Combat have always sought to recreate the death-defying thrill of piloting aircraft in combat situations, but without the danger of the real thing. In addition to dealing with real historical planes and conflicts, there are plenty of titles that have put a fictional spin on the genre to place players in imagined worlds well outside the realms of reality.
The first time that gamers were given the chance to experience a simulation-style flight game with combat mechanics was back in 1982, when the original Microsoft Flight Simulator was launched. By today’s standards it seems incredibly basic, but it did feature a dog fighting mode to put players in the cockpit of the famed Sopwith Camel biplane used during the First World War.
The power of modern PCs and games consoles means that combat flight simulators are now incredibly complex, both in terms of their graphics and the game play mechanics at their core. And there are titles to suit all tastes, whether you want to experience classic wartime skirmishes or battles on board cutting edge jet fighters of the modern era.
Also see our list of best flight simulator games here:
Perhaps unsurprisingly the World Wars of the 20th century have attracted a lot of attention in the gaming industry, with the second conflict often serving as inspiration for game developers.
The franchise has been particularly popular and enduring, appearing on both home PCs and the usually neglected consoles, with its focus expanding from the Easter Front to include famous arenas such as the Battle of Britain in later iterations.
More recently the open beta version of War Thunder, from Gaijin Entertainment, has received plenty of media coverage and interest from a gamer because of its focus on online multiplayer and the sheer range of aircraft that it offers. With more than 350 planes from periods throughout history to use, in addition to ground and sea-going vehicles, it is noteworthy for its attention to detail and the range of play modes on offer.
With both arcade-style fights and more realistic aerial combat on offer, War Thunder delivers the best of both worlds for a broad selection of players. So for those seeking five minutes of fun or a deeper, more challenging experience there is something to gain from strapping in and exploring. Just be aware that it is best enjoyed with a fast internet connection and some friends to play along with on PC or 4.
The Jet Age
Piloting propeller-powered planes over the battlefields of Europe is all well and good, but aeronautical technology has advanced significantly over the past century and this is reflected in a number of popular combat flight simulators that put you in charge of jets.
At the more action-packed, arcade-oriented end of this spectrum is the Ace Combat series, developed in Japan and published by Namco Bandai in recent years. 2011’s Ace Combat: Assault Horizon brought the intense action to players on a variety of platforms. While the events and aircraft may be fictionalized to a degree, the immersive game play is definitely strong enough to sell the world that the game creates.
Those seeking a more in-depth modern title of this type might turn to , soon to become DCS World 2. This title is outfitted with a wide range of contemporary fighter jets and has the added benefit of offering support for user-made content and modifications that can really open up the experience.
Whatever your preferences, you should be able to identify combat flight simulator games that give you goose pimples without ever requiring that you put your own life on the line. Just make sure that you research the games before you buy them so that you can invest in titles that live up to your expectations.
Virtual Pilot 3D
When it comes to getting the best combat simulator game, there are several titles in this category and it becomes really difficult to select one that will give the most adventurous experience. Virtual Pilot 3D provides you with a range of over 200 aircraft, from the first ever invented Wright Brother’s Aircraft to the latest fighter jets. The digitized animated 3D effects will display actual looking scenarios on the runway lights in over 20,000 airports included, the scenes and military terrains, the popular cities with their famous architectures across the globe that you may have been planning to visit. The amazing add-on is the auto adjustable weather conditions that will even make you go through thunderstorms if the weather outside in that city is not so pleasant.
Although it seems dream- like and surreal, and somewhat impossible to achieve, this complex system can be very easily downloaded on your desktop within a matter of seconds. We have said , you can choose to begin the .