A month ago, Microsoft caused a buzz in the aviation community by releasing the latest installment of its popular Flight Simulator franchise. However, what is the buzz surrounding the product all about?
Not quite a game
On the tin, Microsoft Flight Simulator appears to be a game. However, those familiar with the software might disagree. It allows you to pilot a range of aircraft anywhere in the world. For example, you could fly a Cessna 172 out of Los Angeles’ Van Nuys Airport, or perhaps you want to recreate your easyJet A320neo flight from London to Gibraltar.
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The allure of Microsoft Flight Simulator is that it’s open for anybody, be they a qualified Boeing 787 captain or a teenager that dreams of a career in aviation. This is captured through the range of “difficulty” settings on the program. You can do everything yourself, or have quite a bit of help from Artificial Intelligence.
The problem with FSX, the previous installation in the Flight Simulator series, was to do with its default content. Without purchasing additional expansions for the game, many of the airports looked reasonably similar, with the ground scenery looking somewhat uninspired. Additionally, the default aircraft were nothing to write home about, prompting developers to recreate ultra-realistic aircraft models such as the PMDG Boeing 737.
This appears to have largely been solved in the latest edition of the software, with a range of aircraft from the Icon A5 and a glass cockpit Cessna 172 to the Airbus A320neo and the Queen of the Skies herself. Unfortunately, these aircraft are limited to default bare liveries. However, with a little technical know-how, it is possible to recreate the livery of your favorite airline, or even something imaginary.
The map on the new Microsoft Flight Simulator also uses satellite data to generate a real-world map. As such, when a native is flying over their hometown, they can clearly distinguish the streets, as opposed to a seemingly random city that would’ve been generated in previous editions.
Trying something new
Of course, while the simulator lets you recreate your favorite flights, it also enables you to show off your imagination. You could stick to flying a Lufthansa A320neo between London and Frankfurt, or perhaps you want to see a British Airways Boeing 747 operating domestic hops in South America. Now you can. I love taking the Airbus A320neo on short-haul European leaps to my favorite destinations from London and Frankfurt.
With the flight planing capabilities of the new flight simulator, the world is your oyster. There are no worries if you’re tired or need a break as the computer co-pilot can take the wheel. They can also manage the ATC communications if you so wish.
Have you tried the new Microsoft Flight Simulator? Let us know what you think in the comments.