Single Player Modes
OBD has focused the entire experience of WOFF:UE through the lens of the First World War flier. Your first task in the game is the creation of your pilot. In fact, you will not be able to access any other part of the sim until you do so. This might seem restrictive at first, but it reflects the vision of the team to make the sim personal to you. Rather than simply throwing the player into the game with a generic pilot, the simple act of creating an avatar through which to experience the conflict, immediately creates a sense of connection between you and the game.
Once again, a massive range of customization options are presented to the player in a neat and organized way. You can select which air service to fight for: British, French, American, or German. You can then choose one of several paths. Manual enlistment gives the player the same options presented in prior versions of OFF. You simply choose a squadron, a date, a rank, and enlist. Pilot creation also features biographical details that includes date and place of birth, as well as a range of pilot photos.
If you're feeling adventurous, you can recreate what actual First World War aviators experienced during the conflict by simply selecting a year, and clicking "enlist," and letting the game decide your fate for you. You might wind up in a reconnaissance and bombing unit, or a fighter squadron, depending on the outcome. Additionally, the player can elect to send their new pilot through flight training, an extra step that accurately recreates the experience of being a real aviator in the First World War.
The hazards of Great War era flight are made apparent from the outset. During your first training flight, you find yourself as a passenger with no control of the aircraft. In the British training mode, a glance at the empty dashboard in front of you reveals a note advising you not to stand in the aircraft unless told to do so, and to be sure your life insurance is paid in full before flight. Mechanical failures are also modeled in the sim, and I have lost more than one pilot due to an engine failure or fire while riding as a passenger. It is a curt but accurate reminder that thousands of aviators died in training before they reached the front.
If you're less interested in diving into a full fledged career as a First World War pilot, you can elect to play WOFF:UE's quick action modes, which features a "Quick Combat" mission builder and a slightly deeper "Quick Scenario" mode which comes pre-loaded with a range of missions tailored to each air service. These include rail yard attack missions, bomber intercept sorties, or massive dogfights over the lines. Better still, the missions that the player can build in the "Quick Combat" mode can be saved as scenarios for replay later on. The mission builder is not quite the fully realized iteration that players might recall from Red Baron 3D, which provided tools for setting waypoints and actions at designated targets, but it is a great way to build quick missions to play if you are pressed for time. The two modes compliment each other well and also provide players with a way of experiencing the 80 aircraft included in the sim. And yes, that's 80 with no DLC, no add-on's, and no additional purchases - although OBD has remained committed to expanding the sim further with expansion packs that will be sold through their store - which means that "Ultimate" does not mean necessarily final.
If you are looking to play WOFF:UE online, however, you might be disappointed. OBD has designed a strictly single player offering which includes a feature rich dynamic campaign. As such, there is no online component to WOFF:UE and at present, there are no plans to include one. In making the decision to exclude online multiplayer, OBD set an exceedingly high bar for creating an offline experience that is compelling enough to keep players coming back.
There is a consistent theme within flight simulations that last beyond well their shelf-lives. Titles like Falcon 4.0, European Air War, and Red Baron II/3D all featured rich dynamic campaigns that fully immersed the player. The term is now largely antiquated: most contemporary simulations feature scripted missions or rely on an online component to flesh out the experience of being a combat pilot. A dynamic campaign, by contrast, requires thousands of hours of development work and, when done well, serves as a double edged sword to the programmers that build it. A great dynamic campaign creates a nearly limitless number of missions for the player to enjoy. The downside, of course, is that it creates a nearly limitless number of missions, which subsequently short-circuits the need for mission packs and other assorted DLC to sustain interest in the game and maintain revenue for the company. In a niche market, the decision to focus so intensely on a dynamic campaign is an audacious one.
OBD's vision of what WOFF:UE would represent, however, far outweighed the risks. The core experience of the sim, above all else, would accurately recreate not just First World War flight, but the entirety of the war both on the ground and in the air. As a result, the simulation models hundreds of aircraft (a number imposed only by current hardware limitations), and thousands of ground units, each assigned mission-appropriate duties.
The attention to detail represents a breathtaking level of research and intense focus on accuracy. Working with archive material, historical accounts of the war, and pilot biographies, the team has crafted the most accurate recreation of the war ever seen. Squadrons fly from their historic bases of operations. They are assigned the correct aircraft and display the appropriate insignias and customized color schemes of their real world counterparts. Aircraft are in service within period-correct time frames and are phased out gradually, as they would have been during the war. The resulting formations are made up of a variety machines that perfectly replicates First World War flight. Players can see Manfred von Richthofen's Jasta 11 flying a mixed compliment of aircraft: Fokker Dr1 triplanes cruise alongside Albatros DV and ageing DIII scouts - all flying a kaleidoscope of colors that are all pixel perfect and taken directly the original source material. Every mission recreates hundreds of historic aces, hundreds of squadrons performing every imaginable task, and presents them in over 4000 high definition, historically accurate paint schemes.