The E3 is a specific event that brings contradictory emotions. For the fans of big franchises such as Assassin's Creed or Call of Duty it's usually an exciting time of announcements and surprises, but this can't be said about those of us who prefer strategies, turn-based, or simulators. Nope. There's not much for us to see there. I've got to tell you; I feel like a retiree watching these conferences. And then something happened. News more unexpected than Boris Johnson being factual broke out. Something that made my colleagues go "Yeah, Adam's probably getting asphyxiated." I mean the announcement of Microsoft Flight Simulator during last year's Xbox E3 conference. Finally, something for me at the fair! And more than just an indie game! But that was just the beginning – when we started writing about MSFS, we found that the developers had opted for the let's-blow-their-minds-with-graphics approach, and it worked so well that even people outside of the flight-sim base took notice.
That MS Flight Simulator's visuals are the most daring attempt at photorealism we've seen is a fact. By teaming up with Bing Maps and borrowing 2 petabytes of data from them, the developers give us the entire planet Earth to explore in what may be the most uncompromising world design strategy in video games ever. I mean, this really is something else: we get two million cities, forty-five thousand airports, all the mountains of the world... And to top it all off, the technology, combined with cutting-edge streaming capabilities, doesn't even require having servers in your basement – all the data is in the cloud.
"But satellite pictures alone are of course not enough to provide a realistic flying experience!" someone at Microsoft must have cried at some point during pre-production. The answer was: "More cutting-edge tech!" And so, AI will help the game create a 3-D world from the 2-D pictures. What can you do in such a huge world? Why, fly, of course! Some will go and visit the iconic landmarks of the worlds' metropolises, others will explore the wonders of nature, but in the end, everyone will just try to land in front of their homes. But I have a few, slightly less banal ideas for you guys that I recommend trying out when the game's out.
Landing the most difficult airport in the world
EDITORS AND THEIR IDEAS
Most of our editorial staff has no idea about planes and aviation. Therefore, when I asked my colleagues about what will they do in the new Flight Simulator, their answers were... well, different than mine. Here are their ideas:
- "Land on the Red Square like Mathias Rust"”
- "I will fly to Kentucky"
- "Make noise around my ex's block at night"
- "I'll try to land Airbus A320 on the Hudson River"
- "See if volcanoes are active"
- "Measure time it takes to fly from my flat to the office"
- "Check if the Earth is round"
- "Barrel roll for as long as possible while listening to Kenny Loggins' Danger Zone"
Airports have their own characteristics. When landing in Gibraltar, pilots often struggle with dangerous crosswinds from the Gulf of Algeciras. When, in turn, flying to Madeira, to Cristiano Ronaldo International Airport, we may discover that the issue, apart from the name, is the unusual, elevated platform design of runway 23, as well as the cliffs that ominously conclude runway 05. If you look at the ranking of the most dangerous airports in the world, there's one that's bound to catch your attention: the tiny Lukla airport in Nepal, located at an altitude of 2845 meters above the sea level (also known as Tenzing-Hillary). This should be a great place to test the physics engine of the new Flight Simulator – because of the sloping runway there.
Asobo Studio has improved the behavior of aircraft on uneven and inclined surfaces. Traction is also calculated dynamically, so we'll get different grip on surfaces such as asphalt, cement, grass, and others. The result? Hopefully skidding uncontrollably and taking sharp turns. This may seem a trivial inconvenience for you, but I hated the fact that in Il-2 Sturmovik, landing in undesignated places wasn't even possible. In FS 2020 it will be possible to experiment at will.
It's not far to Mount Everest from Lukla itself, so I recommend taking off with something like Daher-Socata TBM 900, encircling the highest peak on Earth, and landing back in Lukla. Preferably in severe weather conditions – because if you go crazy, then why not go all the way!