It took almost fourteen years for Microsoft Flight Simulator X, released in October 2006, finds a successor and it’s done with Microsoft Flight Simulator (2020) which is a reboot of the original title. For the record, it’s at the French studio Asobo than Microsoft entrusted the difficult task of creating what must be THE ultimate flight simulation platform. After four years of development, this new opus has taken shape and will be available on August 18 on the Windows Store, but also, Steam. We could to play fly several hours around the world and here are our first impressions.
Microsoft Flight Simulator is not a video game, but indeed a flight simulation platform and yet …
As a reminder, in order to run Microsoft Flight Simulator, it is not necessarily necessary to have a high-end computer, but an internet connection is required. For our testing, we mainly ran the game on a PC Omen Obelisk (i7-9700F + 16 GB of RAM) in which we replaced the GeForce HP RTX 2060 by one EVGA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Black Edition Gaming and with three HP Full HD 60 fps displays (resolution in-game from 5760x1080p). We also installed it on our laptop Omen by HP 15 which is equipped with a i5-9300H, 16 GB of RAM, RTX 2060 and a Full HD screen in 144 Hz. For maximum immersion, we were able to take advantage of dedicated accessories: Honeycomb Alpha Yoke (ordered), Thrustmaster Pendular Rudder (lifter) and Logitech Flight Yoke System (control combo plus throttle levers). We also tested the beast with an Xbox One controller (paired with keyboard and mouse) and it was perfect. Finally, we are connected to the Internet by a 4G connection at 10 Mb / s in uplink speed and 120 Mb / s in download, and we did not encounter any problems during all our flight sessions whatsoever in Ultra on the tower or in Student on the laptop.
Microsoft Flight Simulator is not a video game, but rather a flight simulation platform. However, this new version, unlike the old ones, is much more affordable for everyone thanks to its very pleasant, very visual welcome interface and, against all odds, very video game by its content. Indeed, in the version that we tested, in addition to the possibility of flying freely or of following personalized or existing flight plans, it was possible to participate in twenty-four landing challenges in as many places classified as Famous, Epic or Very windy. On the program, single-engine, wide-bodied jets and jets that must be landed to the millimeter, smoothly and without bouncing on the track to try to collect the highest possible score. Frankly we loved these landing challenges, because in addition to being trainers, they were as fun as possible.
In the air a machine ceases to be a mechanical assembly; it comes alive and expresses the temperament of the pilot (Ross Smith).
More complex to perform, there were three orienteering flight tests where you had to go from point A to point B along a path that was anything but a straight line. Without GPS and only in visual flight, it was necessary to navigate by locating the points of interest (POI) indicated on our NAVLOG (notebook with all the useful information: departure and arrival airport code, the distance to the next waypoint and the estimated time to get there …). The total flight time of these three Brush Trips varied between 7 and 9 hours (real time) and they were segmented between 14 and 25 compulsory checkpoints. Here, in addition to controlling takeoff and landing, you need to have endurance and especially the ability to find your way in space on a map. Well, believe it, it’s not that easy without GPS, without autopilot, even though the VFR Map (sight piloting card) helped us a lot. Far from being chosen at random, these three fligh trips made us discover magnificent places on the side of the Balkans, Nevada and Patagonia. To do absolutely for the pleasure of the eyes.
Let’s leave the video game part to return to the outright flight simulator. In Microsoft Flight Simulator realism is required, whether for the modeling of airplanes, interior or exterior, physics, air traffic, representation of the world and even the weather. To satisfy everyone, pros and amateurs, Asobo Studio opted for virtual assistance and not a simplification of procedures and flight models according to its level.
Clearly, it is a virtual co-pilot who will tell you what to do or manage what you do not control. He can thus take care of checklists take-off and landing, take care of communications with the control tower and even take the stick to assist you if necessary. We found this system very enjoyable, because as a beginner it allowed us to focus on what we wanted, flying! To get there as well as possible, we have also scrupulously followed the eight piloting tutorials. With these, all the basic concepts of piloting and navigation are explained and put into practice. Not always easy to follow – there are sometimes a few moments of loneliness when faced with certain actions to be performed – but after having successfully completed the various exercises proposed, the mastery is there and all that remains is to fine-tune it. with many hours of flight and especially larger planes.
The playground – let’s put it that way – is nothing less than an open world the size of the earth fueled by Bing Map and sublimated in 3D with 4K textures. Admittedly, only important POIs (points of interest) or more famous cities benefit from an exceptional treatment allowing to take full eyes even while flying close to the daisies, but the technology used has amazed us wherever we have. flew around the world. 3D buildings, lights, active traffic, roads, bodies of water, rivers, forests, mountains … Everything is sublime from the sky. It’s so good to be able to travel freely and clear your mind in this time of COVID-19, that Microsoft Flight Simulator should be reimbursed by Social Security. Another small detail really well thought out, the “World Map” menu is the terrestrial globe and you just have to click on a place (predefined or not) to be able to fly there. The concept of the finger on the world map that turns to decide where to go has found its modern version. Technically, it is possible to determine a starting point, another arrival point and to adjust all the flight parameters with a few mouse clicks. It starts with the weather, choosing a particular track, or filling up with kerosene … and so much more. It is also possible to just fly for fun, aimlessly, or to practice takeoffs or landings. The field of possibilities is very wide.
The playground – let’s put it that way – is nothing less than an earth-sized open world powered by Bing Map and sublimated in 3D with 4K textures.
It will be difficult to do an exhaustive tour of Microsoft Flight Simulator both the content is already extensive and will be constantly updated. Effectively, in addition to the official improvements that are already planned, no less than four hundred companies have already obtained authorization to develop third-party content that will be available in the market place. It promises enthusiasts dreams and Asobo welcomes such enthusiasm which can only please the community, whether professional or not. Thanks to this modular system, the French studio is hoping for a lifespan of at least ten years for its baby and it seems quite playable.
First impressions: Strongly!
With this new version of Flight Simulator, even if it is not yet finalized, Microsoft and Asobo Studio offer a truly realistic flight simulation platform that opens its wings to professionals and beginners alike. Graphically impressive at all levels (planes, cockpits, exterior decors, weather effects, cities, etc.), MFS offers, to date, an experience unparalleled in its field. Thanks to well-thought-out help – via a virtual co-pilot and checklists that can be automated – learning to become a virtual pilot has never seemed so accessible to us. In addition, the ability to fly on sight (VFR) and the challenges make it even more fun. With his arrival in the Xbox Game Pass, these graphic and assistance choices are welcome to welcome a new audience from the console and video game world more broadly. However, Flight Simulator remains a flight simulation that requires many hours of practice to manage to fly with panache, but which by its appearance and its challenges really knew how to amuse us.