The most famous flight simulation celebrates its 40th anniversary under the colors of Microsoft by offering players emblematic aircraft from the history of aviation and missions from previous games.
Don’t tell them the franchise has been around for much longer, it didn’t really take off for Microsoft until 1982 when flight simulation first appeared on an IBM PC under the name Microsoft Flight Simulator 1.0. It would then be to forget that the Apple II from 1979 had had its right FS1 Flight Simulator designed by Bruce Artwick, the inventor of the concept, and the subLOGIC company, which distributed the creation of the first.
It doesn’t matter to the Redmond company, the franchise celebrates its 40th anniversary in November under its banner. In 13 variations since the beginning of the game, the graphics have developed a lot, the gameplay also gives one today Microsoft Flight Simulator available on Xbox One, Xbox Series, PC and even in cloud gaming on any possible medium (smartphone, tablet, connected TV, etc.). A title of crazy technological prowess that has constantly benefited from advancements to offer an enriching experience to all those who wanted to take to the air.
From four-color games to ultra realism
How far are the days of the beginning and the rudimentary cockpit painfully shown in four colors! In 40 years, the game has won in precision with the transition to high resolution and 16 colors. Now, thanks to the cloud, computing power, artificial intelligence, satellite data and various internal services (Bing Maps, Microsoft Azure), the latest version offers about thirty devices, thousands of airports, real-time weather, day and night flight, and more realistic world modeling than ever before.
To celebrate his birthday with dignity, Microsoft Flight Simulator therefore offers a major update, “the most important since the release of the game” in 2020, explains Jorg Neumann, director of the franchise at Microsoft. And the gifts for the players are numerous.
Starting with the arrival of two new aircraft types, the helicopter and the glider, which offer new sensations for virtual pilots. But it’s only appetizers for the big meal that come with the update. Because as always FlightSim is enriched with many units.
Much in demand by the local community, the Airbus A310-300, launched in 1982 as the franchise, will land in the 40th anniversary edition, as will Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis, the first flight from New York to Paris in 1927, the Canadian Beaver De Havilland DHC-2, or the Douglas DC-3, an airliner that was the first to carry passengers from the East Coast to the West Coast in 1935.
But the big addition, in every sense of the word, is unmistakably the Hughes H-4 Hercules Spruce Goose. A monumental seaplane designed 95% in wood, the largest ever built, which only flew once in 1947. And 75 years later, it will afford a second life in the simulation.
A birthday for the nostalgic
A birthday would be nothing without a bit of nostalgia and memories. And the teams have understood that well. If you had played the very first games, you used to take off in a Cessna from Meigs Field airport in Chicago (Illinois). Destroyed 19 years ago after 55 years of good and loyal service, it had been taken out of the game.
But franchise lovers demanded it, so Microsoft revived it. “It’s also part of our duty to digitally preserve aviation history,” Jorg Neumann told Tech&Co at a 40th anniversary event at the McMinnVille Aviation Museum.
Three other airports are making a comeback: Kai Tak Airport in Hong Kong, which closed its runways in 1998 after 73 years of existence, and First Flight in Kill Devil Hills (North Carolina), where the Wright brothers made the very first flight in the history of aviation on the 17th. December 1907. Princess Juliana of Saint-Martin, devastated by Hurricane Irma in 2017 and struggling to recover since, also appears.
All this goes in the direction of history, we at Microsoft and Asobo Studio explain, with a desire to preserve the legacy of aviation through the game, which has seduced novices as well as more seasoned pilots. “When a real-life pilot comes to tell me that the game is crazy and that he has found the same sensations as in reality, we are happy and even proud. That is the best compliment we can get.”, enthused Sebastian Wloch, co-founder of Asobo Studio and one of the game’s designers. And the most nostalgic can test the 24 classic missions from previous episodes of the franchise.
The 40th anniversary update is available now on PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X⎜S, but also in cloud gaming on Samsung smartphones, tablets and connected TVs. It is also available to Xbox Game Pass subscribers who have access to the game.