Flight Simulator's performance update arrives

Microsoft released its groundbreaking Flight Simulator for its Xbox Series X and S on Tuesday, but PC gamers have a real treat as well: The significant performance upgrade Microsoft and Asobo Studios teased is now live. 

In early July, Asobo said that it had rewritten the game’s code to double the frame rate and significantly reduce the memory requirements, making Flight Simulator accessible to even more gaming PCs. In a video, the game ran at about 60 frames per second on a Core i7-9700K and GeForce RTX 2060.

Probably not coincidentally, Microsoft’s Series X and Series S game consoles are roughly comparable to low-end PCs, so the new update applies to them as well. Though Flight Simulator has been available to preload on the Microsoft Xbox Series X console, the new update will require an additional 27.6GB to install, Microsoft said in a blog post. Additional features for both PCs and the Xbox include “discovery flights,” which place your plane above a scenic location to get a visually stunning experience.

Based upon my own experiences with Flight Simulator running on a Xbox Series X, I can say that the performance is pretty close to what you’d expect of the game. It’s unclear what resolution that game runs on, since that isn’t called out in the menus and there aren’t any options, currently, to adjust it. But my console is connected to a 4K monitor, so it’s likely that the game is trying to achieve 4K resolution. My Twitter feed includes a short clip of an approach to the island of Manhattan and New York City to give you an idea of the frame rate and overall stability. 

Flight Simulator still includes some of the visual glitches that appear in the PC version—cars driving over and below rivers is a big one—but you can probably excuse some of these errors, given that the game models the entire physical world.

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