Microsoft Flight Trailer Takes To The Airs

By John Walker on January 9th, 2012 at 1:47 pm.

A plane, over some sea, yesterday.

After over 340 years in development, there’s finally a trailer for Microsoft Flight. It’s the reboot of the previously defunct Flight Simulator series, beginning stuck on the islands of Hawaii, but coming out for free. The trailer doesn’t really emphasise the hardcore side of the game at all, so those hoping to find out if it’ll meet their MSFS needs will have to wait a bit longer.

It’s a strangely presented trailer. Coming from within Microsoft, it feels far more like one of their trailers from Windows 8 than an ultra-realistic flight sim. The cheery voiced chap narrating shots of planes flying through tunnels collecting tokens isn’t perhaps quite going to appeal to their hardcore faithful. They’re obviously aiming to pick up a new audience here, via the casual-friendly route of being free, but I think it would likely be in their interests to maybe put out a specialist trailer that offers a little more detail for the people who are likely to fork out cash once they’ve got the free base.

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50 Comments »

  1. Premium User Badge

    Faldrath says:

    A flight sim in which “you can progress in 5 minutes” does seem to be a completely different proposition from the old flight sims of yore (in which you’d barely learn to taxi in 5 minutes). It’ll be interesting to see how this actually plays.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      To be fair, the trailer doesn’t mention how far you’ll progress in that five minutes.

      Anyway – I think the bit where he flies through a cave which appears to be narrower than the wingspan of his plane, with no adverse aero affects says it all!

    • iainl says:

      I certainly understood that as “there are missions that you can complete in 5 minutes, rather than purely long ones, if you fancy a quick go”.

      Not “it will only take you 5 minutes to get the hang of completing missions”.

  2. benjymous says:

    ESRB rating “E”

    Contains Crude Humor and Mild Violence

    Is this Microsoft Snakes on a Plane Simulator?

  3. Sheng-ji says:

    No signup required – if a Microsoft game isn’t using GFWL, how can any other developer justify it?

    • Premium User Badge

      frymaster says:

      it DOES use it – there’s been mentions of getting bonus planes etc. if you’re signed in – it just doesn’t enforce it.

    • RiptoR says:

      No GFWL game enforces you to sign up for a Live account, it is always possible to use an “offline” account. As far as I know anyway (I’ve played plenty of GFWL enabled games, and none required signing up for Live).

    • Sheng-ji says:

      I thought that if you didn’t have a live account, you would not be able to start the game – you need to have signed up to use offline mode.

      Do correct me if I am wrong!

    • IDtenT says:

      Sheng-ji. GFWL has always been optional. Any game ever that has used it allows you to have an offline account – without ever signing up online.

    • edit says:

      I’ve played at least one game which would not let me save progress without being logged in.

  4. 2late2die says:

    Look, I’m not saying that developers shouldn’t target casual players but would it kill them to also target the more hardcore audience, you know, the folks that actually have been asking for a new flight sim game? I hope it’s just the trailer and the game itself offers some proper simulation.

    • EvilMoFo says:

      it does not, not much at least

    • djbriandamage says:

      It’s almost all there – the physics, the difficulty, the complexity, the 3D clickable cockpits. What seems to be missing at launch are jet aircraft with computerized displays and lots switches and data.

      There are quite a few disillusioned Flight Sim veterans up in arms about this game but as a casual to intermediate fan of the series I’m thrilled with the beta so far.

    • Brun says:

      The hardcore crowd will just migrate to X-Plane 10. It uses a more realistic flight model anyway. Those of us who want to do something besides stare at instruments for 6 hours will keep playing Falcon 4 and DCS games.

  5. Eraysor says:

    From what I’ve heard, you can play it without signing into GFWL, but it unlocks extra gubbins. And it’s not as realistic as FSX. It has an option in the menu to make the physics less realistic and more predictable, which is on by default.

  6. Tams80 says:

    I kept on thinking this was a video for Pokémon…

  7. talon03 says:

    Having played the beta (which contains a grand total of two planes) I can say it’s no where near as realistic as FSX. There’s no ATC, no other air traffic, not even simple things on some aircraft like flaps. However, it is fun, accessible and extremely pretty. For the price of “free”, I’ve got nothing against it.
    The achievement driving bugs me somewhat, I like it as an addition but it shouldn’t and won’t be your reason for playing a game.

    Also, when I got into the beta I was sent an email which stated in big angry red letters that I was UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES TO COMMUNICATE TO ANYONE ANYTHING RELATING TO THE BETA OF THIS PRODUCT OR YOUR PARTICIPATION THEREIN. The beta required me to sign into GFWL. Which then of course proudly announces to all and sundry that I’m playing “Microsoft Flight Beta”. Go figure.

    • rdashr says:

      I’m sure the game is still going to piss off the rivet-counters just because it has missions to fly through glowing hoops and things, but none of the airplanes currently in the game are supposed to have flaps or do instrument flying. I’d hold off on judging the realism (unless there’s something glaringly wrong with the flight model) until they show off some aircraft with modern avionics.

    • djbriandamage says:

      The physics seem every bit as good as FSX to my untrained eyes, though there’s some small bugs and the menu interface could use a bit of a rethink.

  8. Kefren says:

    I stopped watching at ‘Real excitement’.
    I only like fake excitement nowadays.

    • Adam Smith says:

      Maybe I’m paranoid, but sometimes I suspect I enjoy fake excitement more often than I’d like to admit.

  9. neolith says:

    “Flight was designed for YOU!”

    No. No, it really wasn’t.

  10. soldant says:

    Am I the only one still following the NDA?

    In any event just from reading about it online and in the leadup, it’s clear that MS Flight wasn’t going to be for the hardcore crowd… and that’s really as much as I can say without breaking the NDA. The hardcore crowd still have X-Plane 10 (with its 2 or so detailed airports, what a waste considering its outstanding flight model!). Hopefully MS Flight will fit into a middle ground which no games seem to tread; most are either too arcade or too hardcode. The sim genre has always been a niche genre, so Flight’s success will be determined by whether Microsoft can convince people that a “flight sim” (regardless of realism, using the term liberally here) is fun to play. Because for most people, it isn’t. I play DCS games for the combat flight experience, not for the endless factoid reading and procedural stuff.

    • djbriandamage says:

      At first I zipped my lip but then I realized how much Microsoft is publishing about our experiences by means of blogs and the pilot stats tracking pages.

    • Zenicetus says:

      If you think X-Plane only has “2 or so detailed airports” then you’re not looking very hard.

      The base sim only has runways taxiways and navaids (for the whole world), but there is a large and growing collection of freeware and payware airports available. For example, the excellent work by Tom Curtis covering the smaller bush airports in British Colombia and Alaska, and the large airports at SEATAC Seattle and KSFO San Francisco. For just about any part of the world, someone is out there making airport buildings and static planes to flesh out the base scenery. And most of it is free.

    • soldant says:

      @Zenicetus: I know that, the same thing goes for FSX. But with a ridiculous amount of data used for scenery included with the game, they couldn’t have set the autogen to place buildings at the various airports? FSX managed it, and it too only had a handful of ultra-detailed airports. There was still something at the others though. Really, if they can autogen scenery that places buildings and roads in a realistic way, they should be able to drop an arbitrary terminal building down on an airport. I shouldn’t have to go crawling everywhere to find addons to add basic structures.

    • Zenicetus says:

      @ soldant: It’s a common complaint, and sure, I’d like to see all the airport buildings too. But the usual justifications go something like this…

      If the program auto-generated control towers and terminal gates, everyone would complain if every airport wasn’t perfect — “The terminal is on the wrong side of the main runway!”, and so on. There is already considerable user involvement in making sure the runways in the database are aligned correctly, and that navaids track updates and changes in the real world (no small matter, if you think about it). Getting the critical stuff like runway alignment is hard enough as it is, when the sim’s database covers the entire world. Being able to complete a flight plan realistically — wheels up to touchdown — trumps eye candy, for the hardcore audience.

      Second, it’s an incentive for users and 3rd party developers to make detailed airport buildings which are far more accurate than what the program could auto-generate. I made one very basic airport in X-Plane 9, just so I could complete some FSEconomy missions (it wasn’t in the base scenery). The tools are a bit more developed in X-Plane 10 now, and I’m halfway tempted to try my hand at adding the small buildings and hangers at my local GA airport down the road from where I live. If there was auto-gen buildings there, maybe I wouldn’t bother.

      This is an old tradition in civilian flight sims. The core engine supplies the basics, and users and 3rd party developers fill in the details.

  11. Untruth says:

    I know graphics aren’t everything… but is it just me or do these graphics look ashamedly outdated?

    One of the lovely things about FS was how much they pushed graphics engines, allowing you to max out settings for beautiful BEAUTY.

    • djbriandamage says:

      The game is a real looker – a little nicer than FSX. I think distilling the locations down to one general geographic biome allows the artists to add a little more flare overall, rather than having to cover every single terrain type because you might click 3 buttons and do a new flight 13k kilometres over yonder.

    • Untruth says:

      The location thing is a strange one. I mean, the incredible thing about FS was always that you could go ANYWHERE. This was a huge selling point (aside from of course the wonderful flight models). And, generally, at an altitude, it was incredible even if up close the detail was lacking.

      But, there was no doubting the limitations when you compared a purchased scenery pack to the stock scenery – you realised how poor some of it was.

      Obviously for Free to Play this was the way to go, but it does seem to take away one of the best things about Flight Sim at a time where mass-3D mapping is becoming so much better – just look at London on Nokia 3D maps and imagine that in FS.

      The graphics – seem ‘tidy’ in the videos but the atmospheric effects don’t seem that impressive, and it still seems very poor at building up detail (even if it’s generic textures) when you get up close.

      But, then, maybe it needs to be played for me to to fully comment.

  12. mbp says:

    I never got into the whole flight simulator thing but I remember it used to be huge. What happened? Did the genre just die of old age or was there some post 9-11 guilt thing going on.

    • Old Tom says:

      Rather than the genre dying, I think the world of pc gaming has drastically grown all around it, making it more and more niche.

      The flight sim genre is quite alive and well –

      http://www.avsim.com
      http://www.flightsim.com
      http://www.vatsim.com

      My own take on MS Flight … MS Flight.FSX(XPlane):FPS Xcom.Original Xcom

    • Zenicetus says:

      Flight sims never went away. The combat sims come and go, but there has always been steady niche interest in civilian flight sims, driven by people interested in flying, and real pilots who use PC sims to keep their navigation and instrument skills sharp. There are group online activities like virtual airlines and ATC operations. It’s all out there, with supporting forums and communities. It’s just under the radar if your main interest is mainstream gaming.

      I think one big reason why flight sims have a low profile, is that there is no big commercial force driving advertising on gaming sites and magazines. The core sims have long development cycles (or they’ve been abandoned, like the MS FS line). What keeps the user communities alive and interested is the huge variety of add-on planes and scenery that are either freeware, or developed by small studios with no advertising budgets.

      No ads means no exposure in the wider gaming world. You’ll hear about one-shot releases like Take On Helicopters, but you’re not likely to hear much about any of this other stuff that represents the flight sim community — all the cool new scenery packages and plane releases — unless you’re already participating on Avsim or the FSX and X-Plane forums. And frankly, I think that Microsoft’s decision to cut themselves off from 3rd party developers, and user-developed freeware, means “Flight” is going to be a one-shot game with a short lifespan.

  13. lordhughes says:

    I’m not a hard core simming fan, But I do enjoy small hops in light aircraft to a semi realistic standard, this is just FSX rehashed and chopped up. Slight graphical improvements (most notably cockpits), but from what I have seen of the beta its extremely meh. The hardcore simmers won’t like it, and tbh I don’t think I do either. The engine is still as bogged down as ever (essentially the engine from FS9 with boltons (FSX) , and now with more boltons (MS Flight) ).

    The biggest let down is the environment (clouds, water, sky, sun etc..) FSX had some amazing addons for these things and I am really surprised that MS Flight team did not steal the ideas of higher res realistic clouds & decent water effects.

    It is just a big old swing and a miss.

    • Old Tom says:

      Don’t worry, I believe graphical upgrades will be forthcoming .. for a price .. ala Flight DLC

    • lordhughes says:

      Oh the joy! It’s odd, I didn’t mind buying addon’s for FSX and FS9 but that’s due to me having the freedom to go anywhere from the start where as now the game is one big toll road and I can’t continue until I hand more money over.

      £60 for the world plus aircraft, fine. Not knowing how much would have to be spent to get the rest of the world … not so fine.

  14. Premium User Badge

    stahlwerk says:

    So at those in the Beta, is it really Microsoft Flight Simulator? Or is there some degree of variability in flight model complexity, or even third-party extensibility hinted at?

    • asshibbitty says:

      With assists turned off I’d say it’s about the same. The directory structure is almost exactly the same too, simobjects\airplanes etc, but now it’s archived.

  15. fn8rd says:

    (angry fnord internet fnord person fnord on)
    is it just me or is any of you other people here offended by the marketing department ordering the (clearly good at his job) narrator to speak a text aimed directly at the mentally handicapped?
    can we behave like grown ups once more? neither will (full disclosure) my handicapped niece ever pay a nickel for this product, nor any one of my under-age nephews or niece. if they want to sell this thing (not looking in any way up to contemporary stuff like this: http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2011/12/09/the-flare-path-custers-last-cake-stand/ ihmo) – they better start selling to grown ups again!
    (angry fnord internet fnord person off)

    sad internet dude seriously sad about the demise of “flight unlimited” being sad, here

    hey, rps, you’re seriously self- ehm, you know, clipping away – self-referential internet jokes these days?

    • max pain says:

      Mentally handicapped? I thought that’s just standard for console gamers, just that MS were a little confused at who they’re selling.

  16. deadly.by.design says:

    It’s free, but does it require GFWL?

    /edit/
    Looks like a yes, based on the site’s FAQ. Bleh.

    • Premium User Badge

      frymaster says:

      it doesn’t REQUIRE it, but it’s pushing it pretty hard. You get extra content if you sign in, and the game looks fairly content-free right not

  17. asshibbitty says:

    It’s not replacing FSX, but I’ll be keeping it. Barely looks any better, but that big chunk of somewhat detailed terrain is nice to fly over. Looking forward to gliders.

  18. rocketman71 says:

    So, the final game in the disappointment that was the Microsoft loves PC gaming, seriously! trilogy.

    Will it be as bad as Age of Farmville Online and Fable 3 You Don’t Get 2?.

  19. Skabooga says:

    Haha . . . free base.

    Although my last flight simulator experience was with Afterburner (admittedly, it did have missiles and whatnot), the prospect of a relaxing flight over scenic vistas does sound enticing.

  20. passingstranger says:

    “Specially built for players who are used to a mouse and keyboard”

    Huh. Sounds too boring to capture most players and too casual to be of interest to actual flight sim fans.

    • djbriandamage says:

      It works like a charm on my Thrustmaster T10000 joystick, and wasn’t half bad on my Logitech Rumblepad either. Microsoft flight sims have always worked fine with the keyboard, though, and FSX and Flight have in-frigging-credible 3D interactive cockpits where you can turn dials and flip switches with the mouse cursor.

      Flight is one hell of a detailed product with as much depth as most people could want from it. I only see the hardcore simmers expressing disappointment at the detail, and personally that’s stuff I’ll probably never understand anyway.

  21. Arglebarf says:

    “…to the serene city-scapes of the Big Island.”

    point 1: If MS is going to make a selling point out of locating the game in Hawaii, perhaps they should refresh themselves on Hawaiian geography. Hawaii’s big city, Honolulu is located on the island of Oahu. The Big Island, formally named Hawaii (yes, confusing, I know), is mostly pastoral land and volcanoes.

    point 2: City-scapes are not generally serene, are they? What, with the hustle and bustle and so forth. I know Honolulu is rather un-serene.

  22. EmS says:

    im slightly scared of that commentator and his marketing blurb
    i have the feeling that microsoft hasn’t done ad vids for games for a decade now
    and just by the way if i want to have quick fun with planes there are better and less realistic games to play

  23. Wedge says:

    I don’t really care about flight sims… but if this is anything like Pilot Wings now (flying through checkpoint things yay!) then I might be kind of interested. I’ll never get over Nintendo not making a proper one for the Wii, and doing a half-assed minigame one for 3ds.