Microsoft and Asobo Studios have released episode 7 of their Feature Discovery series and this one is all about multiplayer. As with just about everything that the team has talked about so far, multiplayer for MSFS is utilizing the latest technology and bringing a scale of experience that few other companies can deliver. Here are some of the details!
The new feature discovery video covers all kinds of details about the multiplayer world that pilots in Microsoft Flight Simulator will be able to experience. The big one here is that you’ll be able to experience MSFS as part of one shared experience with three different multiplayer modes:
- Live Players
- All Players
- Off (Group Only)
The first, Live Players, is the most “hardcode” mode and it makes certain restrictions such as always having live weather and live time. The mode is intended for virtual pilots who want to fly more according to the rules based on the developers comments. All players is is the second mode and this one offers more flexibility – other players will be present and visible but may be flying with different weather and times of day. Off turns off the other players with the exception of a custom group that you may want to bring into your session.
Shards of multiplayer servers
MSFS will use a shard based multiplayer environment using Microsoft’s Azure server system. This will spin up and spin down new multiplayer servers as needed. What determines that need? Well, one shared world will have everyone on it but it will only show a certain number of players.
According to Microsoft a single shard will have aircraft showing up to 200 kilometers away. But only up to 50 at a time. Any more than that and the environment will seamlessly break away into two or more shards as needed.
This isn’t revolutionary in 2020 but it is the first time I’m aware of a flight simulator using that kind of technology. It’s not unlike what you see with massively multiplayer online games although MSFS isn’t being marketed explicitly as such.
The only thing not mentioned today was if there will be the ability to have VOIP or if a live ATC service can spring up around the title. Other simulators do have those features so I would expect that MSFS may have those as well either at launch or sometime after.
The developers have been busy adding new features including the Cessna 152 (to join the 172), training missions, challenges (the Sedona Landing Challenge was listed), Live-Events which are meant to be time limited events of some kind, and they are also doing things like updating aircraft, fixing animations, and making the airliners flyable for alpha testing participants.
MSFS is shaping up to be a very interesting title, one with a lot of flexibility and functionality built in that should keep it great for people who just want to fly and entertaining for people who want to fly challenges, do training missions, or accomplish objectives. Let’s hope that we hear more about those as time goes on.
For all of this and more, check out Microsoft Flight Simulator at the official website!