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Question on First Eagles Campaign

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I have been under water playing Silent Hunter campaigns for a while and feel it is time to get back into the air. I would like to do this with a WWI Flight Sim.... I have been seriously considering trying Rise of Flight but have serious doubts that my older PC Rig can handle that demanding simulation and it is not in my near future to upgrade.


So - I am considering First Eagles as it seems more realistic for my hardware. I have played Third Wire Stike Fighters Vietnam in the past and thought it was a pretty good sim but really thought it had some short comings in no inflight refueling and no ground support and interdiction missions in the campaign. I like historical accuracy!


My first question is - do you feel the campaigns are historically accurate (stock or add-on?)


Secondly - can you fly more than one plane type during your campaign? Manfred von Richthofen had kills in the Albatros D.II, D.III, D.V and the Fokker DR.I. I want to be able to fly all those planes if I am flying as von Richtofen in the same career. Can that be done?


Thanks in advance for any help you veteran First Eagle pilots can give me.

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First Eagles campaigns are much like the other SF campaigns. In FE/FE2, they are based around battles first, units/plane types second. The stock campaigns are the battles of Cambrai Nov 1917, Operation Michael (German Spring offensive) March 1918, and Meuse-Argonne later in 1918. In each campaign, you have a choice of several squadrons in each of the air forces engaged, German, British, French and/or US, depending on who was participating.


The squadrons you can choose from are historic ones, flying from the aerodromes they used at the time, and with thei plane they flew at the time. For example, if you start a Cambrai campaign and 'go German', and you choose Jasta 5, you will find yourself flying an Albatros DV from Boistrancourt, just ESE of Cambrai. The missions you get are selected from a set, not randomly but according to set parameters according to plane type and nationality, and are generally a decent historical balance.


The planes in your selected squadron carry individual markings and unit markings eg Jasta 5 has red-edged green tails. The unit markings are historical (for at least one part of the unit's history). The individual plane emblems are 'representative' eg RFC aircraft use different letters, Germans have symbols chosen by the sim from a pool of real-life ones which you may recognise from pictures (tho not necessarily carried on a plane from your chosen unit in real life - tho in FE2 i have seen Jasta 5 squadron-mates with some of the famous pilot markings from that unit eg Flashar's dragon).


You act as flight leader but are a sort of squadron commander and can choose who flies and who doesn't, and vary waypoints - much as in other SF sims. Squadron rosters IIRC may have some real-life aces.


Add-on campaigns from what I have seen work in a similar way. The Bloody April campaign, combined with the extra Flanders terrain and some download aicraft, enables you to fly earlier in 1917 through the Battle of Arras.


You cannot fly a conventional 'squadron career'. You could choose to fly with (eg) Jasta 5 in Bloody April, Cambrai and Op Michael (doubt they were at Meuse Argonne). It would probably be possible to build such a career as a mod, as a succession of mini-careers, moving from battle to battle, airfield to airfield, plane to plane.


FE/FE2 has some limitations eg balloons don't get winched down when attacked, but I don't think they do in OFF or RoF either. Damage modelling is well below RoF standards but adequate and it has nice touches like frequent engine kills resulting in a prop stopping and the pilot gliding down to force land (if you let him).


Personally I think the level of historical content in FE/FE2 is very good even un-modded. Its AI I find to be better than either OFF or RoF and it also excels at reproducing the experience of patrol-leading and dogfighting, which are possibly the most important elements for a WW1 single-seater sim to excell at. It will benefit from a bit of tinkering with settings but unlike either RoF or OFF it's not just possible to fly with every visual flight and targeting aid turned off, it's actually more immersive and less frustrating.


My own experiences of flying FE/FE2 are here. I also have OFF and RoF and I like all three for what they're best at but think FE/FE2 is overall, at least as good as either of the others.

Edited by 33LIMA

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Thank you for the input.


I have been reading about OFF as well and it sounds pretty good... how would you rate the strengths and weaknesses of each sim? Sounds like you have more planes and can start as a wingman in OFF and also that you can start a career earlier in the war for the German, French or RFC. While 1917 & 1918 are the biggest years for aces there were certainly some interesting developments during 1915-1916.

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OFF has more planes out-of-the-box than FE/FE2 and a squadron-based campaign.


Also a decent selection of AI and flyable 2-seaters whose observers' seat and gun you can man. And nice touches like something better resembling an actual pilot logbook, into which you can record claims for kills (which may or may not be confirmed, if you turn on that option). Lots and lots of plane skins to choose from (tho no preview). Lots of configurable options.


Flying as wingman is limited I think by limited leader AI, as in many sims.


Down-sides include particularly poor formation-keeping which hampers flight-leading, indifferent distant aircraft visibility with aids turned off, rather poor 2-seater AI (CFS3 bomber-based?), and AI which fly at empty weight (equivalent to extra HP; I did a mod for this). Great landscape but poor main roads, rivers and railways with very angular bends, a tendency for forced landings to end in a wreck rather often, and some odd CFS3-style effects like engines jumping out of damaged planes and pilots leaping out instantly a plane goes on fire (no chute, but is like an instantaneous reaction and the original pilot's still visible if you're close enough). In flight and planning maps are slightly improved from CFS3's truly awful ones but they are still poor and not good for visual orientation, bearing no serious resemblance to what you can see in the 3d world, apart from the Lines. To get padlock to work, you have to turn on the typical CFS 'radar' (tho you can turn it off again afterwards).


In OFF currently, yes you can fly 1915-16 but it's rather limited by the planeset (earliest German 2-seater is the mid-late 1916 Roland CII and there's no early French 2-seaters - Phase 4 will solve this with the Aviatik CII and Morane parasol). 'Warp' doesn't work very well so missions can be long and sometimes without action or only after long flights - none of FE2's Alt+N to next combat. Wingman commands are a bit limited and don't work very well - eg if you are damaged and losing altitude, even hitting S(plit) often still seems to end with at least one 'loyal' wingman refusing to go away, followiing you right down, regardless of AA fire. Some of the allocated campaign mission types are a bit odd eg lots of 'railyard attacks' for RFC scouts (and even German ones) tho Bletchley's mods improve this.


FEG/FE2 has a much better planeset IF you include the freeware add-on planes tho you have to d/l the add-on campaigns to fly them in campaign mode, while OFF's are all fully integrated. Some add-on planes are not as good as the stock planes and you may need Peter01's FM mod to get them all flying sensibly in 'Hard' mode. You can fly many of the add-on 2-seaters but not man the gunner position. I think FEG/FE2 is the best sim (compared to RoF and OFF) for Boelcke- or Mannock-style patrol-leading and for dogfighting; this is down to a combination of features like good plane visibility without visual aids, superior AI for both scouts and 2-seaters, decent formation-keeping (despite a lot of weaving!), good padlock system and adequate and effective wingman command set. Plane externals and internals are second only to RoF, to my eye, and I like the crew, engine and gun animations and the dynamic self-shadowing which help bring the planes to life.


RoF single player is still limited by the beta career and that still-very-limited 2-seater planeset - non-existent for the 1915-16 period despite the N.11 and Eindekker. AI is not great. Easily the best sim for the experience of 'flying a WW1 plane', and a cinematic dogfighting experience on top of that, so I like it a lot. But for the experience of 'flying a plane in WW1, I'd pick FE2 (or FEG) or OFF, with the former ahead by a small margin. Each of the three sims has things it's best at; I like and fly them all, with the odd foray back into FS-WW1 or RB3d for a change.

Edited by 33LIMA

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