For months it was said to be in the works, and now the time has come — Microsoft Flight Simulator has opened its skies to all devices with the release of its Xbox Cloud-powered edition. With the formal release of Microsoft and Asobo’s tentpole title for the “xCloud” service, users of virtually any device now have access to the notoriously resource-hungry sim. For low-end PC users in particular, this certainly changes the situation drastically.
The Xbox Cloud Gaming service is powered by Xbox Series X hardware, giving users access to high-fidelity versions of hit titles, now including Microsoft Flight Simulator. With Microsoft’s server farms handling the processing, the heavy load of rendering a game is taken entirely away from the device of the end-user.
Microsoft Flight Simulator has been a benchmark game due to its significantly high system requirements. The release of the cloud edition means that just about anyone can now enjoy the sim without even dreaming of taking specs into account. In the official press release, Microsoft assures players they’re going to get an “identical” experience to the full-fat PC versions, which already share parity with each other from a visual and performance perspective. Additionally, all previous purchases made in the sim will carry over to the cloud edition.
So, it seems that all one needs to worry about to fully enjoy the cloud experience is an Xbox controller. Well, that, and of course the most important thing: a solid internet connection.
The sky is the limit, but so is your data plan
Microsoft Flight Simulator as part of the Xbox Cloud library does eliminate the need for dedicated hardware. However, players might still find their flights being grounded without meeting the service’s requirements.
First off, its important to note that Xbox Cloud Gaming is not a free service like GeForce Now. Rather, you’ll need to first have an active Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription ($15 USD monthly); not even the base tier will suffice. Secondly, you’ll need at least a 10Mb/s internet connection just for the service to function. The higher, the better.
If you meet all of these requirements, excellent. But there might be one last takeoff hazard: geo-locking. Depending on where you live, the Cloud service may not be available, so verify that you can access it before subscribing. Also, this may pose a challenge when you travel to another country where it isn’t supported.
Considering that Microsoft Flight Simulator is a game that embodies the very nature of freedom, especially with the cloud edition, all of these hurdles are rather ironic. Nevertheless, given ideal conditions, this is poised to be a very viable option for those who lack the hardware power and either aren’t able or simply don’t want to get a proper rig.
If you are looking at the cloud edition to make up for the inability to play the proper PC version of Microsoft Flight Simulator, there are some limitations you have to keep in mind.
Consider the cloud constraints, too
Seeing that the cloud edition is, again, powered by Xbox hardware, what’s being offered is a streamable console version. The Series X does produce a visually stunning version of Microsoft Flight Simulator that is, for all intents and purposes, comparable to its PC counterpart. But there are some key differences that are further exacerbated in the cloud edition.
The obvious ones are a lack of VR support and limited peripheral support. Specifically referring to the latter point, the cloud edition can only make use of the Xbox controller, so keyboard and mouse support will not be present even if you’re streaming to a PC.
As it relates to mod support, again, the console edition is lacking. The sim might be the same across console and PC, but they play by different rules. To this day, the console edition can only access add-on content that’s released via the in-game Marketplace. While the vast majority of add-ons are available there, the ever-expanding freeware market in particular is not truly present. Thus, content like the huge collection on sites like flightsim.to is not accessible to cloud players.
Despite these limitations, this is still a good option for those who can’t play otherwise. The core Microsoft Flight Simulator experience is very much there to enjoy, now to an even wider pool of players.