Microsoft Flight Simulator has been around since 1982, starting with the idea of using 3D graphics to simulate flight, and since then it has evolved in so many ways. While it might not be the most interesting game, over the years Flight Simulator has retained a niche but passionate fanbase – and that fanbase has definitely been rewarded.
Microsoft Flight Simulator hit an outstanding 94 on Metacritic just after its release, beating out Valve’s Half-Life: Alyx by just a point and tying it with the PlayStation 4’s The Last Of Us Part II. Currently, it’s exclusive to PC, available through the Microsoft Game Store, Steam, or the Xbox Game Pass for PC, with an Xbox One (and likely Series X) release planned for the future. The main draw of the game is the graphics – being able to fly anywhere in the world in stunning 3D is definitely great – but that comes with a bit of a price.
Microsoft recommends 16 gigabytes of RAM and a Ryzen 5 1500X or Intel i5-8400 CPU, as well as either a Radeon RX 590 or NVIDIA GTX 970 GPU. 150 gigabytes of storage is also required, a huge amount shared with Red Dead Redemption 2. While these recommended specs are intimidating, it has been shown that Flight Simulator can run on weaker systems and still reach a comfortable 60 FPS.
But what in particular makes the title so popular? It’s a multitude of reasons, from it being the first Flight Simulator game in over a decade, to the multitudes of aircraft available to pilot, to the huge overworld. The game utilizes Bing Maps in order to render the entire globe, and a cloud AI known as Azure to fill in the Earth’s details.
“It’s an exciting day for everyone at Asobo Studio and Microsoft,” writes Microsoft Flight Simulator head Jorg Neumann on Xbox Wire. “This all began as a demo of Machu Picchu in augmented reality for the Microsoft HoloLens and now we’re here, re-launching the franchise after 38 years…almost everyone on the team has a personal story or connection to flight simulation, but hearing from numerous pilots, engineers and simulation fans about the impact the Microsoft Flight Simulator franchise made in their lives has been incredibly inspiring.”