Microsoft Flight Simulator

$119.99
4.4

Visual Realism

4.5/5

Flight Realism

3.8/5

Ease-of-use

5.0/5

Pros

  • Stunning scenery
  • Easy to install and use

Cons

  • Limited aircraft
  • Sub-par AI

Wow.

I’ve been flying X-Plane 11 since it first came out and recently gave Microsoft’s latest version of its venerable Flight Simulator a try — it’s first update in over 10 years — and my first reaction is Wow!

This new version offers real-world satellite photography to dynamically generate the scenery, allowing the virtual pilot to fly anywhere in the world without having to pre-generate (or buy) photo-quality scenery ahead of time. The visuals are stunning and very realistic.

I already knew that would be the case when I decided to purchase MSFS 2020. What I wasn’t prepared for, but was delighted to experience, was how refined and elegant the interface and mechanics of the software actually is. This doesn’t come across as what is essentially a first-gen product. Refined really is the best word for how the simulator runs and how you interact with it.

I really like X-Plane 11, and still feel it is the more realistic simulation in terms of how it simulates flight. But MSFS 2020 is a leap ahead in terms of product quality, from how it installs to how it automatically detects and configures your flight control hardware to how you work with the AI and air traffic control systems once you’re airborne.

Comparing X-Plane 11 to Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 is like comparing a command-line version of Linux to the latest version of Apple’s OS X operating system. They both get the job done but one is substantially more refined than the other.

There’s that word again, refined.

Although MSFS 2020 is a new product and still has some bugs and functionality that’s not yet in place, this is a flight simulation product that all flight sim enthusiasts should try.

Just make sure you have two things: a large solid-state hard drive and a very fast internet connection.