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Review: DCS World
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Installation and Activation

DCS World can be downloaded from the web site, under the "Downloads" tab on the left side of the page.

DCS World web menu.

DCS World web menu.

Modules can be downloaded for free from the same page.

Modules can be downloaded for free from the same page.

For those of you keeping score at home, you may think you just caught a mistake. "Modules? Downloaded for free? Ha, I don't think so, Einy! DCS World is free, but you have to pay for modules! Silly Einstein!" The fact is that you can download any and all modules for free, as often as you'd like! Here's the catch: you can't play them without a valid activation code. And, as you probably guessed, it's those dear characters in that activation code that you buy. Head on over to the DCS E-shop (linked in the lower left of the DCS web site) to peruse the different activation codes available. In any event, if you haven't purchased a code for a module, don't install the module!

If you haven't purchased a code for a module, don't install the module!

You will have to create a Digital Combat Simulator login account in order to purchase your activation codes and, while it's not required, I strongly recommended buying all your activation codes under the same account, if, for some crazy reason, you decide to create multiple accounts. This will make recovery of activation codes, should you ever need to, much simpler.

Note that the Black Shark 2 Upgrade requires an activated installation of the standalone version of DCS: Black Shark 1. DCS: Black Shark 1 is not compatible with DCS World or its modules. Be sure you're buying the right activation code before you check out!

When you purchase a module, the serial number (a.k.a., activation code) will be shown on the screen. This same number will be emailed to the account you registered with, but I recommend that you copy and paste this code into a safe, secure place, like a text file on your hard drive.

As mentioned earlier, even if you decide to not buy any modules, DCS World comes with a flyable Su-25T, free to play single-player or online multiplayer without any codes or activation.

Whatever modules you choose to buy or not buy, be sure to install DCS World before installing any modules. If you don't, you'll need to reinstall the modules again.

Although free, downloading DCS World isn't quite as easy as just pushing the button. The download page can be a bit confusing, as there are four mirrors for each of the four download files, for a total of 16 files presented to you. You only need to download each file once, from whichever mirror you choose. If you get a dialog window asking for login information, this means that the server has reached its capacity. Wait a few minutes and try again.

Download world links

At 5.2 GB (too big for a single-sided DVD!) downloading all the install files can take a while, even with a decent Internet connection. A good download manager utility is a must on slow connections, or where service can get interrupted from time to time. The MD5 hash for each file is listed on the "Downloads" page should you feel like checking your files for integrity before installing them. Check on Google for a good MD5 checking utility.

Although there are 4 setup files to keep track of (don't change any of the file names and only run the .exe with the three .bin files in the same directory), installation is pretty straight forward. Just double-click et voilá! Note: the screenshots below are from an installation of DCS World 1.2.1, but the dialog boxes and process are the same for 1.2.2.

DCS World Setup

The installation dialogs allow for easy installation to a folder other than the default location. Just remember where you put it!

No option to not do shortcuts.

You can't tell DCS World to not install shortcuts to your Start Menu, but you are given the choice of location to install them.

Now would be a good time to stand-up from the computer, stretch your legs, get a coffee, wash the car, whatever you feel like doing while 8+ GB of DCS World is unpacked onto your PC.

Sit back and be patient. There are 8+ GB worth of files don't instantly unpack themselves.

Sit back and be patient. There are 8+ GB worth of files don't instantly unpack themselves.

When asked, be sure that the Install Visual C++ Redistributable option is checked. Even if you've installed a redistributable package in the past, you'll want to update your current installation with the libraries included in the DCS World setup files. It won't hurt to check the DirectX June 2010 install, too. If your DirectX install is up to date, the installer won't overwrite any files and will just exit out.

If it says do it, do it.

If it says do it, do it.

The first new features of DCS World (versions 1.2.1 and later) that you'll encounter is the auto-updater. It runs automatically every time you run DCS World, checking with the Eagle Dynamics servers for any updates. If any are found, you are prompted as to whether or not you want to download and install them. The download progress of those updates is shown via a simple status bar (no size remaining, download speed, or estimated time to completion is given, unfortunately), and installation is transparent.

A new (and welcome!) dialog.

A new (and welcome!) dialog.

Important note. The updater only runs automatically if you haven't updated DCS World in the last 24 hours. To force a check for updates, run the DCS Updater shortcut.

I don't know of a way to disable the check for updates when you start DCS World but the updater gives you the choice whether to download and install any available updates, if you want to delay it. At time of writing, there is no way to update DCS World other than via the DCS World updater on a direct connection to the internet: i.e., you cannot update DCS on a machine that does not have an internet connection.

Once the updates are installed, the application loads up the main DCS World screen.

Oh, the waiting!

Oh, the waiting!

And here's DCS World!

And here's DCS World!

The not-exactly-subtle bright yellow dollar sign symbols tell you exactly which products you haven't installed yet and are subliminal reminders to go buy them. Today, if you can. Right now!

If you have downloaded and purchased any modules and their activation keys, now is the time to exit DCS World and install them.

DCS World has a news link on the left side of the screen (which is hidden much better than the "buy!" dollar sign symbols) that is updated periodically with DCS World related news, including announcements of events, utility updates, and even links to relevant SimHQ articles (hint, hint, DCS!).


Activation of modules that go into DCS World is the same as with previous DCS titles. You start with 10 activations and 10 deactivations. Should, for some bizarre reason, you happen to use all your activations, they will be automatically replenished at the rate of one every 30 days.

If, for some even more bizarre reason, you need to use an activation sooner than that, submit a help ticket to the support crew for more activations. I would love to hear why anyone would ever need more than 10 activations.

Activation of DCS World products is the same as with previous DCS titles.

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