Starting all over again with DCS world - noob advice
As you can imagine this post is all about flying, well simulator kind of flying. I have decided to kill some time on DCS World during this pandemic. I have been trying to improve as a pilot and fighter in general but obviously I was not taking it very seriously. The thing with a simulator like DCS is that you need to invest time, reading about the planes, doing the tutorials, learning about the strengths of your jet, reading about RADAR capabilities, weapons configs and of course practise.
Yes of course, you can ignore all of that and just try the easy game mode with one of the free (planes) that come with the game - but if you are like me a fighter-jet junkie it is not enough. When you start discovering the list of available modules (jets) you most probably going to find your favourite and then you will buy it. But this just the start. When you install the module, and you start the game inside the cockpit of a Sukhoi 27 or an F15 or an F18 it's not easy any-more, it needs time. Learn the switches, learn the cockpit, find out about this and that. I guess this is the beauty of it. DCS is definitely a game for people that want to get as close as possible to experience the complexity and challenge of being a fighter pilot from the comfort of their office desk or play room.
For those of you that you want to give it a try here is my noob advice - level 1.
- You need a decent gaming PC - but you don't have to spend thousands of euros, my Hades NUC is actually coping very well.
- The game it'self is free! You download the small installer and then you wait a bit - since you need to torrent the real thing. It needs some serious space on your hard-drive, watch out.
- You can install it through Steam as well, I opted to download the game separately.
- Once you are ready - the free package contains 2 jets and 1 area map
- Sukhoi Su-25T Frogfoot & TF-51D Mustang
- Then sky is the limit in terms of adding new maps, missions and modules.
- I would recommend you add the Flaming Cliffs 3 package. It will give you a bunch of sexy Russian fighters and plenty of action.
- Later on you can expand - sometimes some modules they do have discounts etc, so you can add modern US jets like the F18 or F15 or the F16, or try to feel a bit like Maverick and buy the F14 Tomcat (it seems that is very popular judging from the videos of people on youtube).
- After my first week trying to fly the SU25, or the SU27 using my keyboard it was obvious that I needed a HOTAS setup. Sky is the limit again but since I am not very good, and I have countless hours of practise ahead of me I started with some good enough but not super sophisticated gear. So I bought the Thurstmaster 16000M combo.
Once you have all the above - which I consider a good starting point if you really want to play seriously then here is my level 2 noob advice.
- Depending on how many modules you will buy it is more than certain that soon you will realise that you can not properly fly them. Yes you can have a good time crashing or firing a missile but that is all.
- Pick one or 2 jets maximum and focus on them. Make note that mastering for example Russian jets is kind of different for some of the more sophisticated US jets. Obviously this is a simulator, and many things depend on the level of detail and depth of each module. In many cases the developers have really provided a very deep experience on all levels, the flight model, the radar model, the avionics etc.
- When you add a jet fighter module it usually comes with training - sessions. Go through the training! They are wonderful, most of them you have a scripted voice over telling you what to do, what to press and showing you everything on the cockpit. I still find my self doing training sessions - until I kind of remember all the sequences and the procedures!
- While going through the training sessions and assuming you have a HOTAS combo installed- try to browse the forums ( just google) for key maps for your jet and your setup. Example here .
- For example for me that I am a Thrustmaster 1600M owner - I try to find profiles that match my device, and the jet I am interested in. These profiles will configure your HOTAS on each jet and each button activate different functionality.
_TM16000Throttle - mirage2000.lua_
Once you have reached the second maturity level where you have understood the complexity of the game and now you are seriously trying to configure your controls, you are comfortable searching for configs for your devices, and you go through the training missions - getting comfortable with your jet here is my level 3 noob advice.
Start watching youtube - seriously. Here is a list of must-have / follow channels
Grim Reapers. God bless this guy without his videos I would be lost. Start here there is a big list of tutorials and videos for almost every jet.
Growling Sidewinder This is a bit more advanced, but the videos are really helping me to understand tactics and dog fighting. Amazing work.
Start reading about your jet, in my case this is the Mirage2000C, so the more you know about the specific jet capabilities and especially it's RADAR the better.
Try to find guides that will you help you - For example Mudspike - Chuck's guides is a great place to start and download information.
Watching the various videos and reading these guides or parts of them - try to replay the tutorials and make notes. In order to be competent - you need to come close to a fighter pilot routine where is like 100% familiar with all the buttons and procedures and the jet is like an extension of himself. I guess going through this process I can understand how complex and difficult it is to be a fighter pilot - the workload, and the amount of information you need to process is too big and at the same time you need to fight.
Also, I really started to understand how automation on this field and especially on the cockpit or on the capabilities of the radar can actually be a game changer factor and sometimes give you the advantage over other more competent pilots but with less advanced jets on electronics.
Last but not least, practise, practise. By the way I am still doing all the above and I am slowly starting now to understand the limitations of my jet. In think in this past week I managed to fully understand my radar and start discovering targets and locking them or using the weapons. Is a long process but at the same time I make pauses, and I do read about stuff that I have not before despite being a fighter jet junkie. Radar details, the Doppler effect, specifics of INS, GPS details and obviously flying.
Currently, I don't dare to go on public servers - I still struggle to properly dog fight the AI of the game so is going to be a looong process. But fights on!