Good morning, and welcome aboard! It’s a beautiful day for the launch of Ultrawings 2. Please make sure your seat backs and tray tables are in their upright and locked position and that your seatbelt is correctly fastened. Travel time to our destination is…well, however long it takes you to make it to the Store page.
That’s right, Ultrawings 2 is out now on Quest 2. Expanding on its 2017 predecessor, Ultrawings 2 puts you in the cockpit of five brand-new aircraft, including a helicopter. Use your virtual hands to interact with each aircraft’s fully functional control panel—reach out and grab the joystick, adjust the throttle, retract your landing gear, and more. Explore multiple island paradises at your own leisure, or take part in hundreds of exciting new missions, including (for the first time) combat missions that pit you against enemy planes in head-to-head dogfights.
There’s a lot to do and discover, so we sat down with Bit Planet Games Studio Director and Game Designer Christopher Stockman to talk about what went into creating Ultrawings 2, balancing simulation versus arcade flying, the aircraft you can look forward to piloting, and more. Read on for details!
For the newcomers: What is Ultrawings 2?
Christopher Stockman: Ultrawings 2 is an open-world, aerial-themed, action-adventure game, featuring five highly unique aircraft to pilot as you complete a variety of missions across four visually distinct, hand-built islands. Our ground-breaking motion control system—we were the first!—allows players to fly their aircraft with their virtual hands to dogfight enemy bogies, pop balloons using a dart gun, land, fly through score rings, intercept bombers, call down missile strikes, and so much more!
What made this the right time for a sequel? Did you learn any lessons from the original Ultrawings?
CS: We started thinking about Ultrawings 2 about a year after the first game released. We knew the sequel had to include a healthy dose of combat and unique aircraft (including a helicopter!) in order for the game to not feel like simply an extension. Also, with the massive success of Quest 2 we knew that version of the game had to match pound-for-pound with its PC brethren. And unbelievably we did it!
What we didn’t know is that it would take us close to four years.
The first Ultrawings was fairly light on gameplay variety and it took too long to unlock new aircraft. That has been corrected for the sequel. Now you’re constantly unlocking new aircraft and new stuff to do throughout the entire game. It really has a lot of depth.
Ultrawings isn’t quite a flight simulator, but it has elements of one—like semi-realistic physics and functional dashboard controls. How do you approach complexity in Ultrawings?
CS: Correct, it’s not a true simulator. Our goal for the series has always been that it’s just sim-enough without you needing a manual and an FAA-issued pilot’s license to have a good time. With that said the aircraft are governed by a realistic flight model that has been heavily tweaked so that the learning curve isn’t too steep. We wanted the game to be easy-to-fly, hard-to-master.
There’s a helicopter in Ultrawings 2, right? Did that present any unique design challenges, and are the other aircraft just as varied?
CS: There is and we think players are going to really enjoy piloting it! It flies exactly how you think it should fly. And what’s super awesome is that it’s integrated into our version of a campaign (called Ops) in a very unique way.
In fact, each of our 5 aircraft are very unique. The Ultralight returns—now called the Phoenix—and it’s faster than before, though still incredibly easy to fly. (This aircraft is also integrated into the Ops.)
The Stallion is our version of the P51 Mustang and it’s fast but heavy. It’s also fairly easy to fly but does require a little more finesse when landing.
Then we have the Comet. This rocket-powered Glider is, by far, the fastest aircraft in the game—but it has a limited amount of fuel. You can power the rocket on or off with the flick of a switch as long as you have fuel in the tank, so there is some strategy involved in some of the more difficult missions you encounter.
Next is the New Hawk. This is our take on the Christen Eagle. This stunt plane gives you access to incredible stunt obstacle courses, slalom courses, touch and go challenges, and so forth. It’s extremely agile and not for the faint of heart. For experienced pilots, only!
Last but certainly not least is the Dragonfly. This is our take on the Mosquito and, well, it’s probably the most fun helicopter you’ll ever fly. People tend to be incredibly intimated by video game helicopters, but ours is the perfect example of our easy-to-fly, hard-to-master philosophy.
How did you design the landscape in Ultrawings 2? What makes a place or a landscape interesting to fly around?
CS: This time around real-world locales and even certain time periods of these locales inspired us. We have London / European cities circa the 1930s, Hawaii, Manhattan, and islands of Thailand. We knew we wanted players to start in a city but one with less verticality than Manhattan so we chose London for its iconic landmarks and topography. Manhattan was chosen because we wanted players to be able navigate around tall skyscrapers in the Dragonfly.
What’s next? Do you have any post-release plans you can talk about?
CS: We’re just getting started! Our first content update will be released shortly after launch and features some new music, additional missions, and overall improvements. Shortly after that, we are adding more achievements and virtual trophies to unlock.
Then comes the big one: competitive online multiplayer! Our first mode will be free-for-all dogfighting, and if people enjoy that, we will look into adding a team-based mode and some competitive balloon popping action too!
Our first paid DLC will release in the second half of 2022 and will feature a racing airplane and air races. Anything beyond that will be based on player response and feedback!
Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
CS: Ultrawings 2 has been a true labor-of-love for all of us at Bit Planet Games and we are extremely excited for fans of the first game and newcomers alike to experience what we’ve put our heart and soul into for the last four years!
Ready to get your pilot’s license? Pick up a copy of Ultrawings 2 on Quest 2 today, and safe flying!