On August 18th 2020, Microsoft launched the newest version of the most successful flight simulator ever developed. The program was first released in 1982 and is the longest-running, best-known, and most comprehensive home flight simulator programs on the market.
The first flight simulator that I ever played was on ZX Spectrum in 1984. The graphic and functionality were obviously modest for today’s standards but with some imagination, you could still immerse in the world of flying and feel excitement of successfully taking off and then landing again.
Many years passed since that time, technology evolved from an 8-bit computer with Kilobytes of memory to multi-core processors and Gigabytes of RAM, 4K graphics, internet connectivity, real-time flight and weather information, and artificial intelligence.
In 2019, Microsoft announced a new version of its Flight Simulator and at same time presented a couple of short videos that indicated unprecedented experience that will utilize everything that technology can offer at this time. I was lucky enough to get access to an early Alpha version under NDA and was therefore couldn’t talk or write about it. So I waited until the official release to finally be able to share my excitement with the world.
For this first post, I want to list a few facts and share a couple of screenshots:
- First and foremost: you do NOT need to be a professional pilot to enjyo this simulator. You can start with activating any or all of the assistance features and just enjoy cruising and looking at the landscapes.
- When you feel ready to start learning to fly, there is a training mode where you start from the basics and gradually develop your skills.
- There’s a huge number of airports virtually everywhere in the world. You can pick any of them, take off and fly around enjoying the landscapes.
- You should get at least a joystick like this: http://www.thrustmaster.com/en_US/products/tflight-stick-x
- For even more realistic experience, you can buy additional hardware like this but that’s not necessary as the simulator can be played just fine with a joystick, mouse and keyboard
- The simulator is available in 3 editions as described here: https://www.flightsimulator.com/product-description
- If you have an Xbox Game Pass, you can play the Standard version for free.
- You will need around 100 GB for the initial installation. The game will take some more disk space when you start playing so you better reserve some of it in advance.
- The download and installation can take several hours, depending on your internet connection and your hardware.
- You can find minimal and recommended hardware configurations here: https://flightsimulator.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/360015204020-Microsoft-Flight-Simulator-Pre-order-FAQ
And for some screenshots. Logically, I chose places that I know for my my first flights:
More to come …