Trusted Reviews is supported by its audience. If you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

Interview: How Microsoft Flight Simulator recaptures the thrill of flying

Trusted Reviews is back again talking about Microsoft Flight Simulator. This time, we discussed how the simulator feels to play, and how it’s become like a learning experience for players.

Microsoft Flight Simulator continues to be a fan favourite, allowing players to pilot a plane and explore the world. During Xbox’s Gamescom it was also announced that the game will be getting a World Update on September 6, expanding Germany, Austria and Switzerland in-game.

With frequent updates and continued support, it was important to the developers that the experience of Flight Simulation was fun, even though the game has taken on an educational tone.

We spoke to Jörg Neumann, head of Microsoft Flight Simulator, to discuss how Asobo Studio ensured the game recaptured the thrill of flying.

What’s the experience of flight simming like?

“We said, the first thing we actually ever did in America, you call it a discovery flight. It’s basically, you sit there with a flight instructor and the flight instructor says, ‘let’s take off,’ and you’ve never been in an aeroplane before,” Jörg Neumann explained.

“Okay, and so he or she puts your hand on this, and basically, the steering wheel says, off we go!

“And three minutes later, you’re in the air, you’re doing this, you’re flying, I’m flying. And it’s a magical moment, it’s when you fall in love. That’s actually what that is like. And we tried to recapture that again [on the Xbox Series X],” Neumann contained to say.

Has the game become a learning experience for players?

“I think that’s what happened. Right? I think that’s partially because of the world in which we live and you know…with the pandemic and all that stuff, people couldn’t really go anywhere,” said Jörg Neumann.

“So it’s very much a game as a service. Because as a SIM, it doesn’t really give you objectives, it doesn’t really tell you what to do. It’s very much you who decides. The world’s big and beautiful, go for it.

“You see all the shapes and the colours, and you get a sense for what it’s like. But we wanted to strengthen that even more.

“So we started to add labels of cities and the mountains and rivers and the oceans. And as you fly around, now you actually learn and retain information about the world.

“Because when you’re in this unknown environment and in a thing that you’re not quite understanding, which is an aeroplane, the more we can make you feel comfortable, the better you are, the better it is, the more relaxed you are, the more you’re enjoying it. So these labels helped quite a bit.”

Did you try and make flight simming more relaxing for newcomers?

“Because the co-pilot did pretty much everything, and the flight instructor pretty much does everything, all you do is steer around a little bit.

“So we came up with this idea of saying, let’s just do the same thing. Let’s create this new thing called discovery flights where we launch you in the air so you don’t have to bother.

“And basically said, people watch the trailers, and they’re oftentimes curious, because the trailers look pretty, and they just want to see what this is all about. And so we launched it in the air, the weather’s nice, the fuel is full, and all you need to do is look at it, look around. And, it’s very empowering,” Neumann went on to say.

Due to Microsoft Flight Simulator having no real objectives or a storyline to follow, it was important to the developers that the simulator was smooth and enjoyable to play while exploring the world.

Microsoft Flight Simulator

“And then the next thing we actually recognise is that the newcomers oftentimes like to explore the world the most. I was just looking at the Xbox data this morning, what people are doing, that’s what they’re doing.

“And I think I genuinely feel that the dream of flight is near-universal, like, you know, I always say I won’t be going back. I think it’s very much ingrained in us as a species.”

If you enjoyed our chat with Jörg Neumann, you can check out our discussion last week, where he explained the process of porting a PC simulator game onto the Xbox.

Make sure you check back with Trusted Reviews next week for the full interview with Neumann.

Why trust our journalism?

Founded in 2003, Trusted Reviews exists to give our readers thorough, unbiased and independent advice on what to buy.

Today, we have millions of users a month from around the world, and assess more than 1,000 products a year.

author icon

Editorial independence

Editorial independence means being able to give an unbiased verdict about a product or company, with the avoidance of conflicts of interest. To ensure this is possible, every member of the editorial staff follows a clear code of conduct.

author icon

Professional conduct

We also expect our journalists to follow clear ethical standards in their work. Our staff members must strive for honesty and accuracy in everything they do. We follow the IPSO Editors’ code of practice to underpin these standards.

Trusted Reviews Logo

Sign up to our newsletter

Get the best of Trusted Reviews delivered right to your inbox.

This is a test error message with some extra words