A group of friends were over the other night, and after a few too many drinks, someone asked: “Hey, can we fly over North Korea?”
It’s a question that doesn’t come up in video games often because places like North Korea don’t really have any need to be replicated in virtual form. Games are set in particular places, often restricted by the realities of memory limitations, caches, hard drives, internet connections and all sorts of boundaries that are just part and parcel of doing business.
But as we transition into the next generation, more games like Microsoft Flight Simulator will be possible, streaming and pulling in data from massive open libraries and databases like Bing Maps and Open Street Maps.
So when people ask things like “who wants to fly around Cherynobl”, it’s something that Flight Simulator is more than capable of doing.
I was down the South Coast with my partner the other week. We were there for a funeral, the passing of a family member, and the whole week had been the sort of week you want to forget. Nothing went right. Just gathering in the midst of COVID felt unusual.Read more
Something that Asobo Studio’s really nailed too, and something that has gone under the radar a bit, is the sound mixing. There’s just the right balance between the sound of the playing flying and the ambient sound from the wind, rain, snow or thunder. It’s just enough to help lull you into a state of relaxation, where you just drift off as you slowly venture from point A to point B.
I’d love to know how well Microsoft Flight Simulator has done on Xbox Game Pass. The game was already a massive hit in the sim community, which had spent the last decade basically making peace with the fact that they’d never get a product with the kind of AAA — or AAA adjacent — scope and support as Flight Simulator. It’s just as staggering to me that Asobo built this whole game within three years.
But when I spoke to friends over the last week about Flight Simulator, many had no idea that it was accessible on Game Pass at all. They were pondering what version to buy fully, instead of just trialling it for $1. That’s a messaging problem, I think, and one that makes no sense to me given just what a unique moment Flight Simulator has found itself in.
Microsoft probably didn’t. I can’t imagine the developers did either. And that’s all despite the fact that the game absolutely slaughters modern PCs, so much so that even a RTX 2080 Ti and a Ryzen 3950X barely manages 20fps while landing in New York. It’s not helped by the game being locked to 4 cores courtesy of its DirectX 11 implementation — the kind of performance oversight that a lot of other games would have been slaughtered for. But then again, enjoying Flight Simulator is very different than a lot of other games.
Basically: Microsoft Flight Simulator is quite literally the new Crysis. Even a RTX 2080 Ti at 1080p isn’t hitting 60fps on Ultra when landing at large, detailed cities like Sydney.
What a weird time we live in.
For everyone who’s eventually downloaded and given Flight Simulator a whirl, how have you found the game? How’s it running on your PC, and where have you explored so far?