Review: Microsoft Flight Simulator


Will Green

A screenshot from Microsoft Simulator, the side view from an A320 Neo flying out of Nice, France

Can you really have the world at your fingertips? Can you soar over any city in the world at the click of a button? Can you take off from LAX, go to sleep and wake up in Dubai, without ever leaving your bedroom?

Those were the questions that Microsoft engineers set out to answer when they created the first version of the PC game Flight Simulator, back in 2007. The latest version, released this August, gives you every house, every building and every airport in the world. You can even fly over your own house.

The first thing you’ll notice when downloading Flight Simulator is how awfully large of a download it is. The game is 130 GB by itself, but you will need an extra 30 GB in case you want extra maps. It seems like a lot, but you do have to understand that it’s rendering all the houses and all the planes.

This game is for all aviators. One key thing about MFS is that the planes have interactive cockpits: you can press almost every button you can see, and you can start the plane with the checklist it provides you. If you like doing commercial flights, the game has two commercial planes in the standard and premium version, the A320 Neo and the Boeing 747-400. If you own the premium deluxe version, you also get a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

All the planes feel real, and the ground service at the airport is very realistic, with actual people walking around in the game. The experience is almost like flying around the world in real life. Some people mistake pictures of MFS for the real world; that’s how good it is. I’ve even taught myself how to use Air Traffic Control (ATC) with its amazing ATC system.

A screenshot from Microsoft Flight Simulator, a view of the Sydney Opera House (Will Green)

For now, Flight Simulator is only available on PC, but it is coming to Xbox hopefully later in 2020, with no official release date yet. Not all PCs can run this complex game, though, so you’ll want to make sure your system meets the requirements. It’s also fairly expensive, with the base version of this game costing $59.99. However, if you want five extra planes and five more in-depth airports, that will cost you an extra $20, and if you want 10 extra planes and 10 extra in-depth airports, that will bring the total up to $119.99. If you have the funds to go all in, I would say it’s well worth it.

Once you have the game, you will need a yoke or stick to steer the plane and lift it up or push it down in the air; depending on the quality of the yoke you get, that’s going to be around $100-200 . Next you will need a throttle to control speeds, which should be about $30-50. Finally, for ease and realism it is recommended that you have rudder pedals because they steer and brake the plane on the ground; this should be about $100-200, although you can use your keyboard instead.  

If you see flight school in your future, MFS is probably the best game to get you started. On the other hand, if you have no prior knowledge of aviation and don’t already have the equipment you need, I would strongly advise trying a mobile app first. I would recommend Infinite Flight, one of the best beginner mobile flight simulator apps. I have about 400 hours of flying in that game, and it is what got me started in the amazing world of aviation. It might be one of the most complex hobbies, but when it comes down to it,

to me there’s no better feeling than being thousands of feet in the sky, just soaring over everyone else. It’s like your problems have gone away, and Microsoft Flight Simulator will help you achieve that.