharing between the Ka-50 and other Russian aircraft is not possible.[17]

DCS: A-10C Warthog[edit]

Released on April 22, 2011 DCS: A-10C Warthog is a PC simulation of the Fairchild Republic A-10C Thunderbolt II. This is the second aircraft in the DCS lineup, following DCS: Black Shark. DCS: A-10C Warthog provides a simulation of a modern fixed wing combat aircraft in regards to flight dynamics, avionics, sensors, and weapon systems. The player also has the option to play Warthog in "Game" mode for a casual game experience. Players can fly missions against a wide array of air, land and sea forces under AI control (or in some cases other players). Users can create and share their own missions and campaigns with the included mission and campaign editors, and fly with and against other people online.[18]

This simulation is considered to be a "study-simulation" (in contrast to a more common survey-simulation)[19] and has been highly rated for its realism and fidelity.[20][21] [22][23]

DCS: P-51D Mustang[edit]

The first title in the "Flying Legends" series released September 17, 2012. Developed alongside ED partner The Fighter Collection,[24] DCS: P-51D Mustang offers both highly detailed simulation and easy-to-play "game" mode options for both hardcore and casual players. 'Simulation Mode' allows the player to control the P-51D just as a real pilot would, while game mode removes and simplifies most of the systems including the flight model, making for much more easier accessibility and flying. As with most other DCS World aircraft modules there is the addition of an interactive training system which puts you in the cockpit with an instructor that gives you step-by-step training instruction to fly the Mustang.

DCS: Flaming Cliffs 3[edit]

The successor to Lockon Flaming Cliffs 2 released April 30, 2013, Flaming Cliffs 3 (FC3) is the next evolution of the Flaming Cliffs series. FC3 features the A-10A Warthog, F-15C Eagle, Su-25 Frogfoot, Su-27 Flanker, Su-33 Flanker-D and MiG-29 Fulcrum (A/G/S). While not as sophisticated as individual aircraft modules such as the DCS A-10C, FC3 aircraft provide an easy learning curve for new players and focuses on a broad range of aircraft, including air-to-air fighters and ground attack aircraft. FC3 adds a wealth of new features and improvements to previous versions of the Flaming Cliffs series.[25]

Through continued support, additional content has been added via updates. These additions consist of high quality six degrees of freedom cockpits and Professional Flight Models (PFM) for the Su-27, Su-33 and F-15C.[26][25]

Most of the aircraft included in FC3 have been made available as individual modules as well. These include: A-10A for DCS World, F-15C for DCS World, Su-25 for DCS World, Su-27 for DCS World, Su-33 for DCS World and MiG-29 for DCS World.[27]

DCS: Fw 190 D-9 Dora[edit]

The second installment to the Eagle Dynamics "Flying Legends" series released August 19, 2014, DCS: Fw 190 D-9 Dora offers a detailed simulation of the German Focke-Wulf Fw 190 fighter aircraft including aerodynamic forces, cockpit interaction and various other systems within the aircraft. As with many of Eagle Dynamics modules, DCS: Fw 190 D-9 Dora was developed with assistance from The Fighter Collection, an organization dedicated to the conservation of vintage aircraft.[28]

DCS: Fw 190 D-9 Dora has one of the steepest learning curves in the DCS franchise, owing to the difficulties inherent to piston-engine aircraft and the lack of an instructor as present on the DCS: P-51D Mustang.

DCS: Bf 109 K-4 Kurfürst[edit]

Released on December 12, 2014, the DCS: Bf 109 K-4 Kurfürst module provides an intricate and complex simulation of the Messerschmitt Bf 109 aircraft. This module includes all applicable systems and provides an unparalleled simulation of the WW2 fighter on which it's based. Many of the simulated systems will interact with each other during simulated air combat giving this module a distinct challenge while in the air.

As with its sister module, DCS: Fw 190 D-9 Dora, DCS: Bf 109 K-4 Kurfürst is a member of the "Flying Legends" series of modules and provides a worthy opponent for its in-game counterparts, the P-51D, and Spitfire LF Mk IX. The development of this module was supported by The Fighter Collection an organization that has helped Eagle Dynamics for a number of years.

DCS: Spitfire LF Mk IX[edit]

Released on December 16, 2016, the DCS: Spitfire LF Mk IX is the 4th plane in the "Flying Legends" series. The module has a fully interactive cockpit and a highly detailed flight model, along with all other relevant systems.[29]

DCS: L-39 Albatros[edit]

The DCS: L-39 Albatros module was released February 19, 2016[30] giving the Czechoslovakian jet trainer a new home within the Eagle Dynamics simulation. The L-39 Albatros simulation allows two players to take control of the aircraft owing to the tandem seating of the Albatros. This capability was new to the franchise, and only after this point was it opened up to other aircraft within the game. In the game, as in real life, the Albatros possesses a dual mission capability of training, and the ability to carry a limited selection of ordinance. The module was released to highly positive reception, with one reviewer noting that the module was "a must have […] for DCS newbies (like me) who want to improve their skills."[31]

The L-39 Albatros within DCS possesses many of the characteristics that make its real life counterpart so desirable as a jet trainer, such as favorable aerodynamic characteristics, low wing loading, and a decent thrust to weight ratio.

DCS: Yak-52[edit]

DCS: Yak-52 module was released August 3rd, 2018. The Yak-52 module is meant to complete the basic training branch that includes the DCS: L-39 Albatros module. This is an outgrowth of a professional training project authorized to the simulation market.[32]

The Yak-52 is a Soviet primary trainer aircraft which first flew in 1976. It is still being produced (as Iak-52) in Romania by Aerostar, which gained manufacturing rights under agreement within the former COMECON socialist trade organisation. The Yak-52 was designed as an aerobatic trainer for students in the Soviet DOSAAF training organisation, which trained civilian sport pilots and military pilots.

Air, Land & Sea Combat[edit]

DCS: Combined Arms[edit]

Released in June 2012. DCS: Combined Arms gives the user control of ground forces during the battle. Players can use the strategic map to move ground forces, set artillery fire missions, and control the ground battle, as well as assume the role of a Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) and designate targets for close air support aircraft, or directly control an armor vehicle or air defense weapon and engage enemy forces.[33]

Combined Arms plays similar to real time strategy games, a first person armor warfare simulation, or alternatively the player can direct the ground battle from the cockpit of a DCS aircraft like the A-10C Warthog, Ka-50 Black Shark, or P-51D Mustang.[33]

Combined Arms supports both single player and multiplayer gameplay. When in multiplayer, different players can take on different roles such as artillery commanders, tank commanders, pilots, and JTACs. All roles can be changed dynamically during the battle.[33]

Admiral Kuznetsov-class and Nimitz-class carriers[edit]

Eagle Dynamics is currently in the process of upgrading the Admiral Kuznetsov and Nimitz-class aircraft carrier in the game to higher standards.[34] The modules will have working elevators, detailed interiors, and will let the player walk around the ships.[35]

Terrain modules[edit]

Nevada[edit]

Released November 30, 2015, Nevada is the first terrain module to be released and integrated into DCS World 2. The module features a large portion Nevada, and small parts of Arizona and California, providing a 600 × 610 km area of free to roam terrain. Iconic locations such as Las Vegas, Groom Lake military installation (known as Area 51), Nevada Test and Training Range (NTTR), Nellis AFB, and Lake Mead are featured.

Future improvements include adding Tonopah Air Force Base, airfields and landing strips in the central portion of the map, the National Training Center, improved grass, ground clutter, etc.[35][36]

Nevada is the first terrain integrated into DCS World 2 that runs on the Eagle Dynamics Graphics Engine (EDGE), providing new particle effects, higher texture terrain support, unlimited world size, and DirectX 11 support as well as allowing up to four GPU's via Nvidia SLI/AMD Crossfire.[37]

Additional technical features include clipmaps, terrain shadow projection, and the option to project a map on a globe surface providing realistic curvature of the Earth.

Persian Gulf[edit]

Originally scheduled to be released in 2016 as Strait of Hormuz[38] will be one of the first combat theater maps to be released and integrated into DCS World. The terrain module will feature the countries Iran, UAE and Oman, providing a 390×390 km area of free to roam terrain. Iconic cities and locations to be featured include Dubai, Bandar Abbas, and islands Abu Musa and Greater Tunb, while featuring accurately rendered airbases in Iran, the UAE and Oman.[39]

As with all other terrain modules the module will run on the new Eagle Dynamics Graphics Engine (EDGE).

Availability for pre-purchase was announced in 6. April 2018.[40] The module has been released in early access as Persian Gulf map in May 2018.[41]

Normandy 1944[edit]

The Normandy 1944 map is intended to simulate Normandy, the English Channel, and parts of southern England. Closed alpha released for backers on 28 April 2017.[42] On 27 May 2017, the terrain was released along with DCS version 2.1 for a wider audience along with the World War II Assets Pack.[10]

List of modules[edit]

Name Module type Role App. historical year Developer Release date Status Flight model Systems model
DCS: Ka-50 Black Shark 2 Aircraft Attack helicopter 1987 Eagle Dynamics 2 November 2008 Released Professional Advanced
DCS: A-10C Warthog Aircraft Close air support
Ground attack
2005 Eagle Dynamics 22 April 2011 Released Professional Advanced
MiG-29 for DCS World Aircraft (3 variants) Air superiority
Multirole
1977-1988 (A/G/S) Eagle Dynamics 10 October 2018 Released Professional Standard
Su-33 for DCS World Aircraft Air superiority
Carrier-based
1998 Eagle Dynamics 22 September 2017 Released Professional Standard
Su-27 for DCS World Aircraft Air superiority 1985 Eagle Dynamics 11 November 2014 Released [43] Professional Standard
Su-25 for DCS World Aircraft Close air support
Ground attack
1981 Eagle Dynamics 26 July 2013 Released Advanced + [44] Standard
A-10A for DCS World Aircraft Close air support
Ground attack
1977 Eagle Dynamics 26 July 2013 Released Advanced + [45] Standard
F-15C for DCS World Aircraft Air superiority 1976 Eagle Dynamics 26 July 2013 Released Professional Standard
DCS: P-51D Mustang Aircraft Fighter 1945 Eagle Dynamics 12 September 2012 Released Professional Advanced
DCS: Flaming Cliffs 3 Aircraft 1995 Eagle Dynamics 30 April 2013 Released Mixed Standard
DCS: Fw 190 D-9 Dora Aircraft Fighter-bomber 1944 Eagle Dynamics 14 August 2014 Released Professional Advanced
DCS: Bf 109 K-4 Kurfürst Aircraft Fighter 1944 Eagle Dynamics 12 December 2014 Released Professional Advanced
DCS: Spitfire LF Mk IX Aircraft Fighter 1943 Eagle Dynamics 16 December 2016 Released Professional Advanced
DCS: L-39 Albatros Aircraft Trainer
Light ground attack
1971 Eagle Dynamics 19 February 2016 Released Professional Advanced
DCS: Combined Arms Land combat 2005 Eagle Dynamics 25 December 2012 Released Professional Advanced
DCS: World War II Assets Pack Air, ground and sea assets 1944 Eagle Dynamics 26 May 2017 Early access [46]
DCS: NEVADA Test and Training Range Terrain 2017 Eagle Dynamics 30 November 2015 Released
DCS: Normandy 1944 Terrain 1944 Eagle Dynamics 26 May 2017 Early Access
DCS: Persian Gulf Terrain 2018 Eagle Dynamics 25 May 2018[47] Early Access
Hawk T.1A for DCS World Aircraft Trainer
Light fighter
1976 VEAO Simulations 16 March 2015 No Longer Available[48] External Advanced
DCS: M-2000C Aircraft Multirole 1987 RAZBAM 25 December 2015 Released External Advanced
DCS: UH-1H Huey Aircraft Utility helicopter 1967 Belsimtek 19 April 2013 Released Professional Advanced
DCS: MiG-15bis Aircraft Light fighter 1950 Belsimtek 11 March 2016 Released[49] Professional Advanced
DCS: F-86F Sabre Aircraft Light fighter 1953 Belsimtek 1 April 2016 Released[50] Professional Advanced
DCS: F-5E Tiger II Aircraft Light fighter 1972 Belsimtek 11 November 2016 Released[51] Professional Advanced
DCS: Mi-8MTV2 "Magnificent Eight" Aircraft Utility helicopter 1990 Belsimtek 5 September 2013 Released[52] Professional Advanced
DCS: AJS 37 Viggen Aircraft Interdictor
Strike fighter
1993 Heatblur Simulations
(as Leatherneck Simulations)
27 January 2017 Early access[53] External Advanced
DCS: MiG-21bis Aircraft Light fighter
Interceptor
1972 Magnitude 3 LLC
(as Leatherneck Simulations)
19 September 2014 Early access[54] External Advanced
C-101 Aviojet for DCS World Aircraft Trainer
Light ground attack
1980 AvioDev 21 January 2015 Early access[55] External Advanced
DCS: SA342 Gazelle Aircraft Utility helicopter 1973 Polychop-Simulations 29 April 2016 Released[56] External Advanced
DCS: AV-8B Night Attack V/STOL Aircraft V/STOL
Ground attack
Carrier-based
1991 RAZBAM 29 November 2017 Early access[57] External Advanced
DCS: F/A-18C Hornet (Lot 20) Aircraft Multirole
Carrier-based
2005 Eagle Dynamics 1 June 2018 Early access[58][59] Professional Advanced
DCS: MiG-19P Farmer Aircraft Light fighter Early 1950s RAZBAM 1 March 2019 Early access[60] External Advanced
DCS: F-14A/B Tomcat Aircraft Interceptor
Air superiority
Carrier-based
Late 80s - mid 90s Heatblur Simulations 15 March 2019 Early access[61] External Advanced
DCS: Yak-52 Aircraft Two-seat trainer 1979 Eagle Dynamics 3 August 2018 Early access Professional Advanced
MiG-29 for DCS World Aircraft Air superiority 1982 Eagle Dynamics 12 October 2018 Released[62] Professional Standard
DCS: Fw 190 A-8 Anton Aircraft Fighter 1944 Eagle Dynamics 07 June 2019 Early access[63] Professional Advanced
DCS: I-16 Aircraft Fighter 1939 OctopusG 10 May 2019 Early access[64] External Advanced
DCS: Christen Eagle II Aircraft Aerobatic 1977 Magnitude 3 LLC 18 January 2019 Early access[65] External Advanced
DCS: F-16CM Fighting Falcon/Viper (Blk.50) Aircraft Multirole 2007 Eagle Dynamics 3 October 2019 Early access[66] Professional Advanced
DCS: F-15E Strike Eagle Aircraft Multirole
Strike fighter
1985 RAZBAM Unreleased In development External Advanced
DCS: MiG-23 MLA Flogger Aircraft Fighter 1985 RAZBAM Unreleased In development External Advanced
DCS: F-4E Phantom II Aircraft Interceptor
Fighter-bomber
Carrier-based
1970 Eagle Dynamics Unreleased In development Professional Advanced
DCS: F-8J Crusader Aircraft Fighter 1969 Leatherneck Simulations Unreleased In development External Advanced
DCS: F4U-4 Corsair Aircraft Fighter-bomber 1945 Leatherneck Simulations Unreleased In development External Advanced

Reception[edit]

Digital Combat Simulator has received critical acclaim.

PC Gamer has reviewed the DCS: A-10C Warthog module with rating of 92/100.[67]

Simreviews has reviewed the DCS: L-39 Albatros module with rating of 9.3/10.[31]

Helisimmer has reviewed the DCS: UH-1H module with rating of 9.6/10.[68]

Helisimmer has reviewed the DCS: SA342 Gazelle module with rating 9.6/10.[69] Simreviews has reviewed same module with rating 9.8/10.[70]

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  68. ^ "REVIEW: BELSIMTEK UH-1H FOR DCS". Retrieved 2016-12-23.
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External links[edit]