Does Anyone Else Miss 2D Cockpits / Panels?!

OK. I know many will cringe at this politically incorrect post because the trend for years, in Flight Sims, has been for ultra-realistic looking 3D cockpits. And they do look pretty ■■■■ realistic. The problem is- they don’t allow “work flow” in a realistic way. For instance, in an actual cockpit you don’t have to plaster your nose next to the autopilot section, or the MFD display, or the Radio Quadrant, excluding everything else from your vision (including being able to look outside). In a real cockpit you can see all those things in a split second turn of the head or focus. In the latest 3D Cockpit world (FS2020) In order to get a good look at the radio frequencies, then change a setting on the Autopilot, then check the Localizer or GPS displsay on the MFD, you have to switch constantly and look only at that one section of the panel at a time. Is this “realistic”? At the end of the FS9 era, there were some amazing 2D panels that enabled you to see (and access) most systems/instruments in a glance, with enough detail to switch autopilot functions or enter radio frequencies (sometimes requiring one keystroke for an overhead or pedestal view). You didn’t have to exclude everything else. You also, during these adjustments, could usually see your outside environment. It was more “immersive”. It was more intuitive. It was easier to multitask.
The best of these 2D panels were very close to the real thing.
Now I can’t adjust a knob or see whether pushing a button has done anything without switching to another view. To see the entire cockpit in 3D you have to zoom out to where things are too small to see clearly, let alone grab with a mouse!

I’m not saying 3D cockpits are not useful. They should be there, look great and in certain situations offer incredible realism and functionality. But there are many times when I just want something simpler and easier when I’m dealing with a tricky approach.

In addition, so far, I have not found a way to get that great view through the windshield that I had in FS9 where you hide the panel completely and fly with the great scenery in front of you and nothing to block your view. I do love the external or drone camera abilities but that too is not realistic. You don’t fly outside the cockpit. How about having all that great scenery from the pilot’s perspective but without the panel. Let’s see more of FS2020’s amazing scenery from the pilot’s seat! Bring back the Hide-the-Panel keystroke!! (or joystick option).

In the year leading up to this great new MSFS release, every trailer and every progress update stressed the visuals, the “whole world at your feet” aspects. After 4 days of flying with FS2020 I find the planes more difficult to handle, the autopilots very buggy (I know much will be fixed eventually), and cockpit views that constantly need to be switched in order to accomplish the complexities of a real flight.

So I ask- have we sacrificed ease of handling (I don’t mean arcade style), ease of accessing knobs and instruments (pulling off an ILS landing) for the amazing visuals? Is “newer” always “better”. I love the graphics. I love the whole look of the world. I love the weather… Can’t we have both?



believe me, all is habit only. I remember first 3D look in FS98??? and was impressed but habit from 2D makes me impossible fly, only B206. Further I feel that I must step to 3D and now can’t imagine 2D use, really.


Check out VR, when it arrives.

It might sound strange, considering your stated wish to get 2d cockpits, but the beauty of VR is that it effectively puts you into a life-sized cockpit where you can move your head to look in whatever direction you want and you can even lean in, to get a better look. Just like you would in real life. It’s far more intuitive than having to switch views or move the view around with a hat switch or keys and definitely more immersive.


2D cockpit was just an ugly solution to the lack of display area back in the day…

But nowadays I’m flying on a 4K 50" screen and do not need to even zoom or move around much to see what I need or interact with it, enough detail like IRL.

VR is gonna be great, yep. Current way is only a stopgap until that comes IMO :smiley:

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TrackIR should probably also help with this issue for a far lower price (I got everything I needed for about $80, and some have gotten away quite a bit cheaper).


Too right. Trackir is a great solution until VR is implemented.

I appreciate your replies and since I do not yet use VR or Track IR I can’t comment on those. However, grabbing a small knob presently to change Altitude or Heading settings when zoomed out enough to have the entire 3D cockpit in view is not easy… no matter your preference, it just is much smaller…that’s a fact. (most of us do not have 50" monitors…let’s be real here…). For cruising and ultimate realism I too like the feel of the 3D.
I am not suggesting the elimination of 3D cockpits! I am suggesting the best of both worlds. In a real cockpit you are seated and don’t “zoom” in and out and you are always able to glance out the window while tweaking this or that knob/switch.

On another subject I’ll say again that two successful features from FS9 should be brought back- the key stroke that allowed the cockpit to disappear, to just look at the landscape (and the great new scenery in FS2020) from the cockpit perspective, and the “raise your seat” function where you could change the view “angle” from your seat- see more of the landscape I find the views really obscured in FS2020 unless you use a different camera- and that is a nice option but certainly not a real flight.


2D panels were a step up from the single screens of ols, but I never missed them, even when they included quarter views.

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With you 100%. It is currently so unrealistic trying to navigate your way around a 3D panel, let alone trying to adjust anything, but I doubt we will ever get those lovely 2D panels back. I can’t use VR or even TrackIR due to vestibular problems. The only way forward for me will be when it’s possible to remove the 3D panel completely and then use multiple monitors to display my trusty PM instruments. This is something MS will surely have to address to satisfy the many home cockpit builders.


I think the method of trying to position your mouse just right to turn a knob on a small 3D panel is terrible User Interface. In FS9 or FSX , even with the 3D panels you could adjust values by left clicking over the numerical readouts. It was so much easier and accurate. I am all for making things the most realistic but if you can’t accomplish a task while dealing with the many aspects of navigation, it seems like a step backwards.

Yes, multiple monitor support to undock the panel would really help.


Yes, there should be full screen 2D cockpits that can be displayed on an extra monitor. Of course, there are 3rd party like Air Manager. But “built in” proper 2D cockpits would be great. I never understood how serious simmers can do without a proper 2D cockpit. I assume a lot of people use the 3 + 1 screens config (3 x outside visuals in a row, 1 x below centered for instruments etc.), as most modern graphics cars have 4 outputs, so full-screen 2D cockpits make total sense.


While VR might be the ultimate gaming experience, it will never replace proper simulator cockpits with physical switches etc. Even in a fixed base simulator.


I never liked Track IR, it never worked for me (that was a lot of money wasted). It just feels completely unrealistic.

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I suppose if I had a full cockpit setup with switches and everything in a physical piece of equipment and if I didn’t need to grab all the small knobs and buttons on the 3D cockpit, then it would be okay. But most simmer’s are just using Joystick and keyboard. Those who deride 2D cockpits say that the 3D looks so much more real. And while that might be true, what is real about having to Fumble with knobs and zoom in and out constantly? In any case, if we don’t ever have any models built with 2D cockpits as well as 3D, like we used to, I hope that at least we can undock the 3D cockpit and expand it on a separate monitor, with the outside view from the pilot perspective on the other.

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Its a pain to setup, but setup correctly it feels quite naturel after a while. On youtube there is a detailed setup video using DCS. Try it you might be suprised. The main reason for not liking it is, probably, not setting it up properly.

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No offence meant at all, but I wonder if this might get more views/votes if the title were changed?

I would LOVE to see a no cockpit view (preferably with essential instruments represented) as in other external views.

I’m surprised more home cockpit builders and simmers haven’t voted this up.


No, not at all. It would be nice to be able to move the panel to another screen though, or have it off altogether for people who build their own panels. :small_airplane: :smiley_cat:

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I’m not a software expert but I can’t really see a downside. FPS always goes up in (my) external views presumably because of no glass cockpit.

And the camera/ view is basically already there, surely?

I like the 3D cockpit don’t get me wrong, but having a “pure windshield” view could massively boost immersion, and be v useful for landings as well as handy for those suffering temporary FPS drops?

Wish I could vote for it twice!


How would not having a panel at all “boost immersion” when in a real airplane the panel is right there and big? :small_airplane: :smiley_cat:

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I guess I was stating from my perspective with a small home cockpit that I am hoping to expand. With all the instruments in front of you, you don’t need to see them on screen. But even if not (personally) the option of switching to no panel view would add to immersion.