Before we get into this topic, I want you to know from which angle I review this product. I look at this product purely from a gamer’s, and a hobby flight simmers perspective. If you want to learn more about the realism and flight model, there are plenty of other sources out there going into these topics.
Third-party developers are shaping the future of mfs2020. Asobo has granted us an amazing sandbox to play in, but playing in the sand feels dull without shiny toys. Sometimes a cat poops in the sand, which ruins the experience. But sometimes, you see a true gem waiting for you to pick it up and parade around the playground. The DC-6 by PMDG is, in my opinion, one of those gems (that requires some slight polishing). You can pick it up for $59,99 (at the moment of writing, there is a sale for $54,99) from the website of PMDG. The plane will be available in the ingame marketplace as well, but this might still be months away.
As of 25-6, the bug which caused a crash to the desktop when spawned next to a DC-6 has been fixed. There were some issues when I tried to update the plane, BUT I got the fastest support response I’ve ever received from any company and was up and running in under 2 minutes.
Date of writing 22-06-2021: Now, there is one major bug I wanted to point out before gettings started. When flying in a multiplayer session, there is a chance that somebody else tries to spawn in with a DC-6 as well. The game will crash to the desktop every time you encounter somebody else with the same plane. The developers already communicated (be it in their own forum and not on the product page or email) that this is being investigated. For me, the multiplayer experience is what makes this game pop, feel alive, and sparks joy in my flights. Use this information when contemplating whether you want to buy this plane at this stage or not.
The exterior, as well as the interior model, are truly astonishing. As seen in the image above, you can enable and disable a wide variety of external items to your liking. It is the fine details that make this plane feel alive. The way the doors swing open and the stairs slide down demonstrates the level of detail you can expect from this plane.
All these extras can be enabled from a handy dandy tablet on your left-hand side (more on this later).
The cockpit is equally stunning as it is frightening. The amount of gauges levers and buttons look amazing but make this a rather difficult plane to master when you’re a rookie like me. The models do look great and the texturing overall is top-notch.
There are some minor flaws to be found in the texturing, though. Especially at the top left and right, some textures seem out of place. This mainly sticks out since most of the other details are properly modeled on top of the base texture layer. Now, these details are sticking out in the wrong way. The price of planes has always been something that is discussed heavily. In my opinion, $55 doesn’t justify having these textures on the interior. This is something that needs to be looked at by the developers.
If we really start to nitpick, some screws are modeled on top of the textured ones while some aren’t. Once again, this purely stands out since screws are missing (see the 4th image of the gallery) next to screws that are perfectly modeled. Otherwise, I probably would have overlooked these details.
On your left-hand side, you’re accompanied by a flight control tablet.
The first tab you encounter is the ramp manager. From here, you can alter the model with tow bars, close/open doors, extend the stairs, etc. You’re also able to instantly change the state of the aircraft from cold & dark to ready to start or ready for taxi.
The fuel/load manager, maintenance manager, and engine stress visualizer provide tools to alter and monitor the technical state of the aircraft.
AFE (automated flight engineer)
Now, this bird is complex. Especially when you’re used to the Asobo standard planes this one might seem daunting. Luckily on the tablet, you’ll find a personal assistant called the AFE (Automated flight engineer).
The AFE can be activated for each stage of flight separately. It runs through the co-pilot checklist and leaves certain steps to be executed by yourself (like starting the engine). In the documentation, the pre-start stage has 87 bullet points to check before even starting the plane. The AFE will be your lord and savior if you don’t want to spend half your playtime getting things ready. Even if you want to spend the time learning the plane, the modular approach makes it easy to focus on each module individually and letting the assistant engineer handle the rest.
I’m far from an experienced flight simmer and proud of it (but no complete beginner as well). Most flights feel like I’m learning something new, which adds to the experience for me. So a clear tutorial can make or break a new plane for me. The DC-6 comes with 2 guided flights through Canada included in the documentation folder. First, a small flight starting on the runway, where the AFE handles most of the work. It’s a nice stepping stone to getting the basics down and get a feel for the handling. The second tutorial, however, feels a lot more hands-on. They told me it would take around 60 minutes to complete the flight but just starting the engine took me 20 minutes (I hope I don’t have to explain it took longer than 60 minutes to complete for me). I loved every minute of it.
Controls, levers and buttons
For me being able to flick switches, pull on levers, or turning knobs adds to the magic. It makes the plane feel complete and makes your interactions part of the experience. This plane has so many functional and operatable details that it can be a treat to look at and even walk around in. Walk around? See the video below and judge for yourself. The circuit breakers at the back of the cockpit almost all function. The collision makes it feel like you are walking instead of floating to the back.
Some areas require some attention. The most important one is the throttles. The forward range can easily be bound and controlled. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the reverse axis. Using the mouse is a nightmare, and the Simconnect keybinds that work on all the default planes do not work in this one (for the reverse axis).
The center pedestal feels rather dead as well. In the red zone (in the image below) the green highlighted controls are the only functional ones. Since it’s such a centerpiece some more interaction would have felt nice.
This plane raises the bar for third-party developers when it comes to complex 4 engine propeller aircraft. The amount of detail, handling, and complexity make it a true feast to fly. Some areas need to be looked at, like the textures and throttle levers. If you mainly focus on the looks and couldn’t be bothered by the flight model, this might make it harder to spend $55 for this one. If flying is the most important part for you, I’d suggest stop reading and obtain this beauty.