Review and Advice

My experience with FS2020 is a very mixed yet positive bag. To preface this review I am a Twitch Partner and a VFR licensed pilot (out of currency). I endeavour to give this a fair and honest review. If you would like to see my initial impression a VOD is available on my Twitch channel (unable to give you a link to it but search STEELRAIN27 on Twitch and you can find me.

INSTALLATION: 0/10
Possibly the absolute worst I have ever experienced. I initially purchased on steam however was getting worried that if things went terribly wrong during this installation process, as they had starting to go down that path, I would not be able to refund so I did early and got gamepass. Gamepass and all the apps it opens and constant opening of web pages is a confusing, frustrating and out right appalling user experience. The game doesn’t even have a default file folder name, you have to create it. That is beyond wrong and will create confusion in the future. After eventually getting it to launch the update screen did now show until I ran as administrator. I know these issues have been noted so I will not go into further detail but the XBOX app is dreadful.

The game also did not have a default set up for Saitek X52 or CH Pedals, these are two extremely common peripherals and should have a default set up. Setting up your controls is also not straight forward. ALL should be the default and not ASSIGNED.

INITIAL IMPRESSION 8/10
Once getting in and setting controls my initial impressions were extremely favourable. My first few flights were very rough as I was still working the curves for my sticks in but once I found the sweet spots it was great. The ground doesn’t look fantastic sub 1000 feet but performance wise for me I thought it was good, planes I flew felt properly weighted and the weather is unreal. ATC is much more natural as well.

DEEPER FLIGHT 5/10
I am aware they wanted to make FS more accessible to more people and I am absolutely behind that. However that does not mean you only service those people. Although I think the flight model is great, the features pilots will want simply don’t exist and for casual players they have absolutely nothing to do. Extremely disappointed in this area. Also many areas have had no attention to detail. Buckingham Palace… what on earth is that thing in its place? Landmarks are 90% of the reason a lot of people play FS and major ones are simply missing all together. I do not wish to downplay the utter technical feat that has been accomplished with this satellite imagery but Niagara Falls, one of the Seven Wonders of the Nature World is horrendous, Cardiff Castle looks like an apartment building and Millennium stadium doesn’t even exist just like the London Eye. I know this is something the team wants to work on over the next decade (as a game not simply just locations) but big ticket items such as these needed to be in on launch and I am sure this can be seen in countries around the world. Even the CN Tower looks like it was put through a microwave.

PILOT IMPRESSIONS - MIXED
I write mixed because the flight model, sounds, lights, responsiveness and more is all fantastic. Then you start trying to really fly these planes. This is where things fall apart. Route planning is an absolute joke. You can go around selection airports to add in order but it will select your route for you. There is zero airport information, no runway info for ALT the maps even for non pilots are about as helpful as a five year old’s attempt to draw a dog. We can’t find radio frequencies or the ATIS, there is no VOIP between pilots in multiplayer and check lists… why even have them as most of the planes have 4 pointless check lists. There is no aircraft information for best rate of climb or stall (V Speeds). People who like FS for years like it for the depth and many of us actual fly. I used the last one as a compliment to my real flight school to practice instruments and procedures. Too much time spent on accessibility and completely forgetting about the upper end of the player base. I have also mentioned the flight model a lot as being good. Well… it is for the most part. However I attempted to put a few planes into flat spins. Impossible. I have ever aid turned off minus AI ATC, I have put many planes into flat spins in real life and I cannot for the life of me getting anything to spin and I have made many attempts on stream. My efforts were visually verified by other, real flight instructors who stopped by and they too are astounded at the inability to spin a plane. Again people get this for the sim aspect. I can spin in IL-2 I should be able to spin in this.

LONG TERM - Worried
I am worried about the long term of FS2020. There is not much to do in it and not many aircraft variations. For the casual pilot there is also nothing to do. The landing challenges are a mere handful and the bush stuff I am not sure how many will attempt. Its interesting to see games such as Euro/American Truck Simulator have rabid fan bases for just driving a truck (I myself love it). This begs the question, “why doesn’t FS2020 have a career mode? Delivery mode? Be able to buy your own planes, make money, work your way up from Bush to 747 pilot?” To be clear I wouldn’t want that mode to replace the world map and flying whatever you like but for those who want some structure, how one earth was something like this missed? Currently all there is to do is sight see and well, the sights don’t look that great and ton of buildings people want to see simply aren’t there

OVERVIEW - 6/10 (rushed)
I truly and desperately want this FS to do well but from small touches (Icon not having a wake when it lands on water) to extremely important things (checklists, actually useful maps both aviation and world map - there aren’t even borders or regional lines on it, aircraft and terminal information available) simply missing, overlooked or “coming soon” FS2020 is not worth the price of admission beyond gamepass. What is there and works well is incredible (weather, 90% of the flight model, cockpit detail, plane detail). However with very little to do with activities not being very diverse, I feel this games will not do as well as it should. Its a technical feat but its not next gen. If MS rolls out a road map and is very transparent and honest with its audience I think people can stick around. However I do feel like we are in for a DLC to Death store to get all the buildings, more detail airports, over priced aircraft and the like.

Pilot aides (proper maps, route planning, co pilot multiplayer, aerodrome information) are a non negotiable must and need to come sooner than later. More diversified activities and a career mode would make the sim far more enjoyable for all levels of interest from casual to pilots but if all we have to do is look at things and most of them aren’t there when we seek them out, what is there to do?

p.s. I know you are MS but Bing is no where near as good as Google’s images.

RE-REVIEW

Having now spent significantly more time with MSFS I have learned many things which I would like to address. I feel as though my initial review still holds true is many ways however after getting some advice on outside resources to act as solutions, I feel that a reassessment is required.

One of my biggest issues is the lacking flight maps. Airport information for runway height and radio frequencies really should be available on the maps. However a viewer gave me the tip about SkyVector. Its a free authentic aviation map website and that alone has improved my experience as I can now plan landings and know what the tower frequencies and ATIS’ are. I had also mentioned the lack of ATIS. This still holds true that not all airports that have ATIS have it in the game but they are in fact there, for the most part.

When coming to the point about having an Euro/American Truck Simulator mechanic and progression system: FSEconomy provides just that and possibly better than MSFS would have been able to do in scale and scope. These are things I feel should still be native to the game itself but the options are there and they have completely changed my outlook on the game which was already positive but for the price and vital info alone missing it was a much harder sell.

With these issues resolved I must say I have been able to truly take in the scale, scope and sheer beauty of the game. The Flight model at the moment is fairly generic but my statement of it not being next gen was definitely tempered by the lack of flight information as it made flight stressful and unclear. I do feel that check lists are lacking, too many switches are INOP, proper V Speeds in a reference are missing and those things do drag this updated rating down. However if you do a decent amount of research you can find the info online and it makes the experience less aggravating and when that happens the sim explodes into life and is truly next gen.

This should be a 10/10. However I can only give it a 8/10 but man is it a solid 8! Co-Pilots, proper checklists and V Speeds for each aircraft would rocket this to a 10. Its more than doable. A greater variety of aircraft would also be nice… perhaps something not Textron. A final thought is that MSFS does not explain how to use anything in the glass cockpits. This information is very important as most are glass in this. Luckily in my stream I had a airline pilot in there to explain it to me. In general it needs more info.

TLDR: Use SkyVector for maps and info, get FSEconomy for purpose and meta game, Look up V Speeds online. Needs Co-Pilot and a more specific flight model. The sim in incredible.

2 Likes

as a current GA pilot myself, i totally agree with you. For now i a’m going to explore the world with MSFS2020 just for the fun, but use FSX with all my add-ons and PMDG aircraft for some more realistic flying…until they fix some important flight dynamics etc in MSFS2020. The product is indeed not finished yet… Let’s see what happens the next coming months… I want realism and not a game…

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Very honest review. I have bought MFS. But I didn’t buy it to fly around default aircraft, although you can have some fun doing this. I bought this sim as a base only. As soon as PMDG release the 738 that is probably all I will fly to some beautiful locations. The base sim is still better than anything we currently have out ‘vanilla’ so that was my reason for purchase. Hopefully we will all be here in 12+ months time and I’ll bet there won’t be much you can’t get for this sim then. Exciting times for sure.

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Bumping this up as I have reassessed my thoughts of MSFS