More details on MS Flight Simulator 2024, including full 3D landscapes in 30 biomes

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2024 – Xbox Games Showcase 2024 - YouTube Microsoft Flight Simulator 2024 – Xbox Games Showcase 2024 - YouTube
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Brand new details about Microsoft Flight Simulator 2024 are out, giving us some real detail about improvements we'd only guessed at after the trailer earlier this month. That includes the overhaul of the world modeling including the new 3D ground map, visual improvements to environments of all kinds, huge expansions to the scope of the world, and information about the new commercial aviation activities.

The biggest, immediate visual change is to the map of Earth itself. The landscape below your plane is now in full 3D, not just a texture on the ground. That includes procedurally generated vegetation on the world with 30 distinct biomes modelled. It's a huge visual difference, which was clear from comparisons of the same area in the 2020 and 2024 Flight Simulators. 

There's also a level of detail coming to how the world itself is represented. AI-flown planes will be more detailed, complete with livery. There's also a bonanza of flight-related details incoming: Global ship traffic will be simulated, and every oil rig in the world has been added, all complete with helipads. In fact, they've also added every helipad in the world and every glider airport as well. That they know of, at least. There are also some 500,000 tall obstacles in MSFS 2024, including antennae, towers, turbines, masts, and cooling towers.

There'll also be new activities for commercial aviation, such as the ability to walk around your plane to accomplish pre-flight checklists. That'll go well with your airport models, since those will now include passengers moving around inside buildings, visible through windows, and embarking onto planes via jetways.

The physics simulation is also getting a boost. More points of contact on plane models will now exist, as well as better physics for things like cargo weight. That stuff will apparently be very simple for third parties and modders to upgrade on existing models.

None of this is to mention other visual improvements to clouds and shadows. Ray-traced ground shadows are all looking pretty impressive compared to the 2020 game. The new engine for clouds can also simulate cirrus clouds—the hair-like tufty stranded ones—with lighting and atmospheric scattering included.

Finally, at least for my summary, Flight Simulator 2024 will also have an in-game flight path planner and an in-game flight replay feature included.

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2024 will be the newest version of the venerable series. It was announced earlier this month with a trailer featuring hot air balloons, blimps, and even some deer photography. It's set to release on November 19 2024.

You can watch the entire presentation on Microsoft Flight Simulator's YouTube channel—there's also stuff in there about new planes and the Boeing 737 MAX coming with MSFS 2024.

Jon Bolding is a games writer and critic with an extensive background in strategy games. When he's not on his PC, he can be found playing every tabletop game under the sun.