It’s not a secret that Microsoft Flight Simulator Update 5 has had some issues and it has left many fans of the series feeling a bit frustrated. We’ve seen a hotfix come within a few days of release to fix some significant issues but many other issues still remain. A second hotfix is on the way but it does feel like maybe some of this could have been avoided. Let’s have a look at what’s coming and what still needs to be done.
Major issues addressed
A post on the MSFS forums by community manager Jayne (Jummivana) has dropped some new information including some explanations for why certain things have gone wrong and what they are doing to address them.
Among the issues listed are problems with:
- volumetric lighting
- LOD popping and camera stutter when panning
- low resolution ground textures
- crash to desktop issues
- washed out graphics and clouds
- a problem with one of the libraries that Aerosoft’s CRJ uses
- incorrect ATC altitude message
- temperature spikes
Some, like the crash to desktop issue, are deal-breakers and I’m noticing the issue with some aircraft more than others. I flew for a solid hour in the new Husky A-1C without issue but only 5-10 minutes the Carenado’s C170 before the sim locked up and crashed. At this point I think it’s the sim itself rather than the aircraft in question.
Other are just annoying like blurry textures that shouldn’t be blurry and problems with washed out graphics.
A feedback thread on the forums is available for anyone who wants to report or look at some of the other threads that are reporting similar problems.
Improved ground textures
One of the issues, the problems with blurry ground textures, has gotten some screenshots showing off what it should look like when the fix is applied. They look very encouraging!
Two steps forward, one step back
Flight simulation development is hard, there’s no doubt about it, and I have plenty of respect for the team at Asobo for the hard work that they do. MSFS is an incredible sim and I’ve very much enjoyed my time with it, however, patches like this one do dampen the enthusiasm down a bit.
I suspect that this update was rushed to a deadline to get the Xbox release out as planned. I know what it’s like to be on a project where the deadline becomes more important than the quality of the output and so my annoyance with how this went down is not with the Asobo team. I hope that they are given the time to resolve some long standing issues with the sim as this is not the only update that hasn’t quite gone to plan.
Future updates need longer testing windows so that these kinds of problems don’t slip through. The update process also needs to be rethought so that the sim is easier to update (in the Windows Store, via the Mandatory Update window and with the marketplace content) and more server resources need to be dedicated to ensure that download speeds remain high.
The whole process needs to be made easier, quicker and smoother for everyone. That way we can get back to flying with minimal disruption. It’s a great sim, it’s done some amazing things, and my overall view of this sim remains undiminished… but it needs to stop stumbling like this.
Some will use this as an opportunity to point and derogatory things about Microsoft Flight Simulator, however, the strengths of this sim when it’s working are all still there. It’s an incredible flight sim experience let down by a difficult patching process and very likely some rushed patches to meet deadlines that may not have been set by the developers themselves. It’s also not the only sim to stumble with a problematic update in the last year. It will recover and it will be great fun when it does.