back to article I can see my house from here! Microsoft Flight Simulator has laid strong foundations for the nerdy scene's next generation

Tomorrow the eagerly awaited 2020 incarnation of Microsoft Flight Simulator lands. The Register had a play with the release version and was impressed with this first draft. Developed from the ground up by French outfit Asobo Studio, Flight Simulator is one of the most hotly anticipated titles in the genre for years – though …

  1. iron Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    I tried the beta and while I can't comment on the accuracy of the flight model I can say the areas I flew around were pretty true to my knowledge / recollections; mostly Scotland, IoM and Northern Italy. Using a controller I had to resort to mouse + keyboard for a few things so I wonder how well it works on XBox. I didn't try the ultra settings but on high-end it ran perfectly on my Ryzen 3700X and GTX1060 6GB and I was very impressed. Clouds look amazing.

  2. skotl

    Great review - appreciate the honest approach!

    I'm looking forward to playing this, but I've never spent £60 (or even £120!) on a game before, and will likely wait until the price drops, by which time some of the glitches should have been addressed too.

    1. gazthejourno (Written by Reg staff)

      Quite honestly I spent ages flying around this as a hardcore flight simulation nerd and not nearly enough time trying out all the other features, though I only had 2 days to test and write this up.

      The basic version is available on the Xbox Game Pass for something like £4/month and all you're missing out on is the extra detailed airports and some of the aircraft. The basic selection is plenty good enough if you're not a rivet counter or systems operation geek like me.

      I really enjoyed (was frustrated by!) the landing challenges. There's a gameplay section where your job is to accurately touch down at the correct spot on the runway. Obviously there's lots of gusty winds and/or extremely challenging approaches which make that hard. Strongly recommended if you like that sort of thing.

    2. MrMerrymaker

      Join Gamepass for a quid.

    3. BigAndos

      I'm going to take basic edition for a spin via gamepass and see if my puny 960 GTX can handle it before I buy it

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I notice that it's a little more sophisticated than the first flight sim I ever played, on the Sinclair ZX81.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge


      Particularly the bit where you have to arrive at your computer 3hours early and hang around before you can play

    2. Sudosu


      Well, look at you with yer fan-cy gra-fix.

      My first flight sim was text joke.

      B1 Nuclear Bomber

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        What an odd-looking game. Does that thing even count as a "flight simulation" in the conventional sense? It looks more like a mashup between a boardgame-derived strategy game, a choose-your-own thing and a text adventure.

        It appears that they did an updated version later on, but even that appears to be essentially the same thing with non-interactive graphics slapped on.

        1. Sudosu


          Oh wow, I've never seen the version with actual graphics before...though I think you are right they look pretty static.

          Avalon Hill used to have a game called Nukewar that I loved...its kinda like Battleship but with an arms race. You can still play the Apple II version here, the C64 was in color.

    3. Robert Moore


      I remember that flight sim. It was written in Basic, I edited it a lot. :) Happy days.

      I recall there was a landing practice mode that set you in the air lined up for a landing, but I changed to put you are ridiculous altitude (100000+ Ft?), then tried to see how fast I could impact the ground.

      The hours of entertainment that provided.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        I used to just change the "crash" messages to various "humorous" things. Or messed about with the trigonometry et al that I didn't understand at that age and made it crash (in either sense of the word).

    4. John Riddoch


      Amiga F18 interceptor game, where you could eject at a height of 20 ft inverted and be told "you ejected safely", despite the fact that in real life you'd have been killed on impact with the water... Fun times!

  4. 45RPM Silver badge

    Buckingham Palace, for example, seemed to have become a council housing estate

    Seems like the best use for it.

    1. jonathan keith

      I had that very argument with my elderly parents the other month. I think it was just after they'd started watching the latest series of The Crown. I also suggested that the gardens should be turned into allotments at the same time. They were suitably outraged.

      1. CountCadaver

        Of course they could just change it to "Buckingham Palace Nursing Home" and add a few more residents to keep the current 2 company ;-)

    2. Martin an gof Silver badge

      And what's with all those underwater bridges in the St Paul's screenshot?


  5. Arthur the cat Silver badge

    Anyone else

    misread that as ASBO Studio?

  6. NightFox

    Still remember swapping loads of my Commodore 64 games for a second-hand version of Flight Simulator II complete with its mind-blowing wireframe graphics, which my Dad then used to spend hours playing on his SX64 with its built-in 5" screen. He then got hooked on FS right through to X which he was still 'flying' in his late-80s, though sadly isn't around any more to enjoy this release.

  7. Gene Cash Silver badge

    I feel really old

    considering I flew the original Sublogic sim on the TRS-80

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I feel really old


  8. MrMerrymaker

    Preview of every players thought process

    Wow! I can go anywhere in the world! Absolutely anywhere! In the whole planet!

    .. I'll check out how my house looks from above.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Preview of every players thought process

      ".. I'll check out how my house looks from above."

      Have you painted a distinctive pattern on the roof?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    [...] the Premium Deluxe version [...]"

    That suggests several versions - and the article does mention a "basic" one. Reminds me of the labelling of the Austin "Farina" A40 car variants in the 1950s - when the more expensive "Deluxe" model had a heater.

    1. SkippyBing

      In this case the Premium Deluxe version has Heathrow*, so pretty similar deal to be honest.

      *To be clear all versions have Heathrow, it's just much more detailed.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        >To be clear all versions have Heathrow,

        It's just that in the premium deluxe version you can leave

        1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          And quarantine for 14 days when you get back?

  10. steviebuk Silver badge

    Not read

    The review yet but what made the old ones so good on PC was the squawk. I can't remember if it was in the base game on it game from mods. They had volunteers I believe, creating them. It made it so much better when round big airports being able to listen to the radio chatter. Doubt you'll get that on the console.

    1. ChrisC Silver badge

      Re: Not read

      That was one of my favourite things from Flight Unlimited 2 & 3 - there were times when I'd load it up and just have it running in the background listening to the tower chatter at whichever airport I'd started up at, or tuned into the ATIS channel for a soothing weather report. Bit like listening to the shipping forecast, only in an American accent :-)

      Indeed, the whole FU2/3 world environment felt so solid and convincing, that the first time I tried Flight Simulator (whichever version was around at the same time) it felt so lifeless and artifical that I couldn't understand how anyone would think FS was worth spending their time and money on. Then I got hold of the UK photorealistic terrain tiles, updated terrain mesh, and London 3D scenery packs, and started to appreciate it a whole lot more... So whilst some of the jarring glitches noted here would also have me going "umm, that's not *quite* right now, is it...", just looking at how generally realistic the urban landscapes look in this version would make me cry with joy and reach for my wallet without hesitation if I still had the same sort of time to devote to flight simming as I used to have.

  11. whitepines

    The Cessna 172 is notoriously stable to the point of auto-recovering from a spin just by taking one's hands off the controls, but from what I've heard the 152 should have been able to lock in a spin after forcing it for a few turns. What you describe sounds a lot more like the 172, so I'm not confident they got the modelling correct on the 152

    Review idea: give XPlane or FlightGear a try (if you haven't already) to see if they behave differently -- XPlane is consistently sold on the basis of the accurate modelling, but I'll admit I've never tried it.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Flying a 172 or 150/152 is so similar for normal flight that you barely need a conversion. No standard 172 is aerobatic so you should never be going there, 152 Aerobats with the correct seat harnesses and clear roof panels are the only version of the 150/152 that you should be forcing into a prolinged spin, there are only about 200 left in the world, just over 300 were built compared to 10s of thousands of standard 150/152. Yes of course you can spin and recover the standard ones but this is for flight safety, not really supposed to do it for recreation.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I did some stall practice in a C152 aerobat about 10 days ago, the instructor mentioned that it is a lot more likely to spin with power on (either a power-on stall, or putting the power on before getting the nose down in a power-off stall). The rotational effect of the prop wash, the counter-rotation of the airframe to resist the prop, and the increased airflow over the ailerons all increase the likelihood of a spin developing.

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          That part of the PPL when you do power-on stalls is always more fun because of the wing-drop.

          The 152 aerobat that I used for part of my PPL was G-BFRV that was in an episode of Some Mothers Do 'ave 'em.

      2. whitepines
        Black Helicopters

        No standard 172 is aerobatic so you should never be going there

        Look in the POH -- for many of the older ones, spins are explicitly approved assuming utility loading (forward CG). In Canada you have to demonstrate spins and spin recoveries to get a license at all.

        Spins are probably one of the only "aerobatic" maneuvers a pilot is likely to inadvertently find themselves in, due to stall recovery practice. Stuff up the stall entry badly enough and nearly anything is going to want to spin.

        Yes, the 152 Aerobat is the version that apparently likes to enter and lock in a spin*. And, strangely, in the article he specifically mentions the Aerobat as not wanting to stay in a spin in the simulator.

        Icon 'cause spinning fixed wing is sorta rotary wing?


        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          I have the PoH for 172 and 150/152 and it describes their spin recovery procedure as almost word for word the same. Some 150/152 are placarded against intentional spinning, I think because of a rudder issue. They will un spin if you leave the controls neutral, just a matter of how long, 3 turns? Have never tried it.

          For a really docile spin, try a DH82, it's very enjoyable.

          1. whitepines
            Thumb Up

            Rudder stops preventing enough authority to get out of a fully developed spin, as I understand it. The 172 doesn't have that problem but also likes to get out of a spin on its own in something like 1/4 to 1/2 turn.

            I was up (with instructor) doing all kinds of stalls and spin induction / recovery in a 172 recently, it's definitely allowed with proper weight and balance, but with two people and full fuel you're probably outside the utility category so have to take less fuel. The 152 (with rudder stop fix) is more suitable for this in general.

            And yes, power on stalls with full power and a really high nose up attitude are all kinds of fun. I learned in a matter of only a couple exactly how to use the rudders, then proceeded to do falling leaf etc. Loads of fun overall and a great experience.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I can see my house from here!

    The title reminded me of a very funny scene from Mony Python regarding a crucifixion.

  13. Sparkus

    "paid content"?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Flight sim based on a HD rendition of Mars!

    Now you’re talking.

    1. Binraider Silver badge

      Re: Now

      Xplane did mars way back in version 9. Fascinating stuff - thin atmosphere even at ground level so you need something like a U-2 spyplane with oodles of power to work. WIth very high stall speeds, low gravity so weak brakes, and low drag, landing even with the benefit of a very long runway is compromised. The solution in the end was to fit arrestor gear to the runway.

  15. This post has been deleted by its author

  16. Bubba Von Braun

    AU Downloads

    Seems that NBN there is some traffic management going on in the NBN network affecting FS2020

    A full day of frustration, and thought that the issue was with the cloud flare servers hosting the content for download. Nope a simple switch to VPN with an AU outfall point, and its downloading as fast as my FTTP can take it.

    Annoying as the ISP claims not to be shaping the connection to the US via the VPN is taking a longer path, (ABB is only 3 hops) yet without the VPN I am getting at most 1 Mbps. On VPN 89 Mbps! All my other access/downloads/rdp etc from the US today has been fine.

    So lesson here is try a VPN to avoid the traffic management that may be present either in your ISP or the NBN network.

    The second one will be just how well will it perform without the VPN running when flying. time and testing will tell.


  17. NanoMeter

    Ye Good Olde Days

    I guess it's better than the Acorn Electron flight simulator I once flew then.

  18. Richie G

    Now they just need to include the same sort of thing into Train Simulator! (Which I know isn't MS but still...)

    1. CountCadaver

      Or EuroTruck Simulator 2.....

      1:1 Scale would be "fun" just for pootling around places you know or wanted to visit....

  19. Binraider Silver badge

    I won't be buying MS FS because I have a pathological hatred of the Windows ecosystem (unless they man up and offer Linux support). That said, it's very impressive and means X-Plane will have to raise it's game to compete again. Competition is, in this case, a good thing.

  20. Ari 1

    Great graphics, so-so dynamics, questionable framerates. But probably something that can be fine polished over the coming months/years.

    The stall/spin characteristics of the Cessna 152 and the 172 are unrealistic, as are many others. A C152 will happily spin (and very easily) if you stall with full rudder. Engine on it will spin reasonably fast (very slow compared to an aerobatic plane or even another training plane such as a BE77 Skipper or a Pa38 Tomahawk. Stall recovery on the C152 is very easy. C172 is slightly heavier out of the dive, but also wants to help you.

    The twitchy controls that the author mentions is also something I find a bit silly. It's the same kind of thing we have seen in car games, were "more twitchy=harder and must therefore be more realistic", which is not the case.

    What's more, it feels like all aircraft have the same kind of control linkages, they all fly as if all controls use rods. No wire controls, no electronic or hydraulic controls... There is a difference in initial response and sustained response between the different control types. Rod controls on light aircraft have a much more immediate response, while most general aviation aircraft with wire controls have a more sluggish control response (wires can absolutely be tuned for more twitchiness, and more factors come into play such as control surface design and more).

    As it stands, FS2020 is cool and worth having, but for accuracy of the actual simulation then X-Plane beats it easily.

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