After a 13-year hiatus, Microsoft has unveiled a new version of Flight Simulator at its annual E3 conference. It will be released in 2020. It’s part of a new gaming system for Xbox that will stream games in the console or on PCs. Participants buy subscriptions for access to the game. Although details of the system are scant, a video trailer invites participants to “create your flight plan and fly anywhere on the planet. Enjoy flying day or night and face realistic, challenging weather conditions.”
The trailer shows realistic video renderings with a variety of aircraft, from Cubs to large airliners. “From light planes to wide-body jets, fly highly detailed and stunning aircraft in an incredibly realistic world,” the trailer description says. The subscription, which gives access to a host of other new games, will be available for $14.99.
The E3 conference isn’t run by Microsoft
I’d love this to be great but flight sims have lagged badly behind the curve in the last 15 years. NASA’s World Wind and then Google Earth became great resources and then google started rolling out the radar/lidar -derived 3d layers for foliage, buildings, roads etc. With sufficient caching, areas began to look like real representations of what you see while flying. The basic flight sim built into google earth teases the ability to really interact with something approaching the real world. Yet the real flight sims have remained rooted to basic mesh with buildings added. Great for a little fun and with third-party add-ons, good for VFR flight training etc. But massively inferior to what is available for free in the world-simulating map programs. If MS has finally merged the good sim experience with proper 3D mapping, that is a big start. If they’ve also allowed the program to finally make proper use of computer hardware, in particular the increasingly multi-core CPUs, hmmm. I might get a little excited.
MS was once the ‘the’ flightsim to buy. That all came to a crashing halt after their last successful release, FS98. FSX was not well recieved, as players couldn’t as easily download, create & configure new airframes to add to their library. Plus the dynamic scenery wasn’t much of an upgrade over the previous version.
The new strategy of subscription streaming is a real turn-off in my opinion. I want physical software on my PC, instead of having to stay logged-on all the time to sim. Call me old fashioned. But the best security to avoid a hacker backdooring you is to stay disconnected until you need to get online.