WW2 was without a doubt one of the darkest pages in the history of mankind’s book. When it comes to video games though, going with this time period seems to strike gold almost always. Two specific genres do better than the others, those being FPS and flight simulator games. Today we’ll be talking about the latter. Some of the most complex ones are considered great training tools if you’re planning to take up flying in real life as well.
I’ll try and keep this list as objective as possible but please bear in mind that my own experiences will most likely affect my decision regarding which are the top ones. Just so you know, I won’t be adding every wow-looking graphics video game or the highest ranked ones as seen on Metacritic's website.
We’re going for the whole package. Graphics, gameplay, campaign, realistic aspect, controls, and pretty much everything else that matters in this kind of game. So without further ado, let’s start going over our list.
The reason the title may sound a bit familiar is that it actually is a fairly old game you’ve very likely tried before. This is the same Microsoft Flight Simulator X released back in the year 2006 which was re-released once again by Dovetail Games in 2014 after acquiring the games.
Not many things changed in the actual gameplay experience other than the addition of a few new aircraft and some retexturing. The most important change though was the implementation of the game on Steam’s library and the brand new multiplayer mode.
Flight Simulator X is mainly known for being one of the most advanced and realistic flight simulator games up to date. The graphics certainly are far from being perfect but when it comes to flying, there aren’t many improvements Dovetail Games could ever add. Instead of the old-school 2D panels, you get fully revamped 3D cockpits. This enhances the real «feel» of the game.
Regarding the actual gameplay, the game is considered fairly up to date even with today’s standards. Depending on how difficult you want your session to be you can select to control throttle and movement along with the ability to operate every little section of the flight.
Bear in mind that Flight Simulator X isn’t the easiest game to play especially if you pump the graphics up to the highest preset. If you have a powerful rig you will get +60 FPS without going below that point but don’t expect +100 if you don’t own a graphics card with a minimum of 1,000-1,200 CUDA cores.
The fact that the original IL-2 Sturmovik game is on the top of flight simulator games of all time was a promising indication that the sequels would be amazing as well. That being said, the only reason I picked the 1946 version was the graphics.
We live in the 21st century, so the graphics have to be at least acceptable for us gamers to play it. Even though the game was released more than a decade ago the gameplay is as enjoyable now as it was back then. The controls are fairly easy as Ubisoft distributed most of the work on the fighting aspect.
The aircraft models are on point and so is every animation of the plane’s movement. The controls go into a lot of detail without tiring the player with too many options at the same time.
As for WW2 flight simulator games, IL-2 Sturmovik: 1946 is the epitome of aircraft combat. Even though the game lacks the multiplayer aspect, that doesn’t seize the opportunity of having fun going against your computer AI-controlled enemies. It still remains one of the best titles of this genre out there.
A free to play multiplayer game? Yes! Poor design and controls? Totally not! It has been about 5 years since Gaijin Entertainment released War Thunder and the game quickly became a huge success.
Having spent over 150 hours on the game, this is what I have to say. Starting with the graphics, this title is in no condition considered easy to run. In fact, if you want to play at a steady +45 FPS at the medium or high setting preset you’re going to need a GTX 960 or higher.
The atmosphere provided is worth it though. Realistic battles taking place over major locations of the WW2. Great lighting and fairly easy controls (Depends on the game mode).
Customization plays a big role here. You begin by choosing which country you want to go with. Based on your pick, you will be assigned a specific series of aircraft models to use when in battle. I recommend the Russians as the Yak-1 is one of the most powerful entry-level models in the whole game.
But what makes it one of the best flight simulator games out there? I’d say the community and the whole not pay to win character. Many such games come with DLC options and extra aircrafts that usually provide the extra edge over your competitors.
Initially, you were required to download a dedicated launcher but now you can find it on Steam and play it for free.
Published in the Summer of 2005, more than a decade ago, the Falcon 4.0: Allied Force was the epitome air combat simulation games. It may be fairly outdated now but for its time both the graphics and the controls were significantly good. As a result, the title was appraised by the gaming community.
While in-game, you will be controlling a series of F-16 and other military planes fighting over the Balkans. I’ll only tell you one thing. The game came with a manual of more than 700 pages! The game went into such detail that if you wanted to enjoy the full experience you’d have to dedicate countless hours of reading before becoming the best.
Even though a bit old, this was and most likely still is one of the best flight simulator games available in the market. It features a multiplayer mode of up to 16 players.
With X-Plane 12 still being in development, X-Plane 11 is considered to be on the top regarding flight simulator games as it was published only a couple of years ago and is thus fully updated to fit today’s aircraft standards.
Fairly similar to Microsoft’s franchise of flight sim games, X-Plane takes things to the next level as it provides plentiful missions and available controls giving the player the ultimate realistic flying experience.
There is a multiplayer mode available as well but don’t you think even for one second that the single player doesn’t feel “alive”. The AI-controlled planes will be as active as you, going down to land in the airports, so you’ll have to pay attention to the instructions in order to land safely and complete the mission without going “down” yourself.
If I had to pick which flight simulator games are the absolute best, I’d pick the X-Plane 11 for users looking for a good training tool and IL-2 Sturmovik: 1946 (or Battle of Stalingrad if you have a powerful enough PC). If you don’t want to spend any money then you should go with War Thunder as it is completely free to play and an amazing game as well!
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