X-Plane 11 demo out now, game due this year

I didn’t even realise X-Plane 11 [official site] was in-development, though of course it is. The flight simulator series is the only real competitor to Microsoft Flight Simulator, with its own approach to physics modelling, and X-Plane 10 was my pick when I wanted to take a skyward jaunt. The new game is due before the end of the year and now there’s a demo out that you can download now and a trailer showing some of the features below.

Where other flight simulators model plane physics using available aerodynamic data for each featured plane, X-Plane simulates flight from first principles. That is, it calculates the forces of lift and drag against the actual polygonal shape of the plane you’re attempting to fly. This means the game theoretically produces a more accurate flight experience, but also that you can include planes for which no aerodynamic data yet exists. Technically you could use X-Plane to design an entirely new plane and test how it might perform in the real world based on its performance in-game.

As an amateurish amateur in the world of flight simulators though, this is not where my interests lie. My interest is in using the game as a kind of tourism, since it includes the entire planet, much of it in great detail, and when else am I going to be able to buzz above the alps from that kind of height. Or failing that, my interest is in using the game’s simulation to create dramatic emergency landings, by setting a percentage chance for my plane to fail within a certain timeframe, turning the weather to stormy, and seeing whether I can navigate myself to a runway and touch down safely when everything suddenly goes wrong.

For that reason, I’m not sure I’ll notice most of the new additions X-Plane 11 is bragging about, including more detailed plane models. I do like the sound of the new user interface however, which seems to like it will make creating my own disaster scenarios a little easier. There are videos detailing some of these changes on the game’s YouTube channel.

X-Plane 11 is due for release this year and is currently available in beta. You can buy the game for $60 direct from the developer, which currently also gets you access to a digital download of X-Plane 10.


  1. ButteringSundays says:

    “I didn’t even realise X-Plane 11 was in-development, though of course it is.”

    Well it’s been discussed openly for over a year, so I’m not sure what this communicated other than ‘i don’t keep up with flight sim news, at all’.

    Which is your right! But as a gaming news site maybe not something that should be so readily admitted?

  2. Godwhacker says:

    You know what needs a sequel? Stunt Island.

    • rochrist says:

      Yes! I had completely forgotten that game existed! It was awesome!

  3. TOYLTH says:

    I feel like it is important to play this sort of game.

    In the event you are on a plane where both pilot and co-pilot fall ill, you can take control of the plane, land it safely, and date the hot passenger you were flirting with all the while.

  4. xcession says:

    No YOU shut up! That music was entirely appropriate!

  5. Zenicetus says:

    Note: The demo is free, works for 15 minutes (but can be infinitely re-started) and includes KSEA airport and the area around Seattle. If you buy the current X-Plane 10 digital download version, you get access to the full X-Plane 11 beta with the timer unlocked and you can download the whole world.

    Which I’ve done, since I’ve been flying X-Plane since version 8. The new v11 is *gorgeous* for plane modeling and reflections, and the lighting for terrain is much improved. Looks amazing at night. Clouds still need work, they aren’t doing seasons yet, and weather is still pretty basic. This version seems aimed mostly at plane and terrain eye candy, with a more “friendly” UI (and lots of grumbling from the hardcore users about lack of granular settings).

    It’s also buggy and I wouldn’t recommend purchasing the full beta yet, unless you’re a die-hard flight sim fan. Looks like it’s pretty close though, and might make it to release before end of year.

  6. Chaz says:

    Will it look that good from the off or will you need to buy a bazillion expansions and addons?

    • Zenicetus says:

      Everything you see in that trailer above is in the base sim. You might want some payware planes, and there are some payware airports, but generally speaking it’s much less expensive to fill out X-Plane than FSX/P3D because so much is free and user-created. You can even create your own free scenery from orthophotos and 3D buildings derived from Open Street Map data.

      For reference, I think I’ve spent maybe $250 in payware planes over the last 3-4 years, and maybe $50 in scenery for X-Plane. That’s bupkis, compared to what a typical user spends on FSX add-ons.

      You do need a fairly strong computer/GPU to run the higher eye candy settings, but if you can manage a AAA game at full settings there should be no problems. Except for RAM. XP11 likes lots of RAM. The recommended spec is 16-24 gigs or better. You’ll probably want 32 gigs of RAM to run the free ultra-high def terrain packages that can be downloaded.

      • Chaz says:

        That’s nice to know. I’m more into flying aircraft over nice scenery than being an aeroplane nut.

        I do have X-Plane 10 but have never really got around to trying it as it didn’t really have anything in the way of a tutorial to get you started like FSX did.

        FSX on the other-hand felt old and creaky and required the aforementioned bazillion mods, many of them paid and expensive like the Orbx stuff, to make it look anything approaching reasonable. Prepar3D, which most are claiming to be the next evolution of FSX, is just stupidly expensive for the base software before you’ve even bought a single addon.

        I’m currently playing Aerofly FS2 as that has built in VR support. I know there’s Flyinside for the others, but again that another extra expense. Aerofly FS2 looks great from the off, the terrain is stunning, but it only covers a small part of the US and the Alps right now and it’s lacking in many of the little details that make the world come to life, like moving traffic on the ground and other air traffic, the water is a static flat photo real texture etc.

        If X-Plane 11 does all that though and from the vid it looks like it does, then I’ll be up for some of that. Wonder if there will be some sort of upgrade path for owners of the previous version? Sounds like I’ll have to double up my RAM too as I only bothered putting in 16Gb when I built this one, there didn’t seem much point in going higher at the time last year.

        • Zenicetus says:

          No upgrade path for owners of XP10 unless you bought it very recently, which includes a key for XP11. Every major version has always been full price. The only thing Laminar sells is the base sim, they don’t get anything (AFAIK) from 3rd-party add-on sales. So I think that’s reasonable to support the developers.

          You should be fine with 16gb RAM to start with. The only reason you’d want 32gb right now is for the UHD ultra-high res terrain mesh option, which is only available for certain areas anyway.

        • KastaRules says:

          I too am enjoying FS2 for its good VR support!

          …And If the devs will ever add VR support to X-Plane 11 I am gonna get that as well; otherwise I shall just skip it. I can only justify purchasing FlyInside for FSX, NOT for a 2017 product.

  7. SuicideKing says:

    “The flight simulator series is the only real competitor to Microsoft Flight Simulator”

    I’m assuming you mean in variety of planes that can be flown, otherwise DCS is pretty good too.

    • Zenicetus says:

      Should have been tagged with “for civilian simulation.” And not just variety of planes, but the whole world available for flying.

      DCS is great for the combat planes it focuses on though.

    • stuart_d_buchanan says:

      Or there’s FlightGear, which is open source, and free.

      Disclaimer: I’m one of the Devs on FlightGear, so highly biased.

  8. vegeta1998 says:

    its not a game