The gift of flight has finally arrived on Xbox Series consoles. A game well known for being unbelievably difficult to get running well on PC is somehow running at 4k resolution and a locked 30 frames per second on my small $500 box. I’ve flown around Japan during a thunderstorm and visited the pyramids of Giza all from the comfort of my living room. I’ve done this all for free, as like all 1st party titles it’s available on Game Pass. There really is nothing quite like Microsoft Flight Simulator, and here is our review of it for the Xbox Series consoles.
A stunning achievement
We have a great, full review of the game done by site co-founder Jon Clarke here Review: Microsoft Flight Simulator – XboxEra, and this review will focus on just how this game runs on console. This title trashed my laptop, and even at low settings and 1080p resolution, I could barely maintain 30fps at launch. On both the Xbox Series X and S though it is a rock-solid 30 at a respective 4k and 1080p each. With VRR enabled the game uncaps the framerate and feels and looks somehow even better. It’s impossible to tell exactly what the framerate is but when I was 50,000 feet above the world the readings were maxed out at 120, and buzzing around New York saw my monitor reporting over 90 Hz consistently.
Control-wise if you have ever played the game before on PC you will need a mouse at first. I’m sure this will be cleaned up quickly in a patch but for now, you must go to your controls settings and change the setting on your controller to “default”. Once you do this the game functions perfectly using only a controller. It was an annoyance for a few minutes, but since finding out the fix (thanks Knottian!) everything has been smooth sailing. There are a variety of guided experiences and challenges that you can partake in for the newbies to the genre like myself.
The heart of the game though is the world map. From there you can choose any airport or just any part of the world in general and go. Choose a destination, or don’t, it’s up to you. Flying around my hometown with A.I. assistance to keep me from crashing on takeoff was a breeze, and the breadth of options available can be almost overwhelming at first. This is a game that will demand your time if you want to understand it, but once you have the basics down the brilliance in how everything is laid out helps you quickly get up in the air and start staring at just how beautiful our planet can be.
This is in my estimation the best-looking video game of all time. The sheer scope of what they have achieved here using a mix of local compute, cloud compute, and bing maps is stunning in every way. While I type this review I have the game running auto-pilot on a trip from my home town now back up to where I was born. Flying along the coast of America I look over and forget that it’s a game. Few things have ever looked so realistic and nothing has ever touched this scale. You can fly anywhere, in any weather you want, or with accurate live weather info as well. Putting the game on my wife’s system I quickly loaded in on my Series X and was quickly flying alongside her plane in real-time. The fact that it runs so well on a system so affordable in comparison to a top-tier PC is a testament to what wizards the developers Asobo are.
Sound effects are accurate, the music is a chill and triumphant mix when used, and the AI voice chatter for the comms is well done. I have found no negatives in this version of the game so far. I have downloaded the main portion, the offline pack, and all five of the world enhancement packs which brings my game up to a hefty 117 gigs install. You can easily get away with the 42Gb main install if you want though, and the title will be coming to Xbox Game Streaming in the future.
Microsoft Flight Simulator on Xbox Series consoles is everything I could have ever dreamed of. As it is of course on Game Pass there is no reason to not give it a go and take a few trips around the world. If you just want to see the cities you can use the drone mode and not worry about flying at all. It’s a simulator that is truly for everyone, and it’s an experience that can be truly life-changing.