If you’re lucky enough to be in the closed alpha or closed beta tester list, there’s a new update awaiting you for the Microsoft Flight Simulator closed test environment. The notable features included are the introduction of head tracking technologies using TrackIR as well as the inclusion of nine new aircraft, new trips, and flight training missions all available for testing. Even if you’re not in the closed beta test, these additions are notable as its another feature on the checklist and more indications of the sim moving towards being complete. Here’s what we know!
Head tracking, finally!
News that Microsoft Flight Simulator alpha test didn’t have any headtracking technologies built in were almost hard to believe – but they were true. Asobo Studios were clearly aware of the shortcoming of the sim as it stood and consistently listed TrackIR as being one of the features that were on their fans radars. It was only a matter of time and here it is with support for headtracking through TrackIR.
Although TrackIR is the brand name for head tracking, word is around the flight sim community that other tracking solutions also appear to be supported.
No word yet on VR, however, if head tracking is in I feel like this is a good first step towards tracking of the camera position in 3D space relative to inputs available. VR is not so different in that respect and may hopefully provide a foundation for VR to come later – which is still a big challenge when it comes to the actual 3D rendering.
New aircraft and missions for testing
According to the latest update, there are also nine new aircraft that have made their way into the sim for testing. The list published in the latest update indicates that these aircraft have joined the beta aircraft roster:
- Aviat Pitts Special S2S
- Extra 330LT
- Flight Design CTSL
- Icon A5
- JMB Aircraft VL-3
- Robin Cap10
- Zlin Aviation Savage Cub
- Textron Aviation Beechcraft King Air 350i
- Textron Aviation Cessna Citation CJ4
There are also three new bush pilot trips that encourage navigation and flying in some rugged terrain including Breckenridge to Mariposa Yosemite and Rijeka to Santorini as well as four new flight training tutorials in the Cessna 150. Those tutorials are actually something of an underplayed feature as I think they will very likely be invaluable to all of the people who have been excited by the prospects of this new sim and may be jumping into flight sims for the first time.
There are also 22 new landing challenges that range in category from famous to epic – the later challenge you to land at some of the most challenging or iconic landing locations in the world such as Lukla Nepal or Saint-Barthelemy in the French Antilles.
These challenges are yet another feature that I think will help set Microsoft Flight Simulator apart from some of the competition.