This is a new and interesting add-on for Microsoft Flight Simulator. NZ mesh replaces the terrain data for New Zealand in favour of a new higher resolution option leading to improved visuals for the island nation. Let’s have a look!
Improving New Zealand’s visuals
Having flown a few flights around New Zealand in Microsoft Flight Simulator, I was already impressed with the overall detail of the scenery. The satellite imagery is very good and all of the fantastic terrain in the area really make for some scenic views as you fly around. Orbx wants to make it even better.
Touting a proprietary method of replacing the default mesh, NZ mesh brings in its own high-resolution DEM data with a 10-meter resolution.
According to Orbx, the new mesh is optimized and has smooth LOD transitions so scenery in the distance should appear naturally more detailed as you approach rather than the annoying pop-in that you may sometimes see.
ANd this is how it looks!
Orbx is planning to update the product in the future with an even high resolution 1 meter LIDAR based mesh. Interesting!
The product will be offered for $15.95 AUD and even more screenshots can be seen on the product page here and on the announcement thread on the Orbx forums that has some nice before and after images.
Future direction for Orbx?
At the start of this piece, I wrote this was an interesting new add-on for the sim and it very much is. It’s a unique addition to scenery that we just haven’t seen before outside of the World Updates that Asobo have offered.
Orbx is a scenery company and so I’m not surprised to learn that they have been searching for ways to sell their scenery in a sim that already has superb scenery. They have been doing a good job of offering airports, landmarks, and even aircraft through their OrbxDirect store. Now they are getting back into the scenery business through updating terrain meshes with higher resolution data.
I don’t think this adds the kind of immediate visual punch that something like TrueEarth does for X-Plane but it does still have the ability to improve the visuals of areas of Microsoft Flight Simulator that don’t have as reliably good terrain mesh. If Orbx can bring their trademark attention to detail to New Zealand, this update might be very worthwhile. Some additional airports and other landmarks would bring together a kind of World Update similar to what Asobo has been doing – albeit with a cost rather than as part of a free update.
It’ll be interesting to see what Orbx does not just with this update but if they bring added content as I have suggested or if they decide to do the same for other countries.