Fly Away Simulation

Microsoft Flight Simulator (2020) Review By a Flight Sim Professional

Last updated Sun, 22 Nov 2020 22:00:22 GMT
Originally posted on Thu, 22 Oct 2020 19:19:36 GMT

OK, we waited over half of 2020 for it, and then finally on August 18th Microsoft Flight Simulator (MSFS) 2020 was unleashed to the general public, allowing us to finally experience those previous samples and teasers in full.

The new release – almost a decade and a half since Flight Simulator X in 2006 – has been developed by Asobo Studios exclusively for Microsoft. To say it was one of the most anticipated flight simulators of recent times would be an understatement.

As we will see as we move through our review, opinion appears to be pretty much divided on the overall performance of the new edition. And for a variety of reasons. That isn’t to say that Microsoft Flight Simulator's 2020 release has failed to deliver, far from it.

What is obvious, though, following the first two months of its release, is that everyone seemingly has an opinion on it. Including ourselves. So, with that said, let’s dive in and see what you get, what to expect, and whether Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 lives up to all the anticipation and the hype, or whether there is still work to do.

Boeing 747 in flight in MSFS 2020.

In this review, we may use references to "MSFS", "MSFS 2020" and "FS2020" - they all relate to this brand new simulator (Microsoft Flight Simulator) in 2020. Microsoft dropped all versioning titles in the new name in order to make it an "evergreen" product with future updates over many years using the same name.

All of the screenshots you see here captured from the sim are available to view in stunning 4K resolution - simply click on them.

Review Index

As this review is quite lengthy, you may jump to specific points using the links below;

Trailer Video

Before we dive into our full review below, we highly recommend watching the official trailer video (if you haven't done so already) to refresh yourself and give you some context whilst reading the full review below.

The Graphics

It perhaps goes without saying that in order to create a real sense of realism you need great graphics – super great graphics, in fact. And that, we are pleased to say, is very much what is on offer here.

These graphics, ultimately, create the realism that all virtual pilots – whether grizzled vets or newcomers – require to make the experience as authentic as possible. And there is no doubt, this realism is as important to Microsoft and the developers as it is to us, the virtual pilots using it.

Christ The Redeemer statue over Rio in Microsoft Flight Simulator.

Essentially, this brand-new release allows us to take to the virtual skies and explore (literally) every inch of the planet. And what’s more, although there are some issues with performance to examine later, the realism on offer here is truly stunning.

For example, there are many iconic buildings that almost anyone will recognize from the air, as well as unknown buildings (to most) and places that will be only recognizable to a particular pilot (such as something in their home town, for example). All have been intricately replicated. Whatever it is, you will be able to find it and view it in FS2020. And this alone creates a whole other level of realism that adds to the virtual flight experience.

Boeing 787 stock aircraft in flight over clouds.

According to one happy purchaser, if you want to fly over your house, it’s there, in Flight Simulator, exactly where it ought to be! We imagine that is something that most of you would like to try – at least in the virtual world. And now you can. And what’s more, in most cases, you won't only see a generated building where your house should be. You will see an accurately shaped and colored version of your actual house, right down to the side garage and the tree in the back yard.

In fact, that photorealistic world is where we will turn our attention next.

Photorealistic Worlds!

One of the things that people seemingly immediately pick up with the new Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 release is the super high-quality “photorealistic” world that the virtual pilot is presented with.

This is achieved through the use of the high-resolution photogrammetry data courtesy of Bing Maps. Then, using an artificial intelligence system provided by the French Asobo Studio, the data is used to replicate the real world in its virtual form, right down to the fields, roads, textures, and buildings.

Photorealistic ground textures.

Everything you would expect to see from the actual skies you will see in this release. And this isn’t just with buildings, roads, water, and trees.

Not only will you see moving traffic on the roads and streets below, but if you are flying over fields or wide-open plains, chances are you will see animals going about their business below. And these range from birds to bears, and even giraffes. It seems a small detail, but it is another layer on to the already layered realism of MSFS.

Showing an airport with photorealistic textures surround it.

What’s more, this is done “live” – so it is generated as you fly into it. And this means that there is no need for you to download such scenery packages to your system. The program, essentially, streams it for you. One reviewer even dubbed this as being like Netflix for flight simulation scenery. You can, however, download and store specific regions should wish.

This means that should you wish to quickly start a virtual flight over a certain part of the world in midflight (which you can do) then there is no need to install a scenery package or just settle for basic settings.

And jumping between these destinations and planes, although takes a little time (which we will come back to shortly) is very marginal when compared with having to load specific scenery each time.

Constant Data Feeds

Just to demonstrate the quality of the real-world replication on offer here, it is perhaps wise to examine some of the technology at use and just what sort of data it will be channeling. AI algorithms have been used to create the entire world. So not only, for example, are buildings in their correct places, but their entire photogrammetry, as well as height and width data, is correct.

Dubai Cityscape in Microsoft Flight Simulator.

Microsoft and Asobo Studios use a program named Blackshark.AI to achieve this, along with Microsoft's Azure program to go through the data. What’s more, it is the belief of Microsoft and Asobo that the whole world could be built with these data processes in only 72 hours.

There are also various outside “partners” who provide the developers with data. We will move on to the weather part of the simulator in-depth shortly, but this is also a favorable part of the program that is achieved through real-world data. In this case, MeteoBlue allows the use of its data which can then be used to replicate in the virtual world what is happening (weather-wise) in the real one.

XCub in flight.

Likewise, even the air traffic you will encounter while traversing the virtual skies is based on actual air traffic data.

This usage of real data is perhaps the biggest feather in Microsoft’s cap and certainly given them an edge in the authentic scenery and real-world authenticity over its flight simulator rivals.

Perhaps most exciting for Microsoft Flight Simulator users is that these technologies will be a constantly evolving thing, with improvements and tweaks happening all the time. Who knows, then, just how much more realistic MSFS might look this time next year.

The Whole (Entire) World Is Available

So, whether you want to fly over the Pyramids of Giza, ancient remains of the Mayan world, or any metropolis-like city of our contemporary era, doing so will, for the most part, be authentic in the extreme. Indeed, you will almost feel as though you are taking in an actual aerial sightseeing tour.

Mayan Pyramid

In fact, so realistic are these scenes of aerial beauty, you might be tempted to screengrab the moment, or even capture it on your mobile phone, that is how intricate, captivating, and realistic they are. Indeed, this achievement in creating an ultra-realistic environment is something that should not escape any of us.

What is also a huge improvement, yet such a discreet move, is that some areas you might fly over where you will see roads will not contain any traffic below. We might take the Chernobyl power plant, which is essentially, shut off to all traffic and even people. This ability for the software to not only recreate the entire world in visual detail but also to recognize that it is a place where people and traffic will not be is yet another notch in the realism column.

Alcatraz Island in MSFS.

We should perhaps remind ourselves as pilots – virtual or otherwise – that a great amount of time when in the air is spent looking outside the cockpit. And with that in mind, the world that we view from them needs to be as authentic and as realistic as possible. This is something that Microsoft and Asobo Studios have certainly achieved. Indeed, it is this element that is largely this new simulator's greatest strength.

As impressive as this is – and it is, for the most part very much that – there are some issues with lags, and even of scenery appearing completely out of proportion. And, at times, the terrain is not as realistic or as articulately textured as we might want.

Bizarre anomalies aside, this is most often the case when you are flying at a lower altitude. From a cruising position above any city or terrain on the planet, though, these fall-offs in high-quality are barely, if at all, noticeable. Certainly not to the degree that it would ruin your experience.

Wild roaming bears in the simulator.

Generally speaking, though, these levels of extremely accurate replications of cities, roads, waterways, even the grass, is for the most part of such high quality that you might be tempted to overlook some of the (hopefully) temporary glitches of the new release. And they will only become more authentic and life-like over time as add-ons and fixes become available.

Airports, Runways, And Landing Strips – All Highly Authentic

Part of this photorealistic world and acute attention to detail can be seen in the 37,000 (give or take) airports that are available. All are replicated in full and provide a plethora of destinations to take from or land at.

Airport control tower at sunset.

What’s more, the developers of these digitally replicated airports have used the actual blueprints to achieve the realism they have. The high-quality, attention to detail approach is truly stunning. And that alone should make you want to visit each and every one on offer.

And make no mistake, these don’t just include the major airports such as Heathrow, LAX, or JFK. Each and every airport, airstrip, and runway is replicated within Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020. And replicated to the highest accuracy. Even the airstrip in South America, as one reviewer puts it, “that’s no more than a strip of dirt cutting through a swath through the thick rainforest” is replicated to the absolute and utmost accuracy.

This vast array of huge airports right down to the landing strips in the middle of nowhere offer more than just a lot of destinations and arrival points to choose from. Each destination presents its own issues in terms of landing and navigating your plane once touched down.

London Heathrow (EGLL) depicted in the sim.

This, in turn, only increases your skill set as a virtual pilot. As well as adding to that ultra-required sense of realism. And while some airports are more highly accurate than others, all are much more authentic than most other flight simulation programs.

What’s more, should you opt to purchase the Deluxe or Premium Deluxe versions, you can look forward to five or ten additional airports respectively.

Madeira airport.

The Deluxe version offers:

  • Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (Netherlands)
  • Cairo International Airport (Egypt)
  • Cape Town International Airport (South Africa)
  • O’Hare International Airport (USA)
  • Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport (Spain)

The Premium Deluxe version will give you all of the above, as well as:

  • Denver International Airport (USA)
  • Dubai International Airport (United Arab Emirates)
  • Frankfurt Airport (Germany)
  • Heathrow Airport (United Kingdom)
  • San Francisco International Airport (USA)

Accurate Weather Systems

Of course, one of the things that are important to virtual flight is the authenticity and accuracy of the weather. And this is very much the case with the weather systems of Microsoft Flight Simulator.

Huge, ominous clouds over NYC in the sim.

Once more, this appears to be an aspect that this new sim has got completely spot on. The cloud quality, for example, are incredible and fascinating to look at. Indeed, should you fly in a cloudy sky you will very likely find yourself examining them in detail such is the realism.

What’s more, not only are the clouds authentic to look at, they are also realistic enough that they alter the light coming through them. For example, if you begin a flight in clear blue skies, pause the live game, and then insert clouds, that shadows and overall brightness of the setting changes instantly – just as it would in the real world.

Highly detailed layers of clouds.

The live weather is another aspect of MSFS that is top-notch, tapping into the live weather data which you can switch on as and when you wish. So, if you are taking off from Heathrow in London and it is raining there at the time, expect to be raining there in your flight simulation.

Setting Weather Conditions

Equally, the weather can be set to what you wish it to be. So, if you wish to practice taking off in a blizzard, driving rainstorm, or high winds, then you can set the weather conditions accordingly – as you can the time of day you fly (if you wish to practice flying, taking off, or landing at night, for example).

If it is picturesque skies you are looking for, then you can set the time of day to dawn or sunset, before sitting back and flying into the golden-red skies of such an hour. If you wish to fly in the bright mid-afternoon sun, then that is fine too.

Rain over New York.

Or perhaps you want to take that quiet relaxing night flight and look down on the glittering cities below. This is most definitely one aspect of the sim that is pretty much second-to-none. Again, saturated in realism, the lights themselves are worth discussing. Rather than merely being a collection of random glows, the warmth and shade of the lights vary depending on just what is below you.

For example, if you are flying over a stadium, parking lots, or even highways, you can expect those lights to be slightly brighter and stand out more – just as they would if you were looking down from a real plane. At the same time, streetlights in urban neighborhoods have a relatively softer glow, although they still stand out significantly.

Authentic ATC Control Tower Communication

The communication you will hear from the control tower is a further testament to the abundance of detail of this new release.

Gibraltar in the new sim.

For example, you can spend the full 15 minutes moving around the airport ready to approach the runway, staying in contact with the communications tower right the way through. What’s more, once you learn the aviation lingo you can request anything from takeoff clearance to pushback, and essentially anything else you might converse with the control tower about from a real cockpit.

This is the same when landing as it is when taking off, meaning that your flight will be as authentic as is possible in the virtual skies.

Inside cockpit after landing and using ATC.

What’s more, you can hear the control tower communication constantly in your “headset” which only adds more to the realism that oozes from the sim. Furthermore, this traffic communication can be “live traffic” based on live ADS-B data, or you can turn the live option off and instead receive AI traffic communication, but still based on real-world data.

Indeed, realism and how authentic it is, as you may well have guessed by now, is very much a strong point for this new release. And that realism and accuracy continues when you enter your chosen plane.

Inside The Cockpit

Once inside the plane it will be hard not to be impressed with the recreation of each and every individual cockpit. Each one is so authentically replicated that, at times, it appears as though you are looking at a photograph of the real thing. And, like the airports, each plane and cockpit has been replicated using actual blueprints and designs for the utmost realism. And it shows.

Inside the cockpit and thrusters showing.

Even the digital instruments are soaked in this authenticity. They essentially work and are controlled in exactly the same way as they would be a real aircraft. That is perhaps little surprise when we realize that those who developed the software also do so for the real-world versions. They are essentially a complete digital replica.

If you wish, you could even go online and download a manual for the real-life version of equipment you are using and use that to navigate the digital version in the sim. That is how lifelike and authentic these cockpit and navigation instruments actually are.

Side angle of the animated thrusters and cockpit glass panels.

It is perhaps worth noting, though, as we will examine a little further later, that some of the complex aspects of the navigation equipment is a little less detailed than the essential equipment. And once more, it is highly likely, although not promised, that tweaks and fixes will address this in the future.

The Aircraft

OK, so we are agreed that the respective cockpits are indeed top-notch. This is also the same with the aircraft themselves – 20 of which are offered with the base package. This is probably a good time to remind you that Microsoft Flight Simulator comes in three packages. Firstly, there is the standard base package, second the Deluxe package, and thirdly, the Premium Deluxe. And with each higher level, you get further aircraft available to you.

Boeing 787 with tug pushback underway.

In the base package you will get access to:

  • A320neo
  • Pitts Special S2S
  • 747-8 Intercontinental
  • XCub
  • TBM 930
  • DA62
  • DA40 NG
  • EXTRA 330LT
  • Flight Design CTSL
  • ICON A5
  • CAP 10
  • DR400-100 Cadet
  • Bonanza G36
  • King Air 350i
  • C152
  • C172 Skyhawk (G1000)
  • C208B Grand Caravan EX
  • Citation CJ4
  • Savage Cub

With the Deluxe package you get all of the above plus:

  • DA40-TDI
  • DV20
  • Baron G58
  • C152 Aerobat
  • C172 Skyhawk

And with the Premium Deluxe, you get all of the above plus the following:

  • 787-10 Dreamliner
  • SR22
  • Virus SW 121
  • Citation Longitude
  • Shock Ultra

We might notice that there are no helicopters yet available, although there is otherwise a relatively wide selection of aircraft to choose from. It is also good to know that other aircraft will be made available over the following months, with further plans to make “several helicopters” available in the near future.

Boeing 787 side cargo door with loading underway.

Much like the interiors, the exterior of the respective planes are top-notch reproductions, again using real-life blueprints and designs to achieve this. Even the effect elements have on planes through their design has been taken into account.

We should note, though, that each of the planes appears brand spanking new, as though they have come straight from being built to the airport. We might suspect that in the name of authenticity these aircraft might show some signs of age and wear and tear.

Icon A5 in flight over islands.

The reason this might not be the case, however, is due to those official licenses to replicate the planes from the manufacturers themselves. It is understandable, in theory, that they would want their respective aircraft to appear as slick, new, and modern as possible.

Another “complaint” with the planes is there are currently no alternative liveries, with each aircraft using one only. Again, though, it would appear that these will be made available over the coming months.

White XCub in flight over ground terrain with clouds in background.

Perhaps it is worth mentioning here, however, that selecting a new plane (and the same for the airports mentioned above) will take the user back to the main screen. This, of course, means you will have to restart and reload. Perhaps this is something that might be addressed over the coming months.

General Performance

It perhaps goes without saying that the higher the performance of your PC the better the performance will be. However, even running the program on a medium PC will still present you with high-end graphics and performance. And while some of the textures might become a little grainy at times, overall, you should still be able to enjoy MSFS to the fullest.

High above the Earth with a cloud layer covering the terrain below.

Make no mistake, though, the higher-end your hardware is, the higher performance you will get. Generally speaking, though, the dynamics and handling of aircraft are pretty accurate. And it is tempting to say that some of the issues some people are facing might very well be down to their own PC and/or joystick. Generally speaking, while recommended to keep the program at 60 fps, even as low as 30 fps the performance is very realistic and only a few “stutters” are noticed.

Once more, though, this assessment of performance and realism is not shared by everyone. One online review featured a professional pilot who is also completely familiar with the new Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 release, as well as with previous versions is just one. He is named “Louis”.

He would claim that he was “massively disappointed” with the flight dynamics of the game, especially after the considerable hype throughout much of 2020.

Airport terminal from one of the hand-created default airports.

When asked to compare the flight dynamics of the new release against previous versions, he would state that, although it depended on the aircraft selected, “you can't perform some basic aerodynamic maneuvers with the aerobatics aircraft”. He would continue that, overall, the “response of the plane can be sluggish”.

Some opinions echo these sentiments, in that for all of the improvements and visual realism, as a training aid for real-world pilots it is almost a step backward and certainly not an improvement.

Ultimately, the performance will come down to each individual person’s preferences.

A rainbow displayed and demonstrated in the sim - a first for flight simulator.

And we should perhaps also note, at least according to one reviewer, Microsoft and Asobo have clearly left the development plane wide open. Essentially, given another six months, Microsoft Flight Simulator could look drastically different in terms of performance and dynamics. And we should perhaps be patient with what is one of the biggest and most anticipated releases of recent times.

The Flight

Beginning any flight is pretty much the same as it always has been. At the main screen of the world map, you simply select your starting point. This can be one of the many airports or landing strips all over the planet. Or you can simply choose to begin in mid-flight, perhaps over your hometown, for example, or a glittering metropolis like New York or Los Angeles. The possibilities really are endless. And, of course, if you are planning to land the plane, then you will need to select a landing destination also.

King Air 350i flying over islands.

Once that is selected, you then begin the flight. If you have turned off all assists, then you will have to guide your plane around the airport, onto the runway, and the take-off. Once in the air, you then ascend to your preferred (or stated if flying a 747, for example) altitude, before cruising with the aircraft while in flight.

If you have a set destination in mind or are flying a legitimate flight plan of a commercial plane, then you will also have to change course accordingly. Eventually, when arriving at your destination – assuming you don’t hand off to the AI pilot – you will go through the legitimate landing procedures, right down to navigating the plane to its stand after touching down.

London Cityscape in MSFS with the financial district and o2 dome in background.

It is worth keeping in mind that, as in the real world, some of these virtual flights can take several hours to complete, which in itself adds to the overall realism and authenticity.

Overall, the quality of flight is top-quality. And is certainly dripping in realism.

Other Improvements

There are other discreet improvements within Microsoft Flight Simulator.

One aspect of virtual flight that has been steadily increasing in popularity is the multiplayer options. And this, as we might expect, is still the case with MSFS. This means that not only can you take to the virtual skies by yourself, but you can hook up with friends and fly missions together.

Alpine scenery displayed in the sim.

Like most things, there are likely to be further improvements to come. Perhaps one of these, which many virtual pilots would like to see, is the ability for multiple players to share the same cockpit. There is no news on whether this will be introduced, but if it is, we will most definitely tell you about it here.

There is also the in-game marketplace that allows virtual pilots to browse multiple add-ons, and purchase them, without having to buy “hard copies” or use third party sites. This is also a potential benefit for third party developers, whose products are now all the more easily accessed by anyone who purchases and makes use of the brand new sim.

Cairo airport displayed in the sim with Pyramids visible in the far distance.

Furthermore, these add-ons are expected to grow, and grow at an exceptional pace. For example, in the month since it hit the shelves, there have already been several airports and a new aircraft been made available in this in-game, integrated marketplace.

Of course, the more third-party developers that tout their wares on this integrated marketplace, the higher the profile of MSFS becomes.

Built-In Flight School & Missions

If you are a newcomer to the virtual skies, or even if you just haven’t ventured there for some time, then the ability to set the assists where you please is most certainly beneficial. And even with the assists set “halfway”, you will still find navigating your chosen plane and leaving the runway to be something that you will need to practice to perfect.

With this in mind, you might be interested in the specially “built-in flight school”. As it sounds, this will take you through the basics of all aspects of flight, and you will experience it from the cockpit of a Cessna 172.

XCub with it's tail wheel visible at sunset.

As well as being able to practice all basic aspects of virtual flight – such as taking off, cruising, landing, turns, and rudder manipulation, etc. – the flight school will also give novice virtual pilots the chance to get to grips with some of the terminology involved.

And while such aircraft as large airliners have their own aspects to get to grips with once you decide to take a 747 into the skies, for example, if you stick to the lessons and finish each and every one of them, you will have more than a basic handle on the basics of virtual flight. And you will certainly have no problem whatsoever controlling the Cessna or similar aircraft.

Boeing 787 on ramp preparing for early morning departure with sunrise in the background.

Perhaps one tip to give here is that while the flight school only allows you to take the lessons in the Cessna 172, a good way of familiarizing yourself with larger planes is to give control to the AI feature – which can be done at any point during the flight. This then allows you to watch how the plane is handled, the kinds of angles to take when landing, and even appropriate speeds, which is almost as good as an actual lesson.

Landing Challenges

Although the built-in flying school is only available in the Cessna 172, there are many one-off “missions” for you to practice various aspects of aviation, from taking off to landing. And you can perform these in the aircraft of your choice. These missions are essentially broken down into two groups, landing challenges, and bush trips.

Diamond DA40 in flight over Washington D.C

There are different difficulty levels meaning that you can really test yourself to the max.

The landing challenges – as we might expect - very much test your ability not only to land, but to take things such as weather, the time of day, and even how open and built-up areas near the respective runways can have an effect on your plane. So not only are you forced to shape up your landing skills, but also how to manipulate your throttle and perform turns. And once again, here is that word again, the realism is pretty fantastic.

SHOCK Ultra tied down on a grass strip.

Furthermore, the developers have decided upon some great locations to perform these test landing missions, which perhaps makes them more appealing. For example, if you are performing these missions at night or in adverse weather conditions, how the scenery below presents itself to you actually makes you want to simply view the spectacle rather than land the plane successfully. And because of this, you will most likely find yourself making multiple attempts to succeed.

Bush Trips

The bush trip missions are a little more difficult as it involves flying over terrain with no roads as well as having to use the VFR for navigation. These particular missions usually involve you taking off from one specific runway and then following strict instructions to reach another one – and often a huge part of these missions relies on your skill as a pilot to accurately locate these destinations. Quite often, these missions will require you to land purely to refuel before setting off again.

Preparing for landing at a grass strip in the UK.

Newcomers to the virtual skies should perhaps be warned that these particular missions are quite difficult, and it is probably wise to perfect the landing challenges and become ofay with the basics of virtual flight first. They will, though, keep both newcomers and veterans of flight simulation occupied for some time.

It is also worth noting that at the start and during these bush trips, your screen will be almost overtaken by the list of “VFR-styles descriptions”. One way around this – although certainly not possible for everyone, is to hook up a second monitor in order to split this information across two screens.

This isn’t necessary, but it certainly makes things a little less crowded. We should also note that these bush trips are extremely long and drawn out, so be prepared to spend considerable time on them – somewhere in the region of several hours.

Under the tailplane with landing gear visible.  At Saint Barthélemy Airport.

What’s more, Microsoft Flight Simulator (2020) is, according to one real-world pilot, a massive play zone, allowing them to perform stunts and flights right down the middle of 5th Avenue in New York without having to realize the consequences of such action. Perhaps that alone should tell us of the authenticity of the simulator.

Good Things To Know

One thing that some virtual pilots have run into are data-caps from their internet service providers. And, as we might expect, this new release uses lots of data. However, if this is going to be a problem for you, then you have the option to download specific locations and such before beginning your flight and so ultimately cutting the amount of data used.

Coastal runway with end of runway at sea.

As we have mentioned, some users have experienced some issues with performance, even when using high-end PCs. One thing that can be done to combat this is to turn down some of the settings from high to medium. For example, some lighting effects will be equally as authentic on medium as high, and this will improve overall performance.

And while it is not particularly a good thing to lower the settings in order to increase performance, for the vast majority of the time, the effect it will have on your system is negligible in terms of the extra performance level you will receive from this simple task.

Virtual Reality And Xbox Availability

One of the questions many potential purchasers of Microsoft Flight Simulator is whether or not it would support virtual reality headsets. Well, yes it will. And furthermore, there will be no cost or additional purchase for the VR toggle.

At the moment this is set for a “fall 2020” release. However, we should warn that upon the launch, only the HP Reverb G2 system will be initially compatible with it. However, this is another aspect that is expected to be opened to all VR headsets and equipment pretty soon. Especially as almost all such headsets rely on OpenVR calls for axis orientation.

An example of the night lighting at airports.  Dubai shown in this image.

If the package finally offers VR that can live up to the standard of the graphics and realism on display already, then it could attract even more virtual pilots to the flight simulation community.

One of the things that surprised some people, though, is that this VR support appears to be more in place than other extras, perhaps most notably, support for those using Xbox consoles.

We should note that although the sim is due to arrive at an Xbox platform, we still are not sure of the date that this will happen. And there are still seemingly decisions to be made, or at least announced, as to how this will happen and what might be required.

As you might imagine, when information does become available on this issue, you will read about them here.

Planned Updates

Before we get into some of the cons of the new release, we should perhaps spend a little time considering how much of a bonus the planned updates actually are. The fact that the release comes to us in the digital broadband era of constant internet access means that many of these updates and fixes could happen automatically in real-time.

Azul A320 at airport terminal.

This is very much the case with the navigation data supplied by NAVBLUE, which will automatically update once every 28 days. This is also the same plan, in theory, with the Bing satellite and aerial photography data.

This is also very much the plan for developers with improvements to graphics and new improved imagery for particular regions that require it, as well as improvements to landmarks.

SHOCK Ultra flying over mountainous terrain in Greece.

Perhaps the best way to look at MSFS in terms of the improvements and fixes that are required is to view it as an investment in a simulator that is itself an evolving product. What you purchase now will be a vastly improved product this time next year, and even more so the year after that and so on.

What About The Cons?

We have already mentioned some of the cons to the newly released version. However, it is probably worth our time stopping here and looking at some of the repeated ones.

We have already mentioned some of the “odd” appearances of the mapping below. This is something that is being experienced by almost all users.

Rear of the XCub with blurred background.

And the general performance is something that many users are struggling with. Some, even those using “high-end hardware”, are finding there are issues with flight dynamics and the general smoothness of play.

There is also the issue of no official documentation concerning basic keyboard and joystick controls. It sounds like a minor thing – and to some, it might be. However, it is certainly a bone of contention among some users. We will simply have to wait to see if this is made available at some point in the near future. In the meantime, we have released a full keyboard command and control manual which you can view here. You can even download a PDF "cheat sheet".

Due to a lack of documentation, third-party developers have even created their own aftermarket manuals for the sim. This manual here created by the developers at SoFly is a good example.

Another thing to watch for, and this might depend on your personal preferences or what you are used to, is that the controls may appear a little too sensitive. Especially when being used at slower speeds.

Demonstration of the stunning cloud layers in the simulator.

This could be, though, a case of the airflow over control surfaces being tweaked to represent real-life a little more. For example, when traveling at slower speeds in the real skies, less airflow goes over the wings which ultimately makes the controls a little less responsive. Again, it is a potential fix that might be addressed in the near future.

Furthermore, there appear to be some issues with the autopilot take over. We will come back to this particular glitch shortly as it is something that has been picked up on by veteran virtual pilots, some of which are pilots in the real world, as well as newcomers.

Issues With Loading Time

Perhaps one of the biggest gripes, though – and it is easy to understand why – is the load time. Some users are reporting it is taking them several hours to download and install. And perhaps because this download is in-game, this created, for some, a whole host of problems.

We have to say, it is a big chunk of data you will be downloading, weighing in it around 91GB. While the delay is not at all ideal, it is at the moment something we might have to simply grin and bear.

An approach into Lukla in MSFS.

However, it isn’t simply the install that is an issue. Even loading airports for in-game play can sometimes take up to five minutes depending on how large an airport it might be. Even smaller airports can take anywhere from one to two minutes to completely load.

This might not sound like much, but it is far from the slick, quick loading that some were expecting, and certainly, an area to be improved if possible. Just to put this into perspective, though, a one to five-minute wait compared to the several hours (at times) that you will actually spend in the air is perhaps negligible.

Some who managed to grit their teeth through the download experience found they had severe problems with lagging, others found their machines crashing, having to restart several times.

We should note once more, though, that these issues are ones that will almost certainly be ironed out over the coming months. And we should certainly not let what is, essentially, several minor glitches put us off exploring the potential of the new simulator.

Is It A Game? Or Is It A Simulator?

One of the things that appear to divide the flight simulator community is whether or not Microsoft Flight Simulator is a simulator, or whether it is, in fact, a game.

Microsoft themselves has claimed it is very much a flight simulator “for simmers”, but that it can also be played as a game. And while many who have taken the plunge and purchased the new and much-anticipated release agree, others very much don’t.

Demonstration of the aircraft icing effects when performing high altitude flight.

In fact, one purchaser would state that MSFS is ultimately a lovely toy, but not a simulator. They would continue that “hardcore” simulators should “wait for the decent payware”. Another would offer how the main release has concentrated on visual “wow factor” that would appeal to “enthusiasts of console games”.

Another person who purchased the simulator, however, would offer a different summary, essentially agreeing with Microsoft that “it was up to you” how you chose to use it. And that is probably the beauty – that you can indeed switch between simulator and game as you choose.

If you wish to experience an arcade-like version of the simulator, then simply turn on each of the assists, and off you go. Likewise, if it is the full simulation that you are after, then do the opposite, essentially meaning you would perform in the digital cockpit as you would in the real one.

Perhaps even more alluring – especially for newcomers or those who are not pilots in the real world – is that you can put these settings somewhere between the two. So, if you are not that interested in running through all of the checklists and other pre-flight activities, you can allow the simulator to do that for you and then take over once you go for take-off.

While it is an issue for some – particularly those who are pure “simmers” – it doesn’t hurt anyone to have the option to do both. Especially for those new to the virtual skies. And as far as Microsoft are concerned, it is most definitely, in keeping with their 40-year presence, a flight simulation program first and foremost.

Some General Feedback From The Flight Sim Community

As we might imagine, while there are many reviews out there, there is perhaps no better place to come for opinions on how well Microsoft Flight Simulator has lived up to the hype than by going to the virtual pilots have purchased it. And, as we have touched on, these opinions, at least at the moment, vary.

Community feedback artwork.

Some flight simmers, for example, have taken exception to the loading issues (as mentioned above) as well as the apparent glitches with the scenery. And what’s more, there is a general feeling among the disgruntled that only Microsoft’s large corporate name is protecting them.

Another reviewer called the short-sighted effort nothing more than a money-grabber. This might be a little harsh, and while we might expect, as one reviewer called them, that a multi-billion-dollar company should be able to get such things correct right out of the box, once more, we should remember that this release will have multiple tweaks over the months to follow, and many more add-ons and such over the coming years.

There are plenty of people who are more than pleased with the release, however. One reviewer claimed that they were a longtime pilot and that MSFS is extremely close to the real experience, continuing that the graphics and overall quality of the product is second to none. The same person also stated that in order to realize its full potential a high-end computer is recommended.

Snow cover showing a whiteout in the sim.

One of the things we said we would come back to were the issues with the autopilot. And this has been something that has been picked up on by newcomer virtual fliers as well as veteran and actual pilots are have also tried out the software.

According to many from the flight sim community, the autopilot appears to have several bugs that cause it to crash the plane, ignore changes in mid-flight, as well as crashing the system itself, and forcing restarts.

There also appear to be problems with the autopilot when climbing or descending, which can either result in an extremely unsmooth flight for several minutes, or once more, the crashing of the plane.

Overall, while there is a feeling of discontentment among some in the flight sim community, it appears that they have been successful in making their voices heard the loudest. Not to mention that they appear to have been very active early on in doing this, perhaps making the issues larger than they actually way (relatively speaking).

Generally speaking, most who have spent the last two months exploring MSFS appears to be very glad they did so. And even those with minor issues are, for the time being at least, prepared to give Microsoft and the developers the benefit of the doubt as they wait for such issues to be fixed.

How Does It Compare To Previous Versions (FSX etc)?

Perhaps before we compare this new platform to other simulators, we should look at how it compares to the previous ten versions of Microsoft’s simulator releases (which go all the way back to 1982).

Comparing MSFS to FSX.

The thing that stands out the most is that it really is a case of the more things change, the more they stay the same. For all of the improvements of realism, graphics, and authenticity, Microsoft Flight Simulator relies on what it has always relied on – the intense attention to detail that has been at the core of all previous releases.

Indeed, rather than reinventing itself, this is more a case of a refinement of what it is known and loved for.

Although comparing the two is like comparing a Cessna 152 to a Boeing 747 - completely uncomparable apart from the fact that they are both aircraft - our users wanted us to do so. You can watch our comparison video below.

In terms of actual flight capability and feel of realism, MSFS is a marked improvement on previous versions. Indeed, the feeling of actually flying is much freer in the new release than before, and should also be noted as a marked improvement, generally speaking. Even against X-Plane 11, which many felt had much better flight dynamics, MSFS is, at the very least, on a par with it, if not slightly better.

How Does It Compare To Other Simulators?

The first thing that leaps out at you when comparing against X-Plane-11, for example, is the realism generated by the ultra-realistic graphics. Just by simply comparing airports brings that point slamming home when we see the individual detail on each window of the control tower in MSFS compared with the “blocky” digital appearance of X-Plane. Even the skies appear more realistic and almost 3D in Microsoft’s offering.

Comparing MSFS to X-Plane 11 over Athens, Greece.

The graphics in MSFS are such that it really is like looking at a photograph or a piece of film footage. By comparison, the same graphics in X-Plane 11 very much have a computer-generated feel to them. And this continues throughout with all aspects of visual realism falling in FS2020's favor.

Perhaps some further examples can be seen when the plane takes off. If you switch to the outside view, for example, you will notice how the plane in X-Plane has a “block” color feel to it, whereas in MSFS, different textures can be seen. And these range from the light of the sun reflecting over different parts of the plane as it moves, even to the build-up of moisture around the underside of the engines.

We could also draw attention to the appearance of the navigation controls which are almost like looking at a real dashboard.

Mayan temples depicted in the sim.

This is very much the same with another well-established simulator, Prepar3D which, while realistic to a point, does fall slightly short when compared to Microsoft's latest release.

This perhaps shouldn’t surprise us as visual realism, as we have already discussed, is very high up on Microsoft’s list of priorities. And while some might decide the slight drop off in dynamics of the planes themselves – which many virtual pilots will not necessarily pick up on – is worth opting for another flight simulator such as X-Plane or Prepar3D, others will be very much drawn to such realism.

Saba island in FS2020.

After all, unless you are using flight simulators purely as a training tool to advance your flight skills in the real world, the biggest concern with most pilots who take to the virtual skies do so with a desire to experience a world that is as close to the real thing – and that is visually – as is possible. This is where this simulator really delivers.

Maybe one aspect where MSFS doesn’t compare so favorably is the number of planes available, particularly when put against something like X-Plane 11, which not only offers a vast array of airplanes but also space shuttles and even water gliders. As we have discussed, though, there are further planes that will become available and various add-ons. So once more, this advantage is marginal.

Watch our MSFS/XP11 Compare Video

It appears one of the main areas where the new sim could lose virtual pilots to other simulators is the authenticity for real-world pilots and the amount of actual training they can do on it. As one reviewer put it, “beautiful scenery will only engage simmers for so long”. And it is perhaps an area where other sims do have an advantage over MSFS.

This observation is not shared by everyone, with some professional pilots stating just the opposite. And one thing that can be said in defense of MSFS 2020 is that while Prepar3D and X-Plane are very much popular with veteran or professional virtual pilots, the appeal of the Microsoft release appears to stretch much further.

Only time will tell which assessment is accurate. And if it proves to be, it will be interesting to see if Microsoft remedy this apparent hole in its simulation.

A Few Quick Thoughts

Perhaps one of the things that we should think about – especially with the argument as to whether it is, in fact, a game as opposed to a simulator – is that this new release has the potential to really widen the audience, both for MSFS 2020 and flight simulation itself.

787 cargo being loaded.

Many pure gamers, for example, are likely to be attracted, not only by the stunning graphics on offer but also by the fact that they can indeed play MSFS “as a game”. The fact that there are plans to make the release on the Xbox, for example, will also go some way to achieving this. And not only will that potentially widen the audience, but it will most likely reach younger would-be virtual pilots.

Taking this thought, further, the potentially younger virtual pilots who might come to Microsoft Flight Simulator will likely remain with the product for years. Some might even take the leap and become real-world pilots.

In short, while it may prove to be a “slow burn”, MSFS could, over time, become one of the most important releases in flight simulation in the 21st century.

Addons & Mods

This review would not be complete without mentioning the possibility and availability of third-party add-ons or modifications (mods) for this new simulator.

Paderborn Airport in the new sim.
The screenshot shows Aerosoft's Paderborn Lippstadt scenery. Now available as freeware from SimShack.

Given whatever speculation you may have read before release, we now (as a community) have full access to what's possible and going to become available.

Both freeware and payware add-ons will exist in all of the same formats the same as previous versions of the sim (such as FSX, FS2004... etc). The only difference (for publishers) is that they can take their payware products and market them directly on the "Marketplace" within the simulator. This of course cuts our third-party stores and will take a huge chunk of their sales - however, third-party payware developers are still able to sell their products on third-party stores the same way they have been doing for years.

We have already started listing payware add-ons on our store, SimShack - and some of them are quite amazing. You can find the new MSFS Scenery releases section here (aircraft to come shortly).

Freeware

Again, this will continue as normal. Many freeware add-ons have now been released including aircraft liveries/repaints and scenery enhancements and expansions.

Washing D.C Capitol Building in MSFS.
The screenshot shows a freeware Washing D.C landmarks add-on. This is available in our file library here.

We have opened our official MSFS 2020 add-ons library, which you can find here. Categories so far include scenery, aircraft, and utilities/tools - more to be added over the coming months.

If you are a developer of freeware - we'd love it if you would consider listing your creations in our library. Read about our file library (and submit your creations) here.

So, Should You Buy It?

In short, the answer to that is yes. If you have any type of interest in flight simulation at any level, then you will most definitely be able to get something out of the new sim package from Microsoft.

Boeing 787 taking off with sunset in background.

Despite some of the issues we have highlighted above, overall, the release has lived up to the hype. And we should perhaps be patient and forgiving of any temporary issues. After all, a simulator of this magnitude and with this much authentic detail is bound to have a few teething issues.

While the graphics and attention to detail are top-notch, it is perhaps the real-world mapping systems that really make MSFS 2020 shine. And although some will call this nothing more than a “wow factor”, it is arguably the most significant advancement.

As we enter 2021, it is highly likely that most of those issues will have been ironed out and fixed. And, of course, we don’t know what extras and additions might also come our way from the development team. Remember, even now, with the much anticipated and built-up release, the new Microsoft Flight Simulator is essentially a “ten-year project”.

Airport in valley with clouds and sun glare.

At the moment, though, with the 20 planes available with the base package, the huge number of airports, and the overall mesmerizing graphics, there is a lot to gain from MSF 2020. From sitting in your PC chair to being in the virtual skies over literally any part of the world you desire in a matter of minutes, is something that virtual pilots of all abilities will undoubtedly embrace.

For now, though, if you looking to purchase a flight simulator package, or whether you have simply been waiting all year for the release and are now unsure of whether to spend your hard-earned money, you certainly have more to gain than not with Microsoft's latest Flight Simulator release.

Our Verdict

While it's still quite early to post a definitive review - given the fact that software development is ongoing and bugs and fixes are being issues often, this review is a snapshot of what we have so far. Overall, we were very impressed and can see great things for the future of this simulator package over the coming years. We will update this review from time to time to cover any future updates and also, of course, include community feedback from them in the review too.

4.5 star review rating.
​We give the latest 2020 release of Microsoft Flight Simulator a 4.5 out of 5 stars rating.

If you haven't already (if you're reading this then it's likely you have!) then check out our complete guide to MSFS in our article which has been covering it since the beginning (long read).

Our Showcase Video

We have produced our own showcase video demonstrating the simulator. It's essentially a showcase/unofficial trailer video. It sums up the content above and what you can expect from the new sim.

The video shows many of the stock aircraft, featured airports, weather examples, and much more. While watching, why not subscribe to our channel?

What Do You Think?

We'd really love to know what you think and what your thoughts are regarding this latest Microsoft Flight Simulator release.

Do you own a copy and use it often? Have you refused to buy it - why? Are you sticking with previous generation flight sims - why? Do you have any issues with it? If you love it - why?

Please post your comments below...

Download iconDon't forget... We have a huge selection (over 24,000 files) of free mods and add-ons for FSX, P3D & X-Plane in the file library.  Files include aircraft, scenery, and utilities  All are free-to-download and use - you don't even need to register.  Browse on down to the file library here.

Ian Stephens

Ian Stephens

Ian Stephens is a flight simulation industry expert with over 20 years of experience and also has a keen interest in aviation and technology.  Ian spends a lot of his time experimenting with various simulator packages but has a love for Microsoft Flight Simulator X because of the huge selection of add-ons available.  However, Ian also has copies of Prepar3D and X-Plane installed. 

Ian has been writing for Fly Away Simulation for over 9 years.  Should you wish, you can contact Ian via email at ian.stephens@flyawaysimulation.com.

66 comments

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The content of the comments below are entirely the opinions of the individual posting the comment and do not always reflect the views of Fly Away Simulation. We moderate all comments manually before they are approved.

David WilsonThu, 22 Oct 2020 22:09:18 GMT

I have had this simulator from the day it was available, at first I found it very hard and have spent many hours using it and finding faults which I am pleased to say have been rectified with MSFS regular updates. I bought the premium deluxe version and pleased that I did.

My opinion is that it is everything I expected and they have been very clever in letting the public bring the faults to their attention, well done Microsoft and you deserve all the praises you get. Regards David Wilson.

gene meyerThu, 22 Oct 2020 23:32:16 GMT

I wish it was a little slower... I sure would have it.  Gene.

Eric RoweFri, 23 Oct 2020 00:15:38 GMT

Unlike FSX this one goes right away... no fiddling with settings or config cards to get things cooking straight away.

FSX was a big step up and after all the modding put into it became really good in the end. It had its limitations though but when you consider what a triumph PMDG and ORBX made out of it...amazing!

FS2020 is bound to follow the same trajectory and will become so good... it is just the beginning really. I can still recognize FSX in it and appreciate the connection.

James TunstellFri, 23 Oct 2020 00:51:36 GMT

I have a problem with the flight dynamics upon landing... help me with that!  When I land in FSX each plane does that smoothly, but in MSFS2020 it's work-intensive to get a smooth landing.

Caio BragaFri, 23 Oct 2020 00:54:20 GMT

MSFS 2020 Flight model and envelope not even close to what FS10 has been. Scenery and graphics are unbeatable though. When I want to see things I use the new sim. Old FSX still my "as real as it gets" flight simulation.

Jeff BurleyFri, 23 Oct 2020 01:23:44 GMT

A very long but informative review. I purchased the basic package of FS2020 knowing the basic program would supply me with any point on earth so why spend the extra money. I will wait for more aircraft as the community and Microsoft expand their offerings.

One note I would like to make. In the review, you mentioned problems with airport data loading, causing issues and as stated even with some computer crashes. If I understand it correctly when you select a departure airport, to help your system and the program load information for another airport, you should select a destination airport.

I have read that the program will load your departure airport and buffer the data for your arrival airport and points in between, in this way speeding up the processing. If you only select a departure airport, then the program will only buffer the data around that airport.

As you fly further away from your departure, new data has to be generated "on the fly". You might want to test this, but I think you will find a smoother ride if you give the program both airports.

Jim WardFri, 23 Oct 2020 01:59:46 GMT

I too bought this sim the first day it was available. I have owned every MS flight sim since the beginning. I like the product but it does have some issues that they are addressing. For me, the touchy flight controls is a major irritation. I have had to resort to manually modifying a config file to make it reasonable. I have every expectation that MS will rapidly make this product incrementally better and I look forward to an even better experience.

Of interest to me is that, according to the recent press, some users are finding that Google scenery is even better than the Bing (currently in this product). The more realism, the better. It will be interesting to see how this progresses. MS, thanks for this product, I'm a supporter!

Dan MckeeFri, 23 Oct 2020 02:24:00 GMT

What you fail to discuss is the terrible download and installation process which should not be reliant upon troubleshooting independent forums. I am not talking about the time it takes, I am talking about trying to start the process in the first place.

To have an MS App that has a documented problem with downloading under Windows 10 Version 2004 is unforgivable. Also to say that you must have a minimum of Windows 10 Version 1909 is also just not true. There are many "customers" who have successfully downloaded under Version 1903 so this can only be explained by an MS scam to try and force "customers" to update their Win 10 program (and all its unwanted trash).

Axel H AhlbergFri, 23 Oct 2020 02:45:40 GMT

I generally like the new MFS with the visuals better than I expected, increasing the realism of an approach to landing VFR by an order of magnitude over FSX and its predecessors.

But taken as a "Simulator" it has several problems, probably the most glaring to me is the lack of actual VFR maps. The feature called "VFR Map" is woefully inadequate and completely unlike the genuine article used by VFR pilots the world over for flight planning and flight execution. Real VFR maps have a large amount of detail regarding both topographic contours, minimum safe altitudes, position and height of obstructions to low-level flight, positions of roads, railroads, and bridges where those affect a pilot's ability to locate his position by reference to the ground and include regions marked to show where city lights will appear at night, all intended to support the most basic form of aerial navigation, pilotage.

A real VFR map has the location of anything closely resembling an airport, whether privately owned or public and the appropriate radio communications and navigation frequencies for every transmitter likely to be able to be received by the minimum suite of equipment required for the safe operation of the aircraft.

That would include radio towers, airport towers, VOR locations, and ident codes. All of this information used to be sold on printed charts for $3 each but is now available for free download at least in the USA.

The big flaw to me, especially for the Bush trips since locating a specific grass strip in the countryside is aided by knowing where the towns, rivers, roads, powerlines, and railroads are to ensure you're actually landing somewhere that's actually intended to be a landing site. Another bad idea in the Bush Trips is traveling over the water below 1000' AGL. In the real world, but for occasional sightseeing, you always want to have sufficient altitude to glide to a long enough flat spot in case your engine fails - which when traveling over mountains, lakes, and oceans means some pretty serious heights above terrain for light aircraft like the singles used in the Bush trips.

The VFR map in this simulator is a joke - the only man-made features are the airports and POI the developers chose, there is no minimum safe altitude, nor the complete path of the rivers, both dry and watery, instead being something the developers thought to be relevant to the trip undertaken.

Generally, the flight dynamics seem pretty close in all the singles I've flown so far but for some squirrely behavior of the rudders, which despite various attempts at sensitivity and dead zone adjustment seem to overcontrol when taking off and landing to a degree I don't see in the real aircraft I've flown and despite hours devoted to tweaking. Could be the unnatural feel of using a joystick twist for rudder - I'll know more when my new rudder pedals show up.

Other concerns are quality control in their releases which have been too many too quickly. At one point they released a version where they accidentally removed the calibration capability for flight control hardware like joysticks and keypads and throttle quadrants. But despite its flaws, it looks to be on the right track overall.

The general visuals and weather look mostly like the real thing to me. I did some scud-running in Northern Japan to find the village my daughter works in and other than the building colors being off and slightly misshapen it actually looked like her real location.

One other bothersome thing is the size of some of the updates. I'm using Comcast in the US as my internet provider and they have a 1.2 TB/month download limit. We usually watch about 700 to 800 GB of streamed programming each month, but in September, thanks to Flight Simulator updates, I almost hit the limit, meaning that in the space of a few weeks I had gone through some 400GB of Flight Simulator updates and worldwide terrain data while they tried to fix their many bugs. And since then, I've had to limit my usage since I'm retired on a fixed income, to avoid over-running my data budget each month.

But it is beautiful and more realistic looking than any other out-of-the-box flight simulator currently on offer, making most flights a pleasant recreation of the real thing. The ATC needs work, the VFR maps need to be replaced to be more like what pilots really use, and the seemingly random progression around the virtual cockpit could use some consistency across cockpits. But I have hope for it in a year or two.

Ray ChildsFri, 23 Oct 2020 03:00:54 GMT

I pre-ordered the premium deluxe version and downloaded it as soon as it became available. Not being a pilot or computer geek, it has been a struggle to use it. With no manual, initially, it was impossible to fly.

I built my own simulator and used FSX very successfully for many years, I have 5 screens in which I could create a cockpit and never had to move a camera to see my instruments or look out the windscreen. I just turned my head. This new Simulator does not allow (or I have not discovered how to do) this. Despite the fantastic graphics, looking at one tiny monitor does not give me any sense of flying.

I was able to program my yoke and it shows me I have with on-screen tips confirming my selections. The problem is, when I try to use the programmed selections, they don't work. I cleared the default selections just in case of a conflict, but that didn't fix the issue. So, I'm relegated to flying with a keyboard and mouse - hardly what I would call flying an airplane.

Overall, I am very disappointed so far. Having superb scenery is wasted if it can't be enjoyed. Perhaps the issues will be addressed eventually but from what I have read in forums so far, it could be a very long time before things are put right if they ever are. The positive aspect is that I never uninstalled FSX.

Terrific work on the review. It is well written and very informative. It's easy to see you have spent a lot of time working on it as you do with all your articles.

Thomas GeorgeFri, 23 Oct 2020 03:18:17 GMT

I have been using MS Flight Simulator in all its avatars since 1994 and have enjoyed every moment with them. Having got FS 2020 on its release date, I have spent all my free time flying various aircraft in various regions.

I am in love with the product and I can assume it will get only better with improvements in times to come as also with add-ons from other sources.

A few improvements I would like to see include:

  1. The possibility of adding own (fictitious) waypoints as one could in FSX.
  2. Replay so as to be able to analyze various stages of flight.
  3. Anomalies in airport services - minor hitches need to be finetuned.
  4. Approaches to certain airports on autopilot need to be resolved.

The product is excellent and I am glad I have such a lovely sim!

James RobertsonFri, 23 Oct 2020 03:23:44 GMT

I have a copy and installed it. It has great graphics but that does not make up for the fact the planes have no 2D panel. I despise aircraft virtual panels. I will stick to FSX SE. If Windows 7 was still supported I would go back to FS9. In a nutshell, I will not be using the 2020 version.

Edward DowlingFri, 23 Oct 2020 04:12:37 GMT

I have this on my computer and still cannot get it to run after a month. Making it operate is a nightmare.

Brian GarbuttFri, 23 Oct 2020 04:12:44 GMT

I subscribed when it first came out. The views were fantastic but the actual flying was not as good as XP11. However, the views did it for me. Then came the updates.

From the first update, my game would not let me Into Options /general without crashing. I got in touch with Microsoft who told me to go into options/general and make sure the USA was picked blah, blah... (crashed every time).  I updated the graphics network Win10 reinstalled 2020 3 times, still no joy.

I am back now with XP11(with Helicopters).  I really, really tried. Cheers, Brian Garbutt.

Roy AmburnFri, 23 Oct 2020 05:06:56 GMT

I have been waiting for your new FS2020 to finally come out, but have one question that has not been answered yet... will the new version work with Windows 10? My last Flight Simulator (FSX) would no longer function after I updated my computer to Windows 10. Very very disappointed!

I do miss "flying" on my old FSX so much! In any case, thank you for continuing the Microsoft Flight Sim experience. I have loved your previous versions and have spent many many hours on my old Windows 7 computer flying them. Sincerely, Roy Amburn.

Tim CollinsFri, 23 Oct 2020 05:45:16 GMT

I've recently retired from a life as a professional airline and military pilot of 49 years and 24,000 hours of experience. I’ve used MSFS since the earliest days on MS-DOS, and now develop freeware for FSX and P3D - and I’m studying the techniques needed to do so for the new sim.

Visually, FS20 is remarkable and wonderful to roam around in. However, it’s not difficult to get a somewhat similar experience in Google Earth (which does have a ‘flight sim’ mode). Ok, the experience close to the ground isn’t anywhere near as good - but it’s free! P3D and X-Plane, even with a full suite of Orbx add-ons, can’t get anywhere near it. Add the atmospheric effects, and it’s a big step forward from what we’ve had to date.

However, the actual flying experience is - so far - pretty poor. None of the aircraft handle realistically, and much better simulations are available in the established sims. Third-party aircraft are on the way, I’m sure, and let’s hope they redress the fairly dismal failures of the default airplanes. It would be great to get PMDG or Aerosoft’s airliners in this sim, or perhaps some of the combat aircraft from DCS!

The ‘living world’ environment ain’t great either. Yes, there’s some eye-candy with animals - but FSX did that 14 years ago. The really important stuff - AI traffic - is poor. It’s not a patch on what can be done in FSX or P3D, and as yet it can’t be improved by third-party developers due to some major shortcomings in the sim’s programming. The lack of a properly-functioning and documented SDK is a significant obstruction to those developers as well. The scenery that’s being produced is down to the ingenuity of some very clever people who’ve essentially reverse-engineered the sim to work out how to make things!

So, it’s a slightly shaky start, but the potential is obvious. If the SDK can be fleshed out, the loading times reduced, and the various programming glitches resolved, it will eventually knock P3D and X-Plane out of the park. But it’s a long way from that as yet.

James A. BrownFri, 23 Oct 2020 05:45:37 GMT

This concerns your own presentation here rather than MSFS2020 as such. Your video "comparisons" of earlier and current versions fail because you present bare-faced sunny views for earlier systems vs. heavily clouded grim and obscure shots for the 2020 edition. That offers no valid comparison of screenshots to appreciate true differences. (Obviously, you are taken with the dramatic billowing and deeply shadowed cloud formations, as am I.)

Also, the overly self-indulgent chatty blah-blah-blah of Aussi bloke is distracting coupled with swift and staccato shots of random views do not clarify what we are supposed to be viewing. Com on, surely you can do better... Too much fancy promotional talk and failure to deliver in a clear and non-repetitive way. Sorry...

Ruud van de VeenFri, 23 Oct 2020 06:05:19 GMT

For the graphics only, I agree with you it is a very nice sim, but the rest is very poorly made for a price that is twice as much as X-plane 11.

We are no more than beta testers that pay way to much for a sim that doesn't even have the right way for reacting upon the wind, as ATC sends me to landing with high wind on my tale, speaks out the number 1 as O,N,E, since the first update, and we have had huge updates to fix almost nothing for the flying experience, planes are given a range they can't reach, given speed, they will not reach, others go way beyond the speed they should be able to reach... We are paying Beta testers!

Peter HofmannFri, 23 Oct 2020 06:33:14 GMT

What are the PC hardware requirements for the Deluxe version?  Hard drive capacity, RAM capacity, and game card version? Any specific internet requirements? Thank you!

david donneFri, 23 Oct 2020 06:49:10 GMT

Love the new sim but find it a bit expensive. I am a pensioner and will need to wait a while. I am using MFS steam and X-Plane 11 for now. I am a ex-pilot but am 77 yrs old and can't fly any more.

David WilliamsFri, 23 Oct 2020 07:37:31 GMT

Thanks for another brilliant and comprehensive review, Ian! Most welcome and much appreciated. Cheers - Dai.

arnold reinhardFri, 23 Oct 2020 08:17:14 GMT

Hello, The FS2020 has taken off ... but how is it that to date, after 3 months, no specialist, no PC manufacturer presents us with a "reliable" range of PCs, from the essential to the more sophisticated, in a suitable price range, meeting the different requirements of the FS2020.

Because indeed we get lost in the comments and the most contradictory opinions of Internet users while noting that they are not entirely satisfied with their machines! Thank you for this essential enlightening before the purchase of new equipment that can make the FS2020 run comfortably or more, depending on the budget!

James MitchellFri, 23 Oct 2020 08:45:03 GMT

The keyboard commands for the PC program are an absolute disaster. Fine maybe for a newbie to Flight Sim but for someone who can use the keyboard in their sleep since FS2004 there is no other word but disaster.

FloydyFri, 23 Oct 2020 08:49:32 GMT

It is unplayable, the controls are jerky and/or unresponsive. Have tried every setting there is. It looks amazing but very disappointing.

Vaughn ZanottoFri, 23 Oct 2020 09:14:17 GMT

Controlling the aircraft is my biggest problem. Landings are tough. FSX 10 never had a problem. The scenery is great and so is the weather system. 2020 needs some work on control of the aircraft.

Gordon walkerFri, 23 Oct 2020 09:38:49 GMT

Love the flight simulator but there are still a lot of bugs in the system, for instance, all the bridges In Scotland are missing considering they are iconic sights in Scotland.  For instance, the Forth railway bridge all that is there is a big space.  Wallace monument is replaced by a block of flats - what’s going on?  I might enjoy the flight simulator more if it was fixed.

Ludo CustersFri, 23 Oct 2020 09:58:42 GMT

For decades I play flight sim. After all, I think that FSX was/is the best. The FSX steam edition was not a plus... I have addons for many dollars. Especially the photoreal sceneries are 'a must-have'.

I fly FSX Steam over a photoreal western Europe and the many US States. Of course, you need a powerful desktop but surely not a high-end. With this, I just want to say that flying FSX above the photoreal landscape is much more realistic than the new FS2020 which is built on "Christmas card" sceneries.

And more, FSX is easy and fun (thanks to good autopilot functions). FS2020 is no fun but labor. I think FS2020 will not survive. Aspirant pilots will like it, easy-going flight simmers return to their "home favorite FS".

Anycase, I will install the many many FS2020 updates the game needs.  Greetings, Ludo, Belgium.

MICHAEL SHELTONFri, 23 Oct 2020 10:15:30 GMT

Until I see some facilities for gliding, as that's all I do, I can't see any benefits for myself?  Will just carry on with x-plane and condor 2.

Piet de GeusFri, 23 Oct 2020 10:29:22 GMT

I am very satisfied with the sim-functions, quality of the scenery, and aircraft. Actually, I have three organizational questions and one for the add-on suppliers.

  1. It is funny that aircraft are named by providers (like Asobo) instead of manufacturer (Douglas, Cessna, etc). When looking for an aircraft one has to remember the supplier's name instead of what is usually in the aviation world.
  2. I would like to have more organizational functions to define by myself where to put add-on aircraft, add-on scenery, etc. FSX and Prepar3D have full freedom for that, every location could be defined in one of the cfg's. This eases maintenance and can influence positively the performance.
  3. In MP I am missing the possibility to define the external look of the companion(s), now they are all the same and add-ons cannot be addressed.
  4. I would like to have a more explanatory filename of an add-on, now it is very cryptical, it would also be useful to include the readme in the file instead of in the description on the website.
Guy Van EECKHOUDT Fri, 23 Oct 2020 10:54:21 GMT

Beautiful work yes, but essential items missing.  Aircraft library too limited - no legendary planes.  I did not find any realistic GA Airfield in my country.

Lot of airstrip missing, military airfields do not exist at all although they are accessible to GA for diversion.  Also no replay of the flight.

The aviation lovers believe me if you want to extend your success do not put aside that big part of the aviation world

Flying a restored legend airplane of WWII is also flying civilian.

Cheers

Guy

Ian YeatesFri, 23 Oct 2020 11:48:02 GMT

I have been simming for years. I pre-ordered the Premium Deluxe but realized my PC would not be up for it, so I bought the Deluxe version. My PC is not a high end, I am retired and the price of top end graphic cards is disgraceful.

I bought a used MS recommended card and added 16GB of ram. I can run all day without too much bother and although I thought I will need a better card I will not bother, (if it ain't broke).

I have enjoyed the new Sim a lot, we are in total lockdown due to Covid 19 so it has been great for me. The negatives were the initial setup but a good few people like Squirrel made it much easier.

I am putting up with the control issues and have confidence that it will get sorted as they seem to be working through a huge list supplied by the users. The cost of upgrading from one type say deluxe to Premium Deluxe is a bit expensive, it would be great if they made it possible to buy bits, airport/aircraft.

There are a few glitches here and there, a tall tower near a major airport in Melbourne Australia, and ships with trees growing out of them at San Diego. It is a real wonderland MSFS and I for one love it.  Yeah, I get frustrated at times but after going back to FSX the only things I missed were all my favorite aircraft and ease of control, it's like a real backward step.

George Julian VoudourisFri, 23 Oct 2020 12:01:40 GMT

Please I would like to know what is going on with Premium Deluxe Update 1.9.3.0. Although I know it is released, the Microsoft Store says "It is not available" --- I am asked for a 25 digit "redeem code" which I have no idea where to get it from!

Vincent De CesarisFri, 23 Oct 2020 13:30:27 GMT

I have bought the most complete version (120,00 Euros). It's a very beautiful simulator. I have some difficulties in calibrating my devices. In particular Logitech Throttle Quadrant!

Frank WhiteFri, 23 Oct 2020 13:31:23 GMT

The review is too rosy. Sounds more like a rehash of Microsoft's Marketing literature than an actual in-depth review. Problems and issues at the time of the writing are glossed over or not mentioned. For example, the cockpit talks about how all the systems are replicated but fails to mention that many systems are inoperable. This review needs an addendum.

Johannes gryzenhoutFri, 23 Oct 2020 14:13:36 GMT

Great sim, don't like the view command set up with the mouse, too unstable.

RRKC135Fri, 23 Oct 2020 14:19:49 GMT

As far as comparing X-Plane to 2020, in most cases, I find X-Plane has a lot more detail at the US airports I fly to.  FS2020 is very cumbersome and time consuming to use. It is for new flight simmers.

To me, some of the GS planes are not the main stream for what I have in X-plane. Flight sim is more about airplanes and not so much about eye candy for ground objects. Very little time is spent on the ground because it is a flight sim. I flew over my small town and the ground textures were not sharp at all, nothing looked like my town.

X-Plane 11.50 upped the sim a lot. It is my go-to sim. I might start FS2020 up now and again but no satisfaction for me.

For a sim pilot like me who flys GA almost exclusively FS2020 doesn't offer many aircraft. We need more Pipers and Cessnas without the G1000.

Alvaro DíazFri, 23 Oct 2020 14:22:18 GMT

2020 is still missing planes and helicopters. There is no landing on aircraft carriers. The missions are exclusively flight. A lot of progress was made in graphics and scenarios. It does not allow free addons.

Michael SFri, 23 Oct 2020 15:10:48 GMT

I wasn't anxiously waiting for August 18th to arrive because I knew there was going to be some issues with the initial release, as always is the case with just about any software. That's why I'll wait a little longer before purchasing MSFS 2020, meaning I'll wait until a Service Pack is released rather than purchase the current version and constantly install updates.

I want to enjoy the flight simulator by flying aircraft and not spend a lot of time trying to figure out why things don't work in it, that's the developers' job, not mine.

Oh, one more thing, I'll stick with X-Plane 11.50 for the time being, it's not perfect and it has its own annoying little flaws but its pros outnumber its cons, after all, it has been out for over 3 years now.

PIOVANI LucienFri, 23 Oct 2020 15:14:03 GMT

The game which for me at my level of price + 150 € (Standard + Premium) is not satisfactory! There is still work to be done at Microsoft and Asobo! Patience will come with the support of all!

Jeff PinkertonFri, 23 Oct 2020 15:34:32 GMT

MSFS is a truly breakthrough product. There's no need to list its positive features or the most commonly reported negative ones, instead, I'd rather offer suggestions for improvement, rather than fixing.

Number 1 - better support for ILS navigation and landing. if you don't have an external source for ILS frequencies by the runway, MSFS isn't going to tell you, as far as I have seen - and I've looked.

Related to that - a functional moving map, with VOR, DME, and ADF frequencies. Once that's available - a more detailed flight planning system, and while in a flight plan, much better information on where you are in terms of progress. And if there's going to be a better flight planner, there needs to be actual documentation on how to use the GPS and Garmin systems, which differ across many of the aircraft. I know the functionality is there, but controlling them is largely guesswork and seeing what works.

Finally (for now) put back some basic features that FS2004/X have had for years, such as altitude above ground level, show the simulation rate, show specific panels like navigation in external view windows. And if they would add 2D cockpits with add-ons for user designs, gauge selection, etc, that would be perfect, but I expect that one is going to be a lost cause.

But those are improvement suggestions. As it is, the product overall is sheer genius.

Jeremy ButteryFri, 23 Oct 2020 17:12:06 GMT

I have had every iteration of MSFS and I knew I had to have 2020.

As my flight sim desktop died a few months ago, I decided to risk buying a good laptop for 2020 and I have found the Acer Predator I bought fully up to the task. With medium settings I get about 50 fps and 40 when on high to ultra, so no problems there.

As a leisure simmer, graphic realism is my greatest desire and my issues are very few. I live in southern England near the Solent and the photogrammetry finish for this region is great, other than some trees in the middle of the sea at Southampton docks, but I'm sure they'll be fixed in time.

Let's face it, no developer can get the whole world perfect from the off! Another frustration is there are far too many US style tower blocks in the UK scenery, so I guess they assumed they could use the same scenery library for both nations.

But overall, I feel the detail and value from this Sim takes the genre to a whole new level. I can't wait for it to carry on improving.

KOHLBERG DFri, 23 Oct 2020 18:26:21 GMT

Can't get my Logitech force 3d Pro joystick to work with MSFS 2020. Help.

Michael HensleyFri, 23 Oct 2020 20:01:50 GMT

I'm very impressed with the sim so far but I do have a problem with the way ATC functions.

As an IFR rated pilot I have found the vernacular to be different from the actual ATC communications experienced when flying, particularly the "proceed as planned" instruction when clearance is amended by ATC.

At times ATC has apparently 'lost' me leaving me to find my own way to the destination. I know MSFS is going to continue with development in numerous areas and I'm looking forward to seeing how it proceeds.

Peter LamontFri, 23 Oct 2020 20:30:59 GMT

The way I see it, and this is my personal opinion, I know a lot of you simmers spend a lot of money on MSFS and on add-on's, and that's ok but what about the people who just can't afford it like me who is 65 and on a fixed income.

My PC is 6 years old and I don't have the means to buy a new one let alone buy the new version of MSFS. The one I have is the MFS Steam edition. When I saw the video of the new MSFS 2020 ( WOW ). But when I saw the price (oops). Looks like I will stay with the old version.

To all you simmer"s who have the new version of MSFS 2020 congratulations it is a good investment and I know you will have lots of fun with it.

An old MSFS simmer Peter Lamont.

Dave RossFri, 23 Oct 2020 22:49:34 GMT

I am an avid gamer and flight simmer and have been since the first TI in the '80s. I rate FS2020 very high except for three areas that I have found to be frustrating.

  1. I find the set-up process for controls, profiles, etc. to be the least intuitive of just about any game or sim I have ever played. I don't know whose fault this is except to say the buck stops with MS and they should be ashamed.
  2. The sim is extremely buggy and unpredictable. At times I can fly for hours without problems then suddenly all hell will break loose with CTDs for which I can find no reason. My opinion here is that it is still in the mid-stages of Beta and was released very prematurely.
  3. I purchased the Standard package with the thought that I would upgrade as I might want, either to a higher package or perhaps individual aircraft, etc. To find that one is required to pay the full package price to upgrade is unprofessional and ludicrous. I have decided to go back to X-Plane for my flying pleasure and only return to FS2020 if and when they correct the above items.
Maurice BlainFri, 23 Oct 2020 23:48:55 GMT

I have decided not to purchase MSFS. I will not purchase a download of such a glitch-filled and pricey flight sim. Microsoft should have offered the sim in the form of a DVD in the USA.

Also, I will not purchase the sim because of all the negative remarks as noted above (comments). I think the sample videos presented by Microsoft were very impressive but gave no hint of the problems many buyers would encounter. There was lots of hype. I'm sticking with FSX.

nick lewisFri, 23 Oct 2020 23:49:38 GMT

My comments are as follows- It took four and half hours to load off the ten DVDs, on inspection of the file I noticed there was no EXE file also the files were individually placed and not in their groups like FS9 ie sim objects, scenery, etc, to start the sim so I got onto the seller and he has promised to replace. I have now posted the sim off to him and wait for the replacement and I will send further comments if needed.

gordon skagerSat, 24 Oct 2020 00:16:43 GMT

I preordered the FS. I loaded it on a brand new Lenovo lp. This laptop is very well equipped and I couldn't open the game. I went to Best Buy to talk with there so called Geeks. Bottom line my computer is not ever going to allow me to use the game and would cost in the hundreds to make it work.

I contacted Microsoft and they say it's being worked on with no correction date. They have collected countless amounts of money and if you maybe bought it from say Amazon as I did they won't issue any refund or help you at all with their clients that sell their software. who would think that Microsoft would stupe so low?

Gordon S.

D ShortSat, 24 Oct 2020 05:03:12 GMT

Good article Ian. I've set the new simulator aside until the next update rolls thru as I can only complete short flights without a CTD and the instability of the aircraft is frustrating.

It's clear that you are really pulling for this new sim as you didn't even mention the things missing like the Replay or a decent log file to troubleshoot issues. Add a few more paragraphs to the Cons sections to present a complete picture of the sim.

I think it will be great in the long run but it's a ball of issues at this point.

Kevin AtkinsonSat, 24 Oct 2020 08:19:39 GMT

I have every intention of buying MSFS. The first step was to upgrade the hardware which I have done. Will remain on FSX Steam until the end of the year and will then purchase and migrate. I know there are negative views out there but the positive seems to far outway the negative.

wingCdrSat, 24 Oct 2020 10:12:22 GMT

I have the Deluxe version and generally am impressed with the simulator. It takes a while to get used to the way that you set up a flight, but I remember thinking this with earlier editions but got used to it in the end.

I have experienced take-off problems where the aircraft when approaching take-off speed becomes difficult to stay straight and tends to want to roll. As a private pilot who has flown Cessna/piper/beagle and other aircraft I find especially the C172 take-off and approach/landing speeds to low with the aircraft wanting to fly below 60kts and the sim flashing up "Too Fast" when I approach at between 65 to 75 knots which would be the speed I would use in real life.

The major pain is Air Traffic as a Military and Civil Air Traffic Controller for over 43 yrs I find the ATC simulation awful For Europe ATC it is about 10% correct and is totally geared to US ATC. The list of differences between US and European ATC is vast and for me spoils what otherwise is a very good simulation.

Also please please please can we have more analog flight displays /helicopters and Piper etc aircraft.

Hans BrynerSat, 24 Oct 2020 11:45:45 GMT

As a real-world Privat Pilot (SEL) I would definitely agree with some of the comments regarding the less than optimum flight dynamics of e.g. the CESSNA Skyhawk G 1000.

In this context, I would like to mention just the trimming of the plane that takes a lot more time than in the real world, due to the sluggish response of the trim wheel when triggering nose-up or nose-down on my Logitec Flight Yoke System. Maybe this can be adjusted somehow, however, I haven't come across it yet.

A further advantage I see when flying the XP-11 is that working with the instruments (Radios, Nav Equipm. etc.) is a lot easier due to the fact that the PFD and MFD can be enlarged and positioned in front of you so that turning the knobs is very easy. In the MSFS this seems impossible and makes a fast adjustment and dialing cumbersome, even more so due to the pop-up labels when selecting a specific knob with the cursor.

To be fair, it could also be that there are solutions to these problems and I haven't come across them since I just started out with using the MSFS 2020. What are your experiences, Flight-Simmers out there?

DecimoSat, 24 Oct 2020 16:03:49 GMT

MSFS is a revolutionary product its positive features nothing to say.

But if they put a few planes less and created at least a helicopter and a van, a Gip to go around when you arrive at the airport to see the scenery!  At least with FSX, you could download what you wanted.

There is no landing on military airports. A lot of progress has been made in graphics and scenarios but for a fee. It does not allow free addons. All third parties purchased on other simulators cannot be transported so we keep them as a souvenir! I flew on all possible simulators and my opinion is that what I expected Microsoft in 2020 would see certain flaws I bought MSFS tried it... But for the moment I stay on my P3DV5. Greetings Decimo Tonini.

Robert J. McManusSat, 24 Oct 2020 18:40:13 GMT

I agree that the graphics/scenery are sensational. But let’s complain! Here’s a list of chronic malfunctions and/or things I miss from FSX and P3D that I hope could be added or modified in a future update or service pack -- although that’s probably wishful thinking. In no particular order:

  1. No earth view during a flight. The inset VFR map is too limited in range.
  2. Can’t change views with POV hat on the joystick. Yes, right-clicking on the mouse performs the same function, but that’s cumbersome in comparison.
  3. Can’t preset an external view.
  4. In FSX/P3D external view, basic flight parameters were displayed in small letters at the top of the screen. Now they are unnecessarily big transparent dials that nix most screenshots, and you can’t toggle them on/off. And they don’t include wind speed.
  5. No water textures to speak off, and certainly no waves as featured in the promo video.
  6. ESC pauses the sim, OK, but it does NOT pause time of day. So if it’s sunset, you pause and go to dinner; when you come back to your flight, it’s dark!
  7. No copilot or passenger views.
  8. In FSX/P3D, you could go to the map and get info on distant airports (like elevation and runway numbers). If you can do this in FS2020, I haven’t found out how.
  9. For all the hype about graphics, clouds are a very poor second to Rex SoftClouds in FSX/P3D. Maybe there will be an add-on someday. (And my clouds don’t look like those depicted in this review. Maybe there’s a setting I don’t know about.)
  10. Autopilot is horrible, and several forum threads indicate that I am far from alone. Disengaging it often sends the plane wildly out of control, and half the time it does not engage to begin with.
  11. The drone view is close to useless since you can’t control the plane when you’re in a drone view. I guess you can engage AP before going to the drone view. But see the previous paragraph. Loading a saved flight crashes the sim to the desk, every time.
David RedfearnSat, 24 Oct 2020 19:48:03 GMT

This is hardly a review - more like an advertisement for MSFS2020.

The graphics are amazing though if you get off the beaten path (i.e., far-east Russia, Petropavlovsk, etc.) it looks much more generic (not photographic). Even in the US, the photo images are not always up-to-date (i.e., Summerlin, west of Las Vegas).

Also, the plane dynamics don't match what X-Plane is providing - not a surprise given that X-Plane actually simulates airflow over the wings and control surfaces. I have been "flying" the Citation CJ4 and it's a mess - very sensitive, unrealistically overpowered, and the FMS has problems. Users are contributing fixes. And, the AI Pilot has lots of problems - I have used AI to learn procedures and it lands the CJ4 off the runway!

But there is a lot very good - the weather, ATC, and real-life airport traffic are all great. And, I have seen improvements over the past 30+ days. I have used X-Plane (on the Mac) for many years and have purchased a lot of add ons, including huge orthophoto scenery regions. And, I guess the fact that I installed a Bootcamp partition on my iMac Pro to run Win10 and MSFS2020 shows my interest.

KEITH T COLLINSSat, 24 Oct 2020 19:56:24 GMT

Hopefully, Aerosoft will release the box version for the USA. For me and a few this is really wanted as none or very slow internet.

MARC BARBERSat, 24 Oct 2020 23:13:56 GMT

As a pilot and sim enthusiast, I find your review to be an excellent summation of what to expect.

As a Simulation one could argue that they should have named it MSFS2020 Visual Flight Sim. There is no visibility slider, an unforgivable gaff considering every aspect of aviation both legal and safety-related under Visual or Instrument flight rules are governed by visibility.

MSFS in its current state is essentially a game, not a simulator. It is not too far removed from the Google Maps flight Sim albeit with the weather but a ' Simulator ' it is not.

Once I can use it in the Instrument environment, once it has reliable force feedback telemetry and once it has the SDK to pair it with a motion platform it will become a Simulator. ( All these things can be done with every previous version including X Plane )/ It's Beautiful, was released far too early and is intentionally a work in progress.

From a pilot's perspective, I would not yet recommend purchasing.

Paul MateerSat, 24 Oct 2020 23:13:57 GMT

I was all set...ran the install and discovered it will not run with my Radeon HD 7000 video card. Damn! Guess it's time for an upgrade...

Jim WestSun, 25 Oct 2020 14:39:23 GMT

My experience has been like getting to the airport for a flight to paradise but the plane cannot take off due to technical problems!

I have a very high-end PC. I bought Gamepass and downloaded and the installation was fine. Then the latest Windows 10 update disabled MS2020 from loading. Reversed the update but now MS2020 will not install!

Brutal that an MS program will not run due to an MS update!

Back to X-plane 11.5!

ALAN SLOANSun, 25 Oct 2020 15:22:36 GMT

This flight sim from Microsoft in my opinion is the worst fight sim ever in the many years. It was hastily put on the market with no thought of the many many flight loyal flight simmers around the world.

There's nothing about it that is easy and enjoyable as the many flight sims before, yes the scenery is very good but that's about it.

ATC is a disaster, to say the least, it's a joke to one's intelligence. To load the sim and drink two cups of coffee while waiting for it to load. Most of the hardware flight controllers that we have don't work so much expense.

I wish I could be more enthused with this MSFS but in my opinion, it will never be right to many issues to overcome. Alan Sloan.

Joe Denver Sun, 25 Oct 2020 16:59:15 GMT

I find the most annoying thing in this sim is the camera situation.  When I access the external camera it moves slightly I just want it to stay in one place and not move even a drop this makes it very hard to fly from outside view let’s say I want to perform an ultra-smooth landing and want to see it from outside its very hard since the camera moves slightly this is the reason I am finding myself going back to x plain I wish they would fix it that would make it the best sim.

Malcolm EdgarSun, 25 Oct 2020 23:06:51 GMT

Regrettably, I have to agree with all of the negative comments posted thus far with regard to MSFS 2020.

If this was a new car we'd bought, it would have been straight back to the dealers immediately. The hassle(s) with the initial download/install should have been an immediate and resounding wake-up call for the developers to resolve at least the basic bugs but sadly that doesn't seem to have happened.

Yes, the graphics/scenery, etc is absolutely stunning (and that I fear will be the honeytrap that will keep us all engaged) but it is not, in my humble opinion, sufficient on its own to make an enjoyable and immersive "flight-sim".

David McGuinnessTue, 27 Oct 2020 14:17:21 GMT

Scenery etc. is good but aircraft flight dynamics are not good. I am an ex PPL pilot so have a good idea of the real thing.

I think the main problem is that movement on the screen in flight is far too jittery, remember we are not able to feel the movement, so to our brain, the movements are far too extreme. Taxiing is abysmal. Why is there not a Tower view and instant replay so you can see a display you have performed or a landing?

David.

Kenneth MooreFri, 30 Oct 2020 10:03:18 GMT

I am currently using the sim with an Xbox subscription. The Simulator is superb as far as I can tell BUT it needs a user guide.

To expect even an experienced flight simmer to use this complex simulator with no manual is ridiculous. I have been flying since the first FS but am really struggling with setting up the controls, the ATC, add ons, etc.

I will buy it as soon as the guide is available, until then I may cancel my Xbox sub as it is just unusable.

Carmine SalernoFri, 06 Nov 2020 15:41:26 GMT

The community will be less frustrated If the truth were told on why they released the sim knowing It needed more fixing. It doesn't matter who screwed up... it's WHY . That's why were all upset waiting for the best and getting piss poor "Fix it yourself" sim. Who will have the courage to tell this mishap?

gordon skagerFri, 06 Nov 2020 20:43:33 GMT

I was so looking forward to this new Flight sim. I even pre-ordered it. With no comments from Microsoft on the computer requirements, I tried downloading on my new Lenovo laptop.

Of course, during the download, a message occurred saying my computer is not equipped to play the game. I then asked for a refund and they said it went to a reseller and that Microsoft isn't responsible for any refund. What's so aggravating - Not one word as to what computers need to operate and play the game.

To think I've always considered Microsoft a top-notch company. I guess no amount of money is never enough. Gordon S.

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