Turbulent Designs have been on a roll lately. From their humble beginnings with a few small airports, the team has quickly released some high quality and evolutionary scenery products. Of course, I’m talking about both Idaho Falls and MBS International Airport. Both of those airports had some great features, but something that I really enjoyed was the foliage and natural looking environments around them. Not only was this down to the team’s attention to detail, but also their Real Flora technology. This technology really paved the way for their latest product: TerraFlora.
When Turbulent Designs announced they would be taking their Real Flora technology to the next step and providing worldwide tree coverage, I got excited. Having worked with their products before and knowing their development standards, I knew we were expecting a good quality product. Of course, there is the question of their competitor product, as well as knowing the comparison to default trees within the sim. Hopefully, in this review, I’ll address those questions and deliver a definitive answer on whether to buy TerraFlora or not.
Downloading and installing is as straightforward as before. Turbulent Designs use their own custom installer, which is linked to your account. Once installed, you’ll be able to access options and manuals via the Turbulent Terminal – their own configurator. It’s clean looking, easy to use and allows you to find out information and updates quickly. It’s a neat tool for their airports but it isn’t particularly used for TerraFlora.
When you first step into the sim for the first time with the new tree set, you will instantly notice the visual difference. Flying around the fields of England and you’ll see the improvements in quality very quickly. There are lots of details going on in these trees to show they’re bursting with leaves. Heading to Asia and I saw rice fields, more tropical vegetation and more. They may already exist in default FSX/P3D, but the work that’s gone into making them more realistic make them much more enjoyable to look at and fly over.
The coloring of the trees looks fantastic and you can tell the developers have studied what they should look like. From the disparity in texture color to the height, everything is more realistic. Interestingly, Turbulent Designs have also corrected the height of trees so no more flying through one on approach into the mountain airports.
One of the drawbacks with using custom tree textures is that your add-on scenery may not match perfectly in terms of coloring or design. I tried TerraFlora out in multiple regions and airports where I had both default and payware scenery add-ons installed. Maybe the biggest concern is going to be the Orbx FTX regions – especially as I imagine many of their scenery products were designed with their own HD tree add-on package in mind. I’m pleased to say that even with Turbulent Design’s TerraFlora installed, there were no issues in the regions. Trees were in the right places and they kept in line with the colorization and look of the Orbx regions.
Airports were a similar story. The ones I tried with TerraFlora all looked great with no obvious issues presenting itself. Just like it is already, changing seasons will change the color of the autogen trees, but not anything hand placed by the developer. So unless they’ve custom-made seasonal variation in their trees, TerraFlora won’t fix them either. I think it’s fair to say that Turbulent Designs have done a great job at ensuring that TerraFlora will work well with the huge variation each person’s sim will look like.
What will be great to see in the future is if developers work closely with Turbulent Designs to inject their TerraFlora tree design to their airports. This would be great and allow even during the colder winter months for the surroundings of the airport to match the nearby foliage.
Speaking of winter months, I was amazed to see how much variety and realism has been included with TerraFlora. During the summer, Ash trees look luscious and vibrant, yet during the winter, they appear as branches with cooler coloring to give it that snow-ridden feel. You then head up the mountains in Canada and the forests of oak trees all look incredibly realistic and carry a certain level of detail. But if you head down to the tropical and warm Caribbean, the palm trees will still look as green as ever and makes you envious of those in the warm climate. It’s really cool to see such variance in textures throughout the year. The impression I get is that there is more variety in color, tree styles and texture than that of Orbx FTX Global Trees.
When it comes to performance, Turbulent Designs have been very conscious to ensure that it runs smoothly without having a negative impact on frame rates or VAS usage. I’m pleased to say that during my testing, I experience an increase in frames per second and VAS usage had very, very minimal impact. In some scenarios, I found it to actually be better. This same increase also was the same when using the competing product as well. This is really impressive as TerraFlora improves just about everything from the default trees, so to yield better performance is excellent.
Whilst TerraFlora does look stunning, it’s probably a good idea to start thinking early on the audience for the product. If you’re someone who often flies low and slow in a GA aircraft, then absolutely, you need to make sure that the ground below you looks at its best. However, if you love to fly those heavy jets from A to B, then it’s worth asking how much do you notice the trees 38,000ft below you. Your preference in flying doesn’t take away from the quality of the product, but it’s a consideration worth thinking about before you purchase.
For the price you pay, you’re getting a product that is modern, brings more realism to the sim and also enhances your visual experience whilst flying. It may not be required for everyone, but if you want to see the added benefits of replacing the default trees in your sim, then TerraFlora is the way to go. The competing product may be cheaper, and still good, but TerraFlora is more modern and, I feel, adds more immersion with greater variety and higher resolution textures.