Whilst World Update II: USA was released earlier this week, Microsoft and Asobo Studios are already looking ahead at the future with the next 3-months of development. During their recent Developer Q&A session, Jorg Neumann (Head of Microsoft Flight Sim), Sebastian Wloch (CEO/Co-Founder of Asobo Studio) and Martial Bossard (Executive Producer, Aboso Studio) all chimed in what the next few months holds. This includes exciting plans for VR to be available before Christmas, the next world update and improvements to ATC.
As posted earlier today on the Microsoft Flight Simulator blog, the feedback and wishlist snapshots have been updated to now include rough time frames on when specific requests and fixes will be available in the simulator. As usual, the team continues to listen to the feedback and are investigating many of the issues sent in. During the live session, they did comment on how things have shifted due to feedback so providing yours is always relevant to the team. Expect to see some of the dates become more specific as they progress with development.
Jorg also commented on how the current development cycle will change a little bit moving forward. Since release, the teams have worked to a bi-weekly update schedule, but will now slow this down a little as to ensure that updates are as stable as possible. Going forward, updates to the simulator will be monthly with the cycle including world updates and sim updates every 2-3 months. This cycle will also give third-party developers a chance to test updates beforehand to ensure their products work with any changes made by the simulator. Jorg did tease that in between we will also see “bigger features and nice surprises to come.”
VR By Christmas
Perhaps one of the most requested features by people for the new simulator is the implementation of Virtual Reality. Over the past few weeks the team has been testing in a closed beta environment, but “the feedback has been so good” that the team feel they are now ready to release it for everyone. Coming in Sim Update #2, releasing on December 22nd 2020, Virtual Reality will be added completely free of charge the simulator for all headsets. Whilst it was originally announced to be restricted to only a specific few headsets, it’s now confirmed that all VR headsets will work with the simulator. The VR experience will include the menu system as well to provide the most seamless experience possible.
In addition, Sim Update #2 will also come packed with two new Airbus A320neo tutorials and of course a range of other fixes and changes.
World Update III: United Kingdom
Both Japan and the US saw huge world update improvements and World Update III will focus on the United Kingdom. This was confirmed in the Flight Simulator blog post, but Jorg gave a lot more detail about what to expect from the update when it releases on January 28th 2021. Right now, Jorg confirmed that England, Wales and Scotland will see improvements to the data included which will range from 50cm – 2m in resolution, along with improved aerial imagery from Bing Maps. Work is ongoing to try and get Ireland included in the pack, but that situation remains dynamic.
Further to the overall image quality improvements, it was also confirmed that four brand new hand-crafted airports would also be included. These will be:
- Outer Skerries
- Manchester Barton (EGCB)
- Liverpool Airport (EGGP)
- Land’s End Airport (EGHC)
In addition, between 50 and 60 new points of interest will be included, along with plans to make new procedurally generated churches and cathedrals throughout the UK. There will also be additional landing challenges and tours to take across the UK as part of the new world update pack coming early 2021.
Although less information was shared, Martial began commenting on the future of how ATC will work in the simulator. Sim Update #3 will see improvements to how ATC handles approaches specifically with changes to phraseology and also ATIS information. There is also ongoing work (after Sim Update #3) for phraseology depending on region, along with improved audio quality a long way down the line.
This will most likely be expanded upon in the future when Sim Update #3 is closer to a release.