It’s now about one week to go until the full release of the 2020 iteration of “Microsoft Flight Simulator”, with it becoming available in Australia at 00:00 on 18th August 2020. As someone who has been playing around with Flight Simulator from the days of “Microsoft Flight Simulator 98”, through “2004: A Century of Flight”, and “Flight Simulator X” (where I logged most of my sim hours), this is a very exciting time! Due to issues with the Xbox Games app for Windows, I was unfortunately unable to participate in the Alpha or Beta, so have had to make do with watching countless videos on YouTube.

As a stood-down pilot (due to COVID-19) who has not flown since late March, this could not be coming at a better time! I have already pre-ordered my copy, and immensely look forward to booting it up and taking something for a spin. I foresee many long hours spent in front of the monitor in the months ahead!

In contrast to previous versions, the 2020 iteration has been broken down into three editions, with the differences being the number of highly detailed aircraft with unique flight models, and the number of hand-crafted airports provided:

  • Standard Edition: (AU$99.95 / US$59.99) – 20 detailed aircraft | 30 hand-crafted airports
  • Deluxe Edition: (AU$139.95 / US89.99) – 25 detailed aircraft | 35 hand-crafted airports
  • Premium Deluxe Edition: (AU$179.95 / US$119.99) – 30 detailed aircraft | 40 hand-crafted airports
Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 included airports
Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 include aircraft

The list of promised features include:

  • Vivid and Detailed Landscapes – Immerse yourself in the vast and beautiful world that is our planet with more than 37 thousand airports, 1.5 billion buildings, 2 trillion trees, mountains, roads, rivers and more.
  • A Living World – Earth is vibrant and ever-changing and so is the world of “Microsoft Flight Simulator” which includes live traffic, real-time weather and animals.
  • Highly Detailed Aircraft – Hone your pilot skills in a variety of aircraft from light planes to commercial jets with comprehensive flight models. Every aircraft includes highly detailed and accurate cockpits with realistic instrumentation.
  • New Checklist System – From pro to beginner, scale your level from full manual to full assist with interactive and highlighted instrument guidance and checklist.
  • Dynamic Weather – The new weather engine enables users to switch on the the live weather mode to experience real-time weather including accurate wind speed and direction, temperature, humidity, rain and more.
  • New Day & Night Engine – Experience flight at any time of day or year allowing for night VFR, visual flight rules, navigation.
  • Aerodynamic Modeling – A state-of-the-art physics engine with over 1,000 control surfaces per plane allows for a truly realistic experience.

(Source: Xbox Wire)

I’m particularly interested in seeing the live traffic in action (though the COVID-related traffic downturn could make things a bit sparse in areas), and whether I can get my old VFR charts out and navigate with those!

Microsoft have been helpful in releasing a handy image detailing the Minimum, Recommended, and Ideal Specs for AMD and NVIDIA systems, and it is nice to see that my current setup sits somewhere between the Recommended and Ideal Specs.

For anyone interested, ObsidianAnt on YouTube has a few videos showing off some of the graphics options:

Low vs Ultra Graphics Comparison:

Performance & Graphics Settings:

Running on Minimum / Low Spec PC: