Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020: Now supports VR headsets

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At long last, Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 has finally taken off. The latest version of this hyper-realistic sim is available to download. But before you do, here’s everything you need to know, from the price to the airplanes you’ll be able to fly, to the equipment you’ll need to run the game. 

Microsoft Flight Simulator was also named the best PC game of the year in the Tom’s Guide 2021 Awards. 

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 release date

Since the first version was released in 1982, Microsoft’s Flight Simulator has been known for its realism, from the aircraft to the flight performance to the geographical world around it.

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 is available for PCs, and Xbox Game Pass subscribers. 

At E3, Microsoft announced that the official release date for the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S will be July 27.

Microsoft Flight Simulator price

Microsoft Flight Simulator is available in three versions: The Standard Edition costs $59.99, and will let you fly 20 different planes. The Deluxe Edition ($89.99)  includes 25 aircraft, and the Premium Deluxe Edition ($119.99) includes 35 aircraft. 

While all versions let you land and take off from 37,000 airports around the world, each edition has have “handcrafted” airports with additional details. The Standard Edition has 30 such airports, the Deluxe 35, and the Premium Deluxe 40 airports.

The Standard Edition is also available as part of Xbox Game Pass for PC (beta), which is currently just $1/month.

In Europe, would-be pilots can also purchase Microsoft Flight Simulator as a 10 double-layer DVD box set via Aerosoft

All versions are currently available for download.

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 system requirements

(Image credit: Xbox)

This is not a game for wimpy PCs. Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 requires, at minimum, a Windows 10 PC with either an Intel i5-4460 or AMD Ryzen 3 1200 processor, an Nvidia GTX 770 or AMD Radeon RX 570 GPU, 8 GB RAM, 2 GB VRAM, 150GB of hard drive space, and support for DirectX 11. 

According to Windows Central, Microsoft recommends an Intel i5-8400 or AMD Ryzen 5 1500X CPU, Nvidia GTX 970 or AMD Radeon RX 590 graphics, 4GB of VRAM, 16GB of RAM, and a 20Mbps download speed.

You’re also going to need a decent Internet connection, as map updates from Bing are said to be sizeable.

Game developer Asobo said that with the next update on July 27, the game will be far less taxing on PCs, allowing for greater framerates and lower memory usage.

 In addition, there will be more Discovery Flight options, new and improved tutorials, and more flight assist features

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 release notes

June 17: Release 1.17.3.0 (World Update V): The Nordic countries of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden are getting their due, and five airport landing challenges have been added.

May 25: Release 1.16.2.0 (Sim Update IV): A number of adjustments, including reducing the bandwidth required for weather data, improved tools for turboprop airplanes

April 13: Release 1.15.7.0 (World Update IV): France/Benelux includes details in the region, including a number of cathedrals such as Notre Dame, the Arc de Triomphe, and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. In addition, liveries for the S7 Airbus A320neo and the KLM Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner have been added.

March 9: Release 1.14.5.0 (Sim Update III) is now available. The biggest change is that contrails have been added to aircraft. Other upgrades include liveries for Kenmore, Emerald Gold, Global Freightways, Orbit, Pacifica and World Travel.

Feb. 16 2021: Release 1.13.16.0 (World Update III): Additional details and visual enhancements have been added to the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Dec. 22: Release 1.12.13.0 (Sim Update 2) is now available. This update enables VR play using supported headsets, as well as new features for the Airbus A320neo.

Nov. 24: Release 1.11.6.0 (World Update II): This update includes a number of updates to the U.S., specifically to major landmarks such as Washington, D.C, Yosemite, the Hoover Dam, and Las Vegas.

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 VR headset compatibility

Microsoft Flight Simulator supports OpenXR-compatible headsets, such as  Valve Index, Oculus Rift S, the HP Reverb G2, and Oculus Quest with Link.

Previously, you could sign up for a closed VR beta program—in which it looks like you can use any VR headset—but you’ll need at least an Intel Core i5-8400 or AMD Ryzen 5 1500X processor, an Nvidia GTX 1080 or equivalent GPU, and at least 16GB of RAM. 

However, this latest update opens the flight simulator to a number of other VR headsets.

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 aircraft

The following aircraft are available in Microsoft Flight Simulator:

Aircraft available in Microsoft Flight Simulator
Standard Edition Deluxe Edition Premium Deluxe Edition
Airbus A320neo X X X
Aviat Pitts Special S2S X X X
Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental X X X
CubCrafters XCub X X X
Daher TBM 930 X X X
Diamond DA62 X X X
Diamond DA40 NG X X X
EXTRA 330LT X X X
Flight Design CTLS X X X
ICON A5 X X X
JMB VL-3 X X X
Robin CAP 10 X X X
Robin DR400-100 Cadet X X X
Beechcraft Bonanza G36 X X X
Beechcraft King Air 350i X X X
Cessna 152 X X X
Cessna 172 Skyhawk (G1000) X X X
Cessna 208 B Grand Caravan EX X X X
Cessna Citation CJ4 X X X
Zlin Savage Cub X X X
Diamond DA40-TDI X X
Diamond DV20 X X
Beechcraft Baron G58 X X
Cessna 152 Aerobat X X
Cessna 172 Skyhawk X X
Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner X
Cirrus SR22 X
Pipistrel Virus SW 121 X
Cessna Citation Longitude X
Zlin Shock Ultra X

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 airports

According to Microsoft, players can land and take off from around 37,000 airports around the world. However, 40 of these airports have “hand-crafted” elements, offering more detail and other features. So, for instance, all players will be able to fly into San Francisco’s airport, but only those who have the Premium Deluxe version will be able to see these hand-crafted items. Microsoft has not specified what the exact differences are between hand-crafted and non-handcrafted versions.  

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020

(Image credit: Xbox)
Standard Edition Deluxe Edition Premium Deluxe Edition
Aspen/Pikin County (USA) X X X
Bugalaga Airstrip (Indonesia) X X X
Chagual Airport (Peru) X X X
Courchevel Altiport (France) X X X
Donegal Airport (Ireland) X X X
Entebbe Int’l Airport (Uganda) X X X
Cristiano Ronaldo Madeira Int’l Airport (Portugal) X X X
Gibraltar Int’l Airport (UK) X X X
Innsbruck Airport (Austria) X X X
Los Angeles Int’l Airport (USA) X X X
Tenzing-Hillary Airport (Nepal) X X X
Nanwalek Airport (USA) X X X
John F. Kennedy Int’l Airport (USA) X X X
Orlando Int’l Airport (USA) X X X
Paris Charles de Gaulle Int’l Airport (France) X X X
Paro Int’l Airport (Bhutan) X X X
Queenstown Airport (New Zealand) X X X
Mariscal Sucre Int’l Airport (Ecuador) X X X
Rio de Janeiro-Antonio Carlos Jobim Int’l Airport (Brazil) X X X
Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport (Dutch Saba) X X X
Gustaf III Airport (France) X X X
Seattle-Tacoma Int’l Airport (USA) X X X
Sedona Airport (USA) X X X
Sirena Aerodrome (Costa Rica) X X X
Stewart Airport (Canada) X X X
Sydney Airport (Australia) X X X
Telluride Regional Airport (USA) X X X
Haneda Airport (Japan) X X X
Toncontin Int’l Airport (Honduras) X X X
Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (Canada) X X X
Schiphol Airport (Netherlands) X X
Cairo Int’l Airport (Egypt) X X
Cape Town Int’l Airport (South Africa) X X
O’Hare Int’l Airport (USA) X X
Adolfo Suarez Madrid Barajas (Spain) X X
Denver Int’l Airport (USA) X
Frankfurt Airport (Germany) X
Heathrow Airport (UK) X
San Francisco Int’l Airport (USA) X

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 map

As impressive as its aircraft modeling is, Microsoft Flight Simulator is also known for its highly accurate rendering of the Earth. The simulator relies on Microsoft’s Bing Maps, and uses Microsoft’s Azure AI to incorporate terrain data, foliage, as well as real-time weather for photorealistic graphics.

For those who plan to purchase Microsoft Flight Simulator, the company recommends the following peripherals, which include a variety of flight controls:

Honeycomb
Honeycomb Aeronautical

Logitech:
Extreme 3D Pro
Flight Rudder Pedals
Flight Throttle Quadrant
Flight Yoke System
X52
X52 Pro
X56

Thrustmaster
F/A-18 Grip
Warthog HOTAS (stick + throttle)
MFD Cougar
Pendular Rudder
T.Flight Stick X
T.16000M (stick only)
T.16000M FCS (stick + throttle + rudder)
T.Flight HOTAS 4
T.Flight HOTAS One
T.Flight HOTAS X
T-Flight Rudder Pedals
TWCS Throttle

Virtual Fly
Ruddo+
TQ3+
TQ6+
V3rnio TPM
Yoko+

Microsoft
Xbox Controller
Xbox Adaptive Controller

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