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Sunday, October 26, 2014

Fantastic video by Haechi

A letter home by a pilot to his mother...moving no matter what language you speak!

Ready, start your engines!

Racing events are available from the 24th of October at 18:00 GMT to 27th October 12:00 GMT
Map: Tropical island, 2 laps, Realistic Mode. Available aircraft era III.

The last racing weekend showed great interest from the players to the new game mode. In the future, we plan to further develop air-races: you are about to take the first few steps and participate in the preliminary time trials and, of course, prizes are waiting on the podium of "Formula War Thunder"! In the meantime, we suggest you to hone your skills with the training flights on the map Tropical Island!

Be the top racer in "Formula War Thunder"!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

If you buy Battle of Stalingrad now for 50/90 Euros, you are a fool

I did, and I regret it now because a (virtually) free to play version is on the way.

In a few months time, you will be able to get a cheap trial version of Battle of Stalingrad which comes with two planes unlocked (and the rest you can earn through XP grinding).

But the devs aren't announcing this, because they want you to pay 50 or 90 Euros for the launch version first.

Russian trial version released already

The devs have now (reluctantly) confirmed they are doing what they said two weeks ago they would NOT do, that is, release a virtually free - 500 rouble- version of Battle of Stalingrad with two planes, where you unlock the others through XP grinding, to Russian customers.

So they misled you two weeks ago saying they would NOT do this.

1C GS credibility down in flames.
Now they are trying to get you to believe this version will only be released in the Russian market.

We told you two weeks ago this was inevitable. Not because we are psychic, but because the devs themselves accidentally said so in one of their promotional videos! Then they went into damage control mode trying to deny it.

And we happily admit we got it wrong by a massive 500 roubles (10 Euro).

The trial version is NOT free people, it is only virtually free.

Now when these same devs tell you that there will NOT be a trial version released outside Russia, so you will have to buy the 50 USD or 90 USD version, why should you believe them?

Or do you think, as I do, that it's just a matter of time and if you are patient, you will be able soon enough to get that $50 game with 8 planes unlocked, as a $10 game with two planes unlocked?

Would anyone like to bet against it happening?

Track IR 5 support in WT: 6DoF

If you havent discovered this little baby, then you might just have learned why your opponents seem always to be able to see you in FRB but you can't see them!

TrackIR is a device you plug into your PC, that reads a tracker on your head or hat and allows you to 'look' around the cockpit as naturally as you would in real life.

WT supports 6DoF or six degrees of freedom, meaning you can look anywhere and the in game camera will follow your movements.

Check six dudes!

Friday, October 24, 2014

WT misses best online title

Well, that aint right!
Gaijin Entertainment’s free-to-play VR compatible combat title War Thunder has missed out on the Best Online Game, which was instead awarded to Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft.
War Thunder is a free-to-play online title for both PC and PlayStation 4. Players can control a range of planes and take part in multiplayer battles. On PC the experience already features support for the Oculus Rift head-mounted display (HMD) while support for the Project Morpheus HMD on PlayStation 4 is also expected to arrive in time

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Battle of Stalingrad for War Thunder Fans: An Alternate View

OK, sure and I was maybe a little bit negative about Battle of Stalingrad (BoS) as a potential 'next step' for WT/WOW fans looking for some more challenging flying.

One of our guests, Andrei Simonov, left a comment on the blog here and offered to write his viewpoint on the game, and I love that kind of constructive approach. Much better than the usual 'your blog sux die you loser' comments that I have to deal with.

So here is Andrei's review, which I have taken the liberty of spicing up with a few stolen screenshots and converting currency to Euros.



I am a War Thunder player and I like Battle of Stalingrad

Review by Andrei Simonov

English is not my first language so please excuse that I am brief. I will list the reasons why I have found it to be a natural progress from War Thunder, which is the game I play most in my spare time (I am a student).

In War Thunder I play only FRB, and fly only the IL2 Avenger which I bought on premium sale plus
2000 Golden Eagles. This aircraft for me is the ideal ground attack machine and does not damage easily.

War Thunder IL2
The IL2 pack cost me 20 Euro.

Now imagine my joy to read there is the Battle of Stalingrad, which features my beautiful IL2, in high quality flight model, for only 50 Euro. 
The BoS ultimate ground pounder: IL2
And then for that price I also get other Soviet planes which I can learn to fly: The awesome fast bomber the Pe-2, the Lagg3, Yak-1 . I consider that I got these three other planes for only 30 Euro more than I paid for one good plane in WT.

Also, there are 4 German planes which I DONT want, as I would never, ever fly for the German side, but they are there if ever I would want.

Already this is a bargain to me.

What you need 

I bought a cheap joystick online which has programmable buttons and a slider for the throttle and this was 10 Euros. Now I have nothing more to pay, and it is fine for playing Battle of Stalingrad.

The Stalingrad environment

This environment is special to me because my history is here, and the history of my country. You have to know, this is where for the first time, Germany was shown that it could be beaten. Not Africa. Not Western Europe, here in Russia, at Stalingrad. From Stalingrad onwards, Germany was retreating, thanks to the Russian army and navy and airforces.

This is a very realistic game about that battle, which makes emotions surge strongly for me. I understand not everyone will feel the same, but you just have to read a book and you will feel it. I have asked James to recommend a good book in English.

Stalingrad by Antony Beevor, easily the best English language book about Stalingrad.)

This game has made the story of Stalingrad for the airforces, come to life.

The plane(s)

My IL2 is beautiful. It was not hard to make the change from WT IL2 to the BofS IL2 because the flying in easy (Normal) mode is the same as in WT and a joystick makes it easy to use.

But it feel much much 'heavier'. It is hard to explain but the first few flights I made from air starts, I kept flying into the ground because of not pulling up early enough. I would pull on the stick but the momentum of him kept him going into the ground. This feels very real.

A nicely smashed IL2
And there are good effects when you crash! The crash and damage models are very precise and each part of your plane can take seperate damage, and if the damage is bad there are part of the plane which stop working, but you can keep flying, until the whole plane is damaged, so there is a really good feeling of panic and fear trying to get your machine home if it is smoking or a wing is damaged or a wheel and you have to land and then something else goes wrong.

And if you do smash your machine, don't worry, no repairs to pay for, you get a new one on the next mission!

You can also man the gun and the bombadier positions.
I think once you learn to use a joystick, flying in BofS is not harder than WT with a mouse, and I already feel confident to turn off some of the helping aids and try to fly more and more fully real even for takeoffs and landings after about ten hours time.

The game

The campaign game for BofS is hard. 

James has described here on this blog and he does not like it as much as I do, but it is not easy to find your target and then hit it, because it is well hidden usually in the snow. I have to turn on the map and target icons to find it, but then I turn them off again and that is a good enough help.

I like that the game shows 5 different phases of the air war, from when Germany reached Stalingrad to when it surrendered after being surrounded. But I would have liked to also see the first part of the attack when the German airforce was outnumbering the Russian airforce by 100 times, and the Russians had to fight against huge numbers of German aircraft. This would have been exciting for a game (but not in real life!).

A phase in the campaign where the German airforce heavily outnumber Russian would have been good.
Air combat is good, and the planes behave very realistic in their actions. I have to say in WT you sometimes feel your enemy is rocket powered and seems to zoom higher and faster than ever a real machine could. There is none of that in BofS, every move the enemy makes seems real. And human players in multiplay cannot do amazing things or have weapons which seem overpowered.

Mostly I am playing the single player campaign at the moment because I am learning, and I know on multiplay I would be too easy meat! But don't worry you guys, I am coming!

The graphics

A FW190 cockpit. You will never see me in this one!

I said I like the scenery of Stalingrad because I recognise it and it is realistic for that time of year. I would like more haze and fog, and I would like to see bad weather come more often in the campaign, like snow. But else it is very beautiful.

Some say it is boring to have so much snow, and a bit more variety in the snow colours would be good (yes, snow has colours) but this is a small thing. I am sorry to you all, that is what Stalingrad looks like in winter, just a bit dirtier.

The planes are easily as beautifully drawn as in WT, and with more small details which you can see are very accurate, especially in the cockpits. I have compared the cockpit of the IL2 in WT and in BofS and the one in BofS is much closer to the real cockpit than in WT.

Look at the detail in this screen, the heat blurring the IL2 which is flaming, the haze of the low level cloud, the detail on the plane models. 
For many more screenshots, just go here:


I have the feeling flying my IL2 in BofS that this is as close as I can get to really flying an IL2, and I am only on easy mode, I realise that. This game motivates me to get better and better, to learn to fly my machine on Expert mode without any artificial help so that I can learn how it was really to fly an IL2 at Stalingrad.

And I know that with this game, I can try to make that ambition, where in WT I would have never been convinced it was close to real.

The only things I would ask would be an earlier phase for the campaign, and a cheaper price which did not make me pay for the German planes I do not want, ever!

So I give this score for BofS

Historical: 9/10 (you will see all about Stalingrad air war)
Learning difficulty: 5/10 (I have a lot to learn, but it is worth it!)
Gameplay: 8/10 (there is plenty of ways to have fun in single play and eventually online when you are good enough)
Graphics: 8/10 (very accurate vision of Stalingrad, very good plane and special effects)
Total: 9/10

Monday, October 20, 2014

What, you can't play Battle of Stalingrad with a mouse?!

Forgot to mention this in my review, and it is causing some angst among flight game fans so I thought I would make it really clear:

You can't use a mouse with Battle of Stalingrad. You need at least a joystick to play 'normal mode' and if you want to be able to survive online you will probably also need a set of rudder pedals, or at least learn how to use the Z/X keys on your keyboard to fly with the rudder, because without it your opponent will outturn you with ease and your arse will be grarse.

However, you can fly on autopilot or as a gunner or bombadier in multiplayer just with a mouse...if you think that is worth 50 Euros!

So be warned - and buyer beware...don't spend the money on this game unless you have the right kit.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Lets get airborne grunts!

War Thunder: ground up.

The great promise of War Thunder has always been that its fire-spitting aircraft and bomb-gobbing tanks would eventually join together in glorious phlegm-filled shooting matches. It’s been months since Ground Forces introduced tracked armour to the game - but it’s taken until this week’s update for tanks and planes to trade fire.

Update 1.43’s arcade mode allows players to use aircraft to support ground forces.

All players start the battle grounded, in tanks - but once they’ve destroyed two enemy machines, they’ll earn the right to whizz about in an attacker aircraft.

If they then blow up three tanks from the air, they’ll unlock the right to a heavy bomber - best used to “smash enemy armoured units with their bomb payload”.

Air-to-ground combat becomes an imperative during triggered ‘mini-events’. These are temporary shared objectives - to cause a huge amount of damage to particular enemy ground forces within a strict period of time. Tank players will call down these mini-events, and flying allies will cover their “devastating raids”. Opponents will do their best to intercept.

This last bit’s important for would-be pilots: tanks don’t pop out of existence while you’re dogfighting - so Gaijin encourage players to find an appropriate hidey-hole for the duration of their flight.

And don't blow up your own tank, OK boys and girls?


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Battle of Stalingrad developers ask fans to manipulate Metacritic

In one of the dummest moves ever seen in gaming, the makers of Battle Stalingrad asked their fans to go to Metacritic and write positive reviews to lift the score for their sim. They threatened that if this did not happen, the game would close by Christmas!

The post was deleted almost immediately, but not before it caused a furore.

You can see it here:

There can be no doubt that plenty of media companies wish they could manipulate Metacritic, and that some even try. But very few actually post about it on a public forum! What are they putting in the vodka in Russia? The should try drinking single malt instead.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

IL2 Battle of Stalingrad for WT/WOW Fans: the full review

(For, by and to War Thunder/World of Warplane fans)

BOOMchuggalugga! Here we come...
Based on: BOS pre-release beta version (October 2014, 90% complete)

In a few short weeks time WT players who visit any sort of gaming website or forum are likely to see an advertising blitz for ‘IL2 Sturmovik, Battle of Stalingrad’.

As a War Thunder/Ground Forces or World of WarPlanes/Tanks/Ships player, this title wants to win your time and money, so what is it?

I’ll tell you this, and I won’t tell you any more:

IL2 Sturmovik Battle of Stalingrad (BoS) in 10 words or less

It’s a PC flight game being released November 2014.

OK, I'll tell you more: BoS in 100 words or less

It’s set in WW2, 1942, in Russia, with planes from Germany flying against planes from Russia. You can buy a version with 8 planes for 50 bucks/Euros, or with ten planes for 90 bucks/Euros. You can play in either ‘normal’ or expert mode. Normal mode is like War Thunder Arcade mode, and Expert mode is like Realistic mode, just even more realistic.

The Stalingrad map is flat, white, and snowy, with flat, white snowy bits, and icy rivers. And snow. Great for framerates on older PCs, a bit boring after you have flown over it a few times.
I love War Thunder/World of Warplanes, so why would I buy this?

If you have a gaming PC, mouse and a joystick (needs programmable joystick), you have 50+ bucks burning a hole in your pocket, and are looking for a more ‘realistic’ flight game than WT/WOW, this could be worth a look.

OK I read this far, give me a walkthrough

Right, you either download the standalone installer first, or buy it via Steam, and then there is a 3GB download. That installs and you get a start screen, in Russian. Don’t panic, you can change the language to English (only two language choices so far).

When you start the game you get this menu screen, which shows you whatever aircraft you last flew in, inside a hangar.

IL2 BoS menu screen, from the back.

OK OK, here is what she was looking at.
 Get airborne quickly without real people trying to kill you

You have several game options. The first is Quick Mission. Here you can choose one of three maps, two small and one the full Stalingrad area map. As a War Thunder player the first thing you will notice about these maps is this is Stalingrad, in winter. Expect flat landscape, snow, ice, and snow, and more ice. A few trees, scattered hovels, and a burned out (low-res) city. So far there is only one landscape, and this is it. But it isn’t as boring as it looks. Try landing on that snow, or even better, on the ice of the River Volga! See what happens ;)

This is the QMB interface. You can choose two flights on each side, of 4 planes each (or random numbers). The QMB lets you choose a few options, generates the mission (which you can fly from takeoff, or start in the air ready to go) and throws you into the action.

Choose your quick mission: 1-1, or up to 8 vs 8.
Choose your mods and options (but only if you have unlocked them in the campaign first)
Wait. Four planes? Like, a total of eight per side? Not much action to be had there, you might think. You might be right. More on this when we get to the single player campaign.

The good part is that all the planes you have bought, are available to you to fly – fighters, twin engined ground attack, bombers. No tech tree, no grinding, no ‘premium planes’ once you have paid for your download.

All of the planes have authentic flight models, very sophisticated flight models, that you can fly either on Normal (arcade) or Expert (Full Real) settings and full real really is full real. You will be much busier in the cockpit of a BoS plane than in Full Real in WT, because all controls are modelled, even down the last knob and switch.

Dumb it down, switch it up

A good thing about the interface is that you can start in Arcade (normal) mode, and then switch off a lot of the GUI interface stuff to make it more realistic for yourself: you can independently switch off map icons, plane indicators, aim helpers, target locators, in game messages about the condition of your plane (‘tailplane rods broken!’), or external views, and switch on things like complex engine management (startup sequence, radiator and temp management, prop pitch and RPM) when you are ready.

The QMB is a good way to get to know each of the aircraft without someone on your tail ruining your day while you are still trying to work out which way is up.

Now get airborne and kill some human pilots

This leads us to multiplayer. Here, the game is a very different to War Thunder. In War Thunder there is a whole support system behind your plane that you have to look after – keeping up with repairs, upgrades and crew skills keeps you almost as busy sometimes as the actual flying, or in the worst cases, keeps your favourite machine grounded. And of course there is the tech tree to climb up, or buy into, before you get the right plane at the level you like.

In BoS multiplayer you are free to fly any machine, out of the box. There is no maintenance, and if you get damaged or killed, you just restart and fly a fresh new machine again next time. Some WT players are going to LOVE that. I do! But others may miss that element of the game.

Unfortunately, there are really only limited online options right now – no free for all, or historic modes, and only one type of map (flat/snowy!). On the official servers, you can either take off from the ground in the thick of the action, or take off in the air, away from the action. I think it should be the other way around, to avoid vulching, but there you go. The action is all player vs player, so it feels like an endless LIVE/DIE/REPEAT of PVP encounters. I did have some success starting in a big bomber, the He111 Heinkel, and on chat I got a few fighters to accompany me as I tried to break through and wipe out the enemy base. We got to the base, I dropped my bombs (missed darnit), and got shot down by flak (flying too low) while my escorts were bored because no one came up to attack us, so they soon went down low to swat or be swatted.

Pick a side, pick a plane, mod it up. Start in the air, or on the ground for missions with full takeoff and landing. Basic PVP gameplay, but you play this game for the realism, not the variety. This is about dogfighting in REAL Full Real, if you are man enough.
On some of the unofficial servers there have been properly created coop missions like this, and historical missions with proper ground attack targets, escorts etc, but the best of these servers was recently shut down by the devs in a spat over some design decisions, so the full potential of multiplayer in BoS is yet to be seen.

Most servers at the moment however have only 20 or so players on each side. If you like skies full of targets, you may be disappointed – in one mission on a server on the large map, there were only 20 players and I could not find them before the mission timer ran out!  You won't see much ground action either, just a gun emplacement or stationary vehicle here or there.

Now here comes the catch – there is a series of weapon/armour/bombload mods and ‘unlocks’ that you will want to use in multiplayer, including cool skins for your death ride. BUT to get them you have to play through the Single Player game first. They can’t be unlocked in multiplayer.
You can only use the weapons, mods, and skins online, that you have unlocked in single player mode.
Ara cod?! (As we say in my parts, or WTF as you probably say in yours). Yes, you heard right, to get the pimped up ride with the big cannon and armour plate in Multiplayer, you have to unlock it in Single Player. Now the bizarre part is that you do get awarded points in multiplayer for successful missions where you make a kill or two and land your machine. But those points do not count.

Thassok, I love Call of Duty style single player campaigns!

Bad luck, nothing like that here.

This is the part of the game that has provoked the most angst among people who bought into the beta access. Single player in BoS, when you come from the multiplayer world of WT, is MIND NUMBINGLY I’D-RATHER-KISS-MY-GRAN-ON-THE-MOUTH BORING.

For a full description see my earlier post, HERE

After playing about ten missions, I will tell you why it is so boring.

Ten reasons the BoS campaign sux

- It sux, but you are forced to play it to unlock weapons for multiplayer

- It is just the Quick Mission Builder with different lines drawn on the map in the briefings

- There isn’t enough action, most of the time you do not see any enemy planes on the way to, or from the target

- Even when you do see the enemy, there are not many of them, and the campaign does not even use all types, so you just see the same aircraft over and over

- It takes about 20 boring missions to unlock all the mods for a plane

- There are ten planes in all so

- That means 200 boring missions to unlock all the weapons for all the planes

- You also have to win XP to unlock the different airfields on each side, but

- All the airfields look the same

- There is no plot, just a series of chapters with random missions and few medals to win

So, you don’t like the campaign?

It’s desperate. Actually, I wouldn’t really care about it, except these game developers called 1C/777 appear to have learned their gameplay politics from Stalin: “We have a clever five year plan, we are going to make you play single player for five years before you are allowed to play multiplayer with mods, even if that is why you bought the game.”

Or is that really the whole story?

I love a good conspiracy theory as much as the next man (who looks more like a woman in disguise dont yers think?). So here is my theory.

BoS went the premium box route in beta to scrape up a lot of quick cash, charging IL2 Sturmovik enthusiasts up to 90 bucks to play the beta. But that is not their audience, or why would they do this stupid system with single player unlocks for multiplayer use? Why would they make a game with so many War Thunder elements, which the IL2 Sturmovik fans think are unnecessary at best, unserious at worst.

Ask me, the answer to any question involving male behaviour is always binary: either MONEY or SEX.

Since I don’t think the devs are launching BoS to get laid more (though it might be a side benefit if they get rich) the answer therefore is MONEY. So how does this strange design decision make them more money?

Here's how. As soon as sales of the premium boxed version peak, they are going to release a free to play version (see post about that HERE) though they are currently making out they are not saying they 'currently have no plans for a free version'. They are fibbing.

You’ll get a free to play version with two planes and the ability to win the others via XP.

But you, dear gamer, are going to say ‘Screw that campaign shite, I’ll just buy some IL2Roubles™ and trade my roubles for the Peshka with the 20 mm ShVAK cannons, seatback armour, and snow camouflage skin with skull and crossbones emblem.' And then, when you get bored of that, you are going to want a new machine, the bigger bombs that go BOOM, and racing stripes on the wings, so you’ll buy those, and … starting to sound familiar? You’ll feel like you are back in WT before you know it, except these airplanes are hard core and much more of a challenge to fly Full Real.

OK should I buy it or what?

Not yet. If there is a free demo when it launches – try that.

If not, wait for the free to play version. It will come with two planes (the Lagg3 and Bf109F4). If it is like the other title from these guys, Rise of Flight, these might come with some of the weapon mods and skins unlocked, but mostly not, so you’ll have to earn the XP or buy them.

I can’t wait man! I am tired of WT high tier Realistic mode in my dented Typhoon. I need to either repair my Typhoon (again) or buy a new game.

OK friend, you have two options.

Burn 50 bucks now, and SUCK GRANDMA’s FACE playing the BoS single player game to unlock the weapons you need to play multiplayer in your new death machines.

Spend 20 bucks (or 10 when it is on sale, which it frequently is) buying and playing Cliffs of Dover, which is what I prefer to do. And HERE is why I recommend that.