Since early 2021, user reports of an alleged graphical downgrade for Microsoft Flight Simulator on PC have poured in. After several game updates players noticed a reduction in graphics quality, with some airports suddenly being reduced to “nothing more than fields of grass/mud and a controltower”. This effect appears to have been amplified after the game’s recent ‘Sim Update 5’ release — with fans theorising it came about due to the Xbox release of the game.
“Since the SIM Update 5, released 28th of July, Microsoft Flight Simulator has enjoyed better performance in terms of frame rates and smoothness over previous releases,” a Change petition started by player Adrian Lucas reads. “However, the visual fidelity – LOD, lighting, anti-aliasing have all been sacrificed to achieve this. It is far from the same PC game that thrilled me graphically every time I did a flight, no matter where I flew.”
Lucas goes on to highlight the lack of ‘WOW’ factor in the new version of the game. “Graphics no longer look realistic, but cartoony and simplified. In my 35+ years of gaming, this is the only time I have experienced a game take a turn for the worse graphically with no options to turn back.”
And he’s not the only user to report these issues.
Luckily, a fix is now confirmed to be on the way.
In a new blog post, the Microsoft Flight Simulator team acknowledged the issues in their latest update and vowed to fix them with an upcoming patch.
The major issues identified by the team including volumetric lighting being missing, level of detail (LOD) “popping and stuttering” when the game’s camera pans, and lower resolution ground textures. All three have been identified as major bugs, with an upcoming hotfix set to fix the vast majority of issues.
Unlike the other two bugs reported, LOD stuttering was identified as a more major concern, with a new setting to toggle how much off-screen scenery is cached being planned for release towards the end of August.
The first patch (which is scheduled for release by Monday or Tuesday this week) should fix many of the lighting and ground texture bugs being reported by users, but you’ll have to wait a smidge longer for a more hearty LOD patch in the future.
In addition to these fixes, the Microsoft Flight Simulator team also detailed a range of quality-of-life improvements coming to the game shortly including fixes for washed out graphics and overexposure from cloud cover, issues with displaying incorrect altitude and unexpected in-game temperature spikes.
Crashes to desktop are being addressed. So if you’ve had any major issues lately sit tight and keep an eye on the official Flight Simulator forum. It may take some time for the team to address every fix, but the good news is it’s actively being worked on, and we should see more news soon.