Opinion: Cold War modules are DCS World's future
Updated: Jul 17
This is a topic that has been living in my mind for quite a while now, ever since the Typhoon module was confirmed to be a collaboration between Heatblur and TrueGrit. That announcement meant that not only were we going to get a full-fidelity Typhoon; but that, somehow, the module I considered an impossibility for years was going to be a reality.
As it stands now with what we as the public know, Heatblur's Typhoon and Razbam's F-15E Strike Eagle are the only two modern 4th Gen fighters that are currently being developed. The future of DCS modules seems to have gone in a very different direction, one that seems to be embracing a completely different era of historical warfare: the Cold War. This article was heavily inspired by Enigma's "Why Cold War is the Future of DCS" video, I highly suggest giving it a look as he goes into several other aspects that will not be talked about in my article.
COLD WAR'S DEVELOPER-FRIENDLY ROSTER
One of the biggest hurdles that developers have when it comes down to modeling aircraft, as far as I am aware, is acquiring documentation about an aircraft's systems. With modern aircraft, this issue is a lot more prevalent. The confidential nature of many of the systems used in modern day frontline fighters could prevent modern modules from being made or certain systems from being modeled, which has been the case already for certain systems that should be present in a couple of already developed modules.
Modules more modern than the ones we currently have would require a significant release of system and flight data documentation would need to be released to the public, which is extremely unlikely in a world with rising tensions between countries. Other games, such as War Thunder, have had very severe issues with some of their users releasing confidential data about certain vehicles for have them implemented in-game. This is a problem that DCS does not need, seeing as we already have relatively modern versions of frontline fighters in-game.
One way to avoid these issues is by developing aircraft which are no longer in service. This way there will be little to no problems with confidentiality, with the exception of some systems which some countries might still consider to be classified. But, even taking all those possibilities in consideration, aircraft from the Cold War (1946-1992 but specifically ones from the mid Cold-War period) have an advantage in this regard.
One proof of this is the Community A-4E, a community project that has the same level of fidelity as an official module. It was created using publicly available information by extremely dedicated individuals, proofing that with the knowledge and proper documentation.
MORE TO BE EXCITED FOR: UPCOMING DCS COLD WAR MODULES
It seems like this tendency is not something only being talked about by the more enthusiast-side of the community, but also something that first and third party developers have been keeping their eyes on. There are two upcoming modules, soon to be released, that are from the Cold War: Aerges' Mirage F1 series (CE,EE,BB and M) and IndiaFoxtEcho's MB-339A/PAN.
Expect our first impressions of the Mirage F1 next week, as that is when it will be released!
Heatblur are famous for delivering quality modules that deliver unique experiences, it just so happens to be that all of their current projects (with the exception of the Typhoon) are also Cold War modules. I, for one, feel like their upcoming F-4E is going to bring us a great BLURFOR aircraft, and one that will be the perfect rival for RAZBAM's MiG-23MLA once that one gets released.
Other developers such as Magnitude 3 and FlyingIron are also working on earlier cold war projects, with the F-8E and A-7E respectively. There is a lot to be excited about in the Cold War scene and I, for one, am excited to see whether all this hype will pay off. I sure hope it will as that would mean that my personal favorite side of DCS would be its more fleshed out for years to come.
A BRIGHT FUTURE IN THE PAST AND PRESENT
I love my modern modules. I am fond of the feeling of being in complete control over every system in my cockpit and the ability of, after trial and error, being able to become one with the systems. What was complex becomes simple and what was simple becomes second nature. That is the appeal of modern aircraft to me and there is nothing like it.
At the same time, most of the fondest experiences that I have had in DCS World have been in Cold War servers. Flying low to try and avoid detection with my dear friend Hueman as my wingman going against enemy players. The feeling of having to get close to your target, that intimate level of combat, is what makes Cold War aircraft something unique. As Enigma put it in his video:
"...with less emphasis on the systems, it puts more emphasis in a need to be proficient in flying and combat maneuvering"
I share this point of view, particularly seeing as both eras complement each other. The modern era provides experiences that the other cannot. To enjoy DCS at its fullest, one will need to dip one's toes in both eras and learn how to balance this. Now, from an upcoming module perspective, DCS will be dominated by Cold Ware releases for a while. Which is a trend that I see no signs of stopping.
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 the co-founder of Skyward ever since. Twitter | Discord: Cubeboy #9034