Hopefully not a trend: Flight Simulator's deluxe editions having better airports

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Special editions with bonus in-game items are annoying, but complaining about them these days is like complaining about the wind. Every other game has a deluxe edition that comes with 50 Goof Bucks, an XP Boost Card, and an Elite Ops Digital Camo Skin, or whatever another hypothetical game would have. 

Microsoft Flight Simulator does something a bit different with its deluxe editions, though, and while it may not be highly unusual for the simulator genre, I find it freshly annoying. The Deluxe and Premium Deluxe versions of Flight Simulator include bonus aircraft like you'd expect, but also better, handcrafted versions of certain major airports. Here are the airports in question:

Deluxe edition ($90) handcrafted airports:

  • Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (Netherlands)
  • Cairo International Airport (Egypt)
  • Cape Town International Airport (South Africa)
  • O’Hare International Airport (USA)
  • Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport (Spain)

Premium Deluxe edition ($120) handcrafted airports:

  • All Deluxe edition handcrafted airports
  • Denver International Airport (USA)
  • Dubai International Airport (United Arab Emirates)
  • Frankfurt Airport (Germany)
  • Heathrow Airport (United Kingdom)
  • San Francisco International Airport (USA)

Here's how the San Francisco International Airport (SFO) looks with and without the $120 Premium Deluxe edition:

The non-Premium Deluxe version of SFO missing many details, including the distinctive new air traffic control tower that entered use in 2016. Sure, you're not going to see much of that tower. You'll glimpse it on the runway now and then, and maybe catch a glint from the air as you land. But the fact that it's wrong in some editions bothers the part of my brain that catches typos.

And it feels even more like being shaken down than the usual deluxe edition bonuses because the handcrafted airports aren't extra things, exactly, but better versions of things that are a fundamental part of the game's structure.

Imagine an RPG in which certain towns and cities are bigger and more detailed with the $120 premium edition? That'd be some bullshit.

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Flight Simulator and other simulation games are known for going all in on content packs, though. The Steam version of Flight Simulator X has loads of DLC that just makes central England look better. Paying more for better-looking airports and environments isn't foreign to sim fans—but hopefully it remains a sim thing.

And like its predecessors, it's possible to create mods for Flight Simulator. The unfinished SDK can be downloaded by enabling developer mode in the General options category and then opening the Help menu at the top. It should get better as development continues and third-party tools are created.

Creators who sign up for a partner program will be able to sell their handcrafted airports and other models directly through the in-game store. Others will surely distribute mods for free, though, so maybe someone will stick the right tower in SFO for those who don't have the Premium Deluxe edition. Modders have a way of correcting all our little protests eventually, the saints.

Tyler Wilde
Executive Editor

Tyler grew up in Silicon Valley during the '80s and '90s, playing games like Zork and Arkanoid on early PCs. He was later captivated by Myst, SimCity, Civilization, Command & Conquer, all the shooters they call "boomer shooters" now, and PS1 classic Bushido Blade (that's right: he had Bleem!). Tyler joined PC Gamer in 2011, and today he's focused on the site's news coverage. His hobbies include amateur boxing and adding to his 1,200-plus hours in Rocket League.