Flight Simulator 2020: Beginner's Review
Prepare for TAKE-OFF
Let's start off with some high praise, in a year filled with gorgeous games like Ghost of Tsushima and The Last of Us Part 2, Microsoft and Asobo Studio have manged to release an absolute masterpiece of a game/sim. I firmly believe that flight simulator is going to wipe out all the awards for the best graphics for 2020. Now that we've established that it looks bloody amazing and nothing like the world has ever seen, let's move on to the core aspects of the sim.
A little history lesson
The Microsoft Flight Sim series started with the original Flight Simulator in 1982 on IBM computers, yup this series is that old, with the last installment Flight Simulator X released in 2006. And that game still has a massive player base. I highly recommend checking out AIRFORCEPROUD95 on youtube, that dude is awesome. Microsoft announced the latest 2020 installment of the sim at E3 in 2019 at their XBox showcase to everyone's surprise and from that moment on, we knew that it was something in a league of it's own.
FS2020 reveal at E3 2019
I have been hyped for this game for over a year now. I am not the full on gamer shoot em up type people with Nachos and Mountain Dew all around me 24/7, in fact no proper gaming enthusiast is like that, STOP STEREOTYPING GAMERS YA'LL. Anyway, i play games for calm and fun, i am not competitive in any way because i am just not very good at it. With my study load and part time work i am constantly looking for some form of escape and as an aviation nut, i knew FS2020 Would be that. In fact it's the only way to see the world like you want it in the age of apocalypse that is 2020. I pre-ordered the game back in July the moment the option was available on the windows store. It finally launched on the 18th of August and in the last 4 days, i have clocked in about 30 hours of flight, It's just that GOOD !!!!!!!!!!!
Before this my experience with flight sims had been limited to some free to play mobile games with really expensive in-game content and a 2 hour session on a 737 simulator, that thing had a full on cockpit and all and it was really really cool. But this is something else.
The sim is pretty Noob friendly. You get to take 8 Flight school lessons in a Cessna 157 to guide you through the basic principles of flight, ranging from take-off and landing to solo VFR Navigation. But after that you're on your own. Do Not try jumping in an airliner immediately after that, it won't end well and many souls will be lost. The sim offers 3 different editions, Standard, Deluxe and Premium Deluxe. The difference in their contents is as in the screenshots below.
For the airports, the sim comes with 30 hand crafted highly detailed airports in the standard editions and 20 aircraft. The sim offers a huge open world, because its basically a 1:1 replica of our planet. Asobo studio have partnered with Bing maps to generate the world as you go along on your flight. They have also partnered with Blackshark AI to render 3D models of objects such as buildings and trees. They also have pretty much all the airports in the world, around 37,000 of them so you can fly from any where in the world to anywhere that you wish to. These airports have also been carefully generated to replicate their real world counterparts but are not as detailed as the crafted ones. But they do the job well. They have also put in Recognisable landmarks such as The Sydney Opera House, The Eiffel Tower, The Statue of Liberty and Christ the Redeemer with spectacular levels of detail. If the going gets boring you have the options to just skip to whatever part of the flight you want to because let's be honest, it gets lonely up there. You can select the weather conditions and time of Day on the fly if you fancy a bit of GOD mode. There are regular flight challenges and other landing challenges with a global leaderboard which is just insane, i haven't cracked above 30,000 on any of them but i am still learning.
Citation Longitude over Dubai
For now the sim is only available on PC, with the Xbox release date still not confirmed. And even for that you do need a pretty beefy build to sustain this monster. I would recommend a GTX 1080 with at least 24 gigs of RAM and a 246 gig SSD and a 1TB HDD for a decent game experience. Joystick or a HOTAS would definitely enhance the realism but an Xbox one controller with a keyboard and mouse would do just fine. The install size is approximately 130GB and will only grow from there.
The sim is available on Game Pass for PC, I'd recommend trying it with that rather than purchasing it straight away. If you don't have a game pass subscription, you should get one, its only $1 for the first month and $4.50 after that, well worth it. It'll also have VR support by the end of this year so that's awesome.
FS 2020 still has plenty of issues to work out. The game drops frames consistently even on the ultimate of high end PCs, the data usage is insane but that's understandable given that the thing literally streams and renders live weather and real world data before you. There have been reports of installation issues and the game simply not running on the minimum spec PCs, a friend of mine had that experience and is seriously pissed.
While the game does offer flying tutorials in a Cessna, the skills in the game don't translate well to other aircraft which have different functions and completely different controls. I usually Fly the Cessna Citation Longitude for learning the complexities of flight and cockpit functions. You will learn by messing around with things. THAT'S IT, o and it doesn't have liveries for aircraft at the moment but they are coming soon.
It's a must have for aviation fans, but if you're not into that, maybe try it with game pass and you might see why the skies have fascinated Humans for centuries, it's BREATHTAKINGLY BEAUTIFUL.