I’m not a real world pilot so the answer I’m about to give you is not mine. But I’ve been doing for a year what you are doing now: ask people who are 1) real world pilots and 2) have real world experience in programming flight models for various other flight simulators such as P3D, X-plane, Flightgear etc. So basically, consciously or subconsciously, knowingly or unknowingly, I’ve been doing a survey.
I’ve received various answers from various people. I could easily categorize them into three groups. For example, one would say: 1) “oh yes! MSFS 2020 flight model is extremely realistic, almost as realistic as some of the full motion simulators I’ve worked on”, and another would say: 2) “it’s good but it’s got some issues that needs to be sorted out”, and the last group would say: 3) “it’s completely wrong. It feels more like a video game than a flight simulator.”.
So basically, for group 1, the flight model is perfect. For group 2, it’s a good flight model but needs some tuning here and there, and for group 3, the whole flight model feels completely wrong.
When the flaps bug appeared in MSFS 2020 back in February/March 2021 iirc, I decided to take the flight model bit of the product a bit more seriously and started to do a survey in a serious manner.
This is my finding:
The majority of real world pilots said that in general, the flight models for any or all aircraft in MSFS 2020, whether they are default or third party, feel wrong in most or all circumstances. Group 3 is the winner here. You are now more than welcome to do your own research and survey similar to mine.
My personal opinion based on the evidence I have so far is that the flight model as well as several other aspects of this product has been intentionally dumbed down in order to keep it optimized and compatible with Xbox controllers, so that flying an aircraft on Xbox feels easier for the majority of people on Xbox. Think about the lowest common denominator. The huge majority of Xbox users will have a Xbox controller first and foremost. And for Microsoft, that’s where the largest majority of money is going to come from. The number of us PC flight simmers is not large enough for Microsoft’s financial profit and success.
So in order to answer your next question:
My answer would be: yes, based on my own tests, and feedback I’ve received from numerous people highly knowledgeable in the subject matter.
Here’s one good example:
Microsoft FS2020 has gorgeous visuals with many photorealistic airports and an eye-popping level of detail. When it came to the actual “flying,” though, X-Plane had the edge. Its physics and handling felt more like an airplane, while FS2020 was more “arcade-like” (i.e., slightly more rubbery and forgiving). The difference wasn’t stark, but it was noticeable.
For what it’s worth, I think the differences boil down to personal preference: FS2020 feels like a really polished video game, while X-Plane feels more like a simulator accessible to the general public.
The statements quoted above are from James Williams, a real world pilot, FAA employee, ground instructor and FAA Safety Briefing’s associate editor. And he said all these in a blog/website hosted by FAA themselves. Source: Fly Into the Matrix. How to Get Into the World of Virtual… | by FAA Safety Briefing | Cleared for Takeoff | Medium and for the root: FAA Safety Briefing – Medium and FAA Safety Briefing – The FAA Safety Policy Voice of Non-commercial General Aviation
Do I agree with him (and people like him who said similar things about MSFS 2020’s flight model)? Yes. Why? Do I have some sort of personal bias? I’d say no, simply because I’ve been using flight sims since 2005-6 and I never felt as if the flight model of any past flight sims I used feel arcadey, gamey, springy and twitchy. MSFS 2020 is the first flight ‘game’ (I hate to call it a sim now) where the FM feels completely wrong, arcadey and twitchy. Matter of fact, and embarrassingly enough, few days ago I reinstalled GTA 5 and flew one of their planes for a while, and they felt more realistic. All planes released so far, default or third party, feel like paper toys with no inertia. It’s almost as if they copied the physics code from a Disney mickey mouse game and pasted it into MSFS 2020.
Note: It’s extremely important to understand that there’s not a single flight simulator (home or professional) in the world that has 100 percent realistic flight model. Such a thing doesn’t exist. If realistic flight model in a home desktop flight simulator is extremely important for you, and if that is what you are after (and you don’t care about anything else), then you have to find the home desktop flight simulator that offers you the highest amount of accuracy, or “as real as it can get” within the current constraints of your home desktop hardware (PC).