Microsoft Flight Simulator released in 2020 can be considered the first game of the new generation: this title managed to represent the world on a 1: 1 scale, and this in an exceptionally realistic way with absolutely believable physical and behavioral simulations airplane. It’s gotten even better since then; Over the past nine months, the game has received constant updates that have multiplied its functionality and added photo-realistic airports and cities on three different continents. In addition, the developers have created a roadmap of updates that will last through 2022, geared towards the inclusion of more free content that will make this title something bigger and bigger.
The latest update is huge and comes with the release of the Xbox Series X | S version of the game. This represents an enormous advance in simulator performance even for the PC: the frame rate has been increased in almost all areas and the loading times have been considerably reduced in many cases. Of course, we’re still facing a very demanding title in terms of hardware resources, but it’s amazing to see how the Asobo team – almost a year after its release and with so much new content – managed the performance of this simulator to improve .
One of the most important innovations is the new world map, which is based on Bing and is particularly detailed. Finding the starting point for your adventures in the sky has never been easier. In addition, several POIs have been added that show a pin on a specific building, monument or landmark. Obviously this is a feature that is meant to get the player started to explore the world and we admit that we really enjoyed flying over the spots to discover what was beyond the horizon. While we’re still a long way from introducing a career mode, this new update finally introduces the so-called “Discovery Flights”, where we spend a few hours flying the most emblematic places in the world. In short, the world of Microsoft Flight Simulator just keeps getting livelier and livelier.
So let’s get to the heart of the matter: What is the exact quality of the Xbox Series X | S version? We already know the Xbox ecosystem’s ability to successfully play titles originally designed for the computer, but we admit that at Asobo we are literally speechless at the work of Asobo for this particular conversion. As I said, Microsoft Flight Simulator is a huge title that requires very powerful hardware to be played with acceptable quality, and almost never without reaching the coveted 60 fps. On the Xbox Series X, however, a kind of miracle is accomplished with very few inserts: the game always runs more than well in 4K with an inconsistent frame rate, even in particularly dense areas. For example, if you’re flying over Manhattan, it only takes a few minutes to understand how valuable the developers’ results are. Microsoft Flight Simulator on Xbox is wonderful.
What’s the price of it all? As already mentioned, the graphical assignments are more than acceptable: We have a relatively inferior shadow quality and a lower building density than the possibilities of the desktop version. However, it would be enough to play this part on a computer equipped with a penultimate generation graphics card (which is very likely given the current generation’s prices) to find almost identical graphics to the Xbox Series X.
Either way, the biggest problem is the controls, and even if the Microsoft Flight Simulator can be played with the Xbox controller, it is clear that to be fully immersed in the experience, one would have to buy a dedicated controller. Unfortunately, the game is not compatible with the most common flight sticks available for the computer, and as a result, you will have to rely on very few dedicated and Xbox compatible peripherals. There are new products on the way but not many options right now. In addition, even with a licensed stick, using a mouse is almost essential to get the most out of all the tools, and we recommend that you have a keyboard on hand if you plan to fly the most complex airliners. Luckily, both peripherals can be used on the Xbox.
And while all of the Microsoft Flight Simulator plugins available on the market are potentially compatible with the Xbox version, only a small percentage of airports and airplanes developed outside of Asobo are currently available. In particular, the Airbus A320 Neo FlyByWire, one of the most popular free planes on the PC, is missing. However, this problem could be resolved in a few weeks and with the help of many small developers who are making this title bigger every day. Still, it will be more difficult to see the emergence of virtual communities like Vatsim and IVAO, which will allow virtual pilots to be managed by real air traffic controllers and take simulation to an even higher level. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any space for this type of console experience right now.
In summary, the Xbox Series X version | S for Microsoft Flight Simulator is a real technical gem, a product that has nothing to complain about when compared to the computer version. Combined with good control, this is a title that manages to deliver an experience on par with the computer version, in some cases even enhanced by the ability to play on a large screen in 4K HDR resolution. In fact, the Xbox version of this simulator does its best when it flies by VFR rules, the kind of flight that forces us to look at the landscape to find our way. You will be out of breath as you soar over the natural wonders of the planet on your sofa in front of a large TV screen.