Cold War vs Modern Era: A DCS World Dilemma?
It is clear that DCS brings together people of all places, and of all ages. You can be on a server with a 15-year-old that's trying to understand how to start their F-15C at the same time that a 55-year-old Navy veteran with 200 carrier landings is reliving his past by flying a Legacy Hornet or even the A-4E. With such a diverse audience and wide age group, DCS stands in a place where not many games of its genre have stood before. The devs need to accommodate all age groups, both accessibility and gameplay-wise.
This divide between eras can also be seen on the aircraft roster, as there are both ancient aircraft in the game (WW2-era) and very modern designs (JF-17 and newer) that have to live in the same platform, but aside from the WW2 aircraft they usually tend to be grouped under two categories: Cold War aircraft and Modern aircraft. I have been around long enough to witness the divide that exists between those that primarily fly Cold War and those that prefer modern aircraft, and I have always found it amusing. There have even been arguments where some players have demanded that the opposing side's aircraft development be ceased to focus on more modules for their side. This kind of behavior is typical of online discourse, especially when it comes to gaming-related topics, but there is a certain animosity present here that I find not only amusing, but also extremely unreasonable. DCS World is a sandbox, one in which nothing is forced upon you, and you have the freedom to choose the aircraft that you fly and where you fly them.
I understand where this argument comes from, especially from the Cold War side. One proposition that I have heard is that of the perception that in the time to make one modern module, it would be possible to make two or more Cold War ones. Those that state this are unaware of the complexities of developing for DCS World and the work that goes into making a module for it. It is unbelievably hard to get anything done in DCS, even more when you want to recreate a real aircraft or system to perfection.
Despite all that, I just do not understand how these two sides not comprehend that each era brings unique aspects to DCS, but also that they do not need to be exclusive to each other. They are extremely fun experiences that focus on different historical periods, periods in which pilots had different roles in combat.
In a Cold War setting, pilots were more involved flying the aircraft themselves, as systems were either simpler to operate or were operated by a dedicated back seater that did most of the work that was not related to flying directly. Navigation was harder, and HUDs were either nonexistent or very limited in functionality, so pilots had to rely on their instruments and looking out the window to navigate. In a modern setting, pilots are less involved in flying, and they have become more of a systems operator than anything else. They have all the information they need at the tips of their fingers, be it on the HUD, screens or HMDs. Datalink also makes sure that what one pilot sees, the entire faction does as well. Coordination is key in this era, and navigating is much easier thanks to GPS and INS systems being installed on aircraft.
There is a big overlap of these two eras thanks to the unique roster that DCS has, which includes "modern" aircraft like a relatively early F-15C, some pretty late versions of the upcoming F-4E Phantom module or even a late 90s version of the F-14B. Some of these aircraft used the same airbases for a short time, and flew in the same skies; which means that this line between "modern" and "Cold War" is pretty blurry.
Now that you can see how these eras differ, I will pose you a question: Where do you fall on the compass? Do you prefer one era over the other, or do you just like these planes regardless of how old or new they are?
About the writer:
Santiago "Cubeboy" Cuberos
Longtime aviation fanatic with particular preference towards military aviation and its history. Said interests date back to the early 2000s, leading into his livelong dive into civil and combat flight simulators. He has been involved in a few communities, but only started being active around the mid 2010s. Joined as a Spanish to English translator in 2017, he has been active as the co-founder and writer ever since. Twitter | Discord: Cubeboy