If just over 3-million views on Microsoft’s surprise E3 announcement of their return to Flight Simulator is any indication of what staying power this series has despite its long absence, then I don’t know what is. More information is slowly trickling out about Flight Simulator and it gives us some insights into what this simulator might do and how it may shake up the industry.
We have questions
For many flight sim fans, the master caution light has probably been blinking since the announcement when it was revealed that this would be a PC and Xbox title. Would the necessary simplifications for Xbox degrade the PC experience? Would this be a repeat of Microsoft Flight which had a very short life and was far too causal and closed off to be able to sustain itself over the long run? We don’t fully have the answers to those and so many more questions, however, there are some subtle indicators on what Microsoft plans to do here and it is interesting.
First, if you somehow did miss that E3 2019 trailer for Flight Simulator, definitely check it out right now.
Emphasis on ‘simulator’
The Insider Sign-up page for Flight Simulator now incorporates a quote from Leonardo da Vinci and a message from the Microsoft Flight Simulator team. There’s a thanks for the positive response and a few answers to some big questions.
The first question they attempt to answer is how serious the simulator side of this is meant to be and they say that the emphasis is on the word ‘Simulator.’ They also say that this is designed for PC and ‘optimized’ for multi-platform support which by that they mean Xbox.
That’s all interesting and it begins to answer the direction they are going with this but of course it will be interesting to see just how seriously they intend to be. Products like X-Plane 11 offer a platform flexible enough to go in-depth on every level of the pilot experience through an ecosystem of third party products. So too do products like P3D. There is an attempt to answer that, at least in part, with their next response.
Yes. We are supporting 3rd Party Content Development and Community Content creation. We are aware of the concerns in the current eco-system and are working to address them.
And right there I suspect that line will pique the interests of many developers and virtual pilots alike. How expansive will this ability be? Will it be heavily restricted or opened up? It’s hard to know right now but Microsoft’s traditionally closed corporate culture has seen major changes since the likes of Microsoft Flight (going to so far as to make installing Linux in Windows) so its possible that we’ll see something vibrant here.
The same answer list says they want to work with the community to build this title. I hope that means working with as many third party developers as possible and really listening to what they need. They should listen to the rest of the community too but making things easier for the developers will ultimately benefit the rest of us.
Accessible controls, real flight models?
Finally, they say that accessibility for this title is important. Presumably that means that they want you to be able to fly with an Xbox controller or a mouse or with a full flight yoke setup. It’s possible to do well on all of these things with the right approach and we’ve seen a variety of developers try and tackle this.
As important as wide accessibility is for this sim, I do hope that ample effort is put towards more serious flight sim hardware because these are the types of gear that serious sim pilots need to have work with this title for it to have the kind of longevity that then brings in the more casual audience.
As important is inputs are, the output from the sim is important too. We still don’t know
Companies like 1CGS, Eagle Dynamics, and Laminar Research for X-Plane 11 have worked hard to provide complex flight models and physics simulations built into the sim. This means more realistic flight and less of that “on rails” feeling. Everyone does it differently but these sims have really taken that seriously. By contrast my last experience with Flight Sim X (admittedly that came right at launch and never to return again) was one that had aircraft feel like I was flying on a roller coaster rather than a plane affected by real physics.
Other information out there
To wrap up this update on Flight Simulator news I thought I’d draw attention to some of the other articles and videos out there that you may want to check out if you’re interested in details surrounding the newest sim coming to the market.
Jeff Favignano’s 1-hour trailer breakdown I ended up watching in its entirety. He pulls out and notices things that I just skipped over in my multiple watches of this trailer. If you want in-depth, this is in-depth!
There’s also a bunch of articles that you may want to read:
- Microsoft Flight Simulator was the low-key best reveal of E3 2019 – PCGamer
- Microsoft Flight Simulator will emphasize on simulation, is designed for PC, will support mods – DSOG
- Microsoft Promises Third-Party Content Support In Flight Simulator 2020 – FSElite
There’s like more to talk about the newest kid on the flight simulator block. Stay tuned!