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Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 Review

By: David

After a 14-year wait, the next installment in the Microsoft Flight Simulator series is finally here with Flight Simulator 2020, giving wannabe pilots as close of an experience as a video game can give you. Whether you want to fly over your home town or explore parts of the world you have always wanted to see, this game has it covered. In fact, Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 has recreated the entire world on a 1:1 scale, giving the most realistic flight experience possible. This is seriously impressive.

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 ISN’T A Game

While yes, it is technically a video game, it is a simulator, and I think a lot of people seem to forget that. I have seen many people complain on social media that there is nothing to do in Flight Simulator 2020 except fly from one airport to another, and yes…what did you expect? The clue really is in the name. It seems a lot of people got sucked into the hype that has been surrounding the game since its release and expected something more from it. Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 is exactly what it says on the tin, and it does it very well. If you don’t want to spend potentially hours flying thousands of miles from one location to another just flying and flying and flying, then this isn’t really for you. If you’re a fan of simulator games, then this is perhaps as good as it is going to get in 2020.

This Will Eat Your PC Alive

Remember back in the late 2000’s when the “But does it run Crysis?” term was coined? Well, it is now 2020 and that term has been upgraded to “But does it run Flight Simulator 2020?”. This game is easily the most demanding game available right now. According to benchmarks from TechSpot, their test rig consisting of a Ryzen 3950X, Nvidia RTX 2080Ti, and 32GB of DDR4-3200Mhz ram scored an average frame rate of just 47 on 1080p Ultra settings. As of right now the 2080Ti is the best consumer level graphics card on the market, and the 3950X is the best consumer CPU that AMD currently offers. I’m not getting into the AMD vs Intel argument here. This sort of PC build would set players back around $4000, so this is an enthusiast-level build and it can’t hit 60fps at 1080p resolution, which is mind blowing.

Credit: Techspot

Flight Simulator 2020 is really demanding, and for good reason. In addition to being around 150gb in size, the game also streams over 2 Petabytes of data (that’s 2,000 Terabytes) from the cloud, mapping the entire world in digital format to a true 1:1 scale, meaning if you fly from JFK to LAX, it will take approximately 6 hours to complete the flight, just like it would in real life. As well as 2 Petabytes of data that renders the world based on Bing’s map service, the game also uses real life flight data and weather data. If you are playing the game and see a plane fly by, that plane is actually flying at that location in real life. Also, the weather is in real time, meaning if you land at JFK and there is a storm, there will be a storm at JFK in-game, too. In fact, storm chasers used Flight Simulator 2020 to observe Hurricane Laura in real time, and players are flying into Hurricane Laura because…content.

For The Best Experience Use A Joystick/Yoke

Flight Simulator 2020 can be played using either a keyboard & mouse, a controller such as an Xbox One controller, or with a joystick such as the Logitech Extreme 3D, or a yoke system such as the Alpha Flight Controls. Ideally, a joystick or yoke would be the method most people would use, but they can be pricey if you’re not a simulator enthusiast. Most players will use a keyboard & mouse or controller, although with a controller, there is still some use of the keyboard and mouse. Due to the realism, there are hundreds upon hundreds of key binds, making it quite confusing to actually fly using just a keyboard & mouse. The game also heavily relies on the number pad on the keyboard, something that is actually missing from my keyboard due to it being a 60% mechanical keyboard. This makes flying using keyboard & mouse extremely difficult. So if you don’t have a joystick and don’t want to invest in one, a controller such as an Xbox One controller is definitely the best option.

There Are Over 37,000 Real Airports & 20 Planes To Choose From

With the game recreating a 1:1 scale of Earth, every airport (and even random airfields) are in the game, meaning you can fly a plane from your local airport or any other airport in the world (even Area 51). With the world being largely grounded in 2020, players could take off from their local airport and fly to their favourite holiday destination. The only downside is, once you land at your favourite place, you won’t be met with sunny skies. Instead, you’ll still be at your PC. Flight Simulator 2020 also gives players the ability to explore parts of the world they have always dreamt of. I had a lot of fun flying over parts of Australia, including Sydney Harbour. Being in the UK, Australia is approximately a 21 hour flight, so being able to explore the country from the comfort of my own home is so much fun. Players could also explore wonders of the world such as the pyramids, or anything else that players want to see and explore. The sky really is the limit with this game (pun intended).

I Can See My House

Because of the real world data streamed to the game, it is possible to find your house, or any other building in the game. The game uses real map data from Bing to map the planet and then uses the closest pre-made building render it has for that building. While it may not look exactly like your house, it likely will be at least somewhat similar, and it will be in the correct location. Some more populated places such as major cities look more accurate than smaller towns. Some buildings even have the correct signage, indicating these areas were hand drawn. Places like New York, Los Angeles etc have much more detail on the buildings, whereas a small town in the middle on nowhere with a population of 5,000 will just use lower quality renders. I live in a small town with less than 30,000 people, and the game makes my town look like Chernobyl, but I could at least find my house, and using the drone camera, I was able to move around my town and know exactly where I was. While this sucks a bit when you want to find your house, it is understandable that making every building look realistic just isn’t doable. To realistically map and draw every building that exists in the world is a task no one could make happen. Plus, when you’re 15,000 feet in the sky, all the buildings look fine anyway. After all, this isn’t a find-your-house simulator.

Credit: Reddit

As Close To Flying A Plane As It Gets

Being a simulator, there is a heavy emphasis on realism. While nothing will truly make up for actual flight time and being in a real plane, the experience is fairly realistic and is as close as a video game can give the player the experience of flying. Players need to control various aspects of the cockpit in real time, and most of the controls and dials actually work and act realistically, too. Flight Simulator 2020 is so realistic for a video game that real pilots use it to polish their skills at home, with Epic Flight Academy saying:

Flight schools such as Epic Flight Academy rely on flight simulators to provide various types of training experiences. Cockpit Procedures Trainers (CPT) allow pilots to practice basic cockpit procedures, like processing emergency checklists. Full-motion simulators provide realistic scenarios for student pilots. Many pilots even polish their skills at home using video games such as Microsoft Flight Simulator.

For example, simulators also eliminate the need for fuel. Therefore, student pilots enjoy the financial rewards of training in a simulator. Most importantly, if something goes wrong during a challenging maneuver, there is no damage. Since there are no repair bills for a damaged aircraft, everyone benefits. Certainly, pilots still need to log hours in real aircraft. However, training in a simulator offers a true cost benefit.

Epic Flight Academy also allow users to log their time as training time, but it can’t be counted as flight time because pilots still need to train in real life scenarios.

Issues With The Game

Now, with a game of this scale, there will undoubtedly be some issues with the game. There are various issues right now, such as the game not detecting that you have landed the plane and still waiting for the flight to end. I have completed numerous flights where I have followed the landing procedure, only for the flight to not end. This can be incredibly frustrating as the game didn’t mark the flight in my log. I tried turning auto pilot on in the hope I messed up and that the auto pilot would correct it and end the flight. Instead, the auto pilot just spun the plane round and drove into a wall, causing me to be unable to move the plane and try again.

I’ve also encountered an issue with the auto pilot feature, which actually causes the plane to crash. While flying high in the sky, I turned the auto pilot on so I could focus on enjoying the visuals. Instead of flying the plane for me, the plane proceeded to nose dive and lose control. This has happened more than once, and both issues seem like a common problem based on my research online.

They’re only small issues which I’m sure will get patched over time, and nothing that massively detracts from the experience.

Final Thoughts

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 is truly a breathtaking game. The realism and depth that this game has managed to achieve is second to none, but it once again needs to be stated: this isn’t a game in the traditional sense; there is no story or action or objectives. The sole purpose is to fly a plane from point A to point B, and fans of other simulator games will love this experience. But for players that want a bit more substance to their game, maybe stick to games like Ace Combat.

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 was provided by Microsoft to Gamezo for review purposes.

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