"This is how we do games: To understand what it's like to dogfight, we just go outside of Moscow, put ourselves in planes, and do some dogfighting," says IL-2 Sturmovik: Battle of Stalingrad's producer Albert Zhiltsov, showing me a video of the team flying maneuvers in real planes.
It's crazy. It's commitment. It's just a small part of what makes 1C Game Studios — built from the original IL-2 franchise owners 1C Company and Rise of Flight creator 777 Studios — a flight simulator dream-team.
This is a demo where I literally hear the words, "There seems to be a desire by users from other titles to be able to play a flight sim with a mouse and keyboard. Surprises the hell out of us, but people seem to want that," come out of 777 president Jason Williams's mouth. This team is hardcore about their flight sims.
How hardcore? They have a ninety-year-old veteran of the Battle of Stalingrad consulting with them on this latest IL-2 Sturmovik entry. Oh, and they're also developing a title called Ilya Muromets which was commissioned by the Russian Military Historical Society.
Enemy above the gates
The first title I'm shown is Battle of Stalingrad, which as I'm sure you've guessed takes place during the famed German onslaught in World War II. The game itself covers a small slice from November, 1942 to February, 1943 though 1C is debating expanding on that timeline post-release.
"We try to create something we call Play, Fly, Learn," says Zhiltsov. "We develop games to provide an opportunity for our customers to develop themselves, whether in history or controlling the airplane."
To that first point, Battle of Stalingrad features a map that's 48,000 square miles, constructed from period maps. "The Germans did everything in order. First they photographed everything. Then they destroyed it. We have a lot of pictures from World War II that allow us to reconstruct Stalingrad building by building," says Zhiltsov.
"We can't do it to a shooter's detail," says Williams, "but it looks convincing from the air."
The game also features historically accurate troop movements across the five chapters of the campaign. "The user will learn about the battle and how eventually the sixth army gets surrounded and surrenders," says Williams. It's not like the campaign takes place in real-time, but it's a rough approximation of the full battle.
The team has built in quite a bit of flexibility for the campaign though, with a mission generator that takes in parameters and seeds you with a one-time-only mission. Even if you go through the campaign again with the same stipulations, 1C claims that procedurally generated missions will ensure some amount of replayability.
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