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My review and rundown of each mission (spoilers galore)


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First of all, thank you for creating this campaign. I read the book a bit over a year ago, and it was fun to see it all pan out during this campaign.

The voice-overs were all excellent, and all in all the missions were created well.

 

Even so, I must say that I had a lot of frustrations playing though this campaign. I think I run almost every mission 2+ times (with some exceptions), because something broke. I'm sure 90% of it is due to DCS things, and things that changed after the campaign was created, while a few things I'm sure could be polished. As they always can be.

Must be a small nightmare to design something so complex with the tools, and the AI available.

 

That being said, here's my rundown, and the bugs I think I encountered during the campaign. Hope I remember most of it, but there might be some things that are not remembered 100% correct, as I played this campaign over a course of a few weeks :). All of the playtime was in this current patch I believe (OpenBeta).

 

I'm not an actual F18 pilot, nor am I the most knowledgeable pilot in the DCS skies, so there might be some issues below, that are just user error.

 

 

General problems I've had, or things I've wanted during the campaign:

- I believe I've read through the documents, and the abbreviations and terminology used etc, but there still were some things I had to google to figure out what it was

- You hear the AWACS talk about bandits, their position etc, however I think I've never seen the SA page work in this campaign (as in, I've never seen surveillance targets on the SA page, even when they were called out etc). I believe I've seen donor targets from other aircraft, but never from the E-2. This might just be a DCS bug which is impossible to rectify as of now, or something that only happens to a few people for some reason or another?

- I've also never been able to see the abbreviated callsigns on the SA page of friendly aircraft. They always show the 4-digit designator (such as 0811, 0812 etc), but never the alpha-numeric one shown in the briefing

- Is there a way to dim the kneeboard? The bright white kneeboard pages during night missions can be quite disturbing

- I found it hard to understand sometimes in what format the different controllers (JTAC, STRIKE etc), were trying to transmit their waypoints in. If it was always minutes and seconds, or if they used decimal seconds etc.

 

 

Mission1:

- Fun introduction to the mighty Saint

- Even though everything about Saint is designed to be annoying, it would be nice if one could call it off because Saint is flying way below 5,000 feet. I played through this mission 2-3 times, to see if I could get a perfect score, and pretty much every time I had to circle close to the hard-deck while Saint was happy playing around far below it. Maybe add a trigger if Saint goes below say 3,000 feet or something, to call it off for him? 

 

 

Mission2:

- I had a longer break from DCS, and this was actually my first time using Bullseye reference inside the hornet. Was fun to learn! 

- For some reason, I had this guy bugging me about approaching Waterloo Red, even when I was connected to the tanker and taking fuel. Should be far away at that point

- I believe it was on this mission, I opted to get fuel on the way back. Unfortunately, the tanker started to descend through the cloud layer, while I was approaching him, and I guess he entered a landing sequence? Maybe the AI tanker is set to RTB a bit too early, if you use too long on some parts of the mission? I don't know. 

- Tried this mission a few times, but poor smoke never was able to return to the ship with me. Mostly because of the tanker running away, or smoke doing other things.

 

 

Mission3:

- One of the first "long range" missions I've tried in DCS. Was fun to see yourself traversing the maps, and several countries on the way to the destination 🙂

- Also had to do this mission two times. On the way home from our mission, poor smoke I guess ran out of fuel. I still had around 3-4000 pounds when approaching the tanker, but he just started going in another direction, and then ejected. I guess due to fuel starvation. 
Problem then was that all other triggers in the mission stopped working, so I didn't get to hear anything on the way home. After learning that there was quite a few fun voicelines, I ran the mission again.

This time I tried to do everything myself, and to be faster. As I already knew where to find all the targets, it wasn't that hard, and I got to hear about Saints fun bombing run 🙂

 

 

Mission 4:

- This was a fun mission, and one of the first times I've used the A2G RADAR in SEA-mode, checking out different contacts

- All in all I had no problems during this mission, and it was fun to execute 😃

 

 

Mission 5:

- This mission was quite fun once I got past the first part of it

- Unfortunately, the AI Prince had quite a few problems during the dogfight part of the mission. Primarily the problem was when the dogfighting was over, he would just go into a stall, with afterburners on, and just keep descending while stalling in this fashion. Maybe there's a way to change him back to blue aircraft faster to avoid this?

- Meeting with the trigger happy Iranian ace was an exciting prospect, and I tried to keep myself out of his forward section for as long as possible.

- On the way back, I was of course low on fuel, so I climbed to a higher, less fuel burning altitude. 

I believe I turned back toward the coast at 2,000 remaining, and got to the coast with about 1,200 remaining. Using the FPAS best range mach for that altitude (I climbed to about 25,000 feet).

- At some point I was asked to contact departure on AUX. Departure however, is not listed in the AUX list on the kneeboard, was I supposed to tune it manually? I just tuned it on primary anyway, as it was listed there.

- I then went to meet the tanker, and I arrived near his position at the same altitude as he was, around 20,000 feet. We were nose to nose, and I asked him to do a 180. Unfortunately, for some reason, he also wanted to/was instructed to descend down to a very low altitude while doing this. I'm at a lower fuel burning altitude, same altitude as him, and we want to descend to a lower altitude for the refuel? Would be nice, if it was possible to code the tanker to stay at your altitude. (Might be a "book limitation", or a coding limitation, but it didn't make much sense to me, in the situation I was in). However, maybe there was some logic behind it that I can't seee

 

 

Mission 6

- Everything worked well here. Sombre mission.

 

 

Mission 7

- Cool mission, everything ran as it should IIRC

- There was one point during the middle of the mission, where we were asked to push towards mother, but then got no more information for a good long time. I was wondering if I had misunderstood something, if we were supposed to RTB (land),  or done something wrong, as I was circling there for a few minutes. Eventually we were called back though.

 

Mission 8

- I really like night missions, and the setup for this one was really good

- First part of this mission was frustrating however, and I guess this is all DCS' fault. Seeing these small boats with the FLIR/NVG was next to impossible. I think I managed to down 1 boat total, on my two attempts at this mission. Without turning on markers, it would have been even harder, as I didn't see a single thing on the FLIR neither, no matter how much I tried to adjust it. Was able to see the big ships, but not the fast-boats. I think this has been a problem way after the campaign was created, as I can see from other forum posts.

- One of the few times I was shot down during this campaign, as the naughty Iranian ship went hostile while I was right on top of it 😛 Second time around, I made sure to keep some distance

 

 

Mission 9

- Really liked this scenario, and it was a fun mission to play. Unfortunately had to play it a couple of times, due to ingame events though

- First playthrough of this mission, when shooting at the helicopters, the helicopters unfortunately were able to pilot-kill Dutch. However, I guess the possibility of Dutch dying was not scripted, as the rest of the mission, Dutch kept talking like he was still there. I wasn't able to take out all the targets myself, so I had to restart this attempt

- Second playthrough, the SEAD/DEAD element failed to take out their target, and there was no more scripting after this. They did not do a second strike, or say anything. Eventually I figured something must still be alive, and I did a gun-strafe run on the remaining element in that site. After that, the mission resumed as normal

- During the rest of this second attempt, everything ran smoothly, except for when we were RTB. We took a drink on the way back, but when Dutch was finished refueling, he just did a 180, and went back towards the direction of the island. Later, when I was prompted to "hit space to kiss of your wingman" I could see on the F2 view, that he stopped flying in the other direction, and I guess got scripted to do something else

 

 

Mission 10

- Was really hard to find the lead in this mission, as the SA page only gives me 4-digit callsigns (812 etc), and not the callsigns listed in the kneebard. I'm not sure if this is user error, a (slightly) hard to replicate bug, or a general bug in this version of the game.

Either way, after Cajun had nagged me for a good many times on the way there, I was finally able to find him

- The rest of the mission was exciting, however I missed most of the action over the target zone, as I had to evade a sa-15 and drop my bombs by myself

- On the way back, one of my wingmen just went to refuel without being told, or said he would do so, and never came back

 

 

Mission 11

- A fun mission, I didn't have that many problems here. There were only a few issues

- When asked to fire my JSOW on a said target, I was told it didn't hit, and given new coordinates, way before the bomb actually impacted anything. It was still mid-flight when this call came in

- After all the action, when the Harriers come in, I had tried to conserve my fuel as much as possible, and still had quite a bit of playtime. I told them I would anchor and provide cap.

However, I failed to find any way to continue the mission in a good way after this. I orbited, while watching the Harriers deploy all their LGBs, and rtb. However, still there was no call from anyone to say "ok thanks, we're RTB", or anything like this. So I had to go with the remaining F10 menu option, which was basically us saying "sorry, we can't hang around, happy hunting (everything is dead)" (the second option initially).

 

 

Mission 12

- Liked this mission, fun to try some good A2A mass intercept 🙂

- Again, the AWACS calls out bandits, but it not transmitted over datalink to the SA page. The SA page was basically blank of all bandits throughout this mission. Again, I guess this is some DCS bug, which is hard to fix without ED. Almost got blindsided by a remaining aircraft, but just barely made it

 

 

Mission 13

- I can't remember any issues during this mission. Was fun to track and kill the submarine, and watch the wingman take out the site

 

 

Mission 14

- One of the harder mission. Had to try this one 2 times IIRC, as I got shot down on the first try. 

- Very fun execution, and trying out the stealth approach

- Never got the thunderstorm callout thankfully, I did however wait until I was across the gulf to turn on my RADAR

- Had some issues with part of the strike package not doing as they were supposed to. With some elements turning away, and/or ejecting, and doing other strange stuff

- The jamming didn't seem to have a great effect, as I was shot at by what feels like everything, including a nasty one that killed me while I was lasing the target. On my second try, it again shot at me while lasing the target, and this time I went more aggressively into defense, and managed to defeat it. However, that ended up fouling my laser, so the bombs didn't hit. The mission was still a success however? Maybe the hit after all, I'm not sure.

- During the flight over land (Iran) there were a lot of messages, that I believe the player was not supposed to see. Such as "FLAK ON" " WEST SAM ON" "SA15 ON" etc. Seems more like something that was supposed to be hidden in code no?

 

 

Mission 15

- This turned out to be a bit of a mess, and a bit of a let down for me. First attempt, we manage to defeat the F4s, but then get show down by the Ace. Fair enough

- Second try, my wingman gets show down, and I manage to eventually kill the last F4 with guns. I never see any sign of the ace, and I just fly away to the tanker as instructed. Guess he didn't wanna play that time.

- While on the way to the tanker, everything around me seems to be a mess. There some airplanes flying backwards, and after tanking, when trying to find my wingman, there is not a single F18 in the Persian gulf. Except for some that are almost back at the carrier. I'm not sure if there was something more to the story here, as Flip wanted to help with the SAR? Either way, I didn't find any other option than to fly back to the boat, and kept getting voicelines as if my wingman was with me. Turns out he ejected over Qatar or something like that.

 

 

 

 

All in all, this campaign was definitely worth the money spent. I hope this topic won't be taken as just one-sided criticism, but rather as observations of one DCS player going through the campaign, and the difficulties faced.

 

I understand coding a campaign in this game must be very hard, especially with the AI being what they are, and with bugs introduced after the campaign is launched, makes it a ongoing project.

 

Hopefully, some of the feedback will be of value, and I look forward to your future campaigns 🙂


Edited by Photon
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Hey @Photon and thanks for taking the time to type this.

 

As a general remark - yes, campaigns in DCS are an ongoing process and need constant updates to stay in line with DCS changes. While it can be frustrating sometimes, there is no way around it and I guess if you want to play any campaign, you need to take into account the quirkiness of the AI. Especially with scenarios as complicated as the ones portrayed in R1. Having to recreate what was happening in a book was an additional challenge!

As for M1, I did try to include a trigger calling Saint off when he went below 5K, but that usually ended up with him splashing into the sea (same for Saint in M5). I eventually removed it and recommend to everyone to keep the dogfighting to above 15K, with the AI being AI there is not much more I could do...

 

AAR in general is a hit and miss for the AI, though with last patch things seem to be much better. again, I've built in so many safeguards it probably is not possible to do anything more..

 

For the SA page - I don't really understand it and I think this is some kind of DCS problem. I rarely see bandits transmitted by AWACS, though i do get the callsigns on SA. Not sure why it works for some and not for the others...

 

With the prequel I am currently working on I am trying to make things less complicated. Also, because it takes time in 2005 (3 years before R1), player will fly as a wingman more often, which allows for some more predictible mission building... 

 

Many thanks again for this report!

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Mission 8 

 

For the first a few attempts, Raven 11/12 splashed only one vehicle (on the left side of the Tin Can), so it doesn't trigger the next storyline. After watching someone playing this mission on bilibili (Chinese version of youtube), I figured out the Tin Can must be destroyed, so I bombed it myself.... 

 

However, in some later attempts, Raven 11/12 successfully destroyed both vehicles on the ground. 

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