Look, I'm not a flight simulator guy either. I'm not. Closest I've come was turning Elite Dangerous into a lifestyle one year, but I'm past that now. Besides, as far as "simulators" go, even Elite Dangerous is borderline. But the upcoming Microsoft Flight Simulator is impossible to ignore. It just released a rash of quick development videos, too. Just eight or nine seconds of what it looks like to be in this 1:1 re-creation of Earth, up in the clouds—clouds that are volumetric as heck, by the way—clouds that are not just another pretty skybox painting.
Today's drop features a Robin DR400 plane down in a hangar, where the lighting, reflections, and especially the imperfections are astounding.
Then we have a wallpaper-worthy shot of Arcachon Bay in southwestern France with its gorgeous estuary. The transparency in the water reveals river veins extending out into the bay.
Then we have a passenger plane lifting off over Strasbourg, France, a large city right on the border of Germany. The light smog, the sun reflecting off the river, and deep shadows cast between European-style row buildings and houses shows a depth you can feel even at this height.
Next comes the true star of the show, at least for me: the clouds. I mean, wow, the landscaping is incredible, sure. But the shape, movement, and full-bodied character of the clouds as they hover, shapeshift, and blow away is just mind boggling.
Then it's Aspen, Colorado, I believe, just after sunset or early sunrise making for peach-tipped hilltops. Some fog has pooled in the valley, with the city lights penetrating that fog with varying degrees of success depending on the thickness of that fog.
This next video shows a "non-active dash." Someone with actual flight sim experience can probably explain what's happening here, but I think it's showcasing an unresponsive dashboard. The instruments don't appear to be responding. But the rainwater streaks on the glass and the camera shake ramps up the intensity.
This next clip is dubbed "March Early Shoreline." Not sure where this is. But waves are reportedly affected by wind, and these cauliflower-like cumulus clouds are casting dark shadows over both land and sea, not to mention the shadowy delineation within the volumetric clouds themselves.
Now we take a look at Baltimore, Maryland, in May. A springtime video that brings many of these factors to bear. Sunlight courses through multiple cloud layers, shadows brighten and darken various parts of the city, you can detect underwater elevations near the shorelines, all with no lens flare camera tricks.
Lake Tekapo in New Zealand wasn't a filming location for The Lord of the Rings, but New Zealand's natural beauty (here in April) still stands out. Again, the clouds are insane, floating in small tufts that sit between mountainous ridges, casting bulbous shadows while maintaining their own intricate shadow work. Can't hate on those silvery ribbons of water either.
Lastly we have an early DA62 test approach; the same plane, I believe, we saw flying over the Aspen video. You can see the camera almost perfectly aligned with a gray airstrip in the near distance, the landing gear smoothly coming into position, and bright reflections shining off the plane.
Did I mention I'm not a flight simulator fan? Doesn't matter. All you have to be a fan of is planet Earth to appreciate these videos. I've never seen anything like this in a "game" before. Microsoft Flight Simulator absolutely bullies every other flight sim to take a seat in the last generation and stay there.