Microsoft Flight Simulator Opens the World to Old and New

Cover photo: Flying the Cessna 172 to the horizon, Flight Simulator 2020’s visuals are almost photorealistic.
Capture courtesy of Reddit user Lithominium.

By Gary Chapman
gchapman@lc.edu

“The game renders the areas around the airports as realistically as possible thanks to Bing Maps.”
Capture courtesy of Reddit user Lithominium.

One of the longest-running franchises in gaming, surprisingly enough, is the “Microsoft Flight Simulator” franchise, with the first MFS being released in 1982, and the series being released throughout the 80s and 90s. And now, after an almost 14-year hiatus, the latest “Microsoft Flight Simulator” is finally released.

The game, which is developed by Asobo Studios, who has previously developed ports for the “The Crew” 1&2 and a bunch of Disney titles, was released as the 11th major entry to the MFS franchise and is the one to be released after “Microsoft Flight Simulator X” which was released in Oct. 2006 and was re-released on Steam in Dec. 2014. There was a minor release in 2012, a free to play title titled “Microsoft Flight”, but that game was a flop and can no longer be downloaded.

“Microsoft Flight Simulator” is rather system-intensive, with the game taking up around 67GB and the map data, which uses Bing Maps, is approximately 90GB. A good way of showing how big this would be is the physical release by Aerosoft in Europe, which uses 10 dual-layer DVDs just for the map data. The game also requires a lot of power, the game’s minimum requirements ask for an Intel Core i5-4460, 8GB of RAM and a Radeon RX 570. They suggest 16GB of ram and an RX 490 though, so that is a lot of power.

An early morning takeoff at one of the over 37,000 available airports in MFS.
Capture courtesy of Reddit user Lithominium.

The game, even on “low as it goes” settings, looks simply amazing. The game renders the areas around the airports as realistically as possible thanks to Bing Maps, and the cloud to render trees, buildings, etc.  The game on Ultra looks stunning.

The game controls alright, Reddit user and Pilot in training Lithominium said, “If you have a keyboard and mouse, you’re going to have a bad time, if you have an Xbox controller, it’s going to be more pleasant, if you have a joystick or HOTAS (hands-on throttle-and-stick), it’s pretty good, and if you have a full flight sim loadout, it will be great.”

The game is attracting the people who like flying and the people who just want to play games, as the game’s visual fidelity is beautiful and the game naturally runs with an Xbox controller. The game retails for the normal $60, but it also has the Deluxe version for $89.99 and the Premium version for $120. The difference between the versions is more planes and hand-crafted airports.

The game looks simply beautiful, and even as someone who is not into flying planes, I still recommend the “Microsoft Flight Simulator” to all.

Thanks to Bing Maps, you can fly anywhere in Flight Simulator, including Lewis and Clark’s campus.
Capture by Gary Chapman.
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