The Microsoft Fight Simulator team has just released another free world update and it's all about New Zealand!
By using the latest geographic data, they've created World Update XII: New Zealand, which includes satellite imagery, aerial photography, and digital elevation models, and has even rendered the Hobbiton movie set in detail, nestled amongst the North Island's natural splendor!
This free update features enhanced modeling of seven new cities and includes nine handcrafted airports, sixty-two custom points of interest, and ten exciting missions: three bush trips, three fresh discovery flights, and four new landing challenges.
Better still, this awesome PC game/simulator is available via the Xbox Game Pass for PC service - a must-have for any budding pilot!
Flight Simulator World Update XII: New Zealand
Of course, flying a plane in a "simulator" can be tricky, and most planes don't take too kindly to being pushed towards the heavens at full throttle, fortunately, those fine folks at Microsoft have added a couple of hotkeys that will allow us to get into an elevated position fast, and by using the ‘live pause’ button and the ‘Y’ key to trigger the special movement mode, wherever you might be flying at the time, you can move your plane anywhere you want free from the pesky chains of gravity.
You can use this method to get yourself perfectly in position, ready to fly under the Auckland Harbour bridge - and with this latest update and all the added details it's worth checking out. I've even used it to find my house in the game world, which feels a little odd because it was there.
Another very fun way to use the 'Y' re-positioning is to get wayyy up above the clouds, then race down. It can't be understated just how great a job the MS team did on the clouds in this one, they are very realistic looking and have various effects which can be customised to suit, making for some very exciting flights.
Live pause is triggered by pressing the ‘pause’ button on your keyboard, you might have never used this key before but it’s usually just above the end key, which is just above the arrow keys. Pressing pause will keep your plane flying in spot, with the world still moving around it.
Now press the ‘Y’ key. Move about a bit using the numpad, Xbox controller or joystick like you normally would, you'll see it's quite different. Now press ‘Y’ again. Now that you’re in position, push ‘pause’ again to start flying! You don't actually have to use the live pause option at all, it just feels less jarring to have a plane settle into a more flight ready mode ahead of being snapped back into movement.
You can now position your plane where ever you want, above the clouds or in between two building for a spectacular screenshot.
The great thing about the cloud space is how new and exciting it all is, no game has really shown it in this way before, and there is the added benefit to FPS that comes from being so far away from the ground and all that rendering, “It’s never flown better!” remarked a fellow pilot on discord.
The specific settings we used to make the clouds look so utterly gorgeous are named 'Volumetric Clouds', with 'Ambient Occlusions', 'Light Shafts' and 'Reflections' all set to ultra too.
As mentioned briefly earlier, the game really can be set to boost the frame rate while this far off the ground too - push the settings up a little higher, while turning down those relating to ground assets and you'll see the benefits. Another great setting to turn up is named 'Windshield Effects', this makes flying through clouds absolutely breathtaking, and if you get yourself into the middle of a giant lightning storm - you're in for a treat!
You'll find some beautiful looking cloud formations in no time at all, and with the new freedom of movement that 'Y' offers you can really explore them, finding the pockets and tunnels that can be flown through for spectacular effect. If you time these cloud runs with the sun rise and sun set things can look even more fantastic too!
Now, if you’re pressed for time and don’t want to hunt for clouds you can also pre-set the weather from the world map launcher. You’ll find the option to set weather is available in the new world options but you've got to turn off the live weather first.
We hope this makes your piloting experience a little more fun as we all fly together in the virtual skies! One last tip for those that are thinking about giving the Microsoft Flight Simulator game a go - it plays best with an Xbox controller or Joystick!