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  • Writer's pictureAaron "Ribbon-Blue" Mendoza

The Mighty Eighth VR Lives!

A Well-Timed Signal Flare from a Silent Project

I am going to be honest with you, I have not thought of this project for at least a year. My last interaction with it happened back on October 24th, 2022, when Skyward Flight Media received an announcement to journalists about upcoming projects from MicroProse and access to the press kit.

The Mighty Eighth VR slipped from my mind, not because it was a boring venture, but because it seemingly went silent almost immediately. The initial attempts to reach out to journalists during that time also did not go anywhere either. So you can imagine my genuine surprise to see a dev blog posted on Steam on January 23rd, 2024. Something I did not notice until I was reminded of this game by an adjacent piece of media just last week.

I only remembered this apparently still in development virtual reality game because of my recent near obsession with Masters of the Air. This Apple TV original series follows the story of the United States Army Air Force, 8th Air Force, 100th Bomb Group in World War II from 1943 well into 1945. Its portrayal of air combat with B-17 Flying Fortress crews over occupied Europe pulls no punches. Watching these pitched battles unfold, I vaguely remembered a virtual reality simulator focused on B-17s. With players operating from Thorpe Abbots RAF base, the home air base seen in Masters of the Air. On a whim, I did a quick search and, to my surprise, saw an update from MicroProse.

The Mighty Eighth VR B-17 aircraft in formation.
B-17 heavy bombers in formation (2022 Press Kit).

For those that do not know or do not remember, the description on The Mighty Eighth VR product page is:

"The Mighty 8th VR puts you in the shoes of a B-17 Flying Fortress crew member at the height of the Strategic Bombing Campaign over Europe. Partner up with friends and do your part to ensure that the plane reaches the target and returns home safely."

It plans to be a virtual reality simulator that places teams of up to 10 human players into a B-17 Flying Fortress. AI crew mates are available as well. The crews must work together to complete and survive combat missions over occupied Europe. All positions can be occupied by the players, with the ability to move through the aircraft mid-flight to take up other positions or attempt to repair battle damage.

Listed on the official website, the positions are:

  • Pilot

  • Co-Pilot

  • Navigator

  • Bombardier/Chin Turret Gunner

  • Radio Operator

  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner

  • Port Waist Gunner

  • Starboard Waist Gunner

  • Ball Gunner

  • Tail Gunner

The Mighty Eighth VR walking through B-17.
Walking through the aircraft (2022 Press Kit).

Media from the October 2022 press kit, which I am using throughout this article, focuses on interactions with opening doors, operating .50 caliber machine guns, inspecting the Norden bomb sight and walking through the aircraft. The idea of being as hands on as possible within a virtual reality experience that emphasizes atmosphere could be a winning combination if the attention to detail is there.

If pushing for a simulator like experience where a player(s) are spending decently long amounts of time within a restricted space, the portrayal and functionality of the interior of the B-17 is going to be just as important as its flight model.

Inspecting the Norden Bombsight (2022 Presskit).

It is one thing to make sure an aircraft is accurately modeled in every way possible when it is a single seat or two seat aircraft. But something on the scale of a bomber with an average crew of 10 people that move through its fuselage is an entirely different beast.

There are still plenty of unknowns about how players will gather, mission briefings, aerial combat and the depth and quantity of interactions. Though, it seems like the scope of the project has extended from just the aircraft.

The January 2024 dev blog showcases the ability to drive a Jeep on base out to their aircraft as a part of pre-mission preparations. Immersion wise, this certainly adds to the "like you are actually there" atmosphere they are hoping to maintain throughout the game.

I have to say that I am happy to see there is some life still left in this project. The timing of the update was well-timed with Masters of the Air releasing new episodes over the past few weeks. I find myself getting somewhat excited over the prospect of working in a coordinated bomber crew with friends and strangers, just hoping to make it to the target and back. This has the potential to be a large-scale cooperative air combat simulator on a scale very, very few developers have attempted.

My fingers are crossed for future, hopefully consistent updates.

Radio compartment .50 caliber machine gun.


About the Writer

Co-founder of Skyward Flight Media. After founding, the first English Ace Combat database, he has been involved in creating flight game-related websites, communities, and events since 2005. He explores past and present flight games and simulators with his extensive collection of game consoles and computers. Read Staff Profile.



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