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Microsoft Flight Simulator: Everything We Know

February 2, 2020
5 min read

It might surprise many of you to learn that the longest-running software offering in technology, Microsoft’s history, is actually ‘Microsoft Flight Simulator’, the legendary series of flight simulation games/programs. Yes, that’s right, ‘Microsoft Flight Simulator’ even predates Windows itself by a good three years, debuting with the original ‘Microsoft Flight Simulator 1.0’ way back in 1982.

Since then, the series has gone on to see ten more mainline installments, setting new industry benchmarks with each new iteration. However, it has now been nearly one and a half decades since the release of the last game in the franchise, 2006’s ‘Flight Simulator X’, and the noise of long time fans clamoring for the release of a new ‘Microsoft Simulator’ game is only growing louder by the day.

The bad news is that we don’t quite know exactly when that day will come, but we do know that it will be sometime this year itself. Read on to find out everything we know about the upcoming next-generation flight sim game titled ‘Microsoft Flight Simulator’.

Microsoft Flight Simulator Gameplay: What to Expect?

It isn’t particularly hard to describe what ‘Microsoft Flight Simulator’ is – it is simply the most venerated series of flight simulator games that have delighted fans and educated rookie pilots, in the art of flying, for nearly four decades now. However, it has now been sixteen years since the release of the last game in the franchise, and the series is in sore need of a next-generation makeover. That is exactly what the new ‘Microsoft Flight Simulator’ hopes to achieve.

The web page for ‘Microsoft Flight Simulator’ describes the game as follows:
“Microsoft Flight Simulator is the next generation of one of the most beloved simulation franchises. From light planes to wide-body jets, fly highly detailed and stunning aircraft in an incredibly realistic world. Create your flight plan and fly anywhere on the planet. Enjoy flying day or night and face realistic, challenging weather conditions.”

While it is quite easy to describe what the game is, in this case, the devil truly is in the details. The gameplay of ‘Microsoft Flight Simulator’ is a complex simulation of an aircraft flight complete with realistic physics, aerodynamics, aircraft models, airports, landing and takeoff procedures and everything else involved in getting a massive hunk of metal airborne.

However, while the new game will improve on the functional simulation aspects of the gameplay, most changes will be iterative given that the series had already mastered creating authentic flight-simulation mechanics a long time ago.

The biggest changes in the new ‘Microsoft Flight Simulator’ will be visual, which is always a crucial aspect of improving the immersion factor of the simulation experience. While visual fidelity does get a significant improvement in the upcoming sequel, the biggest draw is that ‘Microsoft Flight Simulator’ will feature an open world. It’s not just any world either, it’s our world.

The whole of planet Earth modeled inside the game so that you can literally fly to any corner of the world. The technology that is behind making such a thing possible is based on Microsoft’s own Bing search engine and Azure cloud services platform. While Bing brings in all the terrain data for various regions, the learning AI using Azure, populates the terrain with the appropriate scenery to create a near photo-realistic representation of our cities and landscapes.

Being a true simulation, the ‘Microsoft Flight Simulator’ will also feature fully simulated weather and clouds. The game models actual cold and warm fronts using real-world weather data to create an eerily authentic experience. For example, if it is raining in London in real life, there is a very good chance that it could be raining in London in the game as well.

Clouds have also been given the royal treatment, with thirty-two volumetric layers for fluffier clouds. It sounds like a minor detail but when the gameplay involves hours of flying through bunches of clouds, it really does perceivably improve the user experience.

One exciting new capability that fans have been dreaming about is full Virtual Reality (VR) support for ‘Microsoft Flight Simulator’. Games like ‘Elite Dangerous’ have shown how transcendent a competent VR flight simulation experience can be, and ‘Microsoft Flight Simulator’ could take it to the next level. However, while VR support is high on the list of developer priorities, I wouldn’t expect the feature to be available at launch.

Microsoft Flight Simulator Developers: Who Are the People Behind the Game?

‘Microsoft Flight Simulator’ is being developed by Bordeaux Based French video game development company Asobo Studio and published by Xbox Game Studios. Asobo Studio is best known for games such as ‘The Crew 2’, ‘ReCore’, and ‘A Plague Tale: Innocence’.

Microsoft Flight Simulator Release Date: When and Where Can I Play It?

Although there is no concrete release date for ‘Microsoft Flight Simulator’ at this point in time, the game has been confirmed to be arriving sometime in 2020. However, the game has been in a playable alpha state since October 2019 and continues to get regular updates. You can sign up to become an alpha tester on the official flight simulator website.

‘Microsoft Flight Simulator’ will be available to play on PC and Xbox One.

Microsoft Flight Simulator Trailer:

You can watch the high flying trailer for ‘Microsoft Flight Simulator’ right here.

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