It’s always great when we fly with a purpose and that’s a big reason why we get excited when campaigns are announced. Jeff took a look at the latest one for the DCS Huey and he was quite impressed by it.
Released by Low Level Heaven (LLH), the Worlds Apart, Spring 2025 Campaign places you in the German Light Aircraft Group – or Heeresflieger (in German) as a member of Wolf Pack. Your crew consists of yourself, your crew Peter, Hans and Tom. The campaign itself spans 12 missions through and around the areas of Southern Georgia where you’re mostly based out of Batumi.
Apparently, in 2025 the world is going to go down the tubes and in the course of fighting for natural resources, the Black Sea region will quickly become a hot-bed of military activity. Wolf Pack is deployed in early spring, in conjunction with US Forces, to help assist United Nations forces and assist the Georgian Government in upholding the peace in the region.
Along the Turkish/Georgian boarder, Georgian Rebels are linking up with Ukrainian fascists groups and attempting to heckle the Georgian Government into chaos. Wolf Pack’s task is to patrol the border to ensure Georgian infrastructure is maintained and push back rebels as necessary.
What’s important in a campaign, what encourages customers to buy a campaign and play instead of just playing online or flying around aimlessly? Well naturally, it’s the storyline. I think the depth of story line, plot and experience all build together to make an immersive campaign. One that makes you want to fly on the next mission or see the entire campaign through to the end. I believe this builds on several tenants and it’s what I use when I grade campaigns.
- Story: The story has to be believable and characters engaging enough for me to have some attachment to them.
- Mission complexity: Missions should have several things going on. That helps avoid making the region look like a ghost town. In real life, we strive to look at all considerations of a mission’s impact – including impact on civilian infrastructure. Beyond that, having other forces, aircraft and side events occurring help bring out the complexity of a mission and makes you feel like a bigger part of the story.
- Balance: In real life, military missions can span a few hours to several weeks. It’s not un-typical for a military rotary wing flight to last 8+ hours and can be dead-boring one day, to terrifying the next. Although, for a game, eight hours is unreasonable, and developers should strive to find a balance between boredom/combat and mission length.
- Playability: Are the missions challenging? Do they interface with DCS to work seamlessly? Is there consideration for the boring stuff (fuel burn/aircraft start-up/interaction with AI/ferry flying/combat), are the missions beat-able? Those are a few considerations, but they all add together to encourage the pace of play for the campaign and ensure the player has a good time playing the missions.
- Value for Money: This is a big variable depending on who’s evaluating the product. Ideally, I would say a campaign would be worth its value if there was more than a day’s worth of game play. Knowing that it often takes three-times as long to build the campaign as it does to play it, I would like to see each campaign mission take 1.5-2.0 hours to complete. For a ten-mission campaign, that can be 15-20 hours of gameplay.
How Does Worlds Apart Stack up?
Based upon the criteria I outlined above, I thought Worlds Apart scored fantastically.
The story was well-thought out and LLH stayed true to the story line that they outlined. I saw that consistently as I progressed through the missions where, our aircraft might be tasked to do a side mission but at the completion of that, it was back to the original focus of why I was flying there: support the Georgian infrastructure.
Additionally, LLH used over 1400 voice overs that included German, US and Russian voice-actors to provide script support for the different conversations that occur throughout the campaign. Rather than just business as usual, the player has the ability to really develop a feel for each member of his crew. Peter, your Company Commander, flies left seat as your co-pilot throughout the entire campaign. In some instances, I wanted to strangle him. In others, his input was helpful and guided me to where I needed to fly to complete the assigned task.
Tom and Hans ride shot gun on your door M240’s and Tom is usually ready to get behind the trigger and give it to the bad guys. Hans, on the other hand, would rather stay comfortable and kick back with a beer (even if this means staying up several hours after the mission to find one). These character complexities and little quarks help you form a bond with your AI crew and build to the immersion and storyline.
I thought the missions in Worlds Apart were sufficiently complex. Each mission was provided with a thorough briefing packet which included Wolf’s task and purpose, route, time-distance-heading (TDH) card and diagrams of known landing zones (LZ’s) and pick-up zones (PZ’s).
A bit of back story on the briefing page also set the mood and tone of the mission. You could tell what kind of day it was going to be based upon how the crew was feeling. Most missions happen either early morning or late afternoon.
The characters reacted to this accordingly and, even better, the weather reflected what you might see in this region during that time of year and time of day. Dynamic re-taskings, weather, combat and crew interaction all contributed to the mission complexity. At the same time, I didn’t feel the missions were too complex. I never felt the need to print out my mission documents or take copious notes. I could reference the frequencies I needed or figure out where I was going based upon the information that was stored on the kneeboard.
This is a section where I think LLH hit the nail on the head with Worlds Apart. I truly believed there was fantastic balance in the campaign.
As previously stated, real missions are hardly engagement after engagement. Typically, its many hours of boredom interspersed with moments of action. Although, in a game, we expect more. Being able to balance how much boredom to intersperse with action is a tough one to gauge.
On some missions in Worlds Apart, you spend two-thirds of the mission just flying and one-third actually getting in the action. In a few missions, the entire two hours is one task after another and when you finally land and shut down, you’re exhausted.
The player has to balance dynamic re-taskings with weather conditions, wind conditions, helicopter performance and the over-all objective. Peter, your co-pilot, usually has something to say about what should happen next and that’s helpful. But I didn’t feel like I was being run through the wringer the entire campaign and as a real pilot, I can appreciate that.
This particular tenant is a topic for hot debate amongst the forums. Some players complain that Worlds Apart is too tough. Well, is it? I think not and let me explain why.
I think Worlds Apart challenges new pilots to be better and encourages veteran pilots to remember the basics. Your Huey is fully loaded with fuel, infantry and slinging a 1,600-pound net of equipment four thousand feet up a cliff side; can you do it?
New sim pilots might struggle with this. But Peter is there to help remind you, use the wind, watch your TOT gauge, stay above 45 knots. Why should any of that matter? Well, if you’re new to sim helicopters, we here at HeliSimmer.com have some great advice as to why that matters. If you’re a veteran pilot and your too used to flying on multi-player missions with no wind and no environmental conditions to consider, this will be a welcome change of pace.
Coming out of a tight LZ with an external load and high trees on all sides really makes you consider the wind direction and what you can do to fly the helicopter smoothly to get out. Will you be able to hover once you get to the top of that cliff? Another interesting challenge was flying through a thick cloud layer while in formation only on instruments.
These are all real challenges that military pilots discuss and think through when planning missions and mission contingencies. Those are only two examples of several that Worlds Apart provides for sim pilots to be a better helicopter pilot. I thought that alone was worth the price.
Yet, I will say there were some flaws in the playability of Worlds Apart.
In talking to the developer, I found that some of these are inherent DCS issues that were not easily surmountable (in mission four, for example, lead runs out of fuel sooner than you and returns early thereby breaking any in-game prompts).
In others, sometimes the directions can be a bit unclear and unlike real life where I can just make a call on the radio, you can’t do that in DCS. Additionally, sometimes the script will play a bit late and then your left confused about what you should be doing.
For mission five, I landed on the wrong orange smoke and sat there for five minutes before I figured out the checkpoint wasn’t triggered and I couldn’t move forward without re-starting the mission. For the most part, LLH tries really hard to prompt the player in the right direction. But the player has to be ready to listen carefully and also seek out the logical answer.
Read the mission briefings (Oh! I ran out of fuel! …wait, I could have re-fueled back there…). With a bit of effort and a re-try, I was usually able to easily deduce where my checkpoint was and complete the task successfully.
Value for Money
Does Worlds Apart have good value for money? I strongly believe that it does. As stated previously, each mission would run for approximately two hours. I know that building each mission would take the developer anywhere from ten hours to longer.
For twelve missions, that’s 22 hours of gameplay and 220 hours of just building the missions. Plus, numerous others on briefing packages, voice work, troubleshooting and marketing/art work.
At a price point of $11.99 USD, that equates to $1.00 per mission or $.50 per hour of gameplay. Given how well this campaign was executed, I thought that was a bargain! It’s my honest hope that Low Level Heaven is able to see a good return from this campaign because I genuinely think the development team deserves that.
- Great Story line
- Fun missions
- Educational learning potential
- Highly immersive
- Challenging objectives
- Great Value
- DCS coding “breaks” the campaign in some spots
- Can be unclear what the AI wants you to do
- Briefing packages should including a “completion criteria” to help some players
- Sometimes the AI flies funky (but I think that’s DCS – not LLH)
- Some LZ’s could use diagrams or better descriptors (Berlin HQ for example)
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