IL-2 Great Battles: A look in Virtual Reality
I have been playing Il-2 Great Battles for the last year or so and I have been loving this flight simulator to bits. It is engaging and offers a set of scenarios and a roster of aircraft that you just cannot find anywhere else. But I had yet to try one major aspect of this sim, that being its compatibility with VR headsets!
VR flying is always awesome, no matter the platform. IL-2 is one such experience, but let's take a bit more of a detailed look at how it compares to flying with a head-tracker and at how the developers adapted this desktop-first simulator into VR!
THE GOOD: AN EXCELLENT AND OPTIMIZED FLIGHT EXPERIENCE
To be completely honest, I am not the biggest VR user out there. I mostly play games with a couple of close friends and fly around in DCS: World to relax after a long day. That being said, I have noticed a couple of things that have made my VR flying experience a bit unpleasant, the main one being the performance and optimization of VR titles. My specs are not the greatest, falling on the lower-mid tier for modern hardware but there is a reason why VR titles have the reputation of being performance hogs. So you can imagine how surprised I was when IL-2 ran smoothly without any major adjustments. I did not even have to run the textures and reflections to low or decrease my draw distance by that much!
Cockpit models transfer excellently to VR, with proper scaling. It is hard to describe how something like this looks in VR without being in VR, but all I can say is that the models are stunning and I wish that some other games could look this good while also running as smoothly as this does.
Seeing your enemies go down, the effects of G-LOC (G-Induced Loss of Consciousness), the breath of your pilot as they struggle to stay focused and awake while maneuvering. These are the aspects that make this experience worth it.
To demonstrate a bit of how it would look, I recorded one of my first dogfights. There were some recording issues that caused hiccups here and there. But you should get an idea of how much freedom of movement VR has when following a target around. Take a look!
My PC Specs:
Ryzen 5 3600 Stock.
16GB DDR4 @3200MHz
GTX 1660Ti w/6GB GDDR6 Overclocked @2055Mhz
1TB NVME SSD
Oculus Rift S
THE NOT SO GOOD BUT STILL ALRIGHT:
USER INTERFACE AND MENU INTERACTIONS
Everything good has to have some flaws and IL-2's VR implementation is no exception. Although these are mainly minor complaints, I sincerely think that they should be addressed at some point on one way or another.
My main complaint would be that there is no way to interact with the menus from inside of VR by using VR controllers. The only way to interact with any kind of menu is by blindly reaching out to your mouse and clicking your problems away.
Is this something you can get used to? Yes, in fact. I have already gotten used to it. Should this stay like this? I hope it does not. There is a reason why many games, including ones that do not have their focus on clickable elements, have the option to use your VR controllers to navigate. Aside from that, my only other complaint would be that you cannot have separate settings for VR and Desktop, forcing you to always reset your settings by hand each time you switch between modes. DCS World does have this feature, allowing you to save up to three user presets which you can switch to without much hassle. This is useful for those who switch between Desktop and VR, people like me. In conclusion: If I am complaining about petty features like this, you know that this is one hell of a solid VR experience. I love it. If you have this sim and a VR headset, give it a go. You won't regret it!
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 2000's 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 2010's. Joined as a Spanish to English translator in 2017, he has been active as a writer and content manager ever since. Twitter | Discord: Cubeboy#9034