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YouTuber’s joyride in a Cold War F-4 Phantom jet has excellent... buddy comedy vibes?

DCS World could become my next cooperative obsession

Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

Digital Combat Simulator World, also known as DCS World, is the reigning champion of combat flight simulation software. From the P-51 Mustang to the beloved A-10 Warthog, the platform is full to bursting with top-tier interpretations of famous airframes — many that simply can’t be flown elsewhere digitally. And while developer Eagle Dynamics’ attention to detail has gotten them in hot water before, its first- and third-party developers routinely deliver the goods. Its latest, DCS: F-4E Phantom II by partners Heatblur Simulations, looks absolutely amazing — especially considering it plays best as a two-player cooperative experience.

I’ll admit that I’m a bit of a fanboy of the F-4. I even have a vintage Remove Before Flight tag from a United States Air Force Phantom hanging here in my office. But I’ve never actually flown the airplane before on PC. Looking over the initial launch video, which officially came out on May 22, I was absolutely intimidated. Not for the reason that you’re probably thinking of — I’m pretty sure I could get it off the ground and make it perform. But it’s a two-seater airplane. That means I’d be flying with the game’s AI sitting in the back seat, and be forced to communicate with them through the game’s interface. That added complexity — on top of learning to start-up and fly a Cold War-era jet — was a bridge too far for me.

Well, it turns out you can pass control of that second seat to another human player. YouTuber OperatorDrewski shows how in a video published late last week. Together, he and a friend grapple with the unusual airplane and actually log a few kills... before starting a conga line of enemy MIGs that chases them all the way back to a friendly airbase for refueling.

Even if you’re not way into flight simulation, the video is action-packed and charming. The pair have great chemistry in the cockpit, and by the end it feels more like an outtake from an aborted Iron Eagle-style comedy then a let’s-play video.

DCS World is free to download, which you can do from Eagle Dynamics’ own website or on Steam. DCS: F-4E Phantom II, however, will set you back $79.99.

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