You can see the events from the E-3 Sentry and take over the AWACS duties in the theatre. But if playing aerial chess gets boring at any time, simply select whatever flyable aircraft (F-16s only please) you happen to be controlling at the moment and hop into them mid-mission!
The operative word in Falcon 4.0: Allied Force, however, is FALCON. You cannot pick an A-10 or an F-15 squadron and fly those aircraft. You are now limited to flying three specific F-16 variants that Lead Pursuit has attempted to model to perfection. Since this is the first of the Battlefield series, perhaps we’ll see some additional flyable aircraft in the future. As of this writing we still aren’t sure what position Lead Pursuit will take regarding 3rd party add-ons within the mods community, so we’ll have to wait and see how that evolves.
It is worth noting for the newcomers to F4, jumping into a campaign right off the bat really isn’t advisable, no matter what your realism settings. It will be worth your time to get to know the F-16 and its systems first before you go wandering into the chaos of a campaign with your nose down in the cockpit. For F4 veterans it will be a simple matter of changing theatre mindsets (if you elect to fly in the Balkans) and struggling over location pronunciation. Excuse me, is that one K in Batajnica or two?
But when you do decide to take a deep breath and start the campaign it’s easy to get going. Simply pick a squadron and the air tasking order (ATO) is generated. We saw no shortage of numbers or types of missions to fly and that is huge. 20mm can remember numerous times of fast-forwarding through no available missions, sometimes up to half a day, simulation time. Briefings, as expected, are detailed and specific. Times on target are in there for those among us that don’t dawdle around and screw up the deconfliction plan.
The new map is spectacular and I suspect a lot of people will be pulling out their world atlas and globes at home to get a handle on the geography. Naval traffic seems much more a part of the Balkan theatre and the terrain elevations and palettes both look quite different from Korea.
Recon prior to the mission remains an important part of the planning. And here we get into some of the elements involved in flying campaign sorties. For the new F4 pilots that are joining us, this is what your future holds. Once you learn the airplane all of this secondary stuff will fall right into place. Practice, practice, practice and the fuzzy picture becomes ever clearer.
There is a LOT happening in the campaign. Aircraft of all varieties, on vastly different missions, are all jockeying around the skies in pursuit of, or fleeing, the enemy. What looks like a mess on the radar screen will actually resolve itself into some semblance of order given enough information. Once you learn to use your radar, your wingmen, your escorts and above all, the AWACS, you will soon be grasping the “big picture” and doing your part to win the war.
Day 1 of the Balkans conflict is a bit reminiscent of the “wall of MiGs” over the DMZ in Korea. Fortunately, further scrutiny shows that the vast majority of the contacts are allied units.
It can be overwhelming when first flying F4 campaigns. How could anyone possibly keep track of all those aircraft, fly and fight their own airplane, AND hit the target at the same time? After the initial flurry of attacks however, you will quickly see there is a pattern and rhythm to the pace of the war. After several sorties you will start to recognize enemy attack profiles and formations. The geography and bases will become part of your backyard (we can draw Wonsan from memory!).