Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 allows you to travel absolutely anywhere, even during a pandemic

Microsoft flight simulator Xbox game
Credit: Microsoft

I don’t love flying. I hate watching how impatient everyone gets while getting ready to board. I hate the cramped space. I especially can’t stand how my brain re-enacts every crazy flight scene from Alive to The Twilight Zone. Flying is difficult for me because I want to be in control. The same thing happens when my wife drives, so maybe my fear is putting my life in someone else’s hands. 

I recently picked up the Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 via Xbox Gamepass (PC only), and now I am in control of my flight. The game is as realistic as they get, but let’s just say I’m thankful it’s just a game. 

I took the training courses and found them very helpful. The rich details of my first flight in the Cessna aircraft were breathtaking right from the start. Everything about this game screams realism. Microsoft uses real-time flights (multiplayer), weather patterns, and satellite imagery to make your simulation feel as real as possible. If I play at night, the surrounding area of the game is dark (depending on where I take off from). 

If I fly out of Minneapolis and it is raining in real life, then it is raining in the game, and it looks insanely realistic when the drops trail off of the windshield of my Cessna aircraft. I flew over the Twins stadium on my trip from Blaine, MN to Owatonna, MN. It was so lifelike I half expected to see the Twins playing the Tigers. 

I decided to search for my home while flying out of Minneapolis, and sure enough, it was there nestled on the north side of the lake. The actual house isn’t identical, but it’s there. I’m excited to test a different aircraft and attempt landing on the lake itself. For now, I’m heading to the Rocky Mountains, my favorite place on earth. 

The weather becomes even more exciting when real-time events such as hurricanes develop in the ocean. I never plan to see one up close, but I can fly into one with Flight Simulator. I flew into Hurricane Genevieve to check out the eye of the storm. It was a tad anti-climactic, but the weather was spot on and the visuals were stunning. 

Even the airplanes themselves are rich with interior and exterior detail. Critics of this game agree that the controls and details within each aircraft match nearly identical to an actual aircraft. The challenge lies in learning to use them all. 

Flight Simulator 2020 is for gamers who love to explore. It’s for real-world adventurers who love to learn. It’s not fast-paced. You won’t be fighting or shooting down enemy aircraft. Instead, you’ll be enamored with the beauty and complexity of taking to the skies. Will just anyone be able to play Flight Simulator 2020? It depends. I have a newly built PC, and I’m able to run the game on the “Ultra” setting (click here for minimum specs). Everything I see is in stunning 4K. The keyboard controls are wonky. Now I use my Xbox controller and have a much easier time. Even with my PC, load times are extensive (roughly 2-5 minutes to get into a flight). If you want to play this game from a PC you really should consider a solid-state hard drive. Don’t be afraid though, the wait time is worth it.