Yesterday, Microsoft and Asobo Studio released Sim Update 11 for Microsoft Flight Simulator. This was no ordinary Sim Update as it was also a celebration of 40-years of history of this sim. This update came jam packed with new content. There’s tons to get through so let’s have a look!
Celebrating 40 years!
You have to hand it to the folks at Microsoft and Asobo Studio for really pulling out all of the stops for this 40th anniversary celebration. Microsoft Flight Simulator has gone from seemingly dead to well and truly been resurrected at this point.
This update packs in a ton of content including aircraft, new classic airports, a full fidelity airliner by iniSimulations, sailplanes, and helicopters. Those last two required some big updates to the core technologies to ensure that they had proper dynamics in place for both of them to work in a realistic fashion.
Here’s the full breakdown:
7 classic aircraft
- 1903 Wright Flyer
- 1915 Curtiss JN-4 Jenny
- 1927 Ryan NYP Spirit of St. Louis
- 1935 Douglas DC-3
- 1937 Grumman G-21 Goose
- 1947 Havilland DHC-2 Beaver
- 1947 Hughes H-4 Hercules
- Guimbal Cabri G2
- Bell 407
- DG Aviation LS8-18
- DG-1001E neo
1 “true-to-life” airliner
- Airbus A310-300
4 classic airports
- Hong Kong Kai Tak
- Meigs Field in Chicago
- Princess Juliana International in Sint Maarten
- First Flight Airport, Kitty Hawk
There’s also 24 classic scenarios from previous versions of flight simulator and 7 new tutorial missions for gliders.
In my reporting a couple of days ago, I reprinted a list that missed some key aircraft. This one appears to be a more complete listing. Apologies for the miss there. There’s clearly a lot that got packed in any nothing has been left out as we were starting to fear (albeit briefly).
Check out this promo trailer for the launch as its a good one.
Looking at the A310
I also have to hand it to the folks at Microsoft for executing on a brilliant content strategy. Yesterday’s launch included iniSimulations A310 for Microsoft Flight Simulator. It’s a full fidelity airliner that has been added, for free, to the sim and it sits at a level that is well above the complexity that we’ve seen from the sim’s default A320neo, 747 and 787 airliners.
Because the A310 is at a much higher complexity level, some tutorials on how to use it are always appreciated and here the folks at Microsoft and iniSimulations have us covered with a new Aircraft Discovery series that does a really good job of giving us an overview of the aircraft and how to fly it within the context of the sim. There are eight episodes but I’ve only reviewed episodes 1 and 2 so far.
The first episode is really just a good overview of the airplane and what it looks and sounds like.
The second episode is a quick start guide on how you can get up and running with the airplane fairly quickly. I appreciate this tutorial quite a bit because it really does focus on getting you flying the A310 quickly without a lot of the extra. This means you can go and fly and have fun with this plane relatively quickly.
Follow on tutorials cover features in more depth and really get into the details.
iniSimulations have also released a promotional trailer for the A310 which is yet another good look at what this airplane is all about.
It’s worth mentioning too that iniSimulations has an additional content pack, offered for free on the Marketplace, that provides higher quality interior and exterior textures, additional liveries beyond a few basic ones that are provided, and some extra features in the cabin area. A few users have complained about blurry cockpit textures and so that seems to be the solution to that problem.
I suspect that the base package is setup for Xbox users and this puts the A310 into the same territory as PMDG and Fenix. Pretty awesome!
Adding official helicopter support to Microsoft Flight Simulator is a big deal. Up until now, a few developers were tackling helicopter support by using quirks in the flight model for fixed wing aircraft or externalizing the flight model to make them work.
Now? Helicopters have official flight model support. That means that we’ll see many more aircraft makers bringing their helicopter products into the sim offering even more layers of experience for Microsoft Flight Simulator. It’s been a long wait for heli-fans but the wait is over.
It’s worth mentioning that by default the sim has two helpers on. They make it much easier to fly a helicopter which, of course, makes them accessible. Turn them off and they appear to be about as challenging as the helicopters that I’ve flown in other sims although I haven’t had a full chance to really try more intense things like autorotation and getting into a VRS.
I’m less of a helicopter enthusiast as I am a fixed wing flyer so these aren’t my focus but the two provided helicopters are a great start.
The rest of the planes and airports
I haven’t tried everything yet because there’s just too much content and not enough time in a day to get to them. I have, however, had short flights in most of them including the Curtiss Jenny, the DC-3, and the DeHaviland Beaver.
I have to say right now that the Beaver is an instant favourite. It’s done by Blackbird Simulations, formerly known as Milviz, and it comes with a very beautifully detailed aircraft with great textures inside and out. It has a tablet to control wheel chocks, tie downs, and various covers as well as let you flick between cargo and passenger versions. It also flies great and has fabulous features like the fuel gauges reacting to the g-forces on the airplane. Neat!
The DC-3 seemed pretty good when I flew it and the Curtiss Jenny flies very much like the WWI era aircraft that I’m used to flying in Rise of Flight and Flying Circus. There’s more to fly including the massive Hughes H-4 Hercules – that’ll be something!
I of course also had to check out Meigs Field in Chicago which was superb and really took me back to my early days with Flight Simulator. It’s beautifully detailed including the nearby marina so you have plenty of nice details flying in and out. The field no longer exists so uninstalling it from the content manager will return Chicago to 2022 but if you want to live that history, go for it.
Helicopter pads have been added to the sim although they aren’t necessarily everywhere and there’s at least one pad that I know about locally that is not represented. There are some that are included as part of the scenery update including one that I flew out of – Rainbow Air Incorporated which is located just meters from Niagara Falls.
Sale is on
To celebrate the launch, there is a sale on in the Marketplace with 83% off 900 products. So, if you’ve been eyeing something in the marketplace and haven’t gotten it just yet, I’d have a look and see what’s available.
This is an exceptional update to Microsoft Flight Simulator. The update offers a wide range of content updates across a huge line of different types of flying. this update pays tribute to the entire history of Flight Simulator and to the history of flight.
I can’t believe that this is all free! The Beaver alone is an incredible addition that I will surely spend hours with flying around and I intend to pay much closer attention to Blackbird Simulations MV310R as a result. I hear through the grapevine that there may be additional paid versions of the Beaver that Blackbird are going to do including a more modern Turbo Beaver and I am psyched!
There’s the helicopters, the sail planes (which I haven’t tried yet) and the A310 all included in here too. It’s really astounding and it comes on a week where I was criticizing a non-flight sim developer for jacking up their DLC pricing by almost $20 CDN.
So, this is really astounding and a real peak for the latest version of Microsoft Flight Simulator and for the history of the whole series. What a moment to be a flight simmer!