Well, it’s almost time, guys and gals. The latest and greatest version of Microsoft Flight Simulator, the popular flight simulation series, is at last almost a reality. Pre-orders are open, the stage is set, all is well. Could anything make this any better? Yes, in fact! You know what would mesh well with Microsoft Flight Simulator? Virtual reality. Thankfully, the devs over at Asobo Studio were thinking the exact same thing. Just the other day, they announced the official release date for MFS 2020, along with an additional goodie: VR support is coming to it later in the year, and more will follow after that. I must be dreaming!
Let me paint a picture of what this game is, though, because it might not be entirely clear. Microsoft Flight Simulator is a long-running series of games that aims to reach a simple goal: Accurately simulate flights from airport to airport in a realistic simulation through video game form. There are 10 entries in the series currently, with the most recent being 2006’s Microsoft Flight Simulator X. That’s right: There hasn’t been a new title since 2006. I’d say we’re long overdue for a new one, and Asobo has cooked up something really special with 2020’s version. The new flight simulator is one of the most realistic looking games to date, and utilizes Bing Maps to realistically re-create the planet Earth and its terrain. This includes mountains, cities, roads, and numerous airports, all rendered in painstaking detail.
With all of the above in mind, you can imagine why VR would suit this so well. MFS head Jorg Neumann took to a press release to announce the game’s release date, soon after following up with a post on the Xbox blog confirming VR support. While VR won’t be available right out the gate, the proceedings kick off later this year with the launch of HP’s Reverb G2 VR device. This will be the first VR device to support MFS 2020, though Asobo has since confirmed that they plan to work on ports for Oculus and Vive not long after. Better yet, Asobo plans to support the game for a very long time through ‘free world updates’. Basically, the game’s rendering of Earth will update over time with real life data collected from the aforementioned Bing Maps. This will ensure the game just keeps getting more and more accurate, and it’ll go a long way in improving its lifespan.
Microsoft Flight Simulator launches on August 18th for Windows PC via Steam. You’ll also be able to nab the game through the Windows store or via Xbox Game Pass on PC (though keep in mind that’s currently in beta). Pre-orders are now open for all three editions of the game: Standard, Deluxe, and Premium Deluxe, so go ahead and pick your poison! Sadly, there’s no release date for the HP Reverb G2 just yet. Neumann revealed in an interview with Polygon that HP already has a set date for the device… they just haven’t revealed it to the public yet. He went on to speculate that it might be in September, but made clear that it was pure speculation. As with everything else this year, development timing on the VR headset was impacted by COVID. Once it’s out, though, this pairing isn’t going to be one to pass up!