A first look at Microsoft Flight Simulator’s Multiplayer Features

In the latest in the series of their Feature Discovery Series, CEO of Asobo Studio Sebastian Wloch reveals some details of how the multiplayer functionality of the upcoming Microsoft Flight Simulator will work. He’s sharing details of the different multiplayer options the game will offer, and how the game will be pulling real-world data like air traffic and weather into the game.

The goal with this new reboot of Microsoft Flight Simulator, the first new release in the series since 2006, is the concept of One shared world. This is where the game is tracking real-world pilots in real actual planes, charting their flight paths and journey times in realtime, then giving players the opportunity to fly around in a virtual world full of recreations of real planes. They are tracking the actual flights of “most, if not all the airplanes that are flying in the world at one moment”, and they will be seamlessly taken over by AI in the event of the signal being lost.

Multiplayer modes

Players can choose between two main multiplayer modes depending on their preference:

There’s “Live players only“, where you follow real-life rules and regulations, and you will be playing in a world populated by other players doing the same. This mode will also recreate real-time weather conditions, where the game pulls present-day weather data from around the world and puts it into the game, so whatever the weather is like outside the window will be reflected in the game. This is the mode that will feature the largest number of other human players at once.

Another mode is called “All Players“. In this mode, you can set the time and weather to your preference, rather than the game offering an accurate simulation of present time and weather conditions. This mode doesn’t have the same requirement that you follow all the rules and lets you fly how you want to fly, and other players will be doing the same. This mode also supports groups, for you to team up with other players for custom rule-sets, and plan a trip for yourself and some friends.

Powered by Azure

The backend for these various multiplayer modes is Microsoft’s global network of Azure datacentres, and wherever you are in the world, the game will automatically connect you to whichever datacentre location offers the lowest ping, but if you wish to play with friends in different parts of the world, you can all manually choose to connect to the specific server.

Multiplayer traffic can be tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of planes, but to maintain performance on both the player end and the server end, you will only have data streamed to your game for players that are within the visible range of 200km. For real-world planes being simulated, it’s all planes within that 200km range, but for player-controlled planes, it’s capped to the nearest 50 players. Even on lower graphic settings, where the game doesn’t render all these planes, they are still being simulated, and will still show on your radar.

Are you looking forward to playing Microsoft Flight Simulator? It’s been a while since we’ve had a new Flight Simulator from Microsoft, and it looks like they are making a big bet on this new entry.

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I skew Chaotic Good where possible, and love pressing buttons, viewing pixels and listening to sounds. I’ve written for publications like Rock Paper Shotgun, Eurogamer, VG247 and Kotaku UK, and spent 13 years running SavyGamer.co.uk. If you ever get the chance you should ask me to tell you the story about that time I had a fight with a snake on an island off the coast of Cambodia.

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