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30Jul/200

Playing ‘Flight Simulator’ at home feels like meditation

Hummm. 

When they began building Microsoft Flight Simulator some years ago, developers at Asobo Studio had no idea how prescient the project was (even if Bill Gates kinda did). They didn’t calculate the exact date of a global pandemic or factor in the pent-up energy of a million canceled travel plans, but they ended up building an ideal playground for the self-quarantine era. Flight Simulator is impressive, attractive and deeply soothing, especially right now.

Even without quarantine-colored glasses, Flight Simulator is a spectacular feat. Using a combination of photogrammetry, procedural generation and hand-crafted code, developers have recreated the world in ridiculous detail, with particular attention paid to populous Western cities, famous landmarks and airports. There are 117 million lakes on Earth and all of them are in Flight Simulator, in the correct spots and with realistic reflections, ripples and even tide pools. Players can buzz the Eiffel Tower, Taj Mahal, or Grand Canyon on a whim, or attempt to land in their own literal backyard. Time and weather are malleable.

Each plane -- and there are 30 total, from single-engine crafts to passenger jets -- has 1,000 fully simulated points that respond to a variety of factors, including the atmosphere, weather and player input.

Flight Simulator is dense, with hours of practice exercises and challenges. The main menu features Flight Training, Activities, News, Live Events and the World Map. Training is where I learned to use a controller instead of the keyboard of my Alienware m15 R3, which doesn’t have a number pad. The default Flight Simulator controls require a separate number pad or a significant amount of key reconfiguration, and it’s impossible to gently control a plane’s yaw, pitch and roll without pressure-sensitive keys. But the second I connected a wireless Xbox gamepad, the entire training scenario made sense. Analog sticks are crucial to a peaceful Flight Simulator experience.

Input methods aside, the best mode in Flight Simulator is the World Map.

The World Map is the sandbox portion of Flight Simulator. Pick literally any spot on Earth, adjust the weather, air traffic and clock, and start flying in the plane of your choosing. Or, use the “live” settings to soar around the actual, real-world conditions of any region, at any time. The globe is pockmarked with thousands of white-and-blue dots showing off airports and featured locations, but you’re able to take off from any area, marked or otherwise.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/microsoft-flight-simulator-preview-070123565.html

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