We’ve known for the last few weeks that a big new performance update is on the way for Microsoft Flight Simulator. Now, the first members of the public are getting a chance to experience it by means of Asobo’s recently launched PerformancePLUS Flighting Opportunity.
“Flighting opportunity” is the team’s fancy term for beta tests. The latest one has 500 slots, and registrations recently went live. For this test, Asobo is calling for simmers with a range of different hardware setups, peripherals, and experience. The goal of this test is to “target areas of the sim in performance, stability, compatibility with hardware and devices, and aircraft.” All of this is in preparation for the official Sim Update 5 which will roll out on July 27, right alongside the release of the Xbox Series X|S version of Microsoft Flight Simulator.
Asobo has managed to get those consoles to run the hardware-intensive sim in 4K at 30fps on the Series X, and 1080p at 30fps on the Series S. The optimizations made to achieve those levels of performance directly benefit the PC build of the sim. Asobo promises that the changes in performance will be “significant.” The sim’s code is changing so much that not even save files will work the same. So, testers of the aforementioned PerformancePLUS version of the sim are should not revert back to the existing retail version of the simulator.
During a recent livestream, Asobo CEO Sebastian Wloch explained what the team did to finally honor the long-standing cries for better performance in Microsoft Flight Simulator. He said that the team has “completely rewritten the architecture.” While the improvements have not been finalized, Asobo expects noticeable differences. Changes have been made to how the sim utilizes resources across both the CPU, GPU, and system memory.
Wloch showed off a test flight during the livestream, taking a Cessna right over New York City, which is a notoriously framerate-heavy area. He first showed footage of a build using the current Sim Update 4, which topped out at around 40fps, but averaged low 30s while running at a scaled 4K resolution with the “Ultra” graphics preset.
Using the same settings in the same environment with the new Sim Update 5, performance increased to an impressive 60fps at the top-end, and averaged around the 50s with minimal stutters. Although this test was done on Wloch’s dev computer, it does at least show a dramatic change in performance in a very realistic testing environment.
As Microsoft Flight Simulator approaches its one year anniversary, Asobo seems poised to overcome the biggest hurdle that fans have been complaining about since launch. There are a decent number of folks who upgraded their rigs just to play this sim and have been disappointed by the issues. Now, it seems that Asobo has finally (perhaps literally) cracked the code.