I love how Microsoft Flight Simulator exists in the background now, like the distant roar of an overhead flight path. Not only is it just nice to have a shiny, new version of one of the gaming OGs there to pick up and play at any time, every now and then it drops an absolutely gorgeous new trailer showing off some wild technical wizardry or hyper-detailed new cityscape. That’s exactly what’s happened now, with Flight Sim’s latest update inviting you to pay a flying visit to an eclectic collection of European cities.
Titled ‘City Update V: European Cities I’ (6-3 on aggregate), the new update introduces five new urban centres to the game. These are the Dutch city of The Hague, Belgium’s Brussels, Croatia’s Zagreb, Spain’s Cádiz, and Košice in Slovakia.
To be clear, all of these cities were technically in Flight Simulator anyway, thanks to its remarkable 1.1 recreation of the entire globe. But the vanilla version’s mixture of satellite data and proc-gen algorithms only gave the rough shape of individual cities, with a lot of weird anomalies appearing if you looked too close.
The cities Microsoft has been drip-feeding through these updates, by comparison, are much more geographically accurate, designed jointly by Microsoft, Bing Maps, and Vexcel, a specialist aerial imaging company. As the announcement on Microsoft Flight Sim’s webpage states, “Each was produced in the highest visual fidelity using the latest geographic information and TIN (triangulated irregular network) surface modelling.”
As the title implies, this isn’t the first batch of cities to get a photogrammetric makeover. The first City Update focussed on German cities, updating urban centres like Dortmund, Dusseldorf, Bonn, and Cologne. Other City Updates have overhauled metropolitan areas in France, Texas, and, er, Western Europe, which makes the naming convention for the latest update rather confusing.
Alongside cities, Microsoft has also added a ton of new planes to Flight Sim, including Andy’s favourite plane the Dornier Do X, and the world’s largest plane, the An-225 “Mriya”, which was destroyed during Russia’s initial invasion of Ukraine last year. A new Flight Simulator game is coming next year. Titled Flight Simulator 2024, it adds a wide range of specific jobs to the experience, like mountain rescue and stunt piloting.