For the last year or so, there have been any number of variants of DCS World as Eagle Dynamics branched out to new maps and assets while still maintaining the legacy code that so many virtual combat pilots enjoy. Personally, I opted to move forward with an alpha version because it was the one that hosted the new Nevada map. That map includes Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, and I have great memories of the six weeks I spent at Nellis participating in three back-to-back-to-back Red Flag exercises in the summer of '86. I had to have it!
DCS was also the top sim on my list of "things I can't wait to do in VR," but sadly it was also completely useless to me due to a horrendously slow frame rate - VR is great, but not at 20 FPS. I shrugged and moved on. X-Plane 11 did a very decent job of filling the resultant void in my VR flight simming, but it didn't quite have the same appeal as a sim that lets me blow stuff up. I made do with X-Plane, though, right up until last week. Yes, it's my own fault for being greedy, but when I saw that Laminar Research had added some juicy new features to their preview-level VR, I grabbed it. Unfortunately, while fixing things that weren't really broken, they managed to other break things such as the ability to boot up the game. While the number of people affected, which includes yours truly, was relatively small, it was still quite a loss. Without X-Plane, where was I going to find a good VR chopper experience?
That was when the announcement came that the DCS team had finally merged all of the DCS branches into one. As I was aware that the newer branches had had a lot of optimization done to the graphics rendering, I thought that maybe, just maybe the VR performance would be improved.
It had been. I am now officially back into DCS World in a big way. Not only are the graphics optimized, they are also better. Case in point: flying the UH-1 Huey as a gun ship, I fired a group of rackets into a passel of enemy fuel trucks. The explosion was tremendous, as you would expect, but what caught me by surprise were the flying pieces/parts of violently disassembled vehicles.
BOOM! Incredible indeed!
DCS World is available as a free-to-play download. The full world will be at your fingers, but you won't have much by way of study-level attack airplanes until you buy some DLC. That said, the included training variant of the venerable WWII standout known as the P-51 Mustang is study-level and is a great way to see if you want to proceed from there. All it's missing is guns.
DCS World Beta 2.5 can be downloaded here.