With the pandemic still in full effect, never has there been a more perfect time for a new product you can use at home, improve your flying chops and have a blast while doing it. Microsoft Flight Sim 2020 is that product.
What benefits will pilots enjoy? Numerous ones, but the biggest in our view is the chance to fly challenging or higher-risk procedures in your home sim before you fly them in real life. And, yes, we know you could have done this before on other simulations, including previous editions of MS Flight Simulator, but this is different.
Here’s why it’s something pilots will want to get their hands on.
First off, it’s drop-dead gorgeous to look at, and that means not only the planes, which are rendered in more realism by order of magnitude than any simulator before it. The same is true for airports, and this is especially true for those custom airports that MS built with a great deal more detail, including traffic—Microsoft partnered with FlightAware for live traffic—and there are cars and trucks on the ground around the airports, as well as pedestrians.
But even the standard airports are amazing, and that’s because Microsoft worked with a couple of providers, including Bing Maps, which takes hi-resolution map imagery and creates a 3D world with it, very convincingly, too. It’s not perfect, as there are some oddities and anomalies, but there’s nothing that can’t be fixed or tweaked.
Another thing we adore is the weather, which, again, is rendered far more realistically than anything we’ve seen this side of 8K, real-world video. Wind acts in the world and upon your plane, and the weather settings can be done on the fly, which is very handy.
Likewise, the panels of the planes are remarkably realistic, and early reports are that the flight dynamics are much improved over the earlier decent flight manners in the previous Flight Sim X.
The video from Microsoft is refreshing in that there’s no hype or fanfare, just a presentation of the features of the game, which in our view, is all the hype it needs.
Prices start at $59.99, but you’ll want to get the higher-priced versions, $89.99 and $119.99, which each feature more planes and more airports than the lower-priced versions. And be aware that you’ll need a pretty capable PC if you want to play it on your computer, which makes sense to us, even though it is available for Microsoft gaming consoles, too.