In addition to improving airports and the impressive World Updates, is the team positioned or looking to expand the experience in other ways with additional content coming in the near (or distant) future?
Jorg: Gliders and helicopters to the simulator had been the top requests by the flight sim community since launch. But even that is in no way complete. The 40th Anniversary Edition features 14 heliports and 15 glider airports, but that really only scratches the surface. Our research team is currently working hard on establishing a glider airport database as there is nothing like this commercially available. It’s a massive undertaking that includes lots of primary research, and outreach to several thousand glider club organizations across the globe.
We are embarking on something similar for helicopters, and thankfully, the very knowledgeable and passionate community is helping. For example, just last week someone sent a database of heliports in Switzerland. All of this will take a while to complete. But to answer your primary question, yes, we are looking at all kinds of additional content for future expansions as a high-level goal is to create the increasingly accurate digital twin of Earth.
The 40th Anniversary Edition, a completely free offering for those who already own Microsoft Flight Simulator or play it via Xbox Game Pass, is a comprehensive celebration of the franchise with both a tribute to our past as well as an introduction to new and highly anticipated aircraft types.
The nod to the past will re-introduce some classic airports and several of the most famous planes from earlier versions including Microsoft Flight Simulator X and Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004: A Century of Flight.
We have also listened to our community and will incorporate the most requested aircraft types: helicopters, brought to life with an all-new Fluid Dynamics Simulation, gliders that allow you to experience the planet in a totally unique way and a highly detailed, true-to-life airliner!
Here is just a small sampling of what simmers will find in the Microsoft Flight Simulator 40th Anniversary Edition:
Historical Aircraft: Wright Flyer, Ryan NYP (“Spirit of St. Louis”), Douglas DC-3, De Havilland Canada DHC-2-Beaver
Helicopters: Bell-407, Guimbal Cabri G2,
Gliders: DG Flugzeugbau LG8-18, DG Flugzeugbau DG1001E neo, True-to-Life
Airliner: Airbus A310
A “Top Gun: Maverick Edition” livery for the F/A-18E Super Hornet. Three training missions for the Super Hornet that will allow you to master radical flight maneuvers including unrestricted take-offs, split S maneuvers, and low altitude, high-speed maneuvering through complex terrain. Five high-speed, low-level challenges that require utmost skill to navigate just above mountains and traverse through canyons. A carrier deck landing challenge, one of the most demanding operations in the world of military aviation. A never-before-unveiled hypersonic aircraft that can attain speeds of Mach 10 and altitudes greater than 150,000 feet above sea level. A mission to roar into the stratosphere.
Four handcrafted airports:
- Palermo Airport (LICJ) in Sicily
- Sondrio Airport (LILO) in the southern Tyrol
- Marina di Campo Airport (LIRJ) on Elba Island
- Bolanzo Airport (LIPB) in the southern Tyrol
Enhanced detail of 100 other airports 94 points of interest in Italy 11 points of interest in Malta Three bush trips Three discovery flights Three new landing challenges.
With new photogrammetry, hand-crafted locales, and cities given a fresh coat of digital paint, each World Update has been met with open arms. Which makes the latest, World Update VII: Australia - something special for local Flight Sim fans. It’s a process that involves collaborating with many people.
“Internet research only gets you so far,” Jorg Neuman explains. “And given that Australia is pretty far away, we needed partners. One company we teamed up with was Orbx, who are a Flight Simulator Add-On developer. They’re in Melbourne and they know the country better than someone like me. Obviously we talked to Microsoft in Australia too, and they gave us a list. If you go by popularity or only speak to a few people you end up with the big population centres, so we reach out.”
“Typically we end up with 500 things we want to add and we whittle it down to about a hundred things or so,” Jorg Neuman explains. “When you get to like the last 50 to cut though, it becomes difficult.” As per the trailer for the Australia update, it includes a number of iconic landmarks, from Uluru to The Twelve Apostles, and Three Sisters to name a few.
Soar over the renowned Great Barrier Reef, visit the vast regions of Western Australia, and marvel at the natural beauty of Mount Wellington. From the dusty red outback to shimmering coastlines and sugar white sand beaches, explore the country’s most spectacular sights.
A country known for being as diverse as it is beautiful, this great Southern land presents a bucket list of jaw-dropping natural formations and modern man-made wonders – now enhanced with exceptional graphic improvements.
YLRE – Longreach
YMBT – Mount Beauty
YPBO – Paraburdoo
YSHL – Shellharbour
Sea to Desert
Great Barrier Reef
Northwestern Kimberly Coast
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park
New Photogrammetry Cites (in collaboration with Bing Maps)
One of the most exciting aspects of Microsoft Flight Simulator, especially for fans, is that Asobo not only communicates its plans for the immediate future but listens and keeps track of community requests and feedback. Since the game’s announcement, one of the things players have been asking for is the addition of fighter jets. With a separate bit of content set to debut alongside the new Top Gun next year, the Game of the Year Edition sees the arrival of the very first fighter jet - the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet.
Basically the sort of plane you need a callsign like Iceman or Maverick to pilot.
“One of the features that kept popping up [in community requests] was jets,” Jorg explains. “There are some from third parties in the marketplace, but we felt like it was important to provide something in the base version.” Compared to regular planes, adding a fighter jet into Flight Simulator presented enough of a challenge that the team had to make sure the game could handle that sort of speed.
“We had to make sure that engine was ready so that you can go over Mach 1 (1234.8 km/hr), and not only that but go over the terrain at that speed,” Jorg continues. “That puts pressure on the streaming engine, so we did all of that optimisation. There was also quite a bit of research we had to do for fighter jets, work out Sonic Booms and things like that. We’ve spent a lot of time just on this one plane, it's been in production for a year and a half if not longer. But, we wanted to get it right and that’s important to us.”
Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet: Our first military jet and a highly requested feature from the community. The Top Gun: Maverick expansion will release with the movie next Spring, but we wanted simmers to have the opportunity to test their need for speed this holiday.
VoloCity: We partnered with well-known German company Volocopter, which is working on an eVTOL called “VoloCity”, a vision for an urban air taxi. We worked closely with the Volocopter engineering team to develop an authentic version of the prototype aircraft for the simulator. This is our first aircraft that can perform pinpoint landings and is a teaser of what you can look forward to in 2022 when we intend to launch helicopters in the sim.
Pilatus PC-6 Porter: This legendary short takeoff and landing (STOL) utility aircraft is a highly versatile plane from Switzerland and comes with several cockpits, cabins, and landing gear variations. It is the result of our close collaboration with the manufacturer and the development efforts by famed developers Hans Hartmann and Alexander Metzger resulted in a great and fun new aircraft with exception capabilities in the simulator.
CubCrafters NX Cub: Yakima-based CubCrafters recently introduced a nosewheel option for their flagship CC-19 XCub Aircraft, popularly called the NX Cub, which we are pleased to introduce to the flight sim audience to further enhance our bush flying and off airport options.
Aviat Pitts Special S1S: One of our most popular planes gets a single-seat option with the release of this aircraft.
Germany - Leipzig/Halle Airport (EDDP), Allgäu Airport Memmingen (EDJA), Kassel Airport (EDVK)
Switzerland - Lugano Airport (LSZA), Zurich Airport (LSZH), Luzern-Beromunster Airport (LSZO)
United States - Patrick Space Force Base (KCOF), Marine Corps Air Station Miramar (KNKX)
Based on the popularity of the recently introduced Discovery Flights, we are adding an additional 6 locations (Helsinki, Freiburg im Breisgau, Mecca, Monument Valley, Singapore, and Mount Cook) to this popular series.
To further expand the onboarding experience, we are adding 14 new tutorials, introducing simmers to Bush flying (in an Icon A5) and IFR (in a Cessna 172).
We are also pleased to introduce several highly requested features by the community: an updated weather system, early access to DX12, and a dev mode replay system.
New Photogrammetry Cities
As part of our ongoing collaboration with Bing Maps, we are pleased to add a number of new photogrammetry cities: Helsinki (Finland), Freiburg im Breisgau (Germany), Brighton, Derby, Eastbourne, Newcastle, and Nottingham (UK) and Utrecht (Netherlands).
Where's the first place you'll fly to in Microsoft Flight Simulator on Xbox?— Xbox ANZ (@XboxANZ) July 27, 2021
Retweet and reply below for your chance to win this limited edition Xbox Series S x @July suitcase to celebrate the console launch of @MSFSofficial! pic.twitter.com/RcCKb1yepC
Speechless... "This is your captain speaking... and I have nothing to say but... wow" pic.twitter.com/zcnWlR2b9C— AusGamers (@ausgamers) July 27, 2021
World Update 3: United Kingdom & Ireland features high-resolution 3D photogrammetry for the renowned cities of Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, London and Oxford, five new meticulously hand-crafted airports (Barra, Liverpool, Land’s End, Manchester-Barton and Out Skerries), visual and logistical improvements to 85 more area airports, and improved digital elevation information across the U.K.
In addition, we’ve added compelling architectural elements throughout the region, ranging from British manors and Victorian homes to countryside stone structures, castles and churches – and even some drive-thru restaurants. In addition, over 70 custom landmarks and points of interest bring stunning new levels of detail and fidelity to some of the world’s most famous landmarks and bridges, regal palaces, breathtaking cathedrals … and, of course, football stadiums.
When Microsoft announced that there was a new Microsoft Flight Simulator game coming in 2020, many were left stunned. Not only by the fact that one of the longest franchises in the industry was making a return -- the series hadn’t seen an official release in over a decade at that point -- but specifically, that announcement trailer. It delivered exactly what a flight simulator could look like in the modern era -- beautiful, breathtaking, cutting edge.
Flight sim’s return would see it land with its cargo hold full of high-end visual effects, real-world data, satellite imagery, photogrammetry, and all manner of tech wizardry.
“I’ve told this story a few times, but the first time I showed the game internally at Microsoft to Phil [Spencer] and the Xbox team they didn't recognise that it was a game at all,” Jorg Neuman, Head of Microsoft Flight Simulator tells me. “They thought I was showing them a video. That was the first indication, where we felt that we had transcended something. In the many meetings I had with Phil after that, he said time and again, ‘Man, it just doesn't look like a game’.”
Today, we’re excited to share that Microsoft Flight Simulator will come to life on the Xbox Series X|S this summer. Simmers on Xbox Series X|S can expect the same level of depth as the PC version, allowing you to experience the most authentic and realistic flight simulator we have ever created.
From light planes to wide-body jets, you’ll test your piloting skills against the challenges of real-time weather including accurate wind speed and direction, temperature, humidity, rain, and lighting – all in a dynamic and living world. With the power of satellite data and cloud-based AI, you’ll travel the entire planet in amazing detail with over 37 thousand airports, 2 million cities, 1.5 billion buildings, real mountains, roads, trees, rivers, animals, traffic, and more.