How to Get Started in DCS World for Free in 2023
With the release of the 2023 and Beyond trailer by Eagle Dynamics, a lot of new players have now taken a look at DCS World for the first time ever. Some of these players might feel a bit intimidated by the amount of money that some of the official modules cost as some of them cost as much as a AAA game. There is nothing to fear, though, as we have prepared a small guide to show that you do not need money to get the full DCS experience! DCS SHINES WITH FREE COMMUNITY MODS For those that are not willing to commit 40 to 60 dollars on a single module without knowing if they even have the mindset needed for a simulation game such as DCS World there always is the option that got me started in DCS: Its modding community.
Modern mods are no longer just re-skins of official modules but fully-fledged modules that are available for free for everyone to enjoy. These go all the way from prop aircraft, training jets, light attack aircraft, full-on attack aircraft and even utility helicopters! That means that no matter what you want to learn or do in DCS before buying a module, it will be possible to get started without spending a single dime on the game. They are extremely easy to install and all of these come with newcommer-friendly installation instructions! To enjoy these to the fullest you might need a flight stick, but I know that a lot of people fly in DCS with standard gamepads and do just as well as some who have complex HOTAS setups.
To get started, the first aircraft I would recommend anyone to try would be Split Air's OV-10A Bronco. This aircraft is the easiest one to fly and would allow you to gain all the fundamentals of flight without any of the drawbacks. It is also great fun to do missions with it due to its small but versatile arsenal. The next one you should try after you feel confortable with the Bronco is the Sk60B by BAAS Dynamics. It is the best jet trainer at the moment, period. It allows you to get a proper jet experience with a fully-clickable cockpit that is both entertaining and educational. It is an awesome aircraft with a very interesting story behind it. Its 3D model and textures have nothing to envy from official modules. Additionally, It has some very lethal weapons available so you are sure to have a blast with it. Once you have tried the Sk60B, you will have the need to fly something a bit faster and a bit more exciting. That is where the A-4E by the Community A-4 Developer Team comes into the picture. This is a full-on module with no strings attached. It has been built and improved upon for the best part of four years now, which shows how dedicated the team are. This mod gives you a fully-clickable, fully-featured 1970s attack aircraft. It has a wonderful air to ground radar and the capability to carry some extremely unique weapons exclusive to it.
If what you want to to train for more modern aircraft to see if you like the more modern playstyle with screens and buttons, then VNAO's T-45C Goshawk is for you. This recreation of the venerable Goshawk is quite the mod boasting a very detailed, fully-clickable cockpit with most of its systems modeled. This aircraft is the best one to try if what you want to buy is the Hornet or even other modern aircraft like the Tomcat or the F-16C!
The only detail is that it only carries training weapons, so do not expect to do any serious combat in this aircraft. If fixed-wing aircraft are not to your liking, then do I have a treat for you! The UH-60L by the H-60 Project team. This helicopter is the best way to get into rotary wing aircraft in DCS. It is a modern helicopter with all the amenities, including a full-on stability augmentation system, HMD, etc. It is fast and agile for what it is. I might be a bit biased as I am the texture artist for the Black Hawk, but I sincerely recommend this to everyone that might have even a passing interest in helicopters! YOU DON'T NEED MONEY TO ENJOY DCS I hope that this small list of wonderful mods serves as a window into DCS World and its amazing modding community. If you try them out and like them, then you can be sure that DCS is something that you will truly enjoy for years to come. So why not try them out? They are all free and accessible to everyone, no questions asked.
2023 is the year to get into DCS. I hope I see you in the virtual skies somewhere. 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