Falcon BMS 4.37: Bringing the game into the modern era!
It has been quite a while since we last talked about the Falcon BMS Series, and since then a lot of changes and updates have been dropped, some of which have elevated the simulator to levels that I never thought possible. Let's take a look at the latest update, BMS 4.37!
Initially released late last year, Falcon 4.37 provides an overwhelming amount of features and fixes that make 4.36 look like a small incremental update by comparison. Of all these, two stand out above the rest, so let's take a look at them!
VR SUPPORT FOR FALCON BMS
This is something I never in my life thought would happen, to the point that I did not believe it until I saw it in front of me. Somehow, the magician developers and coders that work in this project managed, in some unbelievable way, to add VR support to a game that has its roots in 1998, which means that it is as old as me!
VR headsets and stereo rendering were not even a proper, tangible reality at the time of Falcon's initial release 24 years ago. It is impressive that they have managed to not only add support for this feature, but also that it has a much better integration with Steam VR than I thought it would have.
Let me be clear, though: It is not a perfect implementation. It still lacks proper controller support, meaning that you will have to use your mouse to interact with the menus, cockpit and radios. This is less than desirable, but the developers are aware; which can only mean that they are actively working on improving this feature.
The stereo rendering also does leave something to be desired. I do not know how to explain it in technical terms, but when you are in VR you do feel as if the image's distortion is not being properly set for the headset's optics, specially when it comes down to your peripheral vision. This expresses itself in the form of a somewhat flatter picture that does not convey proper depth in certain scenarios.
Does this means that this feature is useless? No, absolutely not! Quite the opposite, it is the best addition that 4.37 brought to the simulator. I tested it in several scenarios, but the one that made me realize how much of a game changer VR is for BMS was during an AAR sortie (above picture) and it was an excellent experience!
NEW UI, NEW STYLE AND THE F-15C EAGLE
It might sound small or, but the second-biggest change for me in this update was the implementation of the new UI for the simulator. It made me feel as if I was playing a modern game with a more minimalistic and readable design, which is something that I had never felt while playing Falcon BMS in any of its previous iterations.
These changes also extend to other submenus such as the campaign setup, the radio menus and other smaller elements that might seem inconsequential, but they add to the experience in a way that I never thought would amount to anything, but it did! Aside from these changes, the other major addition to the sim is the flyable F-15C Eagle! It is in its early stages of development and not WIP, but it is good enough to be used. Its avionics are mostly functional, and the flight model is fun; which to me are two of the essentials that any aircraft should have. It has many, many bugs, but I am sure that most of these will be addressed with the full release of this aircraft sometime in the future.
The cockpit 3D model is at the same level as the Vipers, which is unexpected coming from the game that has the F-16 as its namesake. The external model is good as well, but it has some minor inaccuracies that, while not game breaking, are noticeable. That being said, it is evident that the team spent a considerable amount of time adding this aircraft to the game and I applaud them for the effort, even more when you consider that it came at the same price as Falcon BMS: completely FREE.
THE FUTURE OF FALCON BMS AND THE FRANCHISE
The Falcon franchise is now back in Microprose's hands, which means that the original publishers of the title can now work on new entries to the franchise. This opens a world of possibilities and, excitedly, makes my imagination go wild with ideas as to what could be done to bring Falcon back with a completely new title.
The developers of BMS did share a sneak peek into what awaits us in Falcon BMS 4.3X, and it looks like we are getting a major graphics overhaul. It will come in the form of proper support for Physically Based Rendering (PBR) materials and textures, as well as a new terrain engine and many more features that will give this game a much-needed uplift.
I am excited for BMS, for more dogfights, for more operational theaters, for better features and for a possible new entry to the Falcon franchise. Here's for Falcon 5.0!
About the author:
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 a writer and the co-founder of Skyward ever since. Twitter | Discord: Cubeboy