IL-2: First look at the Hs129 and Jason shows us VR mode!

Yesterday we got a taste of what is coming in Update 2.009 and today we’re learning a little more about how far along the team istoday we’re learning a little more about how far along the team is and what they are working on including our first look at the Hs129B-2. As a bonus, the team also released a video of Jason Williams flying in VR mode and its really quite something!

The Henschel Hs129

Henschel_Hs_129B

The Hs129 was designed by Henschel during World War II as a dedicated close air support and attack aircraft. The Hs129 filled a requirement to continue to employ a dedicated ground attack element within the Luftwaffe which had been largely served by a small assortment of aircraft including the Hs123 bi-plane and the Bf109E fitted with bombs.

Designed with close air support in mind, pilot sits in a cramped but well armored and protected cockpit with heavy armored glass. Other components are also well protected from small arms fire.

Though underpowered, I’m pretty excited to once again get into the cockpit of the Hs129. It’s a good counterpoint to the IL-2 in terms of its tank busting and low level ground attacking capability and though it is quite slow, it does bring with it enough specialized firepower to be able to crack some tanks and easily take out other ground targets. When it was introduced in IL-2: 1946 I spent a great deal of time using its cannons to attack tanks.

The devs also provided us with a full weapons list which ends months of debate as to what may be fitted. The list is very good too!

Weapons available on the Hs129B-2 in IL-2: Battle of Kuban include:

  • Two fuselage mounted 7.92mm machine guns MG 17, 1000 rounds per each.
  • Two fuselage mounted 15mm guns MG 151/15, 250 rounds per each. They can be replaced with 20 mm guns MG 151/20 with the same amount of ammo.
  • 30mm drum-fed gun Mk 101 in the gun pod (30 rounds).
  • 30mm belt-fed gun Mk 103 in the gun pod (80 rounds).
  • Four 7.92mm machine guns MG 17 in the gun pod, 1000 rounds per each.
  • Two SC 50 underwing bombs.
  • Four SC 50 underwing bombs.
  • SC 250 underbelly bomb.

These comprise nearly all of the available armament options for the B-2 model. It eschews a few of the more exotic loadouts that we saw in IL-2: 1946 and focuses on the historical options. The Mk103 is a standout weapon with a large 30x184B cartridge and a 380 round per minute rate of fire. The Mk101 is similar but drum fed and with a rate of fire of only 260 rounds per minute. Hs129s were equipped with both weapons during 1943 and only some units were equipped with the superior Mk103. Both of these weapons are ideal for punching through light, medium and occasionally heavy armored vehicles.

The underwing bombs and underbelly bombs are a fairly average loadout but effective enough.

Today we get to see how the vehicle is progressing with some work in progress shots. No textures are yet applied so the detailing isn’t all done yet but clearly its another very well detailed aircraft for the series.

The Hs129 is a “Collector Plane” so it is available in the Premium package and will undoubtedly be sold to Standard users after release as well.

Watching Jason play in VR mode

Jason Williams is in Moscow this week visiting the offices and presumably that is where the team filmed this short clip of him flying and fighting in a Yak-1B versus several enemy aircraft.

What you’re seeing on the display is what one of his eyes is seeing – the other will have a slightly different image to give that sense of depth and take full advantage of stereoscopic vision. This is where VR really excels and you can see how smooth Jason’s head movements are tracked in the game engine.

Jason had a few additional comments to add in the forums which give us a sense of what the hardware and the experience overall was like.

The machine I was flying on had a Geforce 770 video card. Nor did it have a high-end processor. There were 16 planes in the mission and 4 were 110’s with gunners and when you activate the HUD you have a pretty big hit on performance. At no time were frames too low to fly comfortably. Any machine above or slightly above mid-range will do fine.

The only twinge of “nausea” is when I roll inverted. I don’t even really call it nausea because it feels more like butterflies which if I would do it for real might generate a similar feeling. I think it was more a reaction to the maneuver and not a disconnect with my brain and body in VR. I came out no worse for wear.

The only let down is to say the tech and hardware is not perfected yet. The concept is way cool, but until the resolution is twice as much, there will be a small amount of “frustration.”

Frame rates seem to be firmly in the 45fps range during the gameplay and clearly there are more powerful systems out there that can achieve more frames despite the added strain of the VR system.

Many users complain about VR in general because of the “screen door effect” which is your eyes picking up on the small spaces between pixels. Higher pixel per inch displays such as the Retina displays used by Apple and similar technology used by many other smartphone and computer manufacturers will gradually eliminate this issue, however, the current 1080p level VR headsets do suffer a bit. Future headsets will push 4K and maybe even beyond.

Progress overall

Han reports in this newest developer update that the IL-2 Model 1943 flight model is done while the Spitfire flight model is still a work in progress. Meanwhile, 3D models on the A-20B, Yak-7B, and P-39L-1 are currently being worked on with the P-39 just having been started.

We’ve seen images of the A-20B already but the Yak-7B and P-39L have yet to be shown off. Once they reach a certain point I’m sure 1CGS will show off the work.

a20b-wip-04
We’ve already seen the A-20B in previous developer updates. Progress is likely continuing externally and internally.

I’ve speculated recently that the team is ahead of schedule and that we may see both the IL-2 Model 1943 and Spitfire Mark Vb fairly soon in the schedule. I’m also still not convinced that we’ll see both aircraft in Update 2.009 but it is possible.

It is also possible that neither are ready and that it will be still a little longer before they are released. That does seem unlikely with the IL-2 Model 1943 being thoroughly shown off in previous updates and appearing essentially ready – now that we have confirmation that the flight model is done.

If we do get the IL-2 Model 1943 this month and the Spitfire in May then it is clear that progress is continuing on at the schedule that Jason had initially set out.

Check out the full developer update right now!

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