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Microsoft Flight Simulator Coming Back Soon (Mostly) Free

You'll get more than a demo for free, but anything past that will cost you.

Before Microsoft became best known in video games for Xbox, the company was well respected for the realistic Microsoft Flight Simulator series. That franchise was put to bed in 2006, but it’s coming back this spring as Microsoft Flight, and it won’t cost you anything to give the game a test run.

Everything about Microsoft Flight isn’t exactly free, though.

The initial no-cost download comes with the “Big Island of Hawaii” environment, complete with missions, challenges and hidden objects. Connecting to your Games for Windows Live account will add the ability to fly the Boeing Stearman, more missions, ability to unlock Achievements and an online profile tracking your progress.

In other words, it’s recommended for most players.

The money part comes in after you’ve experienced all that, letting players “purchase and download additional content that adds new aircraft, regions and customization options."

Sign-ups for the beta are still ongoing, which you can jump into the mix for at this link.

The last major release for the long-running franchise was Microsoft Flight Simulator X, way back in 2006.

Patrick Klepek on Google+
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Posted by patrickklepek

Before Microsoft became best known in video games for Xbox, the company was well respected for the realistic Microsoft Flight Simulator series. That franchise was put to bed in 2006, but it’s coming back this spring as Microsoft Flight, and it won’t cost you anything to give the game a test run.

Everything about Microsoft Flight isn’t exactly free, though.

The initial no-cost download comes with the “Big Island of Hawaii” environment, complete with missions, challenges and hidden objects. Connecting to your Games for Windows Live account will add the ability to fly the Boeing Stearman, more missions, ability to unlock Achievements and an online profile tracking your progress.

In other words, it’s recommended for most players.

The money part comes in after you’ve experienced all that, letting players “purchase and download additional content that adds new aircraft, regions and customization options."

Sign-ups for the beta are still ongoing, which you can jump into the mix for at this link.

The last major release for the long-running franchise was Microsoft Flight Simulator X, way back in 2006.

Staff
Edited by Thor_Molecules

I'd like to get in the beta for this. Sounds neat.

Edited by Octaslash

Time to break out the Sidewinder again.

Posted by Jack268

I hope they let you buy a "complete pack" which would be the equivalent of buying the game in a store so you get all the content, because I really hate those "buy 20 different things at $5 each" and would rather just buy a complete game.

Posted by buckybit

smart move.

Real Flight Sim fans are paying 100s and even 1000s of dollars for their hobby. They have nothing to do with the GB-like gaming crowd.

Making the basic game a low entry and available to interested non-gamers, makes it even more compelling to try it out. People will stick to it ... if their Windows 8 will run it and they have a then needed DirectX 11.1 card (or multiple) for their handmade home cockpit.

Posted by craig588

People are crazy about buying FSX models and skins, I think even if there is a complete version at launch they'll push out hundreds of dollars of DLC.

Posted by MolluskLingers

I am going to be pissed if this game doesn't have Commercial Airliners in it. But it's Microsoft, and they rather charge money for basic features and a full package then let the fans have a full experience so i'm not holding much hope.

I hope VATSIM moves over to this too, if it's possible. Again not sure, but VATSIM makes flight simulator X amazing.

Posted by aceofspudz

Never could land at that damn airport in Hawaii with all the trees around it. I've seen bigger landing strips on exotic dancers.

Posted by l3illyl3ob

I had a modded FSX install that was over 50GB. That game was kind of insane.

That said, this is a little underwhelming. Hawaii? And other regions available via microtransactions? How many other regions? How detailed will they be? Every single other modern Flight Simulator game had the entire world. Limiting it just to select regions is massively disappointing.

Posted by WinterSnowblind

@Jack268: This seems similar to what they did with Age of Empires Online, so yeah, there will likely be a complete pack you can buy.

Bear in mind that past flight simulators have cost hundreds though. Letting people pick and choose exactly what parts they want makes sense.

Posted by Jayross

It would be cool if they had a version for the 360.. but I am guessing the controls might be a bit too complex.

Edited by TheZodiac

Hell yeah! My joystick is ready lmao

Posted by iAmJohn

@l3illyl3ob said:

I had a modded FSX install that was over 50GB. That game was kind of insane.

That said, this is a little underwhelming. Hawaii? And other regions available via microtransactions? How many other regions? How detailed will they be? Every single other modern Flight Simulator game had the entire world. Limiting it just to select regions is massively disappointing.

For something you're getting for free, I'd actually say it's a pretty good deal, depending on how many of the islands they model. Hawaii lets them mess around with some really neat, unique topographies, from forest-covered mountains, beaches, cities and volcanoes. It's hard to say how much support this will get (honestly, the last I heard of AoE:O was when they talked about it on the Bombcast back in July), but at least for a start, I think Hawaii is a pretty great choice that lets them potentially show off a lot of what they can offer with the engine.

Posted by DarthOrange

Hooray for free stuff!

Posted by Vexxan

Free stuff! 
 
I could probably have some fun with that. 

Posted by Beomoose

Cool, now bring back Combat Flight Sim as a competitor to World of Warplanes.

Posted by Draxyle

This makes sense for a niche series. I've always wanted to try flight sims, and free makes it a lot less intimidating to dip my toes in to.

Posted by AiurFlux

Well okay, it can bring more people in. But the problem is that areas are going to be segregated off from one another. The joy and point to Flight Sim has always been flying from New York to London, or from LAX to Las Vegas, or from LAX to Tokyo. You had the entire planet at your fingertips, and it wasn't exactly an expensive game either depending on what you made of it. For FSX I bought the base game, Acceleration, and downloaded a pile of FREE mods. The only extra thing is a joystick, and that is hardly the games fault.

And you'll see how free free is when they start charging 5 bucks a pop for city updates. You know how many cities are out there? Add it up. You'll be getting literally 1/100th of a game all because of the fear of piracy. That's the entire point here.

And let's not forget either that companies have already taken advantage of the F2P model. Worst example is EA and Need For Speed World. Seriously, 100 legitimate real world American dollars for a single fucking virtual car. If anyone doesn't think that MS will and can do the same needs to give their head a shake and remember that it's Microsoft.

Posted by Koobz

So they saw how well Railworks does on Steam and decided to do that with aircraft, but not charge for the starter pack. Seems like a good enough plan.

Posted by jozzy

@aceofspudz said:

Never could land at that damn airport in Hawaii with all the trees around it. I've seen bigger landing strips on exotic dancers.

That made me laugh!

Anyway, good on them. These type of "games" seem made for microtransactions. I would like a Microsoft Spaceflight based on Elite/Freelancer with this same model.

Posted by whistlebottom

I've been looking for a reason to purchase a flight stick...

Posted by Alphazero

My dad is stoked.

Posted by Example1013

yes.

Posted by BisonHero

More like "Flymania: Big Island of Hawaii".

Posted by GaspoweR

@BisonHero said:

More like "Flymania: Big Island of Hawaii".

How bout Flymania: Island??

Posted by kollay

This series captivated my 6 year old self.

Posted by sirdesmond

As long as this is more realistic (looking) and playing (to a point) version of Pilotwings than I'm totally on board. I love flight games but I don't want to actually learn to fly a plane (unless I'm really in a plane).

Posted by Yakow_93

2006 was 6 years ago

Posted by DMack

My joystick plugged into the game port, and into the keyboard's ps/2 port for the POV hat. My computer has neither of those ports, so... This free to play game is going to cost me!

Posted by S_Danger_K

Oh god I think I am gonna have to buy a stick for this.

Posted by Godzilla_Sushi

I really like Microsoft making their new releases in old franchises free to play! Midtown Madness next? ;)

Posted by TheKbob

So when do I get my 2012 updated version of Skifree?

Posted by abomunist

Considering the voracious and thorough nature of flight sim addicts, I can see Microsoft making a big pile of money off of this. And, hey, the first one's free, so maybe there'll be some new blood to sell to. I just hope they keep it extremely sim-y. That is where its strength lies.

Posted by solidskorpion

Awesome! Really excited about this. Welcome back Flight Simulator. We missed you.

Posted by bluesun

For anyone who has watched the trailer on YouTube...

The ESRB rating says Crude Humor and Mild Violence.

...Crude Humor?!

:o

Trying to think what that could possibly entail in a flight sim!

Posted by DragonBloodthirsty

I did my college work in aerospace engineering, and this flight simulator came up in some of my classes. It was strongly recommended that we get a little time on a flight simulator if it was possible to help give us some intuition, so I'm going to try checking it out if I can remember to.

Posted by m0nty

Being an avid FSX pilot I'm pleased but also worried. I have too many add ons to mention for FSX. I would love to see a unified storefront arrangement BUT only if that storefront offered the full inventory we currently see for FSX. Having upgraded scenery, full airports, audio upgrades and detailed aircraft is a must for FSX. If Flight removes the advanced elements of FSX in favour of a mass market basic plane game I'll be disappointed.

If they however get OrbX and Rex etc on board for a full marketplace then I and many other pilots will be chuffed.

On another note, coding needs to be sorted. FSX still to this day will not run well on the most high end PCs. If relies too heavily on the processor and not enough on RAM and video cards. This must change next time around. 1080 resolution, 60fps and full add ons would be a joy NO ONE is yet to experience with FSX.

Posted by cassus

Have to remember that this game is made by a completely different team than the guys who made the other msfs games. This game is most likely going to be way less simulator-y. It's going to cater to people who couldn't be bothered learning the intricacies between the autopilot and the flight director. Or how to plot in your flight plan into the FMC.

Personally, I'm fine with that. If this sim has really well done physics, I will most likely buy quite a bit of DLC. The old MSFS games had okay physics at best. And I was always more into the feel of flight more than the avionics and flight rules.

The original MSFS team is, last I heard, working on the next evolution of the actual msfs series, now under a different name and, I assume, from scratch. Guess they didn't get to bring any of the code with them after being shut down.

Online
Posted by krazy_kyle

This is a game? Anyway, I think I should tell dad.

Posted by Blackout62

@Octaslash said:

Time to break out the Sidewinder again.

HELL YEAH! I got a Sidewinder from the 90's that probably still works, gonna put that thing back to use!

Edited by PenguinDust

I think this is a great idea. Why spend huge amounts of money on a game only to realize that all you can properly do is inverted-crash into the ground? Buying new planes and regions to fly around the world seems like a good use of the pay-for-more-content business model. Honestly, rather than what EA is currently doing, I'd like to see this idea applied to Tiger Woods. Come to think of it, I believe Microsoft still holds the Links license, so maybe we'll see that someday. I know Pangya is free to start, but it's not really a serious golf game.

Posted by Sneeze

Ooooohhh yeeeeeaaahh!
"Leeeet's fly away.." .. And so on

Posted by Eraser74

Ok, this is just stupid. I am very much into FSX, have put hundred of hours into this simulator, but this freemium model is just plain stupid.

Only one region is a joke, a very bad one. Who on earth that is into flightsimulation just wants one region to fly in? This kills all the excitement I had for this project. The big part of Flight SImulator was that you could fly on the whole world, basically do flights that would be done in real life, filing flight plans and enjoying the feeling of flight, but that doesn´t work with only one tiny region. They just doomed this project to fail with this. Nobody that owns FSX or FS2004 will seriously switch to this game, because that is just it, it´s just a game now instead of a serious simulation.

Microsoft just showed again that they have no clue about this franchise and what makes it great.

This was the killing blow for Microsoft Flight.

I will go back to my real simulator that is FSX and will forget about this mess.

Posted by WinterSnowblind

@Eraser74: The free version is just a demo. It lets you see what the game is like, or just have fun with the basic featuers if that's what you want. Considering how much these simulators usually cost, I don't see the problem with breaking it up and letting you only pay for what you want.

Posted by mcmax3000

@PenguinDust said:

Come to think of it, I believe Microsoft still holds the Links license, so maybe we'll see that someday. I know Pangya is free to start, but it's not really a serious golf game.

I thought that Microsoft sold the Links IP to 2K Sports back when they dropped the whole XSN Sports line (along with Top Spin which we know 2K owns now) but I could be wrong.

I would certainly love to see a new Links game.

Posted by PenguinDust

@mcmax3000: Yeah, upon further investigation it seems Microsoft sold the studio which made Links to Take-Two in 2004 and it was shut down in 2006. Too bad, I'd have liked a new Links, too.

Edited by Ravenlight

@patrickklepek said:

Before Microsoft became best known in video games for Xbox

I'd argue that Microsoft is/was best known in video games as the the creator of the OS you need if you want to play games on your computer.

Addendum: Yo, will it have hats I can purchase through microtransactions? If not, NO DEAL.

@whistlebottom said:

I've been looking for a reason to purchase a flight stick...

Posted by TooWalrus

@bluesun said:

For anyone who has watched the trailer on YouTube...

The ESRB rating says Crude Humor and Mild Violence.

...Crude Humor?!

:o

Trying to think what that could possibly entail in a flight sim!

Hopefully your co-pilot will talk to you, maybe tell you some jokes about his wife.

Posted by Hammerjelly

*cue Jurassic Park theme song*

Posted by mlarrabee

@Methodis: Microsoft is a business, so they are naturally inclined to charge for every product they produce. The fact that they are making it free-to-play at all is admirable, regardless of the feature set.

But I do think they should also sell a full-feature release, so that those who want the enture experience will get it. Perhaps a "season pass" sort of thing.

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