2020 was a huge year for Microsoft Flight Simulator. After a years and a half away, Microsoft’s collaboration with French studio Asobo provided a sterling go back to the world of hardcore simulation, and a bit more besides – centred around a task I still have not tired of as I check out brand-new corners of the world. It utilized the breadth and depth of Microsoft’s technical know-how, from Bing to Azure, to produce a genuinely spectacular 1:1 reproduction of the whole world. Small question it wound up being among my – and numerous others – video games of the year.
“[The reception] has actually been so generous,” head of Microsoft Flight Simulator Jorg Neumann informs me over Microsoft Teams (naturally) of the sim’s very first couple of months. “When you return after 14 years, you question how you’re going to be gotten. You were opted for a while, the sector has actually moved. But I would state the simmers have actually been so thoughtful – so thoughtful. There’s still some that state we require to be more research study level – we understand, we comprehend. we’re devoted, do not fret about it. But those are individuals that remain in the pastime, and I believe they see the guarantee of what this is now and what it will be.
“I believe we had a great deal of individuals that have actually never ever played a sim in the past, which is excellent – and numerous of them remained. We understood VFR [visual flight rules – an aviation term referring to when a pilot is able to navigate by the scenery rather than relying on instruments] was constantly something that individuals desired – and it makes the sim more available. All of an abrupt, you can look outside, it in fact appears like the world, it’s not abstract. I believe it’s resonated more, possibly since of the travel limitations – and all those things that include a pandemic, however that we see now where individuals are in fact diversifying where they fly.”
Since its launch in August I’ve handled to acquire countless air miles, even as the skies above London have actually been near quiet as airplanes have actually been grounded. Microsoft Flight Simulator’s handle London is due a refresh in the future, with this month’s huge upgrade providing the UK surroundings a remodeling. It’s part of the continuous work that saw the U.S.A. and Japan get remodelings in 2015 – while the huge sim upgrade at the end of the year presented virtual truth assistance, along with the very first seasonal weather condition in the kind of snow.
The application of VR is well-handled – I’ve been using a Reverb G2 coupled with a 3070, and while the needs of Microsoft Flight Simulator suggest it’s not a good idea to max out the resolution of the headset it’s still remarkably immersive – with more being done, the VR controller assistance that was missing at launch presently being dealt with. Perhaps more substantially, the optimisation that’s been done to get virtual truth up and running is preparing for the console variations of Microsoft Flight Simulator that are coming later on this year.
“Obviously we’re dealing with Xbox complete speed today,” states Neumann. “You wind up turning over every stone actually, we have actually taken a look at every design, precisely what the buffers are with the buffer sizes…. Sometimes you can be a bit more, well you might state lazy, or you might state possibly not rather as disciplined. With VR you require to be actually disciplined. We’ve discovered numerous gigabytes, and it’s currently a fair bit much better.”
The very first company news of console variations came last December, though just Xbox Series S and X were validated to be coming this year. That does not dismiss an Xbox One variation, however. “I guess it’s a timing thing,” Neumann says when asked about Microsoft’s older console. “Obviously memory matters. Certainly on Ultra settings, you need a big PC – well, that’s a lot, lot more memory than what you had on an Xbox One. So it’s a journey, like most things, you know – let’s get the Xbox Series X and S versions done, and then we’ll look ahead after that. We never close doors, and there are other options, though it’s a little bit too early to talk about it.”
While stopping short of a confirmation, an xCloud streaming variation of Microsoft Flight Simulator for Xbox One makes a lot of sense (as well as inviting some terrible puns about the power of the clouds, of course) – and when it comes to the confirmed console versions, it seems the intent is to keep the Microsoft Flight Simulator experience as intact as possible.
“I mean, it has to be very similar,” states Neumann. “Is it the exact same? Well, it can’t be the exact same because that’s not operable. I think that the beautiful dream that Phil [Spencer] and the team at Xbox has is that you can bomb devices, which is really what we’re doing. We’re learning where people might have some friction points. We think there’s going to be more newcomers on Xbox, so you just require to be gentle in how you guide people into the experience, and there’s work going on there.
“That’s going to be on the PC as well for newcomers. But we think it’s a good idea to spend a little bit more time on the tutorials. We have a lot of information now on how people go through them, what they learn, what they might have not quite learned, and this is an opportunity to strengthen that a little bit. It’s really getting people comfortable, first as a person who plays games and can fly a plane, and then maybe hopefully they become a simmer. But that takes time – and I think our job is to make all that a little bit more elegant.”
It’s heartening to hear the console experience will be similar to the PC one, which also means that console users will be able to make the many of the ever-growing marketplace of third-party add-ons for Microsoft Flight Simulator. It’s another area of focus as the team work on the console variations. “We’re trying to get this to work better,” says Neumann of embracing the community-made content. “It’s great, though, right? Like, I’ve never ever had this ever in my career in gaming, that there’s that many competent people actually making things. We have direct communication with them all the time. But if they want to go to Xbox, you need to be in the sandbox, meaning we need to get them into the marketplace. Because on Xbox, you can’t just drag it into a folder. I think that’s going to happen – I’m quite optimistic.”
If Neumann and his team nail the landing when it comes to the console launch later this year, there’s every chance 2021 will be an even bigger year for the simulator. “I’m sort of working on late 2021/2022 feature stuff right now,” says Neumann. “I mean, there’s no end. If you ever look at the community snapshot and the things people want us to do – they’re like, hey, we want trains, so we’re like, Okay!
“Ultimately, the goal is to be the most accurate sim it can possibly be. And there’s lots of alternatives, and so many areas you can get into. We obviously have our own ideas or preferences, but we listen a lot to what the community wants. And I don’t believe they will run out of concepts.”