With its beautifully rendered planes, lovingly hand-crafted airports and dozens upon dozens of photo-realistic cities that have been tweaked and fine-tuned right down to the very last pixel, Asobo Studio’s Microsoft Flight Simulator is one of the most technically advanced games of our generation. Sure, its Bing Maps data can sometimes go a bit wonky and result in some rather amusing interpretations of local landmarks, but at its best, it’s a real sight to behold – especially when it’s spread across an ultrawide gaming monitor in all its 21:9 glory. Here’s a quick tour of what it looks like and how it works – and yes, there are GIFs aplenty.
Just like my ultrawide odysseys with Death Stranding and Horizon Zero Dawn, I’ve been using Asus’ ROG Swift PG35VQ to try out Microsoft Flight Simulator’s 21:9 support, which has a curved, 35in display with a 3440×1440 resolution. As we’ve already discovered, Microsoft Flight Simulator is a bit of a performance hog at the best of times, let alone when you’re trying to run it an ultrawide resolution, so you’ll most likely need a pretty beefy mega rig to run this game properly at 60fps. Indeed, even my RTX 2080 Ti wasn’t able to maintain a steady 60fps frame rate at this resolution, although my Core i5-8600K and 16GB of RAM probably weren’t helping in this respect.
Still, even at an occasionally choppy 45fps, Microsoft Flight Simulator looked properly stunning in ultrawide, especially when you take a look outside your aircraft and deploy the game’s external camera. Yes. Please.
Best of all, Microsoft Flight Simulator doesn’t do anything funny with its ultrawide support. There aren’t any cutscenes to spoil the effect like there is in Horizon Zero Dawn, and unlike Death Stranding, there’s no funky interpretation of what 21:9 actually means in terms of how many pixels it supports. Instead, it’s just plain 3440×1440 goodness, and golly, it’s pretty darn stunning.
You can really appreciate the sheer breadth and magnitude of what Asobo have accomplished here with their real-time depiction of Earth, and even the frequent pop-in effects don’t detract from the overall beauty of the vast, vast horizon in front of you. Plus, it’s great for picking out all the tiny little details of the game’s many hundreds of photo-realistic cities. Just look at all those tiny little buildings!
It’s also brilliant for playing with the game’s real-time weather tools. It’s pretty impressive on a regular 16:9 screen when you manipulate its gorgeous clouds in real-time, but another thing entirely when there’s just SO. MUCH. MORE to look at and absorb. It’s really quite something, especially when you get the time of day just right for that perfect sunset.
Inside the cockpit is pretty sweet, too. I must admit, I’m less interested in staring at a bunch of buttons for hours on end when there’s an entire world to gawp at with the external camera, but I do appreciate just how much of it you’re able to see in ultrawide. It’s almost like you’re sitting in both seats.
And when you’re sitting in a smaller, lighter aircraft with a single seat… Holy moly.
The UI is pretty manageable as well in ultrawide. While there’s a lot of it to keep track of, from your fuel gauge to your airspeed and altitude dials, the game’s slow pace means there’s plenty of time to sit back and drink it all in. You rarely have to do anything quickly in Microsoft Flight Simulator, so it’s less of an issue when you’re having to look at the very edges of the screen to check an important gauge.
As I said earlier, you’ll need a pretty hefty machine to run the game in ultrawide, especially at higher graphics settings, but man alive is it worth it. I’ve never been one for doing the sim bit of Microsoft Flight Simulator, but I am 100% here for plonking down a random departure point on the world map and just seeing where the wind takes me. It is absolutely one of the best ultrawide games you can play on PC right now, and if you subscribe to Xbox Game Pass you absolutely owe it to yourself to get it downloaded and take it for a spin. It’s a real treat.