Video game consoles are more powerful than ever, with the ability to run games that were once only possible on high-end PCs.
The best example of this is Asobo Studio’s Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020, a game that launched for Xbox Series X|S on July 27. It first came to PC in the summer of 2020 but has finally landed on Microsoft’s newest consoles, making it easier than ever to hop aboard.
What’s equally as notable is how Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 is being distributed. Sure, you can purchase it like you would any other game, but since Microsoft is publishing this game, it means you can download it via Xbox Game Pass at no additional charge so long as you have a subscription.
What makes Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 so special? And why is its release on Xbox Game Pass so significant?
A flight sim of this caliber for the first time on console
The Microsoft Flight Simulator series first debuted in 1982, with the first entry aptly called Microsoft Flight Simulator 1.0 launching for IBM PCs. At the time, the game couldn’t load the entire planet or even an entire country. Instead, it offered access to four United States cities: Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, and Seattle. Since then, frequent new installments would launch over the years, with each subsequent edition featuring more realism than the last.
In 2006, Microsoft Flight Simulator X was launched for Windows PCs, and while it was the most realistic flight sim up until that point, it still had some problems, such as constant frame rate dips on most machines at the time.
The one thing all of these games have in common is that they’re only available for PC. This is because of a number of reasons, the main one being that consoles simply couldn’t run them — at least nowhere near as well as a PC could.
But that’s what makes Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 so important and impressive. It’s not only the most ambitious entry in the series — allowing you to literally explore the entire planet — but it’s also available on Xbox Series X|S, Microsoft’s newest set of consoles, for the first time in the history of the series.
Beyond that, the game is being played by even more players thanks to its inclusion on Xbox Game Pass, a gaming subscription service with over 23 million members.
The world at your fingertips
Even if you aren’t into planes or flying, the premise of Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 is nothing short of remarkable. Using data from Bing Maps, the game simulates the entire Earth, with Microsoft’s Azure AI generating many of the planet’s features and real-time weather effects.
Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 takes advantage of cloud technology to fill in the gaps, giving a more realistic representation of our planet. It’s not 100% accurate, but it’s close enough — to the point of being able to accurately pinpoint your own house in-game. The console version won’t look as good as the game does on the highest-end PC, but it’s still an incredible accomplishment to see it on even an Xbox Series S system (which is where we played it).
Normally, a game like this would be intimidating to jump into, steering potential buyers away due to its complexities. But now that it’s available via Xbox Game Pass, there isn’t much of a downside to at least give it a try.
At the very least, you should download it, fly around your hometown or favorite city before putting it down. Or you could completely fall down the rabbit hole of exploring every inch of our beautiful planet.
Sure, your mileage may vary depending on your tastes, but in its most basic form, there’s something for everyone here.
Right now, it isn’t as feasible to visit popular landmarks like the Statue of Liberty, Stonehenge, Eiffel Tower, or the Pyramids of Giza in the real world. The cost of travel and the pandemic makes it hard to see these places, but in Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020, you can check them all out and more — for the cost of an Xbox Game Pass subscription.
Aside from just how impressive this game is, it’s also surprisingly accessible. Flight Sim 2020 has robust tutorials that — for the most part — do an excellent job of easing you into flying all sorts of planes. In addition, you can fine-tune nearly every aspect of the game’s controls, presentation, and difficulty, allowing players of all skill levels to enjoy it.
For instance, you can literally have the plane fly itself as you take in all the sights and sounds of the world around you. Or, you can have zero help at all as you test your skills while tinkering with every button and knob available in the cockpit. The choice is yours.
Because of its ambitious scope, user-friendly features, high level of detail, and customization options, Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 is the best exploration game ever released on Xbox Game Pass. We can’t recommend it enough.