Virtual reality support for the IL-2 series is coming in March with an open beta test of the game. This was big enough news in and of itself to warrant an update on popular PC hardware site Tom’s Hardware. We also got a work in progress look at the A-20B!
VR support forthcoming
VR support will be coming through the use of Open VR API. Open VR was developed by Valve to support the Steam VR system (HTC Vive) and other headsets. According to the developer diary update, support for the popular Oculus Rift and HTC Vive VR (both support Open VR API) headsets will be coming in that March update.
While VR support is only a niche part of a niche audience – it may also have the ability to draw in new players to the series. VR games draw attention and a reasonably accessible high fidelity VR flight simulator like IL-2 may just be the thing that helps grab a few more people and suck them into the PC flight simming world.
Just what is VR all about? Well HTC has some pretty nice videos
Aircraft news as well
This update also informed us of some interesting news. The next update will be bringing with it not only the He111H-16 as was expected but also the FW190A-5. These two aircraft are currently in testing and should be released in 2-3 weeks.
The FW190A-5 did look quite far a long in the updates, however, we also know that early testing doesn’t always mean that an aircraft will be ready. The flight and damage modeling are huge parts of the effort as are all of the other mechanical modeling that need to go on. So much of this is behind the scenes for players that we don’t always notice them – but we would notice if they weren’t there!
What remains unclear is if the rest of the development schedule has moved up or if these two were finished quickly due to their being variants of pre-existing aircraft and that the rest of the schedule remains on course. The IL-2 Model 1943 is next in the schedule and the Spitfire Mark Vb is after that. Originally those two were slated for May and June respectively so we’ll see if that still happens or if they have moved up.
Speculatively, if those two aircraft do move up as well then its possible that the team is accelerating the timeline in order to free up time to build other game assets such as ships or ground vehicles. It may also be wishful thinking but they may also be looking to produce a couple more Collector Planes prior to turning their attention to Battle of Midway.
I also wouldn’t blame the team if everyone went on vacation for a couple of weeks after all of this. The schedule is surely intense!
The A-20B is looking good
The A-20B is an early version of the A-20 light bomber and attack aircraft from Douglas Aircraft. The bomber variants also went by the name “Boston” while the gunship versions (with six .50cal machine guns fitted) that came later were often called “Havoc.” Used by a number of Allied nations including the Soviet Union, the A-20 is a fast and capable bomber with a respectable bomb load and light attack capabilities with its forward facing light machine guns (typically two .50 cal machine guns).
Han remarked that modeling the A-20 will be one of the most “expensive” aircraft for them to put together. That is probably true in terms of development time (and money paid to the team to put it together) as this is a fairly sophisticated twin engine bomber. I’m not sure if it would be considered more complex than the Pe-2 or He111 but it is certainly up there with pilot, forward observer/bombadier and rear gunner stations (one .50cal flexible mount up top and a .30cal in the ventral position). It may have more systems than the other bombers too though I’m not sure what they might be specifically.
The community discussion
The aircraft has generated some discussion in the community since we first heard about it coming to the series back in September. The A-20 in Russian service saw several modifications including a powered rear turret and right now we don’t know if we’ll see any of those modifications or not.
There’s also been discussions of what kind of bomb load the A-20B was capable of carrying and while loadouts for the US and British aircraft are fairly easy to come by – the Russian versions are a little more nebulous. From the one developer shot it appears that twelve 100 KG bombs can be carried and larger options are surely possible too.
The A-20C model was capable of carrying torpedoes but the A-20B most likely did not. That may be a disappointment to some hoping for their first taste of aerial torpedo attacks on the Black Sea (prior to the series going to Midway where aerial torpedo attacks will be a must).
The A-20 will also be one of two aircraft coming to the IL-2 series in Battle of Kuban that will have a tricycle landing gear arrangement. Theoretically that should make the A-20 and P-39 easier to land and taxi compared to tail dragging aircraft. The uniqueness will definitely help and some US based players are also pretty excited to see a couple more American made aircraft be part of the aircraft lineup.
Things are moving along quickly for IL-2: Battle of Kuban. Possibly quicker than any of us expected!