July 2021: DCS Map Comparison

Recently Storm of War did a detailed review of the Marianas Islands map, which has recently been released for DCS. While the Modern version is not relevant to Storm of War, we wanted to look into the feasibility of using the World War II version which Eagle Dynamics said that they were working on. Part of that assessment, meant looking at the scale of the map and how it relates to the size of the typical operating ranges of our aircraft and what our pilots typically expect to fly.

This is not the first time we’ve done this. A while ago we did a careful assessment of the Channel Map, looking at whether it would be suitable for World War II operations for our server. Like our study on the Marianas, scale, flight-times and combat vectors were considered. This then raised the question of the “other maps” in DCS.

Why maps?

Unlike the civilian flight simulators (X-Plane, Prepar-3D, MSFS-2020, etc.) DCS World does not include the “whole world”, but rather has terrain maps. These are limited regions, covering just a small part of the globe.

Now, this is completely understandable. You see, the difference is that unlike a civilian flight simulation, the scenery is a target. Bombs, gunfire, and rockets will (or at least should!) interact with the landscape to destroy buildings, crater runways, knock out bridges or char the vegetation. This is why combat flight simulators have limited areas or maps, in which the action takes place.

In total, DCS has seven maps. Two are free (the default Caucasus and the downloadable Marianas). The other five are additional modules which you need to buy. But this brings us back to our original consideration of the maps for DCS WW2. For Storm of War, the only map we use is the Normandy map. But we have thought about the other maps and part of that was wondering how they compare in scale with each other.

The project

So, what we’ve done is take every single DCS map. We measure the scale of the map in kilometres and take some screenshots of the map to show their full extent. Then, we calculate the relative scales of the maps and put them all on a single image, scaled to the same size.

The DCS maps are flat in the sense that there is no earth curvature and the east-west and north-south grids are linear and orthogonal. This means a direct comparison can be made. Additionally, it is possible to place nearby maps at the correct distances from each other.

So, in the composite image, we’ve grouped some maps together. Nevada and Marianas are completely separate from the others. The Channel and Normandy overlap each other. The Caucasus, Syria and Persian Gulf maps are near each other, but there is no overlap. We have spaced them the correct distance apart (and added a little bit of coastline of the Mediterranean and Caspian Sea to guide the eye).

A comparison of size

It is interesting to compare the sizes of the maps, but one needs to be careful! The “populated” (in a scenery sense) areas of each map are not the same. It is pretty obvious on the Caucasus where the fill-in area is. But, for example, the Romanian coast is totally empty. Likewise for the Persian Gulf, which has detail for the Strait of Hormuz, while Kuwait and Iraq are coastlines only. The Syria map actually has the most scenery-populated land area.

Of course, water is water… so the Marianas has a minuscule landmass, but is still the largest map… assuming you like flying over the open ocean.

Conclusion

Although Storm of War will not be using any of these maps except Normandy, it is nevertheless interesting to compare what we are using to the other maps and their scales. Of course, new maps will no doubt come out for the simulator.Eagle Dynamics have already mentioned the WW2-Pacific version of the Marianas, and Razbam are currently working on a Falklands Islands map. We will no doubt examine each as they are released (or upgraded).

Downloads

Link to the full-size montage image:

https://stormofwar.info/maps/SoW-036-MapComparison_v01.jpg

Links to screenshots of the component maps:

https://stormofwar.info/maps/dcs_caucasus_map.jpg
https://stormofwar.info/maps/dcs_channel_map.jpg
https://stormofwar.info/maps/dcs_marianas_map.jpg
https://stormofwar.info/maps/dcs_nevada_map.jpg
https://stormofwar.info/maps/dcs_normandy_map.jpg
https://stormofwar.info/maps/dcs_persiangulf_map.jpg
https://stormofwar.info/maps/dcs_syria_map.jpg

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