Something very interesting is about to happen in the world of flight simulations. Flight Simulator is coming to Xbox Series X|S later today and the challenge, wonder, excitement and fun of flying an airplane over virtually any part of the world is about to be introduced to a whole new audience. Some big updates are coming to PC too. What does this all mean and how are things shaping up for new fans? Let’s have a look.
Pre-load Flight Simulator now
If you’re going to play Flight Simulator on Xbox Series X|S you can either buy the sim outright or access it through the gamepass. Either way, preload is now possible so that you can play the sim the moment it releases.
The sim will unlock at 8 pm PDT today (July 27) and the Flight Simulator team has put together a graphic showing when that will be in various local times around the world. It’s a global sim and a global sim experience!
A whole new audience
Flight sim fans until now have almost entirely needed to fly a sim on a Windows PC. There are a few other platforms out there with X-Plane being available on mobile as well as on Mac OS and Infinite Flight has been designed around playing on the iOS platform so it’s not entirely exclusive to Windows PC but for most that is the platform of choice.
Not just any Windows PC would do either. A high end gaming PC, without any peripherals, can easily run $1000 USD or more. With the high prices on GPU’s that we’ve seen over the last few years, that price can easily start to escalate.
Xbox Series X meanwhile is available for $499 and the Series S is $299 and that brings the price to get into a sim down by quite a bit. Even if you do splash out for something like Turtle Beach’s new $349.95 yoke and throttle system , you still may end up ahead of the kind of pricing that you’ll find on PC. So in relative terms, this is a more accessible flight sim experience when it comes to cost.
Consoles are also a different experience than on PC typically and it can be both a more social experience as well as the preferred way for many people to play.
Cheaper entry price? Check. A whole new audience? Check. A different way to play? Check. This is going to open the sim up for so many more people and I think that can only be a good thing.
Big updates for all
If you’ve been listening in to the various updates from Asobo over the last several weeks, you’ll know that there are big changes and updates for the PC version as well as the new Xbox introduction.
The biggest of those changes is under the hood and Asobo have further tweaked their sim to boost performance. The boost should help everyone but it undoubtedly benefited from the added development put into the Xbox version. Notably, the Xbox versions are running on DX12 while the PC version will continue on with DX11 for a little while longer. Eventually the PC version will catch up as well.
The main menu has been reorganized, the map view has new satellite information available, live weather has been worked on, and new effects are in such as water spray on the tires during wet takeoffs and landings. There’s also new variants of some aircraft such as ski equipped bush planes and
Flight Simulator is about to get bigger
Microsoft Flight Simulator is already the biggest sim on the market. Microsoft talked up the sim when they announced that over 2-million people had played their sim and Mathijs Kok from Aerosoft showed some charts during his FSA presentation showing off how big the sim was from Aerosoft’s point of view. In short, Flight Simulator dwarfs the other sims out there and now it’s going to get bigger.
That has some big impacts, most of them positive, on the sim as developers add plenty of additional content into the marketplace. Xbox players are going to be able to buy content from the marketplace but not all of it. Some items will be marked PC only because of specific customization while others will work on Xbox alongside the PC versions.
Right now we don’t have a full list of which will be supported and which won’t and some developers are still looking for ways to make their aircraft compatible.
I know there will be some trepidation and concern that going over to consoles will both water down the PC experience and take the focus away from the more serious side of the sim but over the last several months we seem to see a sim that is slowly growing into its own.
MSFS has had a lot of catching up to do and it has much more still to do but Update 5 and the simultaneous release on Xbox has me excited both for what will be coming later today as well as what it means for the wider community.
New community members will be joining flight sim forums, some for the first time, and many of them will be looking for more options later. A few of them may even decide to join us on the PC and expand their sim library over time. Every time more people are able to check out the sim experience, more learn that it isn’t quite as intimidating as they thought, and our small community will grow.
So get ready for the sim world to expand to new people. If you’re one of those people who are coming to us on the Xbox, welcome! There’s tons of great flying opportunities out there in Microsoft Flight Simulator but also on other sims too if you decided to take the leap.
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