Microsoft Flight Simulator Xbox Series X | S Review
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The Microsoft Flight Simulator Xbox Series X | S Review
Nothing has pushed my PC further than Microsoft Flight Simulator. That may sound strange for a “game” largely about flying through empty skies by itself, but Asobo’s latest iteration of the classic franchise is technically groundbreaking and ambitious, with all sorts of off-screen wizardry to stream accurate city data, real-time weather effects, and so on. . I still had a great time with it, but compared to most AAA games, Flight Simulator demands a lot more from your CPU.
That’s why I was intrigued by the new version for Xbox Series consoles, which comes out on Game Pass tomorrow. In fact, it’s the first Microsoft game for Xbox series consoles not to run natively on any Xbox One model, although an xCloud version is also coming. mobile and will eventually hit older Xbox consoles as well. I’ve been playing a preview build from Microsoft on my Series X for a few days now, and as with my PC, I think this is the strongest workout for the hardware yet.
If you want to check all that for yourself, there’s no better first port of call than the new Discovery Flights arriving along with the console version of Microsoft Flight Simulator. They’re short, easy, and utterly breathtaking curated experiences that take you straight to some of the sim’s very best wonders: a tour of Everest, or Tokyo at dusk, or even a double rainbow spanning New Haven to Stamford as you glide. about Manhattan, all accompanied by the soothing ambient music that has become the calling card of Microsoft Flight Simulator. This is a chance to essentially play those breathtaking trailers and see all that splendor first hand. It’s a smart new introduction to the world of Microsoft Flight Simulator.
The Discovery Flights are a great way to get started – and since most of them require you to go to the content manager for the required downloads, a good way to familiarize yourself with some of Flight Sim’s more clunky elements as well . Elsewhere the flight school that acts as a broad tutorial because everything from controlling basic flight surfaces to getting intimate with the intricacies of an airplane cockpit has taken on some welcome tweaks and folds, providing a solid foundation for hundreds of hours of virtual aviation. There’s no escaping the fact, however, that putting a sim on the console – even one as casual and open-armed as Microsoft Flight Simulator – will always be a somewhat inconvenient undertaking, and while attempts have been made to make the fit forcing, is the elegance you find in heaven can sometimes be lacking when it comes to the more earthly concerns of a half-decent interface.
Microsoft Flight Simulator remains primarily a PC game, something that you are constantly reminded of by the cursor that appears up as you make your way through the front. There’s mouse and keyboard support, and peripherals support, but unfortunately there aren’t many peripherals that support this console version right now (at least none of the small pile of plastic I’ve bought over the past year is giving up). I’ve been doing all my flights on a controller for the past few days – for science, but also for convenience and necessity – and there are regular frustrations when I want to dig deeper than the basics of flight control, or even try a simple menu navigation. It’s a very PC experience in other ways too, asking for some mysterious menu dives when working with the content manager, for example, where you go to manually download some of the more recent world updates so you can use Microsoft Flight Simulator can see it at its best. It’s clunky and, for newcomers to the sim I’m sure, unpleasant.
The basic structure console players crave is also largely missing from this port, with not much of a traditional game outside of the Flight School of Landing Challenges with their global leaderboards. As is the case on PC of course, although there is always the option of plugging in third-party add-ons – something that will be possible with the full and final release, but unfortunately wasn’t an option in the pre-release version we’ve been playing for the past few days. Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a tricky affair when support arrives.
Sometimes you just want to watch the clouds float by – as a virtual screensaver for a semi-decent 4K display, nothing compares to Flight Sim on console.
And Microsoft Flight Simulator on console will probably always remain a clunky thing. This is a real full-fledged sim on a console, and you’re often reminded why that’s an effort rarely attempted in the past – sims essentially require a geek amount of poking and patience, and the clumsiness of Asobo’s own wears off and then only made worse by this console version (trying to make a full manual Dreamliner launch with nothing more than a controller is probably one of the most hardcore challenges you could possibly set yourself in Microsoft Flight Simulator, PC or otherwise). This isn’t the version for the hardcore either, with too much hassle and not quite the same amount of freedom that you’ll find on PC.
Does Microsoft Flight Simulator work on console? An evening with the family in the living room, visiting old houses and beloved local landmarks suggests it works fine in this new context. And yet, in the new context of the living room, something else comes to life in Microsoft Flight Simulator. For casual tourists like me who consider this to be the ultimate screensaver, pick a point on the map before loading and engage a range of generous assists on offer – or even hand over full control to the more than capable AI copilot – this might just be the one for you. ideal version. I’ve lost all evenings this past weekend, starting softly out the window of a 747, watching the clouds drift by and chasing the sun over the horizon, getting caught up into the magic and wonder of Asobo and Microsoft Game Studio’s dazzling creation from scratch.
There’s work to be done – and thanks to this version receiving future updates alongside the PC version, work already in progress – and you may want to temper expectations before getting started. But perhaps most importantly, this is Microsoft Flight Simulator on console in all its glory and the occasional awkwardness, and with that sense of magnificence and wonder untainted by the little imperfections along the way. It remains one of the most breathtaking video game achievements of recent years, and one of the most incredible next-gen experiences to date on console.
Microsoft Flight Simulator has improved a lot since its launch last year, with “world updates” expanding the more detailed photogrammetry data around the world. It’s all there in the Xbox version, too, including the most recent Nordics update with handcrafted airports and landmarks in Scandinavia, Iceland, and Finland. (It’s also worth noting that the PC version is getting another update this week that Microsoft promises to dramatically improve performance across the board — stay tuned to see how that works in practice.)
If anything, the Xbox version can seem a little too close to the PC version at times, with an occasionally clunky cursor-driven interface. It’s a bit noticeable to have a graphical settings menu where the only option is to toggle HDR on and off, for example. But it’s better to leave too much in than to leave out too much: the point is that the flight experience is as good as it is with the available hardware.
From what I’ve played from Microsoft Flight Simulator on the Xbox Series X, I don’t feel like Asobo left much on the table. It’s still an incredible feat of engineering, and well worth checking out when it hits Game Pass tomorrow.
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