Microsoft Flight Simulator gets huge performance update

Watch your six, it's a big one.

Coinciding with the release of Microsoft Flight Simulator on the Xbox Series X and Series S consoles, PC pilots also got Sim Update 5 which has brought with it a phenomenal amount of upgrades that really boost the experience across the board.

Flight Simulator 2020 has been with us now almost a near and the devs have released a near-constant stream of upgrades and add-ons alongside a very active community providing great free and paid content to enhance the game.

The thing the community hasn’t been able to sort out though is the low frame rates that plagued some users but now that could well be a thing of the past too.

Enhanced tutorials have also been included to help people get into flying quicker too, but is the promise of

  • Improved multi-core support for CPU
  • Better memory and GPU usage
  • Faster loading times
  • Stutters have been significantly reduced

That will make virtual pilots the world over rejoice. Be warned, the patch is massive, closing in on 40GB. I tried to grab it late last night but it bombed out on me halfway through, presumably because of traffic. I’m trying again as we speak, but even with my 1GB internet connection progress is woefully slow. Ah, it’s just crashed again…. I’ll let you know how I go!

Patch Notes

Microsoft Flight Simulator Update July 27th PC, Xbox Series X|S Release Notes

Performance

This update includes significant performance improvements to make the experience more seamless.

  • Improved multi core support for CPU
  • Better memory and GPU usage
  • Faster loading times
  • Stutters have been significantly reduced

Discovery Flights

Discovery Flights were originally inspired by those who wanted to fly in one of our trailers! Discovery Flights place you in the most scenic locations on the planet, including awesome locations like the Great Pyramids or Mount Everest, or vibrant cities like Naples or Rio de Janeiro, in optimal weather conditions for you to fly and sightsee at your leisure. You can quickly switch between locations using the Activity tab available from the pause menu. Two additional Discovery Flights are featured with all World Updates available for free within the in-game Marketplace.

World Exploration Improvements

The world map now also features satellite imagery, map labels, and main Point of Interest names to make exploring the world (and even finding your house) as easy as possible. We extended this capability into the flight experience itself and you can now activate the POI labels during a flight, meaning you can suddenly understand the spatial relationships between cities, mountains, and other landmarks. A new section is available in the Assistances menu, to display labels on all on-screen POIs or only the one you are pointing toward with the camera.

Activities updates

Landing Challenges are now graded. Remember to download World Updates in the marketplace, which contain additional landing challenges and bush trips.

Training flights

We overhauled our training flights to make them more digestible. Each of the 22 flights focuses on a specific notion, starting with basic handling, to landing & take off, VFR navigation, all the way to learning how to fly an airliner like the Airbus 320neo. Training flights feature contextual voiceovers, a score, and a grade to provide feedback and advice to progress through your learning journey.

Flight assistant / new assistances

The Flight Assistant is a new UI panel available via the toolbar in Free Flight and Discovery Flights. It allows you to quickly get AI help during flight:

  • You can select nearby POIs or airports and set them as your destination to get direction
  • You can also give control to the AI to fly you to your chosen destination.
  • If using an Xbox controller, you can choose to temporarily enable AI flight control whenever you toggle the on-screen “cursor mode” (see below) to interact with menus or cockpit instruments
  • You can delegate radio communications to the AI to let them interact with Air Traffic Control
  • You can quickly activate auto-trimming and anti-stall assists

Gamepad Navigation / Cursor

If using an Xbox controller, you can use the left stick to control an on-screen cursor to navigate menus, world map and cockpits. To access the cursor controls during flight, click the left stick button on the controller to switch from flight controls to “Cursor Mode”. An extended zone around the cursor is used to select interactive element closest to the cursor center dot, making it more permissive and easier to use. Right stick is used to scroll pages and quickly change options. Cursor parameters are available in the Options / General Options / Accessibility menu.

Cockpit interactions

Added the new “Lock” interaction system:

  • Set active by default but can be reverted to “Legacy” in Options / General Options / Accessibility.
  • Tooltips are now displaying the instrument name, instrument values, and controls (dynamic depending of the device in use)
  • Using the cursor or the camera center pointer, you can highlight any interactive cockpit instrument.
  • Once highlighted, you can interact with the instrument:
    • If the instrument is simple (buttons, 2 positions switches), tapping Xbox Controller A or Mouse left button will interact with it.
    • If the instrument is complex (knobs, levers…), tapping Xbox Controller A or holding Mouse left button will lock on it.
    • Once locked on an instrument, you can:
      • Use primary (Xbox Controller A/ Mouse left button), secondary (Xbox Controller X/ Mouse right button) or tertiary (Xbox Controller Y/ Mouse middle button) interactions.
      • Increase/ decrease the instrument (Xbox Controller LT/ RT or Mouse wheel)
      • Use gestures (Xbox Controller left stick or Mouse movements)
      • Unlock the instrument (Xbox Controller B or release Mouse left button)

Land anywhere / VFX

The following planes are now provided with skis and floats variants:

  • Cessna C172 classic
  • Cessna C172 G1000
  • CubCrafters XCub
  • Zlin Aviation Shock Ultra

These aircraft checklists have been adapted accordingly. Appropriated VFX are displayed depending on the surface type you are landing on.

Accessibility / Screen reader

We have added a text-to-speech narration feature to the Flight Simulator menus (English language only at first). This can be accessed during Onboarding for new users or enabled via Options / General Options / Accessibility for existing users. This feature is work-in-progress and does not yet cover every screen or option but should allow users to navigate to the most vital menu screens needed to begin a flight. We are actively working on making the narrator more comprehensive and aim to add more functionality in future updates. Learn more about our Accessibility efforts here 21.

Liveries

Two new livery sets are available Aviator club Xbox and Livery 01.