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?