Believe it or not, I didn't follow anything related to E3. But it didn't matter, as the trailer for the just announced Microsoft Flight Simulator still made it's way into my feed.
It almost looks too good to be true. They say it's in-engine footage, I almost don't buy it. However, technology has come so far, it just might be! Either way, it got me hyped up for what might be possible. Thinking about it, it almost looks like they put airplanes in a Forza trailer, doesn't it?
I Want to Believe
Microsoft, this is your one chance to do it right. If you botch this one like you botched MS Flight, meaning good looks but bad everything else, it's probably over for you.
These days, people are moving further and further away from the decade old Microsoft Flight Simulator X, mostly to Prepar3D (like I did), so we need this reboot to be good. If the visuals don't inhibit the feeling and depth, we might have a truly next generation simulation on our hands.
To be fair, technology has advanced quite a lot. Because of these advances, X-Plane Mobile will get around 10.000 3D airports (35.000 total!). They allow Infinite Flight on Android and iOS to bring worldwide online multiplayer simulation to mobile, including ATC. Sure, the Azure AI might deliver amazing scenery, but we need a realistic flight model, lots of system depth and a solid simulation that runs smoothly.
Modern Age Pitfalls
I'll be honest: If Microsoft Flight Simulator is a great simulation but ends up riddled with DLC and microtransactions, I will be turned away. Flight Simulation has always been about the third party add-ons and a DLC driven economy doesn't mesh well with this.
Something like the awesome VRS F/A-18E might not exist if Microsoft Flight Simulator had a DLC model. Such a model would mean only approved content and a fighter jet with weapons could be seen as quite offensive. Additionally, what used to be freeware add-ons might cost $1.99 (or 4000 PilotPoints(tm)), as the FlightStore(tm) charges developers $10 per month to upload their products.
Furthermore I hope the multiplayer is neither subscription based nor always-online and allows for private sessions with friends or group members.
While not everyone will like the announced requirement of Windows 10, it really is time to switch over now, sorry. But that's another topic. Personally, I'm uncertain how I feel about the ties to Xbox, but it never really bothered me in Forza Horizon 3 and 4 - then why would it in a flight simulator?
Final Thoughts? Excitement!
I am really happy to see some new movement in the flight simulator world. Microsoft has a huge chance here, let's pray they make the best of it. The flight sim community needs this to be good. I need it to be good. And now I really want 2020 to come around...
Header image from fsi.microsoftstudios.com/media/