As I said, I don’t know (and couldn’t care less) about how close it is to real world flying. I’ve sat in the co-pilot’s seat a few times in Cessnas, Beechcraft King Airs, (even a de Havilland Twin Otter commuter out of JFK in the late 60s) and can attest that my Herman-Miller Aeron chair doesn’t come close to the seat-of-the-pants experience I remember from those flights.
I’ve solved how to get the FBW A320neo airborne and pointed in the right direction and that’s enough “flying” for me. I don’t start “cold and dark” because I fail to see what that adds to my experience–done it, but spawning on the runway cuts to the chase and gets me airborne way more quickly.
I’ve always been a “maps-guy” since childhood, so the puzzle of “where in the world am I?” brings the fun. I don’t know how real it is compared to what real pilots do, but based on my navigation experiences, it should be close. I subscribe to Navigraph so I have the latest and greatest procedures and defined SIDs and STARs.
And, I agree, airline pilots don’t do a lot of hand flying in the big rigs. Just watch some YouTube videos and you’ll see that they do a few minutes at takeoff and sometimes upon arrival. Most of their time is spent monitoring their computers…