When I last played DCS, I was concentrating on making a mission that would generate AI flights once a player was at an airfield or when at a certain distance during RTB. The idea here was to give the game a little more atmosphere. Because of all the "loading times" that I had to endure, well, I didn't endure it for long.
The first few flights I had with my buddies in Falcon 4 BMS, we were on egress and panicked as 4 blips seemed to be coming right for us. Turned out it was a flight of 4 F-15s on RTB and one of the players exclaimed "you don't see that in DCS!" and he was right. Most of the time, for that to happen, we would have to script it in ourselves. This time, we did none of that so nobody really had a clue whether it was friendlies or bogeys. Just the thought of that, the thought of stuff happening around you that most of the time have nothing at all to do with your mission, gives a very strong immersion factor. You are part of a theatre that is ALIVE, that is has so many things going on.
DCS could simulate such a thing with it's quick mission editor, but fly outside the "bubble" and there's nothing.
A lot of people like DCS because it gives them lots of aircraft to fly in. Sure. Some people love driving cars and don't realize they are doing so in an empty parking lot.
Dynamic campaign? Yeah, that won in one of the polls. Good luck with that. It seems like ED is having a hard enough time just making aircraft and scenery.
One of the main impulses for me to hit my target or destroy a plane is that, if I fail, I will cause someone on my side, be it a soldier or a pilot to die. So, I constantly think to myself "If I fail, this plane will go and bomb an airfield killing hundreds of friends! I better get this guy or people will die!". Or when I'm doing a CAS, and they are shooting at someone from NATO, I think "I have to kill that now, and make it stop shooting!". Sometimes , when I have left over missile or bombs on my plane I go target of opportunity hunting with the idea that, if I thin them enough, there will be less casualties.
I don't do any of that on DCS, if I fail to deliver something, I just restart, if for some reason someone on my side die, and wasn't scripted to recognize it, nothing will happen. If I go hunting for targets of opportunity, it will make no difference. If I go outside the bubble, as you mentioned, there is nothing... it is all so...lifeless!
That was a flight I had a few minutes ago, it was a magnificent failure! We got pounced by more than 6 Su-33's, we took a few of them out, but in the end, we couldn't stop them. I was the last pilot, took two down with guns, but I missed one, and that one shot me down with a missile and then with guns. Didn't even reach my target. My two wild weasel F-16 that were following me got shot down as well. It was...a disaster! And, this was completely out of the blue! It wasn't scripted, it was all by chance and choices made by the campaign.
It's tough when a 1995/1998 simulator beats DCS in immersion factor!