You have a wealth of material to work through in this package, with six scripted campaigns:
Wick: 25 missions in a Bf109 E4 in which your goal is to beat Wick’s achievement of 43 kills between 10 July and 28 November 1940.
JG2: Flying as a flight leader in Wick’s Geschwader, in 40 missions you have to exceed 56 kills to succeed.
Erpro 210: 25 fighter bomber missions in the Bf110 C7 created from the actual flight log books of this famous unit. Comes in both a timed and untimed version.
Dundas: An RAF campaign, from the point of view of 609 Sq’s John C. Dundas.
609 Squadron: Similar to the JG2 campaign but from an RAF point of view where you will fly as a section leader in a Spit 1. Your goal is slightly easier though — you only need 20 kills from 42 missions.
111 Squadron: A Hurricane campaign starting during the Battle of France and eventually pitting you against aces like Moelders, Galland and Marseille.
Are these “campaign success” criteria achievable? Exceed 40-50 kills in your 109 without dying? Get “only” 20 kills in your Spitfire 1? I will readily admit, not by me! But perhaps you are up to such a heroic challenge. For me, just surviving a campaign without dying is success enough. One of my pet peeves in scripted campaigns is the designer who decides that unless you “succeed” in shooting down 15 He111s in one mission, you have to perpetually repeat the mission until you do (are you listening Gaijin?!). Happily, the Desastersoft campaign interface allows you to either refly a mission if you fail or just move on to the next mission, though of course I would imagine you lose the benefit of any career points if you do this.
I won’t give any spoilers about actual missions, but suffice to say this is where Desastersoft’s experience in building missions for IL-2 1946shines through. In general the missions are nicely scripted, using triggers, random elements and very credible mission success criteria so that missions are generally achievable, and enjoyable.
It is clear Desastersoft really enjoys making missions for Cliffs of Dover. Thomas Voss says, “Making missions for Cliffs of Dover is whole new world. Oleg Maddox told me first in 2007 (I think it was… Christmas, we were talking about our favorite Glam rock bands) about the possibilities for mission designers, and I couldn´t believe it. The main difference is the script thing. You can now do everything you want, if you have someone who can do the code. The Third Party interface is the key. If you understand how it works, you can, as you see in our expansion, do everything, without touching the engine. It´s genius. Maddox Games made an excellent engine. We made it into a game.”
Desastersoft has a love affair with the Bf110 and it shows in their Erpro 210 campaign.
Each mission includes detailed maps with flight waypoints marked, and recon photos showing mission objectives.
The Desastersoft interface adds some nice details to campaign mechanics. If you crash or bail out over enemy territory, the game throws the dice to decide whether you make it back to your unit or not. If you don’t, it’s campaign over. If you do, you will skip forward in time a couple of missions to simulate your time out of action. One neat feature is that the campaign engine also models if you crash land on your own territory. Of course, you still have to get back to base, and your machine is usually damaged, so you also have to skip a mission. The same applies if you are wounded in combat — the severity of the wound determines how long you are out of action. All this delays your ability to gain promotions and medals, and of course, makes it much harder to achieve campaign victory in a shorter amount of time.
Mission success is usually based on pleasantly simple criteria: e.g. destroy 2 enemy aircraft in 30 minutes. Timed missions can be a bummer if the time available versus goals are unrealistic, but time limits in Wick vs. Dundas are generally quite generous, though you can’t waste too much time on your takeoff routine because the clock starts as soon as you enter the cockpit! This is especially the case for the Erpro 210 dive bombing campaign, so the designers thankfully included an “untimed” version of the campaign to allow for you getting lost, trying to find the target, or getting intercepted en route.
Another nice feature, thanks to the latest update, is that you have the option to play any mission in the campaign, and you can start your campaign at that point, rather than at the first mission every time. If for example in the 111 Sq campaign you want to skip the first couple of training-oriented missions, you can dive straight in at a later mission in the campaign.
In Desastersoft campaigns, you can start at any point, and then the campaign will run from there.
Very useful for experienced players who want to skip the early training-style missions.
Another warning though for non hard core simmers: you will be “encouraged” to use your compass/map, and navigate. Using the in-game map with waypoint icons is regarded as a “cheat” and carries the dreaded “realism penalty”. If you are flying for the RAF you will get simulated RDF (radar) vectors sent to you, which you are expected to follow. So get your pencil ready because this is what you will see:
Dover CH: Enemy Group A, more than 23, Vector 273, Sector S16, Angels 13, Distance 25
Got that? Good, because you can’t autopilot your way there without a realism penalty, so you have to work out the interception point yourself, or navigate yourself to the right sector if you have been ordered on a standing patrol.
The better you are at map and compass navigation, the better your career will progress in Wick vs. Dundas.
Hard enough? Apparently not. Desastersoft has decided this would be too easy (!) so they have also simulated the imprecision of 1940s RDF which means there could be an error factor of up to 300% in the information. These guys are hard core! In the real Battle of Britain flight commanders always added 5,000 feet to the controller’s estimate, to ensure they were on top of the raid coming in. In Cliffs of Dover, this is fine if you are over water where the enemy is easier to see, but if you are over land you will really struggle to find the enemy, so I found I gave myself the best chance in Wick vs. Dundas by going 5,000 low, not high, and looking for the enemy silhouetted against the sky above. Suicidal? Maybe, but at least you’ll have a better chance of sighting the enemy! And let’s face it, even though it is tweaked well by Desastersoft, the Cliffs of Dover AI is no ace, so you should be able to sneak up on the formation of 109s or He111s with a little patience…