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Difference between revisions of "DCS Newbie Guide"

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(Moved requirements to list. I think the whitespace helps readability)
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The good news: DCS is free software. It can be downloaded and played for free. The bad news: the [[Digital_Combat_Simulator#Freebies_.E2.80.94_what.27s_in_the_box.3F|free package]] is nice enough, but limited, and the [[DCS_Modules|aircraft modules]] that are DCS's claim to fame cost. Some of them cost a lot. And there are tons of them. The worst news: to actually get anything of value out of DCS, you are going to need a beefy computer and will develop a creeping urge to collect more and more, increasingly expensive, oddball peripherals.
 
The good news: DCS is free software. It can be downloaded and played for free. The bad news: the [[Digital_Combat_Simulator#Freebies_.E2.80.94_what.27s_in_the_box.3F|free package]] is nice enough, but limited, and the [[DCS_Modules|aircraft modules]] that are DCS's claim to fame cost. Some of them cost a lot. And there are tons of them. The worst news: to actually get anything of value out of DCS, you are going to need a beefy computer and will develop a creeping urge to collect more and more, increasingly expensive, oddball peripherals.
  
Before you get it, though, consider whether it will be worth it. The official site lists some… very optimistic, let's say, minimum requirements. Ignore those and instead look at the recommended specs as a good guideline for what will actually provide a reasonably satisfying experience:
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Before you get it, though, consider whether it will be worth it. The [official site lists some… very optimistic, let's say, minimum requirements. Ignore those and instead look at [https://www.digitalcombatsimulator.com/en/downloads/world/stable/ the recommended specs] as a good guideline for what will actually provide a reasonably satisfying experience:
  
'''Recommended system requirements (HIGH graphics settings):'''  
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: '''Recommended system requirements (HIGH graphics settings):'''  
* OS: 64-bit Windows 8/10
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: · OS: 64-bit Windows 8/10; DirectX11
* CPU: Core i5+ at 3+ GHz or AMD FX / Ryzen
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: · CPU: Core i5+ at 3+ GHz or AMD FX / Ryzen
* RAM: 16 GB (32 GB for heavy missions)
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: · AM: 16 GB (32 GB for heavy missions)
* Free hard disk space: 120 GB on Solid State Drive (SSD)
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: · Free hard disk space: 120 GB on Solid State Drive (SSD)
* Video card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 / AMD Radeon RX VEGA 56 with 8GB VRAM or better
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: · Discrete video card NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 / AMD Radeon RX VEGA 56 with 8GB VRAM or better
* DirectX11
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: · Requires internet activation.  
* Joystick
 
* Internet connection (required for activation).
 
  
 
The memory requirement is of particular note here — 32GB is something you risk needing if and when you start to get into the more complex missions, campaigns, or on-line play. You can get by with less, usually, but it can get hitchy as the game has to swap assets in and out.
 
The memory requirement is of particular note here — 32GB is something you risk needing if and when you start to get into the more complex missions, campaigns, or on-line play. You can get by with less, usually, but it can get hitchy as the game has to swap assets in and out.
  
What is not listed, but really should be is: <u>'''a joystick'''</u>, preferably with a separate throttle. DCS ostensibly supports playing with just keyboard and mouse, but it is an abysmal experience and will not end well.
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Something that is not listed as a minimum requirement, but really should be just like with the recommended specs is <u>'''a joystick'''</u>, preferably with a separate throttle. DCS ostensibly supports playing with just keyboard and mouse, but it is an abysmal experience and will not end well.
  
 
The two main sources for getting DCS are [https://store.steampowered.com/app/223750/DCS_World_Steam_Edition/ the Steam version] from Steam (shocking!) and [https://www.digitalcombatsimulator.com/en/downloads/world/ the stand-alone version] from the official website. It is a never-ending debate which is the better choice. As a general rule, Steam makes it easier to stay up-to-date and its download servers are faster, but it can sometimes lag behind on patches and on module availability. The stand-alone version gets all the things, and it gets the newest updates sooner, but it has a much more obscure update procedure and doesn't have the world-spanning high-speed content delivery of Steam.
 
The two main sources for getting DCS are [https://store.steampowered.com/app/223750/DCS_World_Steam_Edition/ the Steam version] from Steam (shocking!) and [https://www.digitalcombatsimulator.com/en/downloads/world/ the stand-alone version] from the official website. It is a never-ending debate which is the better choice. As a general rule, Steam makes it easier to stay up-to-date and its download servers are faster, but it can sometimes lag behind on patches and on module availability. The stand-alone version gets all the things, and it gets the newest updates sooner, but it has a much more obscure update procedure and doesn't have the world-spanning high-speed content delivery of Steam.

Revision as of 01:10, 29 June 2020

Part 1 - Getting DCS

Main article: Getting DCS

The good news: DCS is free software. It can be downloaded and played for free. The bad news: the free package is nice enough, but limited, and the aircraft modules that are DCS's claim to fame cost. Some of them cost a lot. And there are tons of them. The worst news: to actually get anything of value out of DCS, you are going to need a beefy computer and will develop a creeping urge to collect more and more, increasingly expensive, oddball peripherals.

Before you get it, though, consider whether it will be worth it. The [official site lists some… very optimistic, let's say, minimum requirements. Ignore those and instead look at the recommended specs as a good guideline for what will actually provide a reasonably satisfying experience:

Recommended system requirements (HIGH graphics settings):
· OS: 64-bit Windows 8/10; DirectX11
· CPU: Core i5+ at 3+ GHz or AMD FX / Ryzen
· AM: 16 GB (32 GB for heavy missions)
· Free hard disk space: 120 GB on Solid State Drive (SSD)
· Discrete video card NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 / AMD Radeon RX VEGA 56 with 8GB VRAM or better
· Requires internet activation.

The memory requirement is of particular note here — 32GB is something you risk needing if and when you start to get into the more complex missions, campaigns, or on-line play. You can get by with less, usually, but it can get hitchy as the game has to swap assets in and out.

Something that is not listed as a minimum requirement, but really should be just like with the recommended specs is a joystick, preferably with a separate throttle. DCS ostensibly supports playing with just keyboard and mouse, but it is an abysmal experience and will not end well.

The two main sources for getting DCS are the Steam version from Steam (shocking!) and the stand-alone version from the official website. It is a never-ending debate which is the better choice. As a general rule, Steam makes it easier to stay up-to-date and its download servers are faster, but it can sometimes lag behind on patches and on module availability. The stand-alone version gets all the things, and it gets the newest updates sooner, but it has a much more obscure update procedure and doesn't have the world-spanning high-speed content delivery of Steam.

You can also sort of do both: get the game and most module from Steam to benefit from its sales, but run the stand-alone client to benefit from the latest content, and transfer your Steam purchases. Doing so requires you to register on the official site, and then associating your Steam account with that registration.

A final choice before getting started is whether you want to stay on the safe(ish) side and only run the stable release, or if you want to delve into the more precarious territory of running the beta version. In practice, the “stable” build is rarely more stable than the beta — it is just the latest version where there are no complete showstopping bugs. The beta version may come out broken in various hilarious (or even outright unplayable) ways, but for the most part, it works just fine and has the latest updates, the latest content, and the latest bugfixes. All of these are the core reasons why most multiplayer servers run the beta version. If you want to get into the flying-together community side of things, you will have to run the beta.

If you are running the stand-alone version, a separate download is available for the beta but there is no reason to use it. Quite the opposite. It will create a separate install with its own configuration path and it will in general make things much more annoying to manage, especially if and when you want to install any kind of mods. Instead, you should install and update the stable version to the beta branch. It is slightly more complicated to do at first but saves a lot of headache in the long run. For the Steam version, getting into the beta is done the same way with DCS as with any other game: you open up the game properties in the Steam browser and opt in to the beta version, which will then download and install over your existing game.

Part 2 - Getting Set Up

Main article: Getting Set up
  • Picking a flight stick
  • Binds
  • Graphics
  • Saving your settings

Part 3 - Choosing an Airplane

Main article: Choosing an airplane
  • The basics
  • Finding a role
  • Picking a plane

Part 4 - Joining the Airgoons

Main article: Joining the Airgoons
  • Discord
  • Even Lamer server
  • SRS

Part 5 - Ruining Your Life

Main article: Ruining Your Life
  • Gear, gear, gear
  • VR
  • LotATC, Tacview, and third-party software