VTOL VR: AH-94 First Impressions
VTOL VR has a great variety of playstyles for you to choose from. From the heavy and only true VTOL aircraft, the AV-42C, to the agile, fast STOVL like the F-45A. But it was always missing a crucial type of aircraft that is the definition of vertical take-off and landing: a proper helicopter!
That has now been addressed with VTOL VR's first DLC, the AH-94 Attack Helicopter. Launched on the 6th of January, 2022 alongside the multiplayer update, this aircraft is the first addition to the VTOL VR line-up in quite a while, aside from mods of course. Let's see how this rotary wing treated us in its first days of release.
At a first glance, it is pretty evident that this design is a mix of several western attack helicopters, with heavy influence coming from the Comanche and Apache airframes. The cockpit design is pretty much straight out of US Army helicopters, specifically, the AH-64A/D. It has a large set of sensors and most of them are intuitive and easy to manage if you have any knowledge as to how any of the other aircraft work in VTOL VR.
Some of its systems, such as the TADS and its augmented vision mode are exactly the same as they are in the F-45A. If you had any experience with that aircraft, you should not have any trouble transitioning over to the AH-94. But the same cannot be said about its flight dynamics. After all, last time I checked the only moment when a F-45's wings rotated was when I got hit by a SAM.
For not being a full-on simulator, it is pretty solid! You have to manage your systems and engines the same way as you would have to do on any helicopter. It flies mostly as you would expect it to, as a fast helicopter even when loaded to the brim with Hellfire missiles and a full belt of 30mm. It is extremely agile as well, letting you do plenty of wacky maneuvers. It is a sim-lite, after all, you have to have some fun.
There is an aspect which was pretty weird to me, and that is the behavior when the helicopter entered an overtorque situation. It just spazzes out, pitching up and down. I tried applying all of the techniques I use in other flight sims where helicopter flight models demand that you do "proper procedure" per aircraft in order to recover from those scenarios, but to no avail. The only way to get it out of that state was to drop the collective all the way down and pitch nose down and right after that, pulling up. An example of this is in the video below:
It felt weird and somewhat broken, in a gameplay kind of sense. I like that the developer took the time to implement something akin to the difficulties that are experienced in rotary wings, but the implementation is a bit quirky. Again, I could just be talking out of my previous experience and putting unrealistic expectations into something that does not need them.
This is the first aircraft in VTOL that allows two players to fly in the same aircraft. To say that this is fun would be an understatement. This is, by far, some of the most fun I have had in a while. Coordinating attacks with another Skyward staff member, RibbonBlue, planning out strategies, delegating tasks and utilizing the aircraft to its very limits. That is what real teamwork is, and with a good friend by your side, you can not go wrong with the AH-94.
It is an incredible experience, and one that would be flawless if it were not for the plethora of issues that we had while trying to use multicrew. I had several crashes to desktop and freezes, all of which were only while playing the AH-94 in multiplayer. But, at the same time, these crashes were extremely inconsistent and we had zero issues during our second session which lasted 2 hours.
If you have VTOL VR, you need to try this experience out. It is fun, challenging and exciting at the same time. Bring your best pal along for the ride, you will not 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 the co-founder of Skyward ever since. Twitter | Discord: Cubeboy #9034