Sky High Ambitions
I have been a long-time Flight Simulator Enthusiast and not just Microsoft Flight Simulator. Everything from the early days of SubLogic to Microprose and more modern simulators such as DCS, Prepar 3D, and now the latest offerings from Microsoft via Asobo developers published by Xbox Games Studio.
I can summarize this review in one paragraph -There is a lot to like about the Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020, and there are many little annoyances that distract from an otherwise excellent simulator.
Anyone interested in buying and downloading this game, please be prepared for a whopping 100+ gigabytes. My Premium edition was a little over 150GB, and in terms of your storage needs, you need to consider not only the initial download but all the other possible content you may purchase or get for free. Additionally, you always need an internet connection to play.
Speaking of internet connection - to get the most out of the experience, you need to turn on Bing Photogeomerty in-game that allows streaming of satellite data to improve the visuals. This feature can chew up your data usage pretty quickly. If you have an internet provider that caps your data, you may wish to set a data limit within the game which Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 supports, so you will not be surprised by an add-on bill from your ISP. Additionally, you need an Xbox account.
The question I am asked is Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 a hard-core flight simulator? The short answer is no. Not because MSFS is not capable of being one but because of the current state of 3rd party add-on aircraft and utilities being in limited offerings. While Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 offers a wide variety of aircraft to fly, many are not fully interactive. In my honest opinion, Flight Simulator Enthusiast will need to wait until companies such as PMDG, Aerosoft, and others bring their aircraft to Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 platform. If you were a fan of PMDG's Airliners, you know they were an aircraft simulator within a simulator.
-- As I said, there is plenty of aircraft to keep you busy until more polished offerings from 3rd party companies hit the runways. There are a few offerings already available now, but not much to really make much of a difference from the included aircraft, but this will change over time. What made FSX such a success was the vast amount of available content from 3rd party developers.
Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 current state shines in just how customizable it is, supporting multiple inputs, button boxes, and hardware, as well as customizing almost every feature to your needs. So I give Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 five stars in this regard to customization.
Why is Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 so popular right now? The amazing photorealistic views from the cockpit. Flying and sightseeing have never been so much fun because you have "real data" streaming in. One fun objective is to fly over your own home and see your car parked in your driveway.
Is Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 worth buying if you already own XPlane, Prepar 3D, or even FSX? That is a tough call, especially with the vast amount of content available on the other platforms. If you are a Flight SIM enthusiast, I would say yes if you have the space for the download on your already crowded storage device. It would give you a peek of what capabilities Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 offers and check how well your system handles running it.
Frames Per Second - Back in the early days of Microsoft Flight Simulator releases, the company always stated they developed the next-gen PC software. Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 is no different if you want to run it in ultra mode. I have the latest i9 with RTX 2090 TI and barely get 30 fps on a good day in custom mode, a mix of High and Ultra. This greatly depends on where and what aircraft you fly.
Overall, Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 is an ambitious Flight Simulator that visually brings us closer to real flying. Once 3rd party developers start dropping "plane simulators" in the game, you will have nirvana. Until then, Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 is a fun sightseeing simulator worth the $.
See you in the sky