It’s been a while now since BlackBox released their much anticipated 0.85 update for the Airbus A330 and A340, also known as widebody package. A few members from the FSElite team took it upon themselves to dig deeper into this product and we want to let you know our opinion on it. Is it good? Is it bad? Should you buy it?
I had the WideBody package (both A330 and A340) before 0.85 came out, and I loved it back then. It had its flaws, but I could overlook those and look at all the good things the product did. I’m a huge fan of this aircraft. I heard about people having issues with it, even within FSElite quite a few people did. Others were simply happy with the lack of depth or the lack of quality. Now for the lack of quality, I could see what they were talking about. Although in my opinion not bad, it is not great either. It is on no level comparable to better polished addons like Aerosofts Airbus package. Texturing and modelling lacks in this department, but not to such an extent that I could not enjoy the product.
I never had technical issues with the product though, it always flew for me and I wasn’t really missing features. Now keep in mind, the only Airbus I have to compare it to is the Aerosoft one. And I feel like these Widebodies did exactly what the Airbus did. All the flight mechanics were there, flight planning worked like it should, etc. As for the technical depth, I didn’t miss anything either. These Airbusses are operational wise pretty much on par with Aerosofts Airbus.
So what did the v.0.85 update bring for me? Not much actually. Most of the changes are on the exterior model of the plane, and that’s not where I’m looking most of the time. The only really big thing that I was desperately needing for was decent cockpit lighting, which we now got! A very welcome change. But other than that I haven’t noticed much of a difference. I still like the Widebody package as much as I did before, and I will continue to do so. Worth your money? I’d say yes, even before 0.85
I will address the elephant in the room right now. Do I personally think it’s worth your money? Yes… if you’re happy to do a flight with a sense of frustration and a steep learning curve.
My expectations for the upcoming update were pretty high. We had been covering the new version for quite some time, hearing that some of the issues that made the plane pre v0.85 almost un-flyable had now been resolved and fixed. Coupled with the update of the virtual cockpit, improved clickspots and a brand new aircraft pre-flight manager, I was pretty excited. Like Mungo, I am growing tiresome of the Triple 7, the Aerosoft airbus and the Dash 8, and so was hoping that Black Box Simulations would breath a new lease of life into the sim for me. Oh, the disappointment.
I stepped into the cockpit of the A330, wanting to do a delivering flight from Toulouse to London’s Gatwick Airport. With the Pre-flight manager loaded, I was pleasantly surprised at the detail and the options here. Something that was missing, as a EUROPEAN, where were my KGS!? Are Black Box Simulation trying to swoon KGS-hating Aerosoft supporters over, as I cannot find the option to switch anywhere! I’ve been told that you can, but that’s not the point – basic options like this should be easy to find and change. I’ll accept if I’m wrong, but I looked everywhere.
Anyway all fueled and loaded, I began shutting her down to do the start-up checklist. *click*…*click*… why won’t it work? *click…click….cliiiiiiiiick*….
I just could not work out the clickspots. Honestly, they were all over the place. How can a developer miss these, even for a ‘in-development’ aircraft? Frustration aside, I continued the process and before long, I was taxiing the runway. I was surprised at the handling and once in the air, it was quite nice to fly. I even let the awful sound pack not impact my enjoyment of getting the A330 in the air successfully. The flight was fine, no weather to impact the aircraft. During descent, my original clickspot frustration hit me AGAIN. I was clicking everywhere just to change the barometer. Eventually, I gave up, landed and switched it off.
I am a guy who values a first impression above all else. One it’s set deep into my brain, it takes a lot of effort for it to change, and despite how many times I try, I just can’t shake the feeling that the BBS Widebody series just isn’t for me. The simulation itself is completely flyable. Things -do- what they’re supposed to do, it flies quite nicely and the fly-by-wire finally feels pretty complete. In terms of value for money, you’re getting a HUGE selection of aircraft to play with – everything from the smaller A320-200 to the stupidly long A340-600. And all for 39.99eur.
I think my biggest struggle is reminding myself this isn’t a complete aircraft. Not only that, as simmers, we are truly spoilt by the quality from PMDG, Aerosoft and Majestic (soon to be FSLabs if they hurry up!). So that for me impacts my enjoyment. Should it? Probably not, but stepping from one cockpit to another with rubbish clickspots and mediocre texturing is the world of difference. Still, I have high hopes for v1, whenever that comes.
Just carefully consider the following before you purchase:
- You’re paying for a incomplete aircraft – so some -things- may or may not work. Just be prepared to try something that’s not yet working
- What do you value more? Quantity or quality? Answering that will help make your decsion on whether to purchase.
Sometimes more isn’t always better.
Having spent a long time flying the 777 on my long haul flights I thought it was time for me to try something new. At the time of having this thought I saw that the BlackBox Simulations A330/A340 V0.85 had just been released. I decided to bite the bullet and purchased the product despite hearing constant negativity around it. At first I found the product a bit confusing having had no past experience with any of the Airbus widebody family. The logic I have gained from flying the A320 easily transferred across to the widebodies with the only major difference being the hydraulic system.
When I fly this aircraft I have to constantly remind myself that it is still technically in beta so I have to cut it slack where slack is due. There are a few issues that I have found that do irritate me a fair bit. Number one would have to be the lack of company routes. I know that some airlines do not use company routes but when I want to fly from Munich to Shanghai and I have to spend 20 minutes putting in waypoints I am not too happy. This process is made even slower by the fact that you must scroll down to the bottom of the route in order to implement the next waypoint. Number two the sounds are just not good. The gear sound especially. I feel like these could be drastically improved in future updates or I hope that someone one day can create a good soundpack for it. Number three has to be the click spots. These are pretty tedious and can often be an irritance when needing to quickly change something mid flight. I can only hope that these issues will be fixed in updates to come which I am sure they will.
One the other hand there are of course positives. Number one would have to be that it works. It may not work 100% accurately but it does work. I can happily complete a flight of any length without having to worry about the plane falling out of the sky. Number two is the pre flight manager which I think is excellent. Much like the PMDG operations centre it allows you to quickly download a vast range of liveries that have been created by the community. Other functionalities include a very simple but very well made load manager and the ability to calculate the amount of fuel that is needed on a flight.
Do I think you should buy it? Yes, I do. The product is still in beta which you have got to remember. At the moment it does have some issues but I am hopeful that these will be eradicated in future updates. I personally cannot find anything that bad that should totally think about putting you off buying it. My one recommendation would be to just pick up the A340. Aerosoft’s A330 is looking to be just around the corner and in my opinion I think that this will be a far better product than what blackbox have to offer.
So, let’s get right back to the main question. Is the BlackBox Widebody package worth your money? We say: ‘Yes, but…’. It is worth your money and you’ll most likely really enjoy this product. But it is still in a beta stage, and the aircraft certainly shows that. Not everything works (perfectly). There are some annoyances with clickspots (Daan: it was even worse before 0.85, most clickspots are correct now) and the MCDU. The sound is far from great and the interior modelling and textures are lacking and need a lot of polishing. Despite this, it flies well and takes to the skies easily, especially if you’re familiar with the Airbus family. They’re great planes for long hauls (of which there aren’t too many). The dispatch manager with integrated livery downloader/manager and fuel planner is an added bonus. It should be noted that this product will still improve over time, so the issues we pointed out might be fixed in the future as well, adding to the value of this product.
We will continue to update this article throughout the course of time as and when more people from FSElite add their opinion.