Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 – Review

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Kyle Orland

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Microsoft Flight Simulator the name of a now famous series and cornerstone of flight simulators. The first chapter was released in 1982 for PCs IBM, already at the time could boast of the weather and changeable weather.

The years pass and we arrive in 1995, after five versions of the base game that brought new features and improvements, the first chapter developed exclusively for Windows 95 is released.

3D graphics previously introduced with version 4.0 of the title is improved and enriched with extra details such as new planes, better frame-rate and better haze management.

Finally we arrive in 2006, the date on which it was released Flight Simulator X, a title that is always part of the main and last series to date. It received an expansion in 2007 and 2014 after 8 years since its release it has landed on Steam.

Surprisingly, it is announced Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 during E3 2019 and today we are here to tell you about it, mostly thanks to Microsoft who provided us with a preview copy in its Premium version.

Taking off

Let's start by telling you that Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 is not a game, but one of the best civil flight simulators on the market.

The title is sold in three versions that differ in the presence of more planes and airports, specifically we will have:
Per the standard version 20 planes and 30 airports, which change to 25 planes and 35 airports for the Deluxe version and, finally, 30 airplanes and 40 runways in the Premium version.

In the current state of things it is not possible to add or put a hand to the planes not present in the version taken, but certainly, as in past chapters, the community will come alive creating models, airports and third-party mods, enriching the already vast flight simulator.

In the game they are present 37.000 airports, ranging from commercial, private, airfields and even military runways. Among the 37.000 there are those of the various editions which compared to the rest were drawn by hand.

We also specify that if take advantage of the "satellite" mode thanks to the computing power of Azure and the algorithms developed da Asobo Studio you will get a lot of runways and airports more faithful and realistic compared to the models produced by the development team.

In addition to practically all the existing airports in the world, there are approximately 400 city always inserted in the title thanks to the photogrammetry data and to Azure managing to make the urban environment "real".

Whenever you happen to be in one of these cities, such as Paris or London, it is a thrill, since they are perfectly reproduced.

Unfortunately not all the world is perfect, in fact the areas unreachable by the satellite have been rebuilt in the best possible way, but obviously the difference is clear compared to streets, buildings, waterways, hills and “famous” mountains.

Let's talk now about the most important part of the title, the simulation, the new work of Asobo Studio and Microsoft manages to amaze anyone.

The new engine refined in recent years gives its best in Microsoft Simulator 2020, to the point of making us say that this is the first "next-gen" title.

A pure simulator, without compromise, managing to place itself between professional flight simulators and playful ones.

The title succeeds to recreate the cockpits very well of the planes available allowing us to use any button and lever we see, have fun with the many levers and buttons of the Boeing 747obviously each of these has a specific function.

He intervenes to help newbies or inexperienced people the flight attendant which allows the artificial intelligence to manage certain operations, such as radio communications or the flight of the plane itself, so if you only want to enjoy the landscape you will not have to think about keeping your vehicle at height.

The whole is accompanied by total support for any type of controller, be it a keyboard and mouse or an Xbox One controller, even reaching the specific peripherals for this type of "games".

So if you are a fan we strongly advise you to recover a cloche with attached handcuffs to fully enjoy the experience offered by the title.

If this were not enough at the first start we are asked to set the type of global assistance that we will have in the game, this varies from complete, intermediate and total simulation, in turn each mode can be changed to your liking thanks to the thousand thousand internal options , so you can create your own game "difficulty".

To season it all there is a whole series of trappings designed to make the title 100% realistic, we start from the entire day-night cycle that takes into account the values ​​of sunrise and sunset depending on the months and the parallel of flight in which we we find, the weather if managed in real time will give us that extra sense of immersion, making us believe we are really on that plane, especially if you're using a 21: 9 or 32: 9 monitor.

We advise you to take a nice flight in the midst of clouds full of thunder and lightning, you will be thrilled.

Not least the integration, if this function is activated, of real air traffic in the game world, so if you happen to find yourself near a real plane that is making that route, thanks to the support with the servers that manage the airport traffic, in addition to them you will also see the players connected online, so you can organize yourself with some friends to leave traveling from a certain point.

We already anticipate that the development team in the future will add a co-op mode in which you can share the second stick with a friend.

Too bad for the lack of a collision system and visual damage, in fact if we destroy the aircraft we will not assist neither to an explosion, nor to a damage to it, a fade effect will simply start taking us to a black screen where we will have to decide whether to try again or return to the main menu.

A real shame, given the many parameters for damage management managing to cover all mechanical and hydraulic malfunctions, but without real visual feedback, the sense of immersion given by everything else is lost.

It would have been nice to see a blocked engine or broken parts that would have forced us into an immediate emergency landing or ditching, hopefully they can be introduced with future patches or with the help of third parties.

An absent campaign

Once the first loading is finished we will be catapulted into the game menu which is immediate and well done.

We will have the "World Map "," Courchevel "," Flight Training "and" Activities ".

We advise newbies to immediately jump into the "Flight training" mode, capable of teaching you the basics of flight to be able to fly small airplanes in 8 short lessons.

After the tutorial, if you want a little challenge, the special activities that are divided into special landings and naturalistic excursions come to your rescue.

With the first you will have to make a landing using a specific plane and following the pre-set route, once you land successfully, you will be given points allowing you to position yourself in the world ranking.

Your final score takes into account your accuracy in touching the ground where indicated, how central you were on the track and how hard you made the first impact.

With the second mode instead you will have the possibility of being able to make real long trips, which vary from 7 to 9 hours, there are three territories: Patagonia, Nevada e and Balcani.

Each excursion is divided in stages of 20/40 minutes, thus avoiding a whole 9 hour straight trip, remember that nothing prevents you from doing it seriously, each stage includes take-off and landing.

After finishing the Excursions, only the "World Map" mode will remain.

Modality thanks to which you will have complete freedom, you can choose which plane to fly, which route to set, change various parameters and even planes.

Here too Asobo Studio did not want to dare going to introduce a real career mode, a real shame because it would have dramatically increased the hours of "play".

Fans of the genre will not feel much about the absence of this mode, but novices who are approaching the series for the first time, perhaps will turn up their noses. With a well-crafted career they would surely have been able to attract a lot more audience.

I can see my house

Let's start by telling you the PC configuration used in the review phase for this title:

  • Processor: Intel Core i9-7900X at 4.3 GHz
  • Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti with 11GB of memory
  • Memory: 32GB of 4mhz DDR3200 RAM
  • Operating system: Windows 10 64-bit
  • Monitor: LG 34UM95 3440 × 1440 21: 9 / LG OLED 55CX6LA.API 3840 × 2160
Minimum requirements
  • Processor: Intel i5-4460 or AMD Ryzen 3 1200
  • Scheda video: NVIDIA GTX 770 o AMD Radeon RX 570
  • Memory: 8 GB of RAM
  • Disk: 150 GB of available space
  • Operating system: Windows 10
Recommended Requirements
  • Processor: Intel i5-8400 or AMD Ryzen 5 1500X
  • Memory: 16 GB of RAM
  • Scheda video: NVIDIA GTX 970 o AMD Radeon RX 590

We anticipate that the title with the configuration available to us fails to hit 60fps in 4k with all graphics settings at maximum.

For our test mainly, we took advantage of the beauty of the 21: 9 monitors that are natively supported by the title, we reached 40 FPS with a resolution of 3440 x 1440.

The game offers you many graphic parameters, all modifiable, allowing an excellent scalability of the title, pity only that the ACE graphics engine is so heavy that any graphic modification is null and void.

We can say with certainty that we are faced with the first title "True" of the Next-Gen, the game at maximum details reaches an absurd level of photorealism, especially in cities with faithfully reproduced photogrammetry assisted by a superb management of the weather and day-night cycle.

The title is the first to exploit cloud gaming to be able to give those benefits that cannot be obtained in other ways. We are talking about integration with Azure Ai and Bing Maps which makes available to the "players" well 2 petabytes of satellite maps.

Basically, Azure Ai goes to analyze the maps and photogrammetry made available by Bing in order to recreate photorealistic 3D models of cities, trees, lands, monuments and much more.

We specify that the title is not always online, in fact through the settings you can go to disable this function and the game will use the low quality models present in the 120gb required for installation.

Furthermore, always from the appropriate menu you can limit the amount of data to be used or remove certain functions, such as the one to have air traffic in real time.

But all that glitters is not gold, as mentioned above, in general the Microsoft flight simulator is heavy and expensive in terms of resources, this leads to long and sometimes interminable uploads, we talk about 2/3 minutes on average.

We hope that during these months the Asobo Studio guys will be able to streamline everything, releasing patches for improvements, also in view of the landing on Xbox One.

In the landing phase

Overall, the new creature of Asobo Studio, Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 manages to renew the series and take it to the next step, that of the long-awaited next-gen, offering a "game", if we can define it so.

Able to fascinate fans of the genre and not, thanks to a graphics engine that has been refined in these years of silence and to the hard work done with Microsoft's Azure algorithms and artificial intelligence that for the first time is integrated into a product videogame, making the aircraft simulator the first title to support Cloud Gaming.

A real shame for the lack of a career mode that surely would have entertained more and for all the small defects related to the optimization of the title which at present is heavy and slow in uploads.

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